In the kitchen · Moments

Happy Belated Halloween 2020!

It was a beautiful sunny Halloween day here in Montreal. We started our morning watching “Beetlejuice” (1988) and going for a lovely autumn walk with our son, which was followed by baking a pumpkin cream cheese bundt cake together later in the afternoon and then having sushi. The night ended with us watching our movie tradition: “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993).

Our pumpkin cream cheese bundt cake

When my husband and I started dating, baking a pumpkin cream cheese bundt cake was one of the first activities we did together. I even popped the mixture in the oven without the flour! “How embarrassing,” I thought to myself. Three years later, this cake would pay homage to one of our earliest memories, and cakes, together. It was very scrumptious, although I wish I’d added more sugar to the cream cheese layer. As always, though, it was even better the next day.

Here’s the recipe we used: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/pumpkin-cream-cheese-bundt-cake/

It wasn’t so much a spooky Halloween as much as a heartwarming one. Spending time together as a family — it was Keaton’s first Halloween, too — was the cherry on top of it all. We even tried dressing our little one in his first Halloween costume: a cookie monster spin-off that his auntie had bought him. But it lasted only a few minutes while we took a few comical photos, because he hated it. “Why am I all furry and poofy? Why the suffering?” He must’ve thought.

It was also endearing to see little kiddos on our street dressed up in costumes and trick-or-treating, and to see households concocting innovative ideas to give out candies to kids while still respecting the social distancing protocol. Candy tube slides? Wow! We were amazed at how creative and motivated our neighbourhood was. Pandemic aside, a sense of community prevailed.

My husband and I were bummed to not have participated. But with a baby on board in our home, it was important to us that we remained as safe and vigilant as possible. Hopefully next year we’ll give out candies — even have Keaton dressed up in a costume and going trick-or-treating!

The ‘mommy and daddy secret candy stash’

Our son was so good, he even let us enjoy our Halloween day in sweet tranquility. He allowed us to relax, cuddle, and watch movies and binge on candies and chocolates while he happily entertained himself with his toys. It must’ve been one of the first official ‘couple times’ for us in, what, 8 months? We live in fear. We live to serve the Little Lord.

Moments

Mr & Mrs

Our Mr & Mrs mugs ft. Jack Skellington and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)!

Dear Readers,

Bruno and I are officially married and husband and wife! October 9th marked our special day. The day was simple and practical: we made a hearty brunch together, we shared fun giggles with our baby boy, we video-called our parents to share our excitement, and later we got dressed while my sister entertained Little One. Then we were on our way to the notary’s to be wed at 3PM.

When we arrived at the ceremony room at the notary’s office, we felt an immediate sense of relief, safety, and joy. It was finally happening. We were finally getting married after our wedding in May had been cancelled due to COVID-19 — and in the midst of a second lockdown that had coincidentally begun right before our second set date. The thought that we’d be obliged to cancel our wedding a second time due to another lockdown was an emotional rollercoaster. Nothing was going right in the world — and in many people’s lives — but all we wanted to do in the midst of this chaos was to get married. And finally, the moment was ours to keep.

The ceremony room at the notary’s was intimate yet simple and elegant. Fit for a bride and groom and their celebration of love and unity — fit for us that day. There were six of us in the ceremony room: myself, my husband-to-be, our baby, my sister (our witness), and the notary and her assistant (our second witness). Due to COVID-19, we were all required to wear masks and social distance during the event, all of which was smooth sailing. (We’re thankful for the notary and her team for taking necessary precautions while still providing marital, and personable, services.)

Never in my life had I envisioned getting married this way, with just us and our witnesses for company. I had always envisioned a wedding celebration — albeit a very small and intimate one — with our parents and loved ones present to celebrate with us. But we were sans our loved ones on our wedding day. Yet paradoxically, despite a relatively empty room, the moment felt so good and right. Like all was as it should be. We were grateful for the moment to finally happen, for my sister’s presence and her relentless help in our lives, for our baby boy being present on our wedding day, and for the notary and her assistant who orchestrated our ceremony.

The ceremony was short and sweet — a mere thirty minutes with all the logistics taken into account — but it was very emotionally charged. Bruno and I cried the whole time we held hands and exchanged vows, from beginning to end. Life hasn’t been easy on us; the pandemic has brought about a series of challenges to our lives, alongside being new parents. But we had been raised by wolves who equipped us with resilience, determination, and spirit. And our wedding ceremony was both a testimony and a celebration of our perseverance and conviction.

“We did it, we’re finally married!” We exclaimed with pride as we walked back to the car. During this period of uncertainty and hardship, getting married felt like a major accomplishment for us, and we were adamant to celebrate it. The night was young; we returned home with my sister, video-called our parents again to share our news, ordered sushi takeout, toasted to our wedding with champagne, and had cake from Rockaberry. I had my usual divine pumpkin pie!

My first ever pumpkin pie from Rockaberry. It became my all-time seasonal favourite. So divine!
Cakes to celebrate! ^__^

Our wedding day was imperfect — we got married in the midst of a pandemic, our families and friends were absent, I didn’t walk down the aisle with my white gown and bouquet of flowers — but it was the most beautiful, raw, and genuine moment we could’ve ever dreamed of. And for what it’s worth, it was the perfect experience and memory for us.

A special thank you to Melody, my big sister and confidante, for always being there for us and for making our special day happen. We couldn’t have done it without her. I love you so much and am so honoured to have you walk by our side every step of the way.

Early morning hair, pjs, and coffee in my new mug… as my son was playing in his play pen. So far, it’s become my go-to coffee mug and happy place.

Before we got married, Bruno and I chose the Jack Skellington and Sally mugs from The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) to serve as our Mr & Mrs mugs. We had coffee in them the next morning, and it was so much fun and Halloween-y! These mugs are meaningful to us because they symbolize the early fruits of our relationship. The Nightmare Before Christmas was one of the first movies we had seen together, sometime after Halloween and before Christmas, when we started dating in 2017.

Besides being the perfect Mr & Mrs mugs for us, these Jack & Sally mugs are also ideal for the month of October, with Halloween sneaking up around the corner. In fact, on Halloween night we’ll be watching The Nightmare Before Christmas while sipping an autumn-friendly drink in our mugs. We’ll also be indulging in our candy bags and treats. I’m super excited for us to be kids again! (Hopefully, our son will let us enjoy some ‘us’ and movie time.)

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) film was such a warm memory for us, that, on our wedding night, my husband gifted me The Nightmare Before Christmas Pandora charm, along with the Baby Yoda charm from The Mandalorian. These two charms are very endearing because they highlight some of the sweet memories we shared together over the years. While The Nightmare Before Christmas was one of the first movies we had watched together, The Mandalorian was also a TV series we had enjoyed together when I was pregnant a few years later. It’s a little detail in my day, but wearing my charm bracelets makes me so merry and giddy.

Surprise bouquet from my husband (my then fiancé) for our 3 year anniversary!

October has always been, and will always be, a special month for us. These days, when I walk around our little abode and see autumn and Halloween decorations that adorn the nooks and crevices, I’m reminded of the charm of the season and the playfulness of life. Moreover, I’m reminded of my husband and I, and the celebration of our love and devotion.

Moments

Hocus Pocus, Witches Brew

It’s almost here, but I just can’t wait for October! I look forward to leaves turning pretty shades of red, orange, and yellow; to cozy sweater weather, cuddles, and pumpkin spice lattes; to wearing my yellow Little Girl in the Prairie rain jacket; and best of all, to showing our baby boy the wonders of autumn. This year also marks our first autumn with our son, and I already find so much pleasure in seeing his curious eyes roaming about and soaking in the colourful trees.

Autumn is my favourite season. It’s idyllic and romantic, and it wisely reminds me of life’s innate cyclical nature — and the possibility for change and new beginnings. Otherwise, October really is a special month for my fiancé and I. It’s when we first met and started dating, when went to Spain together and he proposed, and when we’ll be getting married. Next month is when I’ll finally be marrying my sweet love and the father of my child, and when we’ll finally be Mr & Mrs. My heart is filled with glee.

It’s almost three years since Bruno and I met. October 2017 was a magical month that marked the start of our shared adventures. It was also a month filled with autumn walks, scones, baking, and Halloween treats and fun. One of our earliest memories together was packing Halloween candies in candy bags at his rustic kitchen table, and baking a pumpkin cream cheese bundt cake. I even forgot to add the flour before popping the cake in the oven.

“Doesn’t this go in the cake?” He pointed with utter confusion at the lonely and long-forgotten bowl of flour on the table.

“Oh, shit!” I exclaimed.

(Even the first dates revealed to us that we were the yin and yang to each other’s idiosyncrasies.)

We hurriedly pulled the cake from the oven and mixed the flour in. Of course, my cake didn’t come out with a velvety cream cheese layer in the middle, but at least the cake itself was cream cheese-y — and scrumptious. 

This was the cake that we’d baked together, and that he’d had the morning after for breakfast. He sent me a photo of it, with a sweet thank you.

I quickly came to enjoy all our little interactions. At first glance, we were opposites. Bruno was outwardly, expressive, direct, and down-to-earth. On the other hand, I was introverted, reserved, and inwardly — and, as he puts it, ethereal and otherworldly in my manner of speaking. We seemingly sang two different tunes, but what we quickly realized was that our core was one and the same. Spending time together was easy, effortless, and comforting. Every moment with him was my happy place. And soon, it would become my forever happy place.

Who knew that shortly after our first encounters I’d return with my baking pans and officially move in with him? I didn’t. But life had plans for us for the long haul. And here we are, three years later, to be married, in the special month of October where it all began. It’s very exciting to finally be getting married; it feels like a breath of fresh air because we’ve already had to cancel our wedding in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And how heartwarming it is that our son will be there by our side on our wedding day — the symbol and fruit of our love and unity.

In many ways, this pandemic has robbed us of many pleasures and feelings of normality, especially following the birth of our son. It felt like life had conspired against us, mocking us in times of exuberant joy. Yet as adaptable individuals with an appreciation for imperfection, we also revel in the discomforts of life, which is why we decided to go ahead and get married next month, even if it meant not having our families and friends with us. We understood: the world is as such, we love each other and have our son to behold, and there’s no better moment of celebration and joy than now.

This year, autumn will be a good cause for celebration. We’ll be Mr & Mrs and it’ll be our son’s first Halloween (and soon, first Christmas)! I’ve had so much fun adorning the house with autumn and Halloween decorations. In fact, we’re thinking of ordering a mini Halloween-themed wedding cake to celebrate the night of our wedding!

This snow globe was my first real one. It reminded me of Sabrina The Teenage Witch (1996 TV series), as well as Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018 TV series). I had watched the former during my childhood, and the latter was a series that Bruno and I had watched together at his father’s apartment in Madrid. This was a fond memory, again taking place in October around Halloween time.

Jewellery & Beauty

Storytelling: My Pandora Bracelet

This is my official Pandora bracelet, and I’m enamoured by it! ❤️ I started it back in November 2019 and completed it by the end of the holiday season. Looking in retrospect, I shrivel with a wee bit of guilt from my hasty whims, but I was so madly in love and obsessed with collecting charms that I couldn’t pace myself. “There she goes with her Pandora again,” my sister would laugh. Yeep.

Collecting charms is not only a fun and creative hobby or passion — albeit, eek, a very expensive one — it’s also a sentimental and charming way of storytelling. My bracelet holds many charms with different stories and meanings to me, most of which highlight my loved ones’ significance and role in my life, but my favourites are the “Little House Charm” and the “Elephant & Blue Balloon Dangle Charm.”

I could almost clutch my “Little House Charm” in my hand and nestle it cozily against my heart. For me, it symbolizes my family and childhood roots because it looks almost identical to my old childhood home in Ottawa that I grew up in, with the same two top windows and flowers in front. (I lived there for about 25 years!) I fondly remember the orange flowers that would grow every summer and could still picture Dad watering them. I’ve had bittersweet memories in that home and it’s the place that’s deeply shaped who I am today. That home, which has now been demolished, has become the centre of my heart and soul. To solidify its meaning to me, my parents have even gifted me this charm which was very sweet.

While the “Little House Charm” carries a soulful significance for me, the “Elephant & Blue Balloon Dangle Charm” wins the title of being the cutest charm on my bracelet. It also carries its own meaning. It’s a mommy elephant with a baby elephant on her back, and both are hanging from a blue balloon. I had bought this charm when I was pregnant and found out we were having a boy; it was to symbolize my little Keaton and I. This charm was no longer available in stores, but through serendipity and elemental forces that were in my favour, I was able to stumble upon it.

I love this bracelet dearly. It reminds me of this past holiday season when my parents came to visit us and I was pregnant. Pregnancy was challenging, but wearing my beloved bracelet — a little detail in my life — gave me a boost of warmth and energy. But because I’m a mommy now — a full-time food source, human pacifier, and archangel of cuddles — I can no longer wear it, as it’s heavy and chunky. Sometimes, however, I do try it on — even whilst in pjs — just to remind myself of its cute existence, and to, you know, feel a bit cute myself, especially now that these days I feel like a dusty ancient relic.

I can’t wait to wear this bracelet again; it’s been a long time since I’ve given birth and placed it safely in its box. I’m also currently working on bracelet number two! I’m aiming for it to be an all-silver tone and am super excited about the new charms I’ll be adding. Now… to pace myself.

Moments

Turquoise summer

my sweet keurig

It feels like it’s going to be a turquoise summer. It’s a warm and sunny afternoon, and here I am, sitting on the balcony with my delicious iced coffee and my laptop and headphones — basking away in my sweet and much-needed bubble.

There are certain burning moments in life when you appreciate the small details with every atom of your being, as if they’re the catalysts that fuel the deep inhalations that you require but can no longer humanly muster. This is true for me presently, especially now that we’re in a quarantine and the world around me feels strangely deserted and lifeless, and now that I’ve become a first-time mother which itself produces a set of challenges.

“Remember when you used to enjoy quiet mornings and staring out the window while contemplating life, with a cup of coffee for sweet company?” My mom would comment and laugh, with both a comical reality check and empathy, as she watches me scurry around with my shaggy lioness hair that hasn’t been brushed in weeks. It’s true, life was no longer about me and my whimsical longings for silence, solitude, and reflection. Coffee mornings were no longer existent, and if they were, they were inundated with anxiety-filled thoughts that the Little Lord would wake up and feed at any moment. (If I can’t poop in peace, forget drinking coffee in peace.)

I bow down to my mother’s feet with gratitude. I’m forever thankful to this beautiful woman, mother, wife, and soul who’s been pregnant with five children, and who’s mothered us with dignity, strength, and uttermost compassion and kindness. 

Motherhood is currently, and always will be, my dearest life journey. Yet it can be clumsy and challenging at times, especially when it’s your first experience. And when you give of yourself fully and relentlessly and finally receive something in return — a little something that’s enough to re-ignite your soul — it almost feels as if you’ve been gifted the sky and the mountains. It feels that good to me — and increasingly so — now that something as simple as going out for a serene walk has become an abnormal occurrence in our everyday lives during this quarantine and for the most part we find ourselves cocooned inside our small apartment, and now that I’m a new mother that rarely has time to herself.

Then came this Keurig machine by mail this morning. The excitement and anticipation grew as I watched Bruno carry in the box from the stairs, and I felt like a little kid who was just given an ice cream cone. It gave me a reason to be giddy and cheerful. A different reason. One that wasn’t about the world out there in its state of chaos and neuroticism, that wasn’t about my family and dear son, and that wasn’t about the pile of laundry that needed to be folded. It was about me, if only for a brief and candied moment. This coffee machine would become a place of solace.

This summer will be short and arduous if the coronavirus lockdown persists, but knowing that I’m fully equipped with my sweet love and son, and knowing that there’s a world in which I can always slip into the kitchen to make myself a cuppa coffee during my little one’s late morning naps — and knowing that there’s life and beauty in that fleeting moment of great escape — makes it all the better and the more bearable. It’s enough to cheer me up and grow fluttering butterflies of joy inside my belly.

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We moved Keaton’s crib into our room, so for now my vanity is in his room!

This vintage vanity is another turquoise piece that’s my happy place. (I do have a fiery and passionate love affair with turquoise.) I fondly remember sitting here last summer — I was in the early days of my pregnancy — and putting on my makeup and getting ready to go hand-in-hand with my love to the market or to a vintage bazaar. It was my very own personal space and soulful corner of the home where I could bask in my femininity — and that felt refreshing. Even if I won’t be dressing up to go anywhere anytime soon and life may feel like a surreal dream, it will still be my happy place alongside my coffee machine. A turquoise summer is most definitely in order.

***

I showed a photo of this turquoise Keurig to my sister in passing, and as usual, she made it a dream come true with my parents’ tribute and support. She scoured the market to order it for me. I’m head-over-heels crazy about it! It’s as cute as a button. Thank you, Mel, and mom and dad for this thoughtful Mother’s Day and birthday gift. 

Thank you to my big sister who’s always been there for me since I was a shrivelled little prune and who knows my heart well. And thank you to my parents who’ve been deeply loving and supportive, even from afar, and whose familiar faces through a video call never ceases to warm my soul. 

To Bruno, my sweet love, cheers to many romantic coffee mornings on the balcony this summer. Cheers to coffee made for you with love and joy by your Tiffipoo, with her dainty coffee machine that’s enough to make her glow. 

To Keaton, my sweetest gift of life, as you grow older, just as mommy learns the map of your soul, you’ll in turn learn mommy’s idiosyncrasies and little moments of joy. 

Moments

To Keaton ♥️

I’m officially a mommy, and my heart is elated. Baby Keaton was born in early March, and he is, and always will be, our greatest joy, accomplishment, and adventure. We’re deeply and wholly in love with our sweet baby boy — a sacrificial and wholesome love we never knew before.

He’s grown much since his birth, and it’s heartwarming to learn the maps of his heart, mind, and soul on a daily basis. I have mommy guilts already — I’m learning to be more compassionate with myself as a new mother — but something I’ll never regret, is not having been present enough with him. I can say that so far, I’m proud of myself for being relentlessly present with him with each passing breath he takes.

I love him so dearly, so tenderly, so compassionately that my heart could explode. I love that his personality is shining through evermore each day; I love the way his toe beans curl around my finger; I love the way he throws his arms up with glee as we change his diaper; I love that his hair’s growing fuller and into a light ash brown shade, that I myself have always dreamt of; I love pondering if he looks more like me or his daddy; I love the sense of safety and exuberant joy he feels when we place him between us in bed and attack him with kisses.

I love him to the moon and back, and beyond. 

2020 has been bittersweet. The arrival of our son was the climatic point in our lives, both individually and as a cohesive unit. Yet what was intended to be a celebratory time, became a trying moment. Therein lived an inescapable lesson in life: there was no light without dark, and no dark without light. Both were inextricably linked — the yin and yang of the cosmic law, and the Romeo and Juliet of our human existence. This was the dance where tragedy and romance fell in love and became forever intwined.

Shortly after the birth of our boy — the happiest time of our lives — the coronavirus pandemic began, my grandmother passed away, and we cancelled our wedding. It felt as though the universe was mocking us, and laughing at the naiveté of our all-encompassing joy. An all-time high was followed by an all-time low. Life was no longer the same, and sometimes I found myself shaking my head as if to try to wake myself up from a dream.

Hopes to take our newborn to a farmer’s market on a warm spring day to pick up fresh flowers to adorn our home, felt light years away. Instead, we were now watching the trees and birds and bees from the confines of our windows. Grieving my grandmother’s passing also became an individual experience within the confines of our walls, when what we needed was to be with family, and to hold and be held. Everything felt impossibly surreal. Possibilities felt so close yet painstakingly far — a dream within a dream.

Yesterday was our scheduled wedding day. Reminiscent, I looked at our wedding decorations and fairy lights, and there they were, nestled in the closet — coated with memories of the past. Soon after, it was 4 PM and I turned to Bruno and said, “It would’ve been the time of our ceremony, when we got married.” He began tearing up and I felt my heart twist and churn. Yet we knew that the only sane thing to do during an insane crossroads of our lives, was to simply be. To simply be present with each other — with what still is. We had our love and our strength to celebrate, and best of all, Keaton.

All was as it should be. Timing was always right in the grand scheme of life. Baby Keaton was proof — a small and cute one at that — of the synchronicity of events. He arrived at an uncertain moment in all our lives, and for good reason: he was needed. He was the uplifting joy to his grandparents’ day, and the smile that made life a little more bearable in the midst of unpredictability and darkness. He was the bearer of love and light, of strength and courage, of will and resilience.

In the end, we had our son. He was the emblem that married us, that tied us together evermore intimately and sweetly. No, life is never as it should be. We never had the chance to introduce my grandmother to her great-grandchild for the first and last time, nor have we had the chance to show him the world, nor did we ever get to walk down the aisle together hand-in-hand. But then again, yes, life is always as it should be. And every day, I thank the moon and the stars for our son, for he’s the greatest blessing in our lives.

Moments · Travel

Mom- and wife-to-be ♥️

Hello, Friends,

It’s been over a year since I’ve last posted here — my soulful corner of the universe. Many sweet happenings have sparked into motion since then.

I wish I could carve out every detail of my memory in writing, and obsessively so, like a neurosurgeon carrying out his finely tuned daily surgical brain procedures with a scalpel fit for a competent touch. But because much time has passed, I’ll do time-sweet-time the honour of letting it just be, and simply scan the surface of my vague and pirouetting thoughts.

A memorable milestone was travelling with my boyfriend (now fiancé) to Spain in October 2018, to visit his family. It was a very emotional and revealing experience for me as an autonomous and growing entity, and for us together. My growth was vast, deep — and tall — like an olive branch steadily peeking its worldly head through dust and debris towards the all-knowing sky.

The good ol' butt poke (Valencia, Spain)
The good ol’ butt poke (Valencia, Spain)

And he proposed to me, at his aunt’s apartment in León where he’d spent a grand majority of his childhood. It was no perfect moment. It was in fact the most imperfect moment we’d experienced as a unit — comically clumsy, too, in retrospect. Yet it was a transient moment of our lives that was most true and raw — that revealed the promise of stars on a gloomy night — and that ultimately revealed the wisdom of profound strength and compassion, and the truth of our hearts. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

No two stories are ever alike. And when I ponder back at that point in time, I feel both tears and a smile overtaking me. This was our story. This was the story of how our yesterdays synchronistically carved the expansive path of today. And how thankful I am for the love of my life, and for us.

El Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain
El Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain

I loved walking hand-in-hand with my sweet love at the El Retiro Park in Madrid. The city was alive and bustling with social synergy, drinks and food, and everlasting life. But sometimes, a walk in the park was all it took to rejuvenate my tired spirit. Luckily for us, this park was only a walking distance from B’s parents’ home. It was filled with greenery, colourful leaves (we were reaching autumn at this time of year), and many cats!

El Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain
El Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain

Nighttime walk in Madrid
Nighttime walk in Madrid

View from a top part of El Corte Inglés, near Sol metro station (Madrid)
View from a top part of El Corte Inglés, near Sol metro station (Madrid)

La Plaza Mayor de León (León, Spain)
La Plaza Mayor de León (León, Spain)

León, SpainLeón, Spain

Toledo, Spain
Toledo, Spain

Lookout from Parador de Toledo
Lookout from Parador de Toledo

The Aqueduct of Segovia
The Aqueduct of Segovia

Segovia at night
Segovia at night

Our trip to Spain was almost one year ago, and I miss it and B’s family very much. Even if I’d like to return right now or travel and explore unlimited terrains like the freshly grated, citrus-y younger version of me, I can’t, and for good reason: I’m pregnant (and fainting has become my best friend), and we’re getting married next year. Yay!

I look back on my blog since the me who began blogging in December 2013, and I’m astonished and heart-warmed by how much has evolved in my life — from university-days-me to career-woman-and-soon-to-be-mom-and-wife-me. Somehow, and with a graceful touch of serendipity, it’s been my experience that the beautiful always nested itself in unexpected territory.

I indeed still dream of foreign heights and the homey and comforting feeling of transitioning in airports and “what next’s”. But more than ever, my mind and heart have cradled themselves in the joyful comfort of knowing that next year, I’ll be walking down the aisle on the way to marrying the father of my child and husband-to-be, with our little bundle of fluff alongside us.

My heart is elated.

In the kitchen · Moments

Blueberry cheesecake for a 36th

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My boyfriend turned 36 a few days ago, and for his birthday, I baked him his favourite: blueberry cheesecake. From the moment I learned that cheesecake was his tummy’s go-to (which was during the beginning of our ‘courtship’), I made a note in my agenda reminding myself to surprise him with this delectable and diabolic goodness.

Living together and working similar schedules makes planning surprises a slippery slope. What was intended to be a surprise for him turned out to be somewhat of a team project. We field-tripped to the grocery store together, and with me shyly grabbing cream cheese and graham crackers and hippity-hopping around the aisles looking for blueberries, he knew: I was baking him blueberry cheesecake. (Hello, inevitable!) I must say, kudos to him for being able to withstand not devouring it before the day of celebration, even though it was the ultimate temptress.

This occasion actually marked my first time baking cheesecake, and we were both wildly impressed. My boyfriend even continued having some over the following days for breakfast and dessert. I did overbake it a little though, and overload on the jam which overpowered the fine taste of the cheesecake itself. (Little notes for next time.)

My face is no longer mine. My cheeks have become ever so swollen — so much so, that I could be identified as a chipmunk who’s hiding nuts in its cheeks. Reason being? I ate too much cheesecake, friends.

Ingredients

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 eggs
2 cups frozen blueberries
1/3 cup blueberry jam

Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Combine crumbs, 4 tablespoons sugar, and butter. Pat mixture into the bottom of a 9″ springform pan.
2. Mash cream cheese until soft and creamy. Slowly mix in sour cream, 3/4 cup sugar, vanilla and flour. Beat in eggs one at a time.
3. Pour mix into crumb-lined pan. Bake in oven for 1 hour or until firm.
4. Let cool, then melt blueberry jam over cake and add frozen blueberries.

See original recipe here: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/7934/blueberry-cheesecake/

Moments

Sweet processions

Nostalgic summer dinners with Mom and Dad, and celebrating a surprise early birthday for Mom; roaming about the city on foot in the summer sun, with the Ottawa Race Weekend and annual community garage sale event for sweet company; returning to my happy place at Jo’s, and enjoying a maple scone at my usual spot by the window, whilst people-watching; and finally, lots and lots of flowers wherever I tread. Happiness, joy, and butterflies like childhood’s excitement and zest for life.

Suddenly, I fell in love with Ottawa — longing to stay, at least for a little longer. It took just the sight of enchanting blooms, the quiet, familial and happy atmosphere of the city, and smiling passersby roaming the streets, basking in the sun with loved ones, to make me wish I could live in my once-upon-a-time-ago city again — absence and fondness playing the Trickster.

What was important became increasingly clear. Daily inhalations and exhalations were wrapped with an unforgiving noose of ‘doings’ and ‘go-gettings’; goals had to be achieved, and a vision for the future awaited its timely fruition. Yet, time and time again, spending time with those I loved most, trumped the most wondrous of worldy possessions and milestones. Now, and only now, with love, appreciation, and gratitude.

Journal

April showers

It’s been raining quite a bit these days, which I secretly love and hope for, despite practicality vying for clear skies. Not necessarily sun, just a dry day in which my boots can confidently skip a mile or two towards nipping goals in the bud, which, given my current unruly circumstance, is due time.

But I can’t complain. It’s Friday afternoon, my roommates have scurried at — which, to my sleepyhead,  was — the wake of dawn, and here I am, alone again in the quiet corner of my cozy abode, my coffee black and bitter, with the sound of raindrops pitter-pattering against my window for friendly company — a sure greeting with solace.

I once contemplated the reason underlying my aversion to warm, sunny days, when everyone around me was praying to the cheeky gods of spring blooms, for perky weather fit for sun tan kisses and golden glows. “Euyuck,” I’d squint my eyes in disgust, tongue escaping my mouth for want of culinary freedom, like a sick child who’d just taken a teaspoon of nauseating cough drop syrup.

Yet, somewhere in the nooks and crevices of the person that is me, I understood: It was the discrepancy between the external world and my internal landscape. How far-fetched I was from bright, sunny skies and the sight of children playing hopscotch on sidewalks, ice cream cones in hand, laughing freely and unapologetically. Me, myself, and I — a sure stranger in this matrix, a plethora of sanguine bodies and colourful spirits.

It was on rainy days that my vulnerabilities would peek their newborn head into the room and kiss surrounding furniture with shy, childlike greetings. These were the days that showed promise — that the universe was with me in my moments of darkness, and that somehow the sky had understood, and was holding my hand in unison and silence. Today, I revel in it.