Thankful Thirties

12 Apr

30

Ok, so I just turned 30 a few hours ago and I couldn’t help but think: “God, I’m getting old!” But after the initial anxiety about aging, being thirty got me reflecting on how the first thirty years of my life has been so far. If I had to sum it up in a word, it would be… AMAZING!

That’s not to say the first 30 years has been a walk in the park. There have been many difficult moments to say the least. But what I find amazing is that even in those most trying of times, there’s still always something to be grateful about.

So here’s a list of 30 things I am thankful for. While this may not be a comprehensive list, it’s an attempt to capture some of the things I appreciate about life, both the simple stuff and the profound.

(Disclaimer: Forgive me if I become a bit senti and write from the heart. I only turn 30 once, you know.)

30 Things I’m Thankful For

  1. My parents. As a kid, I used to know them as just my parents. But as I grow older, I began to realize how they are also real people, with their own faults and shortcomings, dreams and aspirations. And I’ve learned to love them more because of it. They’re the greatest parents, and I’m inspired to be a great dad myself because of them.
  2. My brothers. Having a big age gap from my older brothers, I somehow felt that I wasn’t as close to them as they were with each other. As I grew up though, I’ve come to realize how strong the bond between brothers truly is. In the most challenging times, I know that I always have 3 kuyas looking out for me, whom I can count on and trust completely. They’ve got my back and I want them to know that I’ve got theirs.
  3. My nephews and nieces. Kids bring a certain kind of joy unlike anything else. Multiply that by 7, that’s the kind of joy brought by my 7 nephews and nieces.
  4. Jo. She has been one of the biggest influences in my life and I can say that I wouldn’t be who I am now if not for her. She has shown me how to love in a truly unconditional way. And it is because of her love that I’ve learned to become more mature, more selfless, more loving as a person. Wherever she is right now, I’m truly grateful for all the great moments we’ve shared.
  5. Kimbee. The story of how (and where) I met Kimbee is nothing short of serendipitous. She came to my life at a time when I needed her most. Her generous heart and kind spirit never fail to bring a smile to my face. More than a girlfriend, she is my best friend. And I always remind myself how lucky I am to love (and be loved back) by someone truly special as her.
  6. Friends. I know it’s a bit of injustice to lump everyone together but this list of 30 just wouldn’t fit everyone otherwise. To the high school friends I grew up with and shared in my misadventures. To all my AtSCAn friends who’ve become like a second family to me back in college. To my officemates who’ve grown to become more than just officemates, but friends. And to all other friends I’ve made in between. Thank you for making a difference in my life.
  7. Work. Work!? Yeah, I know. But as I talk to other people, I realize that not everyone does work that fulfills them, or challenges them to be better, or allows them to make a difference, or makes them excited to wake up in the morning (not everyday, but sometimes). I’m thankful for that.
  8. Good health. So basic but often overlooked.
  9. Graduating from college. Not everyone gets this privilege. Some have to work hard for it.
  10. A comfortable life. Nothing too fancy, just comfortable.
  11. Long weekends.
  12. Lazy Saturdays.
  13. A good movie or a TV show.
  14. Staying in on a rainy afternoon.
  15. Long showers.
  16. The beach.
  17. Opportunities to travel.
  18. Rex, my car. My first big purchase from my hard-earned money. We’ve had a lot of great moments together, Rex and I.
  19. My iPod.
  20. My bed.
  21. Internet and Facebook.
  22. Any food that’s made from potatoes. French Fries. Chips. Mashed Potatoes. Potato Gratin. Potato Soup. You name it, I eat it.
  23. My fast metabolism.
  24. My high tolerance for alcohol.
  25. My creative bone.
  26. My naturally cheerful disposition.
  27. A big hug.
  28. Christmas. Even at the age of 30, Christmas has never lost it’s magic for me.
  29. Surprises. Big or small.
  30. Birthdays.

A Fruitful Weekend Making an Edible Fruit Bouquet

20 Feb

Roses for Valentines? Been there, done that. This year, I wanted to give my beloved Kimbee something different and extra special. And knowing how she’s a fan of fruits (especially watermelons), I’m sure she’d be delighted to get an edible fruit bouquet.

What is a fruit bouquet? It’s a bouquet but it’s not made of flowers. Instead, it’s made of fruits. The best part of it is that you can eat it. So it’s not just a feast for your eyes, but for your palate as well.

Fruit bouquets have been all the rage in the US. It’s surprising that still very few businesses offer here it here in Manila. I know of one shop in the metro where you can order. It would have been easy just to buy one and have it delivered, but I thought it was much more fun to make it myself. And so I made a weekend project out of it.

It was easy learning how to make one with all the how-to videos out there on the net. The important thing was finding a peg of the end product I wanted as this would be my guide in making the bouquet. The first step was to go to the grocery to buy the fruits (duh). Since I didn’t have them yet, I also had to buy other stuff like barbecue sticks, cookie cutters (flower and heart-shaped), a zigzag knife (to make those nice wavy cuts), a melon baller, and a vase. Cutting and arranging the fruits were pretty straightforward.

After a few minutes of cutting and arranging, I finished my very own fruit bouquet:

And here’s Kimbee enjoying it:

It was a fun project and I would definitely enjoy doing it again. Next time, I might experiment with chocolate covered fruits.🙂

So that’s it for this weekend’s project. Kimbee and I are off to enjoy the fruits of my hard work (pun intended).

Some Tips

  • Choose fruits that don’t oxidize (or brown) quickly. Good choices are pineapples, watermelons, cantaloupes, honeydews, grapes and strawberries.
  • You can use a variety of materials to hold the sticks together in your vase. You can use floral foam (the one they use for floral arrangements) or clay (which I used for my project). You can even use a head of cabbage if you really want to make it completely edible.🙂
  • To fill in the empty spots and hide the barbecue sticks, put some lettuce near the base of your bouquet in between the fruits. If you don’t have lettuce, parsley also works well.
  • It’s best to prepare the bouquet fresh because it doesn’t hold long unlike flowers. I cut all the fruits I needed the night before, kept them in the ref, and just arranged them in the morning just before I gave them.
  • Pick a nice vase to go with your bouquet. It’s a nice touch to complete the whole look of your creation.

Some Links

  • A good how-to video tutorial here and here.
  • If you don’t have the time and just want to order it, there’s a shop along Katipunan called Fruiquet which makes fruit bouquets to order. Check out their website.

Lighting Up the Sky with DIY Floating Lanterns

31 Jan

Project #2: Sky Lanterns.

I’ve long been amazed by these floating lights ever since I first saw a picture of them in a magazine as a kid. Later on, I learned that it was a photo of the Pingxi Festival in Taiwan where hundreds of these lanterns are simultaneously released to the sky. It was such an awe-inspiring image that was burned to my memory as a child.

Last week, a scene from Disney’s latest animated film, Tangled, brought back that childhood awe I’ve long since forgotten. It was a scene where thousands and thousands of sky lanterns were floating above a still lake which reflected the lights and sky above it.

It was then I thought: “Hey, these lanterns look simple enough. I bet I can make one myself.” And so started my project for the weekend.

Coincidentally, it’ll be Chinese New Year in a few days and it’ll be the perfect time to release some lanterns. They supposedly bring good luck and prosperity. People in China traditionally write their wishes on the lanterns to set them off to the heavens. In other cultures, letting go of the lantern is symbolic of problems and worries floating away.

I started by gathering supplies. Thin paper, sticks, wire, aluminum foil, cotton, alcohol, glue, scissors. Usual household stuff. Putting it together was easy enough. The concept was simple: form some type of enclosure (thin paper) supported by a structure (wires + sticks) to trap the warm air being generated by a heat source (fire + cotton + alcohol). Elementary hot air balloon science (or so I thought).

Voila! My home-made sky lantern–

DIY Sky Lantern

And off I went to launch it…

Launching My DIY Sky Lantern

It lit up beautifully, filling the whole lantern with warm air and a fiery red glow. I held it up and gave it a little upward push before finally letting it go. It hovered a little mid-air… but then gently floated back down. I tried again a second time… a third time… a fourth… to the same result. The experiment was a failure!😦

But only for now. I did some more research on why my design didn’t quite work out. It could have been for a number of reasons. The heat may have not been enough. The materials may have been too heavy. The enclosure might not have been airtight. The weather may have been too humid. In any case, I’ll definitely try this again soon until I finally get it right. Till then, I’ll have this post to remind me of my first attempt at making my own sky lantern.

Some Links

  • Breathtaking images of sky lanterns in flight here, here and here.
  • I’ve scoured the web for sky lantern tutorials and this is the easiest and most practical I’ve found.
  • Here‘s an instructional video of how to launch your sky lantern.
  • You can also order sky lanterns in bulk online if you don’t have the time to make them yourself. Perfect idea for birthdays, parties, even weddings.🙂 Local filipino sellers here and here.
  • Click here to learn more about the sky lantern’s history and festivals.

Panography: Blend 26 Photos (or more) in 1

23 Jan

Project #1: Panography.

It’s like panoramas on steroids. Just take loads of photos of your subject from different angles and stitch them all together. The result is one amazing view you can never get with just one photo. Of course, the process is a bit more complicated than that. I had to brush up on my photoshop knowledge, but I managed to finish it in a few minutes.

For the subject, I wanted something monumental. So I trooped over to Luneta park to take photos of the historical Rizal Monument. (It was my first time to visit Luneta as an adult so it was also a blast discovering Manila all over again.) It was raining a little when I went so the ground was wet and the sky was a bit overcast. The good news was that there weren’t many people so I had the park mostly to myself.

So here it is, Rizal Monument stitched from 26 different photos.

Some Tips

  • Be sure to take lots of overlapping pictures. It’s easy to miss areas of your subject that are not as interesting. So don’t forget to photograph even the boring parts. You don’t want a big hole in your photo (unless you intended to).
  • You don’t need to shoot all your photos straight. Try rotating your camera at different angles and see how it turns out.
  • Some say that you should set your camera’s exposure to manual so you get an even look across your photos. I say you don’t need to. There’s a quirky charm to having each of the photos slightly off from each other.

Some Links

  • Some great examples of panographs here and here.
  • To learn more about how to make your own panographs, check out this link.
  • Or click here for some info about the famous Rizal Monument.

What’s this blog all about?

21 Jan

Weekends are much too important to leave unproductive. (Plus we already have the weekdays for that.) That is what this blog is all about. Making the most out of my weekends.

How? By embarking on something new each week. Like picking up a new hobby, learning a new skill, visiting a foreign city, or seeking out new finds. It’s about getting those creative juices flowing, discovering the world and expanding my limits. All in a weekend.

It’s not about long-term goals that take forever to achieve. It’s about simple, practical, complete-able projects that I can easily squeeze into my weekends.

And this is the first project. Starting a blog.