Monday, October 17, 2011

E-Session : Behind the Scenes

We were all ecstatic one lovely Sunday morning (October 16,2011) for our long overdue and early engagement shoot. Long overdue because we booked our photographer friend as early as April, a month after Dave and I got engaged, also early for the wedding that will take place next year.

We headed to our shoot location as early as 6.15am since the travel will take us one and twenty minutes or so. We prayed before going there and asked the Lord for protection and blessings for the whole day. We have been blessed with a wonderful and fun shoot and lots of food, praise God! Here are few of the beautiful things that day. 

1) Picnic Theme

     Dave and I wanted to have a fun shoot that is true to us, something that reflects who we are individually and as a couple. I first thought of this picnic theme since we both love nature. We both like to recreate with nature and can spend a day wandering in a forest, hiking, taking pictures, camping, etc. Since he is a musician, we brought along with us a guitar, he played and I sang. Since I am into reading inspirational books, we also brought along some and read together.

2) Fishing Theme

    We have gone fishing quite a few times already and this is one of the activities we do to bond as a couple. Way back then as a kid, I spent a lot of time fishing in our province. We had this clean and fish-filled river (now gone) that served as a abundant source of water in our place (remembering those days). No, we are not professionals when it comes to fishing but it is one of our favourite past times as a couple, plus, it teaches us to be more patient.

3) Playful Theme

    Why playful? Because we are like playful children in many ways, laugh on silly jokes, tell lesson-filled stories, and 'lambing' like a child. We also wanted to have it fun and colorful. Makulay ang buhay!

4)  Miss Wonderful Photographer

     We have been so blessed to have a dear photographer friend who helped us a lot in our preparation and all the way through our shoot. Carem even spent time with us to discuss details of the shoot and was as excited as we were (even more I think haha :p). It really helps a lot when you are friends with the photographer (befriend them if you are hiring photographers that are not your friends) because it creates a setting where you are more relaxed and can be just yourselves. I think we spent a lot of times giggling and laughing throughout the shoot and that would make beautiful candid pictures (right Carem?). Even more lovely with her is that she contaminates her cheerfulness, a happy photographer makes happy pictures . :)

5) Ever-ready stylists/assistants
     Aby and Ivy were also with us to help us with the shoot and were excited to go to Merimbun for the first time. We can't thank you enough ladies for being there and helping us set the shoot, from the hair and make-up to accessories and especially your time (kering-keri ang pagbibilad sa arawb :D).

6) Bountiful Lunch by Kuya Romy
     Picnic lunch over the green meadows, calm lakes and cool-hot breeze (ok, 'twas mostly hot breeze - but never mind) we enjoyed a full seafood lunch courtesy of dear Kuya Romy. Thank you so much kuyang. We felt so loved and cared for. Praise God for your kindness. Alongside with Kuya Romy were Elmer (thank you for the chips mer) and Kuya Benj. Thank God for your time, blessings to you all!

7) The location - Tasek Merimbun

     When we planned for this shoot, Dave had already had Merimbun in mind. The place was perfect for our two themes, picnic and fishing. We visited the place 2 weeks before the shoot to plan ahead. Even we had to travel for more than an hour to get into the place, it was all worth it. And we had a perfect weather! What a bonus!

8) Something blue (outfits) and something borrowed
    We have planned this shoot ahead and we see to it that we are not going to spend a lot. My dress/blouses and Dave's polos/pants were all budget-friendly (very budget-friendly). For the accessories, it was a blessing that Ivy brought her turban, bangles and earrings to complete my bohemian look for the fishing theme. Thank you so much Bella!

All of these blessings were brought to us by the Greatest Provider.. Thank you dear Lord for all of these!!

I was teary-eyed by the end of the day realizing all the blessings (kasama na rin ang pagod :))..

Blessings to us all!!! To God be all the glory!


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bits and Pieces

Hello. My name is Xenia, wife to Dave and mother to a pretty little girl.

Started this blog in February 2011 with a purpose of personal diary and creative hobby. Now I randomly post still with the same purpose and more, to share reflections on faith, hope and love and anything in between. May it be recipes I have tried and travel tips and information from our travels.

The blog is titled Faith, Hope, Love and with the domain 'from up above' to remind myself of these 3 beautiful things. I desire to share my faith in Jesus Christ to you too, yes you who are reading this right now. My hope is that through this little blog I will point myself and others to our Heavenly Father who is the author of all things beautiful. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Revisited - Enchanted Kingdom with the Alcids

It was my first time to meet Dave's family. I was pretty excited about it since he already introduced me to them thru phone conversations and chats and they seemed to be very nice. I was right in many ways.

Together with his siblings we planned to have a family bonding where everybody can have fun - Enchanted Kingdom at Laguna would be the best place to go since almost all of us haven't gone there. Suggested. Finalized. Prepared. We're ready to go.

'Twas an hour drive from Cavite to Enchanted Kingdom, children were singing and made up some stories in between. His nieces and a nephew were all excited as I was, felt like a kid once again. As we arrived EK a lot of people queued at the entrance, there were categories with the entrance fee i.e. ride all-you-can or the selected rides only. We took the ride all-you-can to fully enjoy the trip. There are a lot of attractions and activities in the theme park but I mostly enjoyed the river rafting at rio de grande rapids. We stayed there for hours as we all bonded as family. Enchanted Kingdom is great for family fun weekends! I would recommend

Nieces and a nephew (MJ , AJ, CJ, HJ) - Madeline Joe, Ashley Jen, Caleb Joshua and Hannah Joe
Dave's accommodating and kind parents Mami and Dadi and cousin Mylene
While on top of  the ferris wheel, I still managed to smile though I was a bit scared.. It was so high!
Little china town at EK

Enchanted Kingdom at night

Revisited - Tagaytay with KingKong

The cool breeze, fresh air, beautiful scenery, warm people are few words to describe Tagaytay - one of the beautiful and tourist-drawing spots in the Philippines. Tagaytay trip for a day was one of our itineraries during our two-week vacation last Feb 2010. I have been wanting to go there and experience the zip line ride - which was one of the things I wanted to do even before I was in college, or we call it the 'bucket list'. And yes, as simple as it may seem but I really believe dreams do come true. I still can remember when a college friend of mine and I shared our dreams, the things we want to do when we graduate and that included this zip line ride.
Dave and I decided to bring along a dear friend, King, much more of a younger brother to us. Since he left Brunei and stayed in the Philippines for good, we exchanged stories while on the way to Tagaytay. We enjoyed sight seeing, picture taking and just being with each other, and oh did I mention that cool breeze that made us unaware how sunny it was and got us tanned unconsciously.
Look at how tanned we were
Luckily my shoes didn't fall off, well actually almost

Mount Taal, Tagaytay Batangas

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Travels Revisited - Mindanao Delights!

 This is going to be a 'reminiscing' post since we have been to Davao, Camiguin and Zamboanga - all Mindanao provinces a year ago. When I happened to browse the pictures again, I thought of posting it here since this blog is all about blessings worth remembering. (puts a smile on my face)

Let's start with the peaceful Davao. It was our first time to fly to Davao for the SFC International Conference. Upon arriving at the airport I noticed the tranquility of the area plus the sun was about to set that time which adds that tranquil feeling. After having our conference for about 2 days we had the chance to roam around the city. The city is very clean that says how disciplined the Davaoueños are. We were only able to visit the crocodile park - sort of like a mini zoo with the highlights of crocodile. I was literally excited as a child since it was my first to be in a zoo (grins). Here are some of the animals in the park.

Smart Carlo @ Crododile Park

After a very fruitful and a blessed conference, we had our 'biglaan' trip to Camiguin. At first I was hesitant as we had a very tight schedule, but convinced at the same time to go since I have heard how beautiful the island is. So there, I said yes to our dear Mama Bear :). We made the most of our one day and one night stay at Camiguin (whom locals fondly pronounced it as 'come again'). The place is just so inviting with its beautiful clear beaches, thick forests, hot and cold springs, and the famed mount Hibok Hibok. I would want to 'come again' this beautiful island to really explore and be amazed by what nature can offer.

Sunken Cemetery

Remains of what used to be a church during Spanish era
Next stop before going back to Manila was Zamboanga City - Asia's Latin City. I am not new to this city I spent 4 years here finishing my Bachelor's degree. A lot of people are telling me that Zamboanga's local dialect is relatively the same with Spanish, yes, Chavacano is also known as broken Spanish by some folks. I like how diverse the city is with a lot of ethnicity and cultures mixing together. There are Cebuanos/Bisayan, Tausug, Ilonggo, Tagalog, local Zamboangueños and a lot more to boot. Even so, the city is safe for me amidst all the news that has surpassed that sometimes are just exaggerated. We had a relaxing stay here before our flight, thanks to the generosity of our dear Kuya Romy.
Seafood Special @Alavar's

Paseo del Mar (A walk by the sea) - I google translated it

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fruity Graham Cake for the Mom-to-be!

Blessed Happy Birthday Mommy-to-be Wabby!

Here's a dessert that will remind you of your childhood, except that it's now graham crackers instead of marie biscuits hehe.

And the main ingredients...

Cheers to a bountiful, sweet and colourful years ahead with our Lord! 

Thank you for making us a part of your journey..

Live. Laugh.Love

Blessed Happy Birthday Wabby a.k.a Aike! God bless you together with Jim and baby boy named Yunic (unique) haha.. just kidding :D


Dave & Xen

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Shining Silver Year!

July 13, 2011 was my shining silver year as I turned 25 gracefully. Wow! time flies just so fast that I think I skipped my early 20's. Thank God for these blessed years. I've a lot to count to. Counting blessings is way better than worrying about the future. (Easier said than done as they say but I say, just try, and you'll see wonders).

I've always wanted birthdays to be silent. I told Dave that we'll celebrate it together - only the two of us. Well, I was actually minding the budget here (haha). It's just I am not used to having parties during my birthday. Most of the time, I don't tell anyone. I even blocked my Facebook wall, so no one can greet me. Being the melancholy type, during my college years I would celebrate my day alone; I go to church, pray and just be alone with myself.

But Dave has his way of making it silent yet something special. And so we asked two of our dear friends to have dinner with us. Later that night we went to a Japanese restaurant, well, expecting that there will only be four people I was not surprised that he booked the bigger table. After a while dear Ate Lis and Kuya Romy arrived, I was very glad they came. Part of Dave's silent-yet-special surprise to me. Then later Don Henz and Jobelle. Food was great and even greater to be shared with them. I wish I could bring more friends there and then we'll wash dishes after (lol).

Happy 25th!

With blooming Wabby

Dave and Jim playing around with chopsticks

Guys: Don Henz, K Romy, Dave and Jim

Ladies: Wabby, Xen, Ate Lis,Jobelle

Delicious cheesecake from Topbake (I would love to bake this one day)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Easy Desserts (Decadent Mango Mousse)

This is the second part of the easy desserts that is being incorporated with ripe and sweet mangoes.
I was inspired to make this dessert after watching a local cooking show in the Philippines, and as far as i can remember I didn't list the ingredients, I just bought the ones I think would be needed. I used powdered mango juice as an alternative to add color, would have been better if mango puree was used.

- a can of condensed milk
- one small can of evaporated milk
- cups of crushed Grahams
- butter
- brown sugar
- powdered gelatin
- powdered mango juice (Tang)
- Ripe mangoes

* I can't remember the quantities anymore (again). I actually just estimated the ingredients since I didn't list anything from the show.

How To

1) For the Crust - Melt the butter. Add to the crushed Grahams until it becomes a bit wet. Add sugar.Depends on how sweet you want to be. [Mine was overly sweet that time. Dadi even joked at me and said '' Di ka masyadong sweet na girl, ang sweet sweet mo'' :D. He was referring to my dessert that has a very sweet crust.] Put in the refrigerator to set.

2) Boil water and add the powdered gelatin (or the gelatin bars). Stir continuously. Pour in condensed and evaporated milk to add texture. I estimated mine that day. And was always conscious of the sweetness. I tasted it every now and then.

3) Stir into the mixture in low heat mango juice in powder to add some color and flavours too.

4) Let it set for a while for about a minute and pour it into the crust that is in the pyrex pan.

5) Before it hardens, incorporate some freshly sliced (or diced) mangoes. Chill in the refrigerator until its firm and ready to eat. Enjoy!

Here it is!

Decadent Mango Mousse - Xen's Style

This was made one weekend with the Alcids ;)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Easy Desserts (Graham Cake)

Two of the easiest desserts anyone can make: Mango Graham Cake & Simple Decadent Mango Mousse. I don't like mangoes reciprocally speaking ;).

 Mango Graham Cake
- This dessert has been very popular ever since Graham crackers entered the biscuits/crackers industry. And so one weekend with the Alcids I made this easy-to-make dessert with a little twist.

- Graham crackers
- All purpose cream
- Condensed Milk
- Sweet Mangoes
- Pineapple tidbits (garnish)

* My apology I can't remember the quantity of the ingredients. What I did was all estimation.

How To:
1) Mix all-purpose cream and condensed milk together. Put in the refrigerator to thicken a bit.
2) Cut the mangoes thinly so to easily arrange them in a pyrex pan.
3) Arrange Graham crackers at the bottom of the pan.
4) Pour in mixed cream and condensed milk.
5) Add slices of mangoes.
6) Repeat steps 3-5, depends on how many layers you want.
7) Put some pineapple tidbits on top or fruit cocktail on top to garnish. (Optional)

Photo from my reliable old Nokia phone

Tadaaa!! Here's my first mango graham cake! I gave it as a present to Anya (Dave's older brother) and Ate Jen for their wedding anniversary. Labour of love :).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Desserts 101

I am trying (practicing/studying should be the term here)to be a good cook. Perhaps a preparation to cook for my husband to be. :)

The following desserts have been made a year ago while I was in Cavite with Dave's family. Pa-impress?. Not really. Just wanted to prepare something for them. It made me smile when I finish one dish. Feeling pro hehe. 

* Leche Flan

  • 1 can (390g) evaporated milk
  • 1 can (390g) condensed milk
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or lemon essence
For the caramel:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water

Cooking Instructions:

  • In a saucepan, mix the sugar & water. Bring to a boil for a few minutes until the sugar caramelize.
  • Pour the caramelized sugar into aluminum moulds - you can use any shape: oval, round or square. Spread the caramel on the bottom of the moulds.
  • Mix well the evaporated milk, condensed milk, egg yolks and vanilla by hand or blender.
  • Gently pour the mixture on top of the caramel on the aluminum moulds. Fill the moulds to about 1 to  1 1/4 inch thick.
  • Cover moulds individually with aluminum foil.
  • Steam for about 20 minutes (the traditional way to make Leche Flan is by open-air steaming on either an open cooking fire or stove top) OR
  • Bake for about 45 minutes. Before baking the Leche Flan, place the moulds on a larger baking pan half filled with very hot water. Pre-heat oven to about 370 degrees before baking.
  • Let cool then refrigerate.
  • To serve: run a thin knife around the edges of the mould to loosen the Leche Flan. Place a platter on top of the mould and quickly turn upside down to position the golden brown caramel on top.

    Leche Flan (Dave's favourite)*
     'Twas my first time to make leche flan and I was quite successful. They liked it too.

    * Leche Flan is one of Dave's favourite dessert, if not the most. Whenever there's celebration and leche flan on the table he would take a bite of the dessert first. Talk about 'matakaw' haha.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lil' Surprise (Chicken Bolognese)

I just found out I didn't know how to spell the word '' bolognese'' I still had to google it (grinning). A little bit of information here from Wikipedia. 

Bolognese sauce (ragù alla bolognese in Italian, also known by its French name sauce bolognaise) is a meat-based sauce for pasta originating in Bologna, Italy. Bolognese sauce is sometimes taken to be a tomato sauce, but many recipes have only a small amount of tomato concentrate.

I made this simple recipe to surprise Dave on our 25th monthsary that is June 15, 2011. I failed to have photos taken because I was in a rush ( we still had to work). So I decided to cook it one more time on June 18th since I still have some pasta and sauce left. I woke up very early, 5.30am to be exact to prepare the ingredients. I took photos using my reliable camera phone.

 It didn't take me too long to prepare since I already have the ready made chicken bolognese sauce. I added flavor to it by sauteing minced garlic and onion,slices of chicken franks and put a spoonful condensed milk, cheese slices and tomato sauce to enhance the taste. 
 Pasta is ready! Cooked Al dente! 

 Poured some Chicken Bolognese sauce. And for cheesynesss' sake, I got the idea of slicing the cheese to 'I heart you' short cut. I think I did a pretty good job here. (giggling)
When Dave arrived to pick me up that morning, I asked him to share breakfast with me.When he saw what I prepared he was touched, and I think he forgot our monthsary haha but still was very appreciative.He really really liked it. Since pasta dishes specially spaghetti is one of his favourites. Well, actually when he sees food he always say that haha. This guy has such a big appetite. Happy 25th monthsary mahal ko! I love you so much!


* Ready made bolognese sauce
* minced garlic and onions
*sliced cheeses
* 1 tablespoon of condensed milk
* two regular hotdogs/chicken franks
* one tablespoon tomato sauce/catsup
*pasta (cooked as per instructions on packaging)


Saturday, June 11, 2011


Today I feel like enumerating down the blessings I have. Things that I am thankful for. I remember what Bo Sanchez wrote in one of his articles, ''instead of complaining, why won't you find the blessings that are right in your eyes''. Sometimes people tend to just look at the bad side of everything, well, it's easier to spot those wrongs/negatives when we are the downside moments of our lives. It doesn't help anyway. So why focus on that? At times we are just burying ourselves on things that really don't help. Pardon me I'm actually talking to myself.
I've got hundreds of things to be thankful for, and I'm going to enumerate few of them today. I want to focus on these blessings that my Father has been bestowing me. I'm sorry Lord sometimes I fail to see these blessings.
Abba Father, I thank you for:
- Your love and grace.
- Keeping me safe and perfectly healthy.
- The gift of life.
- The gift of family. My strength and inspiration.
- For my father and mother who are always there to listen to me. Who love and care for us. For keeping them  healthy.
-For my beautiful sisters and handsome brothers.
-For my fiance', Dave,  who has been my loving prince.
- For showering him Your unfailing love.
- For using him for your greater honor and glory.
- For my work that enables me to learn things that I thought I wouldn't  be doing.
- For a good boss who trusts me.
- For a friendly work environment I am in.
- For the safe place I am staying.
- For my phone that I use everyday to communicate my loved ones.
- For the air that I breathe.
- For the water that quenches my thirst.
- For the food that fills me physically.
- For my community -Couples/Singles for Christ.
- For my church.
- For my friends.
- For my brothers and sisters in Christ.
- For giving me the chance, the strength and the zeal to serve your people.
- For the elders of the community who in one way or the other have become our second parents.
- For the ability to work efficiently.
- For the technology that enables people to connect even we are distant from each other.
- For this blog that I am able to write and express my thoughts and the events that I want to record.
- For your unfailing love to me that enables me to always rise up with joy. To overcome challenges.
- For holding my hand and never left me.
- For calling me your beloved child.     In Jesus' name. Amen.

There are still a lot of things that I am thankful for. If it should be specific. This page cannot handle it.

La vida entera a Cristo, viviendo! (Kay Kristo Buong Buhay Habangbuhay)

P.S. The title means ''thankful'' . It is a Spanish term.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

i - SWER!

Twenty days ago (as of this writing), 8 soon-to-be-married couples have been blessed enough to have SWER [Singles Weekend Engagement Retreat] organized by our beloved titas and titos, ates and kuyas from the community. It has been an overwhelming experience for us in preparing ourselves for the popular vocation - marriage.

*April 30, 2011 (7:00pm - 12midnight)
The night started with a sumptuous meal of pasta and pizza. It was in a form of group date that everyone enjoyed. Chikahan here and there :)

What followed was more of filling the spiritual needs for to-be-married couples. Prayers and talks by our dear 'elders' in the community. Praise be to God for them who were with us throughout the retreat.
Group picture muna before the guys went to their quarters.
Ate Jane told us that to have some reflection time ('twas her way of staying us awake and still on our dresses for the surprise prepared for us). At nainip ako haha, nakabihis halfway ng pantulog when the guys had their surprise for us. Brought roses for their respective partner and danced while kuya Joms serenaded us. Dave also played the guitar to which I sang along.
A beautiful night indeed.
May 1, 2011 - And the lovely morning comes! We drove off to Empire Hotel to witness the rising of the sun while we (the couples) will have some time together. Pray. Talk. Bond.

The sun was just so gorgeous that day that we have to take the opportunity to have pictures by our resident photographer Ms. Carem :).  [Below : Dave and I]
Lovely Couple #1 - Kiko and Sheena . To be wed sometime in 2012.
Love couple # 2 - Sam and Girlie. To be wed on August 6, 2011.
Lovely couple # 3 Merf and Kitchie. Wedding is on July 30, 2011.
Lovely couple # 4 Jim and Aike. Wedding is set on May 12, 2011.
Lolo Berts wishing his mahal was there too.
Mi She and Yurie (was not able to attend due to some work restrictions) are the second pair to be wed, May 14, 2011.
Mi Lhen is missing her honey (Kuya Albert), they are getting married on August 13, 2011.
Kuya Amiel and Ate Jane who accompanied us throughout the event. ''Para na rin kaming nag reretreat'' as quoted from Ate Jane.

After the photoshoot, we headed back to Holiday Lodge Hotel for the rest of the program.
We ended the program filled with lessons. Stomachs are also filled hehe. We are all grateful for all who supported us, for those who sponsored and for those who prayed for us. Our hearts are filled with joy. Thanks and praise be to God for all of these. KKBBH!

Photos courtesy of Miss Carem Lemence :)