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

October Blessings and Halloween Fun

It’s October. I haven’t been in a writing mood lately but I need to remember to always have gratitude for the little things in life (which often times, end up being the big things). So here is my gratitude list for October:

My family and I did our yearly visit to the Pumpkin Patch.  We fed and pet the farm animals, looked at all the pumpkins and Halloween decorations, and bought a big bag of freshly popped kettle corn. We bought a pumpkin and we carved it.

Pretty baskets

We attended a Halloween party at my friend’s house. I was the big red riding hood and my son was the little bad wolf:


I went to Clifton’s Republic with my friend from Arizona who I haven’t seen in a long time. Clifton’s Republic is a cafeteria and bar in Downtown L.A. It was my friend’s first time there and she really enjoyed it. It was my first time eating breakfast there and it was a lot of fun picking out my breakfast items at the cafeteria. We enjoyed viewing the decorations and  Halloween themed sweets and desserts. I enjoyed it so much that I ended up going back there the following weekend for my birthday.

A patch of pumpkins

At work, we had our annual Harvest Festival. My friends and I dressed up as characters in the animation “Inside Out”. I dressed up as Disgust. We also entered the pumpkin decorating contest and won 3rd place. It was a really fun day.

Today I am grateful for pumpkin patch traditions, Halloween celebrations with friends, trips to DTLA, eating breakfast for the first time at Clifton’s and Halloween themed desserts. Most of all, I am grateful for family and friends.

My Gratitude Journal

October Life Lessons and Love

I love October. It’s my favorite month. This was a great October. However, I must admit that there was a rough week in there. A really rough week. It was the week before my birthday. I let a couple of incidents bring me down. I certainly learned a lot of hard lessons this month. It was a real eye opener. Lessons that open your eyes are always good. Lessons that open your heart are even better. After my anger subsided, I learned a lot about compassion, respect and understanding. And another good part is…after you are down, the only way back is up! That’s the best part. 

So on this Sweet Monday, I am grateful for life lessons and love. I will continue to learn and grow. I know that there will be ups and there will be downs. Today, I will focus on the ups.

*I am grateful for birthdays.

I arrived to work the Thursday before my birthday to a decorated cubicle courtesy of my co-worker. It was so thoughtful. I loved it. It lifted my spirits. It was a great way to start a birthday.

My aunt took me to a tea house for my birthday. She invited my daughter (who came all the way from San Diego just to be there) and my other aunt. We had such a good time. We went to the tea house on my actual birthday. It was nice to have a birthday this year on a Saturday.  It was a fun and relaxing way to start the day and weekend. Afterwards, we went to a boutique and my aunt surprised me with a candle that I was planning to purchase myself. I was waiting in line to buy the candle which was waiting for me at the counter. The storeowner wrapped up my gift quickly so that I wouldn’t see and my aunt presented it to me at the store.

After the tea house, I arrived home and I was surprised by birthday cards, birthday flowers, a birthday sign, light up balloons and even a birthday pinata. My first birthday pinata ever. 

The next day, my sister and niece prepared a delicious birthday breakfast for me. My sister asked me what kind of cake I wanted and I told her that I wanted a chocolate chip cake. It’s not my favorite flavor but she made it for me for my birthday a few years ago and it was such a special memory. I wanted it again. 

Today I am grateful for family, October, birthdays, decorated cubicles, tea houses, candles, surprises, pinatas and birthday cake.