Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Why Hello World!

It's been a really, really, realllyyyy long time since I updated this blog. And knowing myself, I might not be able to keep this updated again soon after I hit the Publish button for this post. But anyway...

Life has been good to me the past 2 years. We came back home to Manila, after our almost 3-year stint in beautiful Chicago. I went back to work, got promoted, and a few months after, finally pursued my dream of creative work.  It just hit me one day - I knew exactly what I wanted to do, from all the countless ideas that were forming in my head, ever since I decided that IT is not for me. Yup, my friends, after almost 14 years, I slipped out of my comfort zone and became... an Event Stylist (do I hear some clapping? :-)).

What the heck is an Event Stylist? Every time I am asked that question, I say, I am responsible for the aesthetic aspects of an event. I.e. I design the visual part of it - the invitation, the actual event decorations, and the printed materials (we call, the "printables").  I work with my clients and/or their event coordinator (who are what I would translate to as the PM) in making sure the event looks well put together, cohesive, and really pretty and awesome! It really started with my daughter's first birthday, which by the way, was featured by a very popular local blog called Baby & Breakfast (woohoo!). Though come to think of it, browsing through my old posts from my own blog, I've started "styling" every time we threw a party for our friends in Chicago. It started with a tea party, then a 4th of July/despedida party, and a few more thereafter. Not the full-blown type, but just enough to spark an interest in this field.

It hasn't been that easy though. People always come up to me and applaud me for such a brave move. Some say I'm an inspiration (wow, really?!) and that they too want to move out of their 9 to 5 job (or more like 9 to "sawa" LOL) and pursue their passion and make a living out of it. They even think that I have more time for my family, and it's easy breezy living. Well, not to burst anyone's bubble, but hell no. Starting up my own business and removing all the pampering a corporate job gives is STRESSFUL (I can't stress that enough - pun intended).  Having to deal with doubts from some people, while discouraging, is totally understandable, considering my old paycheck and set of benefits from my previous company. Well, goodbye to that. From a team of 100 to a team of 1.5 (or even less), from high-heels to muddy water drenched sneaks (thanks to Divisoria's defective drainage system), from working with professionals from different parts of the globe to haggling with street vendors (for a measly 5 peso discount), needless to say, it has been quite a challenge. 

How's my business doing so far? It's been doing very well, and I thank God for helping me through. I once spoke with a friend, before tendering my resignation, as I was confused if I were really doing the right thing. She said, "isn't it also a disservice to God, if you're not using your talent to its full potential"? True. I could hear God speak through that friend, and He has since guided me through. My number one supporter though, is none other than my dear husband. He had the biggest love and faith in me, that any wife-taking-the-leap-of-faith could/should ever have. My parents and siblings, while at first doubtful, has embraced my journey 100% and I am very grateful. This is not an award acceptance speech, so I'll stop right here. Heehee! You get the point.

Styling not just "events", but beautiful milestones a family celebrates is a far greater and deeper achievement than what I had before. I think that's the main difference. From Dianne Creates to DianneKhu Designs, I hope to continue to fulfill what God has called me to do.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Peanut Butter SMORES

I know I'm supposed to go on a diet, but I could not resist this recipe from the Pioneer Woman.  I'm not trying to justify my shameful act, but being at home and breastfeeding kind of pushed me to be a couch potato... ha!  And I'm only either tuned in to E!, TFC, HGTV, TLC, or Food Network.  And on Food Network, my favorite shows are Pioneer Woman, Chopped, and Diners, Dive Ins, and Dives.  I know, it's dangerous for a woman trying to lose the pregnancy weight!  But heck, I was very pleased with Ree's latest sweet creation - it was so easy, and I had all the ingredients!  Here's a photo - not the most photogenic, but heck was it good!  I tried making a variation by using Speculoos, but quickly realized that there's nothing like the real peanut butter!

I'll be a good girl in the next few days. :-)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wednesday Slob

Staying at home due to my extended leave has its perks of course (Madi at the top of the list), but sometimes I feel like such a big slob that I have to drag my whole body to do something more productive.  Besides, this kind of life will not be for long - I'll be back to work in less than two months.  Ugh.  Help me God.  Anyway, yesterday was one of those days.  I have this routine of browsing this daily deals shopping site, Zulily, starting at 8AM when they refresh their stuff.  The featured deal yesterday was TOMS shoes, and OMG were they cheap!  Definitely cheaper than the usual retail price!    So practically the whole day, if not breastfeeding, I was lying on the couch, browsing and shopping away!  The thing with this site, you have to be super quick as items sell out just when you're about to add them to your basket.  And since these were shoes I was eyeing, it's almost like I was playing habulan with other buyers as sizes come and go so I had to be extra vigilant and go back and forth to the styles I wanted.  At 3 o'clock in the afternoon, I ended up buying six pairs of shoes and feeling so guilty as I felt so unproductive and yup, such a SLOB.  I had to create something.  I whipped up a baby headband in thirty minutes.  Another post on that.

I also had my daily walk, and this time to the grocery store so I can buy ingredients for two dishes I've been planning to cook since a month ago?  Haha.  Hubby and Madi joined me.  Here are products of my couch potato-ing on food network.

Barefoot Contessa Lobster Salad
(Recipe here)
I used Farfalle instead of shells.

Pioneer Woman's Chicken Spaghetti
(Recipe here)
I used fresh red bell peppers instead of canned pimiento.

I went to bed not feeling like a slob anymore.  Thank you God for helping me get on my feet and turning my day around.  And more importantly, having this kind of life where "turning a day around" was not really such a big deal.  I feel so blessed.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Our First Walk in the Park

I've finally gotten the confidence to walk alone with Madi around our neighborhood! Yahoo!  It was just a short 25 minute walk because it was still too hot, even at ten in the morning.  I thought I'd give my baby a healthy dose of vitamin D and myself an exercise (in line with my MLW goal).  I almost procrastinated (again), but I thought the weather was nice and forced myself to get out of my PJs and do some walking!  It took me probably 10 minutes to prepare, in my fear of laziness settling in, ha!

Here's my baby with her summer outfit.  I just bought her shorts last week and I'm now thinking, I should've bought some more... ugh.  Isn't it just too cute?  And yup, I just had to match it with a headband which I lovingly made myself.  My baby should always look fab (like mama) even during these short walks.

We actually just went around the park and didn't sit on the benches as it was way too hot and sunny.  I noticed that a lot of mothers and old ladies walked around at this time.  And they had smiles on their faces - it's almost like they're welcoming me to their secret club. :-)

Madi fell asleep towards the last few minutes of our walk.  She was a good girl.  I'm lucky.  She even held my hat as my forehead was getting so sweaty hehehe!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What to Do with Leftover Ketchup Packets, etc.

When I was on my third trimester of pregnancy, laziness and exhaustion ended up in food delivery and takeouts too many.  Grubhub was my best friend as it was so convenient - Chinese, American, Thai, Italian, Mediterranean, Vietnamese - name it, we ordered it!  And along with the food were too many condiments - ketchup, soy sauce, mustard, salt, pepper, etc.  Excessive really.  I never threw them away, knowing that one day I might use them, but it took me a few months to finally do so!  We had a good stash I kept in a plastic container - just see below!  Last weekend, I thought I'd make my own barbecue sauce out of these little packets of goodness.

Barbecue Sauce Ingredients for 5 Chicken Thighs:

- 12 packets of ketchup (any kind)
- 2 packets of soy sauce (usually from Chinese/Thai restaurants)
- 1 packet of hot mustard (Chinese)
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp chili powder (or 1 packet of hot sauce)
- 1 tbsp of sugar
- 2 tbsp vinegar (I used cider)
- Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Combine all ingredients until barbecue sauce consistency.
2. Marinate 5 chicken thighs with the sauce for at least one hour.
3. Bake in 400 F oven for 45 mins to an hour.  Brush with sauce every 15 to 20 mins.
4. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.  Also good with chimichuri, but good as is.

I did this also with baby back ribs - unfortunately, I was only able to take a picture when there was only 1 rib left!  Husband loved it.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Simple Good Life

I've been meaning to go out for a walk last week but the weather wasn't conducive for a nice stroll downtown with my innocent little baby (hehe).  Today was an unusually cold summer day and since it's Saturday, hubby joined us for a walk and a little shopping!  Michigan avenue is the place to be in Chicago downtown for some serious shopping and though we live a 15-minute-walk away, I rarely go there.  So today was the day... and hopefully more days to come.  Better make the most of summer before we head back home.

As we walked down the famous avenue with our decadent Ghirardelli drinks, I thought, God has been good to me.  Wow.  Looking at my dear little family, I felt all giddy and proud.

And just when I started thinking about what our life would be like when we move back to the Philippines, what challenges await us, blah, blah, blah... Heck, it's a great day.  I chose to just soak it all in.

And Madi agreed with me. :-)

Friday, June 28, 2013

DIY Headbands for Madison

So really I was supposed to go out today to start my MLW goal.  But it rained.  Really, it did! :-)  So no  walking done, but I was productive.  Being the kikay mom that I am, I love dressing up my little girl!  I have been browsing practically everyday for baby headbands, but I find them very expensive.  What's the big deal?!  Then I saw some headband materials lying around the living room shelf screaming for me to use them - they are left overs from the baby shower and already gathering dust, tsk, tsk.  I wanted to make something that would not look like a school project, so I found myself browsing for tutorials on youtube, starting with the very basic bow.  Good thing I have all the materials on hand...

This video did it for me.  It's really super easy - it got so addictive and I could've done a lot more if only I had no other chores, and of course, my model needed some attention too!  I made three today since it's my daughter's third month birthday!

The one in the middle had ready made flowers, so I just added another bow for a more girly touch.  I have yet to let Madi wear all of them, but here's a photo of her with the very first one I made.  I have a feeling I'll have more posts like this.