My birthday!

(This post has been sitting on my draft box for weeks. I might as well publish it before our newborn joins our family. Here’s to another year God has blessed me!).

October 11. Friday.

It was a beautiful day! Quite warm for a fall day actually. The sun was out and you can definitely walk in shirt, shorts, and flip flops if you want to.

A bunch of lovely ladies came to my house today to throw me a baby shower! And what a wonderful coincidence that my birthday happened to be today as well! 😉 I was in the kitchen cooking some of my favourite Filipino dishes when my dear friend Sybil walked in the front door with a birthday heart balloon and a gift bag on one hand, and some decorative tissue paper pom poms on the other. She placed them down on the brown bench in the foyer and went back out to grab some food out of her car.

When she came back in, my 3 little ones excitedly greeted her as she climbed up the stairs to our living room. Next thing I know, Sherry walked in the house with some food in her hands as well. The 3 of us chatted as I finished preparing lunch. Soon after, Cherry came in the door and walked into the kitchen bearing food as well!

My plan to just have a quiet birthday with my family feasting on my favourite food turned out to be a fun-filled afternoon with this crazy bunch! 😆 We had a good feast! And we all had a blast! 🤣🤣🤣

Since the day was warm, we moved our little party to my backyard. What a gorgeous afternoon! The sun remained our company. With some gentle cool breeze, the weather was just perfect to be outdoors. The ladies set the table outside for our appetizers and desserts while I made us my special hot chocolate-espresso, topped with homemade whipped cream and ground cinnamon! It was a hit! ❤

We were just about to start eating our desserts when Annie, who came straight from work, walked into my backyard. It was a lovely surprise! While we chatted and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon, the kids roam free, picked some apples from our apple tree, and played in the dirt.

Just before everyone left, we played a pin-the-pacifier-to-the-baby’s-mouth game that Cherry made. The objective of the game was simple – to stick the pacifier into the baby’s mouth. We mounted a cardboard baby onto my garden shed and then we each took a turn of being blind-folded, spun around thrice while holding a cut-out pacifier in our hand.

Mira, my oldest daughter, was the only one who got the pacifier right on the spot! Some of us got it on the baby’s mouth, shoulder, nose, and even on the baby’s toes. It was hilarious! 🤣🤣🤣

Eventually, everyone had to leave and my 2 younger kids went for their much needed naps. I took advantage of the warm, gorgeous day and raked our front lawn. 🍁🍂 Mira decided to stay up and helped me with raking. 

We were just about done when daddy pulled in the driveway. He handed Mira a bouquet of red flowers to give to me. Mira happily obliged and gave me the flowers. I asked her to bring them in the house, which she immediately did.

Ian grabbed the other rake and helped me finish the last leaf pile at the end of our lawn. And then we attacked the thick blanket of fallen leaves piling up in Al’s lawn until we ran out of leaf bags. 🍁🍂🍁 Our neighbor Al lives by himself and hasn’t been feeling well these past couple of years so we have been raking his leaves for him whenever possible.

When Ian took the leaf bags to the compost in Southampton, I warmed up some left overs for dinner. We were planning to watch a movie with the kids after supper but it was getting pretty late so we just put on the Mighty Pups for them. We all cuddled in the couch and let Ryder and his pups entertained us all.

When our kids were finally tucked in bed, he handed me a birthday card sealed in a pink envelope. I quickly opened it and soon found myself wiping tears off my eyes. One thing most people don’t know about my husband is that… drum roll please… He actually writes beautiful love letters! For someone who hates writing, and typically a man of few words, he’s pretty thoughtful and emotionally expressive when he writes me a letter. Hence, I started calling him ‘Sweets’.

I took out 2 wine glasses of chocolate mousse from the fridge after reading my birthday card. Ian has been making me this decadent dessert since we have been courting. After he found out how much I love this cake he’s been making it for my birthday every year! (Another reason why I call him Sweets! Because he can be the sweetest guy ever!).

We spent the rest of our evening enjoying our desserts while watching a movie and then reminiscing special memories and dreaming of the future. What a perfect way to end my special day! 🥰 I couldn’t have asked for more! ❤

❤ Zhi

I’m back with an exciting news!

So I took a little break… Okay maybe, it’s more than just a little. I’ve been on a hiatus from blogging since May. And let me tell you, I’ve been aching to sit down, shut the world behind me, and come back here again.

But, when you have 3 little ones, doing some deck reno on the side, travelling to see family from distant miles, crafting, and homeschooling… carving a time to sit down and write has been pushed further and further down the bottom of my to-do list.

Today, I wish to change that.

Because I have an amazing news I’ve been yearning to share with you guys.

We are about to have our fourth baby soon! Yay!!! Even our kids are excited!

Some people are rooting for another baby boy to level the playing field for Edward since he already has 2 big sisters bossing him around and smothering him with too much hugs and kisses.

I know the thought of not knowing can be overwhelming sometimes. I get that there are some perks to finding out the gender of your baby in terms of preparation and all. But, there is also beauty in not knowing and just fully trusting that whatever God gives you will fit perfectly into your growing family. So I am choosing to wait (again!) and not spoil one of the best surprises in life.

It won’t be long…

Soon, I’ll get to meet this little person growing inside me and get to tell him/her that he/she is wonderfully made and incredibly loved!

❤ Zhi

The Best Carrot Cake!

Last year, a good friend of mine asked me to make her her wedding cake. I was honoured and thrilled about her request! I have braved making my own wedding cake the day before my wedding, so I thought, I can handle somebody else’s wedding cake too, especially now that I have more experience in baking and decorating cakes. When she told me what cake she wanted, I almost wanted to back out, or at least try to convince her to change it into something else… something that I have done before. But I did nothing of sort. I kept my worries to myself.

After I had let myself panicked at the thought that the wedding cake would turn out disastrous (of which of course I have not mentioned to her even till now!), I went on Google, Youtube, and Pinterest on a hunt for a carrot cake recipe! You see, I have not made a carrot cake EVER prior to her request. I’ve eaten carrot cake twice in my life and they were delicious, but it was never my favourite, so I dared not baking one myself, until a couple of months prior to my friend’s big day!

After much research, I found 3 carrot cake recipes online that I liked and started experimenting. After many (failed and so-so) attempts of making a fluffy carrot cake with just the right amount of spices, and the right combination of icing that is not cheeky sweet, I think I nailed it. I made the ultimate carrot cake for any occasion! I’ve made this exact carrot cake (in varying sizes, height, and decoration with great success!) about 9 times already just this year alone, and we are only in April. I’ve also used the same recipe to make carrot cupcakes (mini and regular sizes), and they turned out amazing!

Dangerous Journey (The Story of Pilgrims Progress), A Must Read!

I started re-introducing the book the Dangerous Journey to our girls last night. This is a retelling of John Bunyan’s 17th-century classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress, geared for a younger audience. Universally known for its simplicity, vigor, and beauty of language, The Pilgrim’s Progress remains one of the most widely read books in English literature. Often rated nearly as important as the Bible as a Christian document, this famous story of man’s progress through life in search of salvation continues to be one of the most entertaining allegories of faith ever written.

Oliver Hunkin used the original words of Bunyan in this abridged version of the timeless classic to present a riveting story of the pilgrim’s trials and temptations as he set on a long and perilous journey to the Celestial City, a City founded higher than the clouds, to escape his hometown’s inevitable doom. Along a road filled with monsters and spiritual terrors, the pilgrim named Christian, who was weighed down by a literal burden on his back, seeks deliverance, and confronts such emblematic characters as Worldly Wiseman, Superstition, Mr Blindman, Giant Despair, Ignorance, and the demons of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. But he is also joined by Faithful and Hopeful who are a great encouragement for him along his harrowing journey to safety.

I had read a couple of pages of this book to our oldest daughter a while back but clearly she wasn’t ready for it. The vocabulary, the concept, and the storyline of this book is quite advance even for her age now. My oldest is only 4 and her sister is not even 3 yet. But I thought I give it another try. So I included this book into our Read-Aloud basket among other books. For our Read-Aloud basket, I gather up a combination of chapter books, board books, reference books, and early reader books that my eldest reads aloud with me. By the end of the week, I put these books back in our shelves and restock our basket with a new set.

Last night, I read 2 chapters of Dangerous Journey to our girls before bedtime. The First Chapter of the book reads…

I
The Slough of Despond
As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place and laid me down to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream.
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Repurposing Antique Dresser

Many moons ago, I blogged about our buffet table that I repurposed from an antique dresser. You can read that post here. I was 5 months pregnant at the time with our 3rd baby and this was one of the many DIY “nesting” projects I’ve made. I wanted to write about my journey in repurposing this dresser, in the hopes of helping others, who, like me, had not done anything like this before. I wrote a draft. Unfortunately, that draft sat in my inbox of unpublished posts for over a year. I am finally revisiting it, and would like to share my experience with you.

Here it goes…

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Unicorn Birthday Party

March 5, 2019

It’s March already and yet we are still experiencing snow… lots of it! It’s minus 10 tonight but it feels like minus 17 with the windchill factor. We were out the door early this morning for Edward and Mira’s immunization shots. It was cold and snowy. The visibility wasn’t very good in some parts. But we made it to our appointment early and had the shots done with very little tears. My husband and I couldn’t be prouder of how brave they were.

During our visit to the doctor, Mira mentioned about her birthday party that she had yesterday. Our oldest daughter and our son share the same birthday month (February). Our schedule last month made it a little bit tricky to coordinate a birthday party with their church friends. So we just did something with our family on their birthdays and I baked some cupcakes for a treat. However, Mira never forgot about our plans to throw her a unicorn birthday party with a unicorn carrot cake. She had her mind set on this since December. And finally, after scheduling back and forth with some of the families from our church, we picked a date that worked for everyone. We did miss one family that ended up not making it because their boys got sick. Still everyone had a great time. They played well together and also played hard.

Mira wanted me to make palabok for her birthday. Palabok is a rice noodle dish staple during special occasions in the Philippines. It has most of her favourite food – noodles, eggs, shrimp and pork rinds. And since palabok is one of my favoutite Filipino dishes, I gladly obliged to her request. We also ended up having fried rice, vegetable spring rolls, a good variety of fruits, rolled up cold cuts, and other Filipino pastries like pande-ube (purple yam bread), poppy seed buns, and coconut rolls.

I made 2 different cakes. A unicorn carrot cake with cream cheese frosting for Mira; and a chocolate cake with cream cheese and peanut butter frosting for Edward. I’m pretty sure our son, who just turned 1, wouldn’t mind sharing a cake with his sister. But if you know me, you’d know I am a big chocolate fan! So to satisfy my chocolate desires, I made 2 dozens mini chocolate cupcakes and a small chocolate cake for Edward. I was quite pleased with how the cakes turned out and our guests enjoyed them too!

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My Swoop flight experience was a nightmare!

The plane started boarding shortly after 6:30pm. We are now finally leaving Manitoba and heading home. I was pleased to hear the announcement made before take off that we will be landing in 2 hours. We were heading to Hamilton airport flying through Swoop airlines. It’s our first time to fly through Swoop and out of Hamilton. But the price was good so we gave it a shot. The flight to Manitoba went extremely well with a very smooth landing so we were pleased with that and were looking forward to yet another smooth ride home. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

My husband and I couldn’t get a seat close to each other without additional cost so we just went with it. I had baby Edward in our flight to Manitoba, so this time I sat with our girls, while Ian took the baby. Our seat was in the middle of the plane, while the boys were way at the back. While ascending I heard a baby screeching in the background. I felt bad for my husband. I know how hard take off and landing can be for their little ears. How do you explain to a baby to swallow when your ears hurt due to pressure to make it better? Right? So, I nurse. But my husband can’t do that. I thought of the candy cane we got in our Christmas stockings and thought sucking it would help. So I grabbed one of the treat bags and headed to seat 27 where my boys were. To my surprise, I saw Edward all snuggled up with daddy fast asleep. They look cozy! I felt relieved it wasn’t him fussing.

My girls played well together. Not once did I call their attention. They were in the middle of colouring when we heard the announcement to land. So I stowed the trays away and put all their colouring sheets and crayons back to Mira’s luggage. I thought to myself this is going so smoothly… it’s too good tot be true. I looked out the window and could not see the ground. There’s a thick fog. The descend felt like forever. And then there was an announcement shortly after about the captain will try again to land. I didn’t hear it clearly. I just knew we couldn’t land so we circled around. Mira told me her ears hurt. So I grabbed a candy cane and broke them into pieces to give to her and Diane. Our pilot attempted to descend for the third time but the strong winds and poor visibility forced him to change course and fly to Toronto and land at Pearson instead. The multiple attempts to land made some of the kids (and grown ups too) to feel sick to their stomach. Diane, who just started having a cold threw up all over her shirt, pants and seat. Continue reading