Domestic Bliss

I was supposed to blog during the Christmas week but I couldn’t be bothered. The Husband and I went out with family and friends and spent some lazy days in between so I decided to just take the whole week off blogging. I will be sharing our Christmas week holiday in the coming days but in the meantime, here’s how we said hello to 2013.
Thank You 2012, Hello 2013!

This is probably our most non-fussed NYE preparations. I usually have a lot of things up my sleeve during NY celebrations because the event calls for an abundant table. It is Filipino tradition to have a lot of food on the table such as fruits (should be at least 12 different ones to signify each month of the year), something sweet and sticky, something noodly (for long life) and some meat (Lechon or Ham). For this year, we went on the minimal side of things. I’m so relaxed from our Christmas week holiday that I wanted to continue being one til New Year.

I baked Turkey Ham. Compared to my former baked hams, this was the smallest but definitely the fastest one to bake. Saved us time and electricity.

Thank You 2012, Hello 2013!
The plan was to cook Spaghetti but my Mom told me that since 2013 is the year of the Water Snake, she was told that a dish with soup is more auspicious. So I cooked Beef Pho instead as it had noodles and soup at the same time.
Thank You 2012, Hello 2013!

For something sticky, we bought Leche Flan instead of cooking Biko (which I did last year).

Thank You 2012, Hello 2013!
For something sweet, a round Japanese Cheesecake with fruit toppings.
Thank You 2012, Hello 2013!

And of course, the fruits!  We’ve got 15 different fruits that completed our simple but abundant table.

Thank You 2012, Hello 2013!
Thank You 2012, Hello 2013!
My Mom also sent us some Prosperity Candles that we lit at 11:30pm. 

_MG_8Thank You 2012, Hello 2013!
At the stroke of midnight, we watched the Sydney fireworks on TV and then said a prayer before we ate Media Noche.

Thank You 2012, Hello 2013!
The traditions we have at home is not so much about superstitious beliefs. We do it for fun and it is always cheerful to welcome the new year with table laden with good food.

Happy new year to all of you! I hope we all have a great and abundant year ahead. Always be blessed! Live, savour and be grateful.

Gone are the days when we spend Friday nights at a bar dancing and hanging out with friends.  Now that we’re married, we normally get to dance to our favorite tunes at home while we clean and do household chores.

My Husband and I are no saints when it comes to household chores.  Some weekends, we are really too lazy to do anything.  Sometimes, we just want to sleep, eat and play games.  BUT we try our best to get up and spend an hour or two cleaning and de-cluttering the home.  In order to avoid pangs of laziness while doing chores, we turn to our love of music for inspiration.

This is my little work desk at home.  There’s the usual stuff on my desk such as my planner, mobile phone, iPod Touch, my Moleskine notebook (placed on the shelf) and any one of our cameras.  We have a secured cabinet for our cameras and lenses but there has to be one camera on my desk which I can grab anytime I need to.

cleaning time!

When we clean the home or do our assigned chores, the Husband connects his laptop to our mini-speakers and play our favorites songs via the iTunes. 

We uploaded the Remote application to our iPod and iPhone so that wherever we are inside the home, we can control the music of our iTunes Library in our laptop or computer. 

iPod Touch & iPhone 4 as Remote Controls

Other than our cleaning paraphernalia, we get our music ready so that doing our chores are more enjoyable.  While cleaning, we dance and sing to our favorite tunes.  Doing household chores is never that boring as we get to have fun while doing it.

What do you do in order to make your household chores more enjoyable?

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A few months ago, I checked my list of “Things I want to do this year” and one of them was “To bake (?)”. Yes, that’s exactly how I wrote it, with a question mark.

Why a question mark on my desire to bake? Here’s my reasons:
(1) I’m what you call a “cooking” person. Ask me to cook and I would gladly do it. Cooking excites me, de-stresses me and fulfills me. Baking, on the other hand, does not entice me. I can bake but I’m not passionate about it the way I am with cooking.

(2) I love cakes and some certain desserts once in a while but sweets are something I can do without for a long time. Hence, I feel no urge to bake…when I have cravings for cake, I just buy a slice thinking it is the most practical thing to do.

(3) Live simply, that’s what I say. When I want cake, I just buy it. No more fuss, no more dramas.

This year, our kitchen’s life turned upside down when suddenly, out of nowhere, the Husband expressed his desire to bake. I’m like” Wow, where did that come from???”. You see, the Husband seldom steps foot in the kitchen except to wash dishes or help me clean up. He may know how to cook the basic Filipino dishes, but I have always managed cooking on my own and only ask for help when things are hectic in the household.

One night he told me that he wanted to bake cupcakes. So one fine Saturday, we trooped down to the shops and bought baking equipments, (we never had baking equipments as I never really intended to bake at home) ingredients and lots of edible decors for cakes.

Our first baking project twogether were these vanilla cupcakes:

Since it was our first try at making cupcakes, the goal was just to learn and have fun and I’m glad that we were able to achieve both. 🙂 The big bonus was that the vanilla cupcakes turned out delicious and moist. On how we decorated our cupcakes, we just followed our creative instincts.

Husband was very pleased with his newfound hobby and it seems that he does have talent when it comes to baking. For one, he has a sweet tooth (can’t live without chocolates or desserts) and second, the designing part of cakes is an outlet of his creative talent (He’s a graphic artist).

The second time we made cupcakes, we tried making statement cupcakes. We have this concept of “I do…me too!” that we plan to make t-shirts and mugs for us (Chris being “I do”, me being “me too!”)…like marriage vows, only cooler and cuter haha. Since our plan hasn’t materialized yet, we wrote it in cupcakes in the meantime.

For more photos of our cupcake creations, please check them out here:

Cupcakes by Chris and Ibyang Part 1 and Part 2

Other than cupcakes, the Husband also bakes Friands (nut-based mini-cakes, see photos below) in different flavors (blueberry, apple, almonds, milk and white chocolate) now. And I’m proud to say that I can now leave him alone. I help him a bit but he can really bake on his own.

For his birthday party last month, we were equally pretty busy in the kitchen: me cooking and him baking (he baked Friands for our guests). For me, that was such a beautiful sight! Other than dreaming of learning how to bake this year, I also dreamed that one day my Husband and I would find ourselves twogether in the kitchen—I never thought it would happen so soon and I never thought that he would love doing it. At least now, we also have time spent bonding in the kitchen.

Soon, I will be sharing with you the recipes of my Husband’s sweet creations. In the meantime, I wish you a sweet and happy weekend!

Last Friday, I was on a day-off and spent the whole afternoon reading “Babyproof” by Emily Giffin (will write a review soon) and lazing in bed. Around 4 o’clock, I stood up and hung out by the balcony (I can’t stay in our coffee nook coz it was freezing cold) with a glass of hot coffee and pancakes.

Other than finish the book and continue on my whole afternoon of ME time, I looked forward to the setting of the sun that afternoon since we had a sunny weather that day.

On sunny days, I always look forward to the beautiful setting of the sun. On days when I have work, I get more excited to be at home in time for an awesome sunset show. When I’m home in time for setting of the sun, I feel a certain warm welcome into my home. It’s all worth living in this 3rd floor apartment, in this old building with no elevators.

So let me share with you the awesome setting of the sun last Friday. No editing was done in the photos below so you can appreciate the changing of colors that took place.

Earlier, the horizon looked more purle-ish in color.

A little bit later the blue sky turned up with the sun turning yellow-orange…

Darker hues…and a flicker of pink lines.

Gradually, the sun sets…the horizon darkens and another beautiful sunset was over.

This is one of my favorite spaces in our home. We call it “our coffee nook”.

On weekend mornings, my Husband and I love to hang out here while we sip our morning coffee.

Some afternoons, we’d sit beside each other, watch the sunset and talk of everything under the sun. We’d sip our favorite wine and munch on cheese or sometimes we’d be eating pancit canton..any food that we might be craving for for afternoon tea.

At night time, my Husband never fails to come out here for a few minutes of silence. Sometimes I’d join him and we’d watch the world pass us by and say a word of thanks for the day that was.

What I love best about this space is that it has been instrumental to witnessing beautiful sunsets that seem to welcome me to my home when I arrive in the afternoons or surprise us with moonlight over our heads before we sleep.

This entry is in celebration of Caryn’s birthday. Happy birthday Caryn!!! It was a pleasure to have you as one of my buddies in the blogosphere. 🙂