This photo is of the staircase at the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento.
It was nice to hear from so many people this birthday more than most years. Everyone I know around the world seems to be exactly where I am, home. I received so many different kinds of gifts. This year feels as if I finally landed. I am in the right place. I have family and friends that are irreplaceable. I finally know what or who really matters. And I have enough things that make life more enjoyable.
It started, by giving myself a holiday, from posting. Then I got calls, texts, WhatsApp Messages and FaceTime with family and friends from all over the globe. But I still loved receiving cards in the mail. I love Jackie, our neighborhood USPS Lady. I always give her a Starbucks card for Christmas and also for delivering the September issue. I have tried to stop subscribing by print and going digital but publishers must love print because improbable as it sounds, it is still cheaper to get both print/digital as a bundle rather than just digital. So, Jackie is perhaps the best year-long gift of all, because she never says anything but she must wonder why I am so old school with all my magazine subscriptions.
Then there are the gifts you had no idea about like a free birthday car wash at Quick Quack. Quick Quack does the offer right giving you 2 weeks to redeem. Plus they have a great slogan. Don’t drive dirty. I wish we had a world slogan “Don’t do anything dirty period.” Our local grocery chain Raley’s gives us a free Hallmark card and free Pillsbury Cake Mix on our birthday month. I baked this $2 Pillsbury white cake without frosting and it is terrifically simple and easy. Thank you, Raley’s, I wouldn’t have done it without you.
It was a really good week for friends. Friends happy make me happy. Janaki Larsen sold out of her ceramics within 21 minutes of posting her new collection here. Gavin Escolar of The Chaga Co. is thriving and growing with his incredible antioxidant business. Gavin may save us with his tinctures, teas and immunity-boosting mushrooms and he is revolutionary collaborating on his onesies. His Chaga Company is a business about to boom. But he, Gavin, is a brand. Jennifer of Fragata Kitchen dropped off a beloved Kare-Kare dish. This is a time-intensive meal to make and this particular Filipino peanut stew is an acquired taste. Her grandma was making it to teach her the recipe. I call that the gift of perfect timing and thoughtfulness. She then also gave me some condiments (Mang Tomas Lechon Sauce to go with pork and Bagoong) that I would normally have to venture far to find. Plus a gift card to one of my favorite restaurants Magpie Cafe. The gift card I will use with Jennifer when we go have a girlfriend lunch together. That is the gift of hope and for our future ladies who lunch date when we can safely go to restaurants again.
Some friends came over. We used to be neighbors. Social distancing means we could only have 6 people to spread out around our open dining/living room. So that is the max. For the future occasions, foursomes are probably safest if scientists decide 6 feet is not enough. Christine, made a lovely chocolate cake. I am still eating it. Stretching the birthday and my waistline into the birthday weekend. Donna, also wanted to bake me a cake but since she is a botanist (plant scientist to you) I asked her if she would give me a plant instead. I am awful at plants. I figure, if the plant is a gift, I will be shamed if I let it die. She gave me an orchid and said it would be easy. Do orchids get a bad rap? They are not famous for being easy like cacti. Pressure is definitely needed concerning matters that I am unnaturally bad at. Even is friend B is a scientific genius, I would still feel like an idiot if I let the orchid die.
This is the first time we have had guests in 3 months. We opted for takeout. Saigon Alley has come up with a family Pandemic Menu. The GrandM is truly a lot of food. They didn’t even name if for me but it had all my favorites. Thank you, Saigon Alley in Downtown Sacramento for making celebrating so easy! Please continue with this menu past the pandemic.
There is the gift from the sister which is something that is luxurious. You would love to get but would be shy to buy. The sister has taught me that the gift from the sister should be a splurge. Not something like using the gift to pay a bill or buy a toaster/microwave I did once. But a splurge. For me, it is Oribe which the company describes as products for the hair obsessed. The fragrance alone that walks with you all day will make you and everyone else obsess about your hair. If your hair is short like mine and you alternate you can make this bottle last almost a year. There are the humongous bottles for those with lots of and long long hair. For me, I’d have to switch between Oribe products every year because even my hair requires some variety to stay happy. If you live in Sacramento please order locally. Salon Bravissimo offers curbside pickup and they will be opening to the public by June 2nd. Thank you Michael!
Then there is the gift of time, that has allowed me, to get to what I have been saving up for. Spent the birthday; measuring, planning in-my-head and ordering custom cabinetry from super-efficient, uber-patient Darria Deatherage of Closet Gallery. (Do not email her at night for the next day, she will respond). It only took us 8 tries! I purposely didn’t ask her what’s the average. Maybe she will take kindly to me after she reads that I have been working towards this for the last 5.5 years! Perhaps, when it is done I will post photos if I can figure out how to photograph closets in a pretty way. I will need to edit the wardrobe. Interior styling & photography is the hardest to pull-off. That’s why everyone blogs street style fashion (outdoors), food, lovely children and cute pets! They look good in pictures.
Most people have all their furniture and upgrades done when they buy a home. The hubby and I have done things gradually over 5.5 years because we couldn’t afford it all at once. But now I realize the fun of doing things one year at a time is there is something new to do and enjoy together each year. Perhaps when we are completely done we will be compelled to move and start again. But for now, we still have a few projects in the works.
There is the gift from the hubby. He knows the gift of a budget for something is most appreciated. I feel other women are like me and enjoy window shopping in our minds, planning, ordering and awaiting the arrival of the gift much more than the ten second surprise while you unwrap the hubby/boyfriend/partner gift. It is why online shopping is becoming more popular than live shopping…you extend the joy of shopping on the positive side. Taken to an extreme it explains QVC/HSN hoarding people who don’t seem to return packages they have never opened.
The total joy for me = 30% shopping + 30% receiving + 30% using (the first few memorable times) and that elusive, additional + 10% if you find that this has not been a mistake. We often buy the wrong thing or it is a case of miswanting.
wanting something that you mistakenly believe will make you happy
Read more about miswanting here! It really is a word and it really is scientific.
For the budget the hubby stated there are quite a few options.
So this is where the gift of friendship comes in handy.
I am lucky to have a DDF discerning dear friend. He is amazing at choosing the best things. This friend is not into quantity of anything but he absolutely insists on quality of everything he picks. And he buys things to last. He still has a Comme des Garcons bag I love from a decades ago. Even his partner says she leaves him to choose even her clothes. He has such impeccable taste. This would not work with me and the hubs. I have asked DDF what I should get myself. We have been having a long discussion on what kind of knives a non-chef needs at home. He is a gifted chef. He is gifted at so many things and everything he chooses to get into because 1) discipline 2) the devil is in the details.
I might get a really good knife as something I will use every day. Or post about the kinds of knives non-chef need soon. Let me ask him first because misappropriation would be wrong.
But I haven’t decided on the gift from the hubby. I want to enjoy choosing what I want or just putting the money aside for when I need a pick me up. Giving me monetary gift is the gift of a future gift. I repeat the word gift thrice and so many times in this article against literary rules, just because, who doesn’t love gifts?
I found this website BRANDMADETV that will make it even more difficult to make a decision. Ergo more fun deciding/not deciding. To buy or not to buy? That is the question.
For now, all these gifts and greetings already have my cup running over and over.
This was, to date, my best birthday ever.
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE! YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.