My Gratitude Journal

“Thankful November” Gratitude List 2020

Being in a constant state of gratitude is a great way to celebrate your blessings. Everyday is Thanksgiving, especially when there is so much to be thankful for, the big things and the little things. So for this thankful November, here is my gratitude list:

  1. A Friday the 13th night dinner: I took my aunt out for dinner to celebrate her birthday. I picked a restaurant close to us called The Odyssey in Granada Hills. The atmosphere and ambience there is great. They did a good job setting up their tables out on the patio and following L.A. County restrictions. There is a firepit and lights strung about. You get a wonderful view of the San Fernando Valley. There is also a skyline boardwalk. The waiter gives you a list of how to practice social distancing while eating out such as wearing your mask when leaving the table. In addition, the waiters are wearing gloves, a mask and a plastic shield around their face. Talk about extra protection. I was very excited to go out and it was my second time this year (since the pandemic started) to go to a restaurant. The first time was on my birthday. The first order of business was to order drinks (or as I like to call them “dranks”). I had a glass of white wine and my aunt ordered a Mai Tai. We also ordered crab cakes for an appetizer. It was delicious, especially with the mustard sauce. This was all on the Happy Hour menu. I love Happy Hour at this restaurant. I noticed on the menu that there was a mini winter squash chicken pot pie. I wanted to get that, but I had already had in my mind to order a burger and fries, which I ended up ordering. I was not disappointed. The burger was delicious and the fries were amazing! It had a little bit of garlic and rosemary on it. Yum. My aunt ordered the roasted chicken and it came with the mini winter squash chicken pot pie. Instead of a pie crust, the chicken pot pie was in a mini pumpkin. It was a beautiful presentation. I was happy that I got to try a little bit of it. Our waiter was great and the staff was so friendly. It was a really fun night.
Thank you, Odyssey. We had fun!

2. A loving and kind grandmother: Unfortunately, the next day around midnight, my grandmother passed away. She was 98 years old. I am grateful to have her as my grandmother. She was a loving, happy, kind, compassionate and strong woman. My favorite memory of her is that every time I saw her, the first thing she would say to me was “I love you”. I will miss her.

3. A Sunday Funday tea and painting party with two of my favorite friends: The next day, I went over to a friend’s house (backyard) to hang out, catch up, drink tea, eat snacks and desserts and paint. It was great seeing them and catching up. We hung out in the backyard (which was beautiful, peaceful and serene), with social distancing and masks in place. It was a little hard to talk with my mask on, it kept falling down as I talked, but it was worth it because I had such a great time catching up with my friends. I made pumpkin muffins with streusel on top Lovable Pumpkin Muffins with Streusel Topping and my friend made food for the gods Food for the Gods, A Filipino Heavenly Treat. We did a paint-a-long together. We painted a very colorful elephant.

My painting is the one on the top right, very bold and bright…

4. I started a book club with my friends: We decided that instead of voting for a book each month to read, we would take turns picking a book. I picked the first book which was “Where’d you go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple. I picked it because my daughter bought the book and read it in one night because it was so good. I also picked it because I’ve been watching “Jane the Virgin” on Netflix and on a few episodes, they plugged that book. I was hoping it was worth the hype. It was published in 2012 so it’s been around for 7 years. Here’s how Goodreads described this book: “When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces–which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades. Where’d You Go Bernadette is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are and the power of a daughter’s love for her mother.” I struggled with the first half, mostly because I had a hard time following the correspondence between people. But once I got to the 2nd half, I was hooked and I couldn’t put it down. Lots of plot twists and I just had to know what happened to Bernadette! New York Times describes this book as “Divinely funny” and it’s true, it’s insanely hilarious. Bernadette is crazy.

5. Getting ready for Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving will look a little different this year for some people. But as long as everyone is safe and healthy, that’s all that matters. I decided to go non-traditional this year (it’s 2020 after all) and we are having tamales, ribs and rotisserie chicken instead of turkey or ham. But I will still make my usual Thanksgiving sides of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and green bean casserole. We will also have pumpkin pie for dessert. It’s a lot of food, but what’s Thanksgiving dinner without leftovers? The whole point of Thanksgiving is to have a week’s worth of leftovers. I am always thankful for that! Cook all day for one day and not have to cook the rest of the week, that’s a plus. Something different this year is that I set up our family Thanksgiving zoom meeting so that we can all still see each other.

6. And finally, Thanksgiving day: I am grateful for a fun and family filled Thanksgiving day. Yes, the family filled part was done virtually but it was one of the best parts and made it all the more memorable. I made the sides the night before, so all I had to do was heat it up in the oven. At the same time, I also heated up the ribs, rotisserie chicken and tamales. Did we miss the turkey? No. Did we miss the ham? Kind of. But the non-traditional main courses were delicious. The family Thanksgiving zoom meeting with my parents, sister and brother was fun. Everybody had a great time saying hi to one another and catching up. It was also fun showing off our puppies and taking a Thanksgiving family picture zoom style.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” —”

― William Arthur Ward

I am grateful for Friday the 13th night dinners, mini pumpkins pretending to be pot pies, elephant painting parties, masks that fall down when I talk, boring books turned good, Thanksgivings 2020 style, Thanksgiving zoom family pictures and most of all, kind and loving grandmothers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

My Gratitude Journal

October Birthday Celebrations and Fun!

I love October. It’s my favorite month. Why? Because I love Fall y’all. Also because it’s my birthday month. Another year older, another year wiser. And now I share my birthday month with another someone special. My puppy, Pepper!


This year, Pepper turned one year old, which in doggie to human years is 7 years old! Wait… the American Kennel Club changed their guidelines. I guess now he is considered 15 “human” years old! Wow! Of course, I went all out and made a puppy cake for him to enjoy and a human cake for us to enjoy. I also bought him lots of treats and a new toy. We sang Happy Birthday to him, he ate his puppy cake and we opened presents. I found the recipe for the puppy cake here:

P is for Pepper!

It was super easy to make. It contains peanut butter, honey and applesauce. He loved that! There was lots of leftover cake so I was able to share it with 3 of his doggy friends later on in the week. October was also a great month because Pepper had three doggy play dates! Lucky dog.

I received an early birthday surprise when one of my friends hand delivered presents to me! She said that all of our friends had gifts shipped from Amazon for me to her home. She received a lot of deliveries that week! She put all the presents in a pretty “mystery box” but not all of them fit. I also got 2 “Nothing Bundt Cake” mini cakes and homemade Brigadeiro which are Brazilian chocolate fudge truffles. They were delicious. I was smiling from ear to ear while opening up all the presents in mystery box. I felt truly blessed to have such wonderful and thoughtful friends.

Birthday surprise presents for me!

My aunt also dropped off a bouquet of balloons and a birthday card signed by my family members. It was a nice surprise.

On my actual birthday, I took the day off so that my children and I can go to Santa Barbara and Solvang. It was our first outing since the pandemic but we took very good precautions and we were very careful. Our hands became super dry from all the hand sanitizer and hand washing! We were also very careful not to touch our faces. All the places we visited followed the regulations well and we kept our 6 feet social distance.

Our first stop was the hotel that we were staying in which was the Hotel Milo. It was right across from the Santa Barbara Pier so we were within walking distance to the beach. All we had to do was cross the street. So, of course, our next stop was the beach. I loved watching my son run on the sand and water. He was so happy. The beach is his happy place (and on the mental health checklist that he had to write for his P.E. assignment). He had a great time skipping rocks, doing summersaults on the beach and running along the waves.

Next, we rented bikes (which was actually part of the hotel package) and rode them along the beach. It was so much fun! When I asked my son later what were his favorite parts of the trip, the beach and the bikes were the two things he listed.

For my birthday dinner, we went to a Lebanese restaurant called Zaytoon. The food was very good. We ordered the vegetarian platter which included hummus, baba ghannouj, falafel, cheese sambosik, labneh, and tabbouli. We also ordered a Fattoush salad which consists of greens, tomato, onion, cucumber, radish, mint, pita chips, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and sumac. It’s my daughter’s favorite salad and my first time trying it. Of course, the night wouldn’t be complete without a glass of wine. My daughter and I both had a white wine. It completed the ambience of the food, fire and night sky perfectly.

Food, wine, fire and night sky…

Afterwards, we went to McConnell’s Ice Cream on State Street. I got a double scoop of sea salt cream and cookies and mint cream. We ate our ice cream while we took a nice, brisk walk back to the hotel. We stayed up until 2 in the morning talking and watching Netflix.

The next morning, we woke up early to walk along the pier. Then we headed to Solvang. I didn’t realize that we would be driving in the mountains on a one lane highway (with a few passing lanes in between). I was a bit nervous. I asked my daughter to sing to me to ease my anxiety and that ended up being my favorite part of the trip. She sang some very uplifting songs and some very fun ones too. I joined in at times and it made the car ride go fast with lots of laughter.

Once we arrived at Solvang, my daughter was immediately happy. She loved the Danish style architecture and village. The last time she was there, she was two years old, so of course, she didn’t remember a thing. Our first stop was to eat breakfast at Paula’s Pancakes. We wanted to try a Danish pancake. However, it was so crowded that we didn’t feel comfortable. So instead, we walked to a Danish bakery called Mortensen’s and had Danish pastries instead. My son ordered a cinnamon crisp type of pastry and he loved it. I had a custard Danish pastry and my daughter had cream cheese pastry since she was told it was their most popular one.

After our dessert for breakfast, we walked the village. We did some window shopping (and some actual shopping), did some sight seeing, walked to the park and of course, took lots of pictures. Before we left, we visited the bakery again to get more pastries to take home. One of them was a Bavarian waffle which is a long, crispy pastry filled with cream and raspberry jelly. It was my favorite!

We plan to go back to Solvang since we enjoyed our time there. My Solvang to-do list includes the ostrich farm, a pistachio Danish pastry and Paula’s Pancakes. There were also a couple things we wanted to do in Santa Barbara that we didn’t do. My Santa Barbara to-do list includes wine tasting and kayaking. I should also note that the original 2020 birthday plan for my birthday was to travel to France and Belgium. I want to visit Paris again but spend more time there. Of course, that has been placed on hold. Hopefully for 2021 or 2022.

My October 2020 gratitude list:

I am grateful for my children , October birthdays, Pepper, road trip adventures, checking off the beach on our mental health checklist, bike rides along the beach, wine mixed with fire, ice cream mixed with brisk walking, singing songs during scary car rides, Danish pastries and making to-do lists for our next trip.

“Start each day with a positive thought and a grateful heart.”

― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

My Gratitude Journal

My August 2020 Gratitude List- It’s the Little Things

Enjoy the little things in life for one day you will realize they were the big things.

There are a few little things that I miss from before quarantine. They really do seem like the big things now. But I realize that they have been replaced with new little things!

My new little things:

  • walking around the backyard to take a break from work and to enjoy the sun and fresh air.
  • sitting with my feet in the pool and feeling the heat of the sun on my skin and face and the coolness of the water on my feet and legs.
  • watching my son play on his scooter, penny board and skateboard or play with his little puppy.
  • Listening to my son share stories or music from his favorite show or videos.
  • Texting with my family and group texts with my friends.
  • My morning coffee and my afternoon tea.
  • Going swimming in the blistering heat.
  • My puppy- He’s a little thing but he’s a big thing to be thankful for. Puppies are a lot of work, but I’ve always been thankful for having him in my life. I am even more thankful for him especially now since quarantine. He is a source of comfort and another being to nurture. I don’t know what I would do without him.
Meet Pepper, my little chorkie puppy