Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lifestyle Photo Shoot 2014

This is a super duper late post but I thought of sharing some of my favorite photos from our photo shoot last January.  We never get around to taking pictures of the whole family on a monthly basis but I aim for at least one proper photo shoot every start of the year. 

For 2014, I thought of holding the photo shoot at the DIFC.  When our friends came over in October last year, I managed to obtain a permit so they can go around the centre and take pictures without being told off by the security.  And then I thought, well, my family hasn’t had any proper photos within the financial centre so might as well do our next photo shoot where Mommy spends most of her time during work days. 

I booked the first of January because I was certain the place would be deserted by then.  And I was right.  Thankfully, our dear photographer’s schedule was also clear that day. 

Our financial centre is literally a concrete jungle.  The main building, The Gate is of grey marble so I thought of coming in for the shoot in all grey ensemble, too. Only Lexie had brought with her a salmon pink dress that she wore for her first birthday party in Manila because she didn’t have any solo photos wearing such pretty dress.

Here are some of my favorite picks:

adorable, and yes, i am biased!

my darling son (i miss his long hair!)

by The Gate

all grey

Jumeirah Emirates Towers background

my most prized possessions

For next year, I was thinking of doing it in a gaming arcade so there’ll be more candid shots.  Either that or in a resort or water park to make it more fun. 

We are so grateful that we are blessed to have such wonderful friends who take photos of ours every now and then, and gladly for free.  Their talent is immensely appreciated by our family, and we will forever be thankful for what they share to us. 

For more of Beth Balde’s work, you may visit her IG page: shutterbug_beth.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dade’s 5th birthday party

Last August, our first born turned 5 years old.  Can you believe it?  Time flies!  Since he is already at that stage where he enjoys kiddie birthday parties, we thought of throwing him an intimate birthday celebration and invited his closest friends.  Besides, my Dad and my youngest sister were also in town so a fun celebration held to make it real memorable, especially since Dade’s birthday fell on a Friday which is a weekend. 

happy birthday, little prince!

To be honest, I have now come to realize how expensive birthday parties can be.  When I was my son’s age, I never had birthday parties.  And when my cousins, classmates or neighbors would have parties, it was always at their backyard or garden.  Nothing fancy really.  And we survived.  And had fun.  And enjoyed the afternoon.  Anyway, so this year, I decided to hold it at a fast food chain because we wanted things to be fuss-free and relaxed.  Rather than invite folks to our home and worry about cleaning up especially since our helper was on holiday in the Philippines and was due to be back on the evening of Dade’s birthday, I thought doing it offsite without having to coordinate the food and entertainment will be less of a headache for me.  And I am so glad I did!


My son is into Lego lately.  He loved the “Lego Movie” which for him is “AWESOME” so it was only but fitting to choose this theme for his birthday party.  Apart from being super colorful and youthful, Lego is something close to me and my husband’s hearts, too.  We grew up playing with Lego, and it is just wonderful that after 30 odd years, we find ourselves with a boy that appreciates our old toys, too.  You can guess that our boy was stoked when he walked in the party hall.  

We played with the primary colors for the party and made sure that the element of old school Lego was put into place.  We deviated from the modern Lego stuff and kept the Lego man as our focal point.  Our pompoms were of colors royal blue, green, yellow and red.  Even the hanging balloons were also of these colors. 

Venue and Food
We chose Burger King in Al Rigga because of their fast food joint colors – red and yellow.  It was a fuss free booking as I only called a few weeks before the event and paid AED 100 only for down payment.  The schedule was locked immediately, and we were allowed to put up decors 3 hours before the party. 

have it your way!

We ordered for Steakhouse Burger meal for all adults and upsized the fries and drinks.  We also ordered for apple pie as dessert.  The kids, meanwhile, got chicken tenders with apple juice drinks and a free toy from their kiddie meal.

Even though we only served burgers, it seemed like all the guests were satisfied with the burger because they were pretty big for fast food standard. 

Sweets Table
Our sweets table was very simple and was only laden with a round cake as the main attraction accented with jelly beans, M&Ms, home-made sugar cookies in the shape of Lego man’s head and home-made banana muffins that were baked by dear husband.  We also printed some personalized water bottle labels.  The buntings were downloaded from somewhere, and I’ve also placed a couple of photo frames from Ikea to hold the photos of Lego Man with the words “Happy Birthday” and “5” on their t-shirts.

sweets table in vibrant colors
hubby's home made sugar cookies.  i did the eyes & mouth, thanks to Americolor edible marker!

yummy banana muffins, home made of course!

personalized water bottles
Mr. Lego Man, some M&M's & the personalized sweets bag

I only ordered the cake like 3 days before the event, and was so glad that Gateaux was able to accommodate my order.  They also have a branch near the party place so there was no issue on the delivery.  I only provided them a photo of the Lego man’s head with background that my husband had laid out and sent it to them by email.  When the cake was delivered on the day, I was gushing with delight because it was cuter than I had imagined!  And for it's price, it was really worth it!

Lego man cake with Dade's name

The blue table skirt was borrowed from Gayle and Hazel while the aqua blue backdrop was originally ours which I eventually gave to them since we had no use for it anymore.   Thankfully, Gayle and Hazel were both there to help us out with the decors.  They were so quick at putting things together and are such pros when it comes to party decorating! 

Burger King also provided entertainment for the guests by hosting a few games and presenting a magic show for the kids.  It was actually lame but still fun nonetheless. 

a little bit of dancing for the kiddos

pick up sticks, party style

The games for the adults were fun, too.  Up until Dade’s birthday party, I didn’t realize that I can never pop a balloon by sitting on it.  That garnered some good laughs from our friends, lol!

Dade enjoyed the candle blowing bit of the party and felt really special that all his friends were there to cheer him on and sing happy birthday for him :)

happy 5th, Kuya Dade!

We also had a balloon burst where our own birthday boy refused to pop because he was too scared of the sound of balloons popping.  He only pacified when it was time to hand out the prizes and loot bags, which was towards the end of the party.  I've put together a simple loot bag that contained some candies, biscuits, pen/pencil, ruler and jack stone set for the kids. 

balloon burst time
giving out prizes and give aways

personalized loot bag 

Sincerest thanks to our friend, Armil who took lovely photos during the party.  We are so grateful that all his godson’s birthday parties are properly documented because of him. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Lexie’s 2nd birthday party

Dear Daughter turned terrific two last April, and while the in-laws were in town for a visit, we thought a nice party would be quite appropriate.  My Dad had promised to pay for the party so lucky us!

family photo

We decided to go for a simple, intimate party at a café because to be honest, we couldn’t be bothered to go full party mode with our busy schedules. 

This year’s party was vintage carnival themed and hubby and I worked on peach and mint green colors as our motif.  Our accent hue was gold which worked well with the pastels.  We also incorporated some chevron to the theme.  Of course, there are vintage elements to it such as carousel, ferris wheel and elephants. 

I liked how our ticket invites turned out because they looked really vintage.  Hubby was able to download a font that worked best with the look we are aiming for.

vintage-y invites

Fortunately for me, my friend Gayle’s daughter’s baptism had the same color motif for her party just a few weeks before Lexie’s so I was able to borrow some items that they’ve used.  My SIL also bought for us a ferris wheel cupcake holder from Manila which I super love because it was perfect for the theme! 

For the centerpieces, we made circus tents out of cardboard paper and blew some peach balloons wrapped in peach tulle that were stuck on mint green vintage-y looking Ikea garden pot holders. 

dainty centerpieces

I wanted a carousel so badly but didn’t have enough time.  I did come up with a solution to incorporate horses though.  I super glued two horses on a paper straw I bought for Lexie’s party last year and painted the horses in gold.  I stuck them on a rectangular styro in different heights and laid the big marshmallows in front of them. 

marshmallows guarded by golden horses

The thing I enjoyed working on the most was stamping Lexie’s name on the wooden utensils.  That was really fun!  Yaya M helped, too :)

wooden cutlery - personalized by moi

Venue & Food

cafe party venue for a change

buffet style merienda

snack box for the kids

yummy desserts
I tried to look for an appropriate coffee shop around town to hold the party but with the limited choices we have here in Dubai, I ended up booking with Dome Café in the DIFC.  I’m glad I did because they were very accommodating with my requests plus they also worked on my budget which I truly appreciated.   We ordered club sandwiches, pizza, chicken nuggets and carbonara for snacks and chose chocolate brownies and carrot bites for dessert.  Dome Café also served chilled apple and orange juice.

Sweets Table

the sweets table

The thing about parties now is that people expect you to have a sweets table as a focal point of your celebration.  While I do love it, I must say it is not very easy to pull off especially when you are relying on yourself to DIY everything.  Thankfully, I’ve had help from dear hubby. 

All pompoms were ready made which my SIL bought in Manila.  The mint green backdrop we borrowed from Gayle, and so are the papers used to make the accordion decors.  She also gave me her left over medium sized doilies that I used for the sweets. 

The mocha cake and vanilla cupcakes were made by our dear friend, Ditas as a gift to our little darling.  Unfortunately, since Ryan was very busy he was not able to make sugar cookies for the party. 

uber yummy mocha cake & vanilla cupcakes

Special thanks to dear Papa (my FIL) who helped us put together the decors on the day.  He was a lot more patient than Ryan, and was really enthusiastic in helping out.  I wish my husband inherited his patience from his father. 

Believe it or not, we never held any program for the party at all!  It was super laidback for everyone.  We just hung out and chatted with our guests.  No fancy games.  We prepped giveaways and lootbags for the kids which we handed out before they left.  The children entertained themselves by running around huge balcony of Precinct Building 5. 



It was a lovely day all in all, and we are thankful to those who took time to join us.  Credits to our dear friend, Armil who took wonderful photos on the day of the party.