This year, we almost did not celebrate my husband’s birthday…again. There was just so many things that I needed to do and we didn’t really have much budget to work with. Last year, we just bought some of his favorite chips (he loves his junk food! tsk tsk) but in the smallest packages available, hehe. I have been forbiding him to eat junk foods because he has hypertension and he was only in his early 30’s when he was diagnosed (right around the time we met). My father who is on his 60’s does not even have hypertension. Nonetheless, he would always sneak up on me at the grocery, get his ‘contraband’ and emerge at the counter to corner me into buying what he brought! Just like a kid=\! Long story short, I gave him free pass on his last birthday. This year, he requested that I make a pizzagna, which is basically a lasagna topped with pepperoni. He saw a recipe video on Facebook and sent it to me. I took note of it but I was honestly inclined to just disregard it because of the aforementioned reasons. I also knew that my husband would not really make a big deal out of it.
However and thankfully, I was reminded that the very reason I have always pursued flexibly-timed jobs is so that I can freely insert family and other personal stuff into my daily schedule…but there I was (as always) pouring all my time and energy into work. I have this tendency to be workaholic and forget about the world around me like nothing else mattered. I feel really bad and down when I don’t get to work as much as I targeted to. Then, I crash and enter this sad self-defeating cycle that leaves me staring blankly, doing nothing nor interacting with anybody. I am perpetually tempted to gauge my value according to my busyness at work and so resting or chilling with loved ones equates to me having no value at all. Of course, that is just so wrong. I have to always remember that first I am a child of God, then I am a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend. I am an encourager, an extended hand, a listening ear among others. Work is what I need to do but it is not who I am. My work or career can change anytime (and it has many times) but it does not change who I am. In my mind, I know this but it has always been a constant struggle nonetheless. The pursuit of a fullfilled and balanced life does not become less challenging and I have understandably failed many times. Nonetheless, I want to keep on trying because it is the only way to do life for me.
And so I heeded to the gentle voice within and decided to take three full days off so I could prepare for my husband’s mini-birthday party. Yes, I needed three days. It is my first time to host and cook for a group of 15 (only immediate family) after all. The theme of the party is Dudu’s Favorites…that’s my husband’s nickname because it was his first word=p. He loves Italian food and it can be quite expensive to order from outside so I settled on preparing all the food at home, pizza and all. Speaking of pizza, it is my first time to make it and I am so glad that I did despite my initial thoughts that it was going to be difficult. It is not! I found it to be extremely easier than I expected. Of course, kneading sweats you out but that’s about all the skill you need. I learned that tossing the dough in the air is not really necessary so don’t be intimidated by that. Since it was my first time, I practiced beforehand and thank God it turned out pretty well. I got really confident after that so I also decided to make homemade garlic bread knots to be served with my husband’s requested lasagna. I have to say that the garlic bread knots became the most popular dish that day.
My mother helped me out by preparing two dishes – Fried Chicken and Ginataang Pinalamanang Tilapia. The latter is a little out of place with the Italian theme but my husband loves this too so it still is in line with the core theme which is his favorites. I made two cakes, a red velvet and a chocolate cake, inspired by Momofuku Milk Bar’s 6-inch three-layer naked cakes. For appetizers, I made mozzarella sticks and an accompanying salsa (which I witnessed vanished into thin air =D) and bacon-wrapped hotdogs. I also bought 10 different kinds of cheeses to sample. We have been dreaming of going to Sofitel’s Spiral Buffet mainly for their famed cheese section but it is quite expensive. In this light, I once told my husband that I will just treat him to small packages of different cheeses so we can try it out…PROMISE FULFILLED! Good thing is that we were also able to share it with more people and we found out together that we are not really fans of other cheeses. We just love the usual – mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan and cream cheese, haha! So now, we’re not as gung-ho about going to Spiral as before =p.
After mounting this party, successfully I believe, I can say I now understand why my mother avoided home parties as much as possible. IT WAS A MOUNTAIN LOAD OF WORK!!! Oh was I so tired and sore after that. Nonetheless, she still favors home parties over eating out because it is more budget-friendly and you can be sure about the quality of the food…and I have to agree. However, it was really hard for me to take good pictures. The photos you see here are basically my only attempts. It also did not help that it suddenly rained cats and dogs so my supposed photography set-up in the garage got rained on. The house was also unprecedentedly dripping heavily everywhere =(. We doubted whether our visitors will still be able to come but the rain did waver and we were able to have late lunch together. For dinner, I prepared the celebrant some beef sirloin steaks and sausages with buttered onion and potatoes. I was not able to prepare much of this though because of budget constraints, hehe.
So how was the food? I personally can not tell because I absolutely lost my appetite. I didn’t care much for anything on the table. I got so overwhelmed with the flavors and the smell that I felt repulsed by the smell of butter, garlic and cheese even after several days. I have loved these flavors for forever so I am not sure what happened. Maybe my smell receptors got really saturated so I was already rejecting it. Speaking for everyone though, they loved it (yey!) and that was my reward. Of course, my husband really appreciated everything and he was very happy. I even gave him a bonus of two junk foods of his choice, which we ate on his birthday eve. I am certain that it would be nothing for him not to have any kind of celebration. He’d be totally fine with it and will still be his usual loving self. However, I saw that it was everything for him to have his birthday celebrated, he got really excited and giddy, and so all the hard work and money was worth it.