Secret Love Notes

One of my favorites on my 40 Good Things list is leaving love notes in the world. I type out messages, print and cut them, then keep a handful in my purse. When I'm out and about, I leave them on store shelves, in ATM slots, or tip jars. 

This time of year can be especially stressful or emotional, and spreading this tiny bit of cheer can help lifts people's spirits. Plus: I feel like a ninja when I secretly leave them in unexpected places.

I wanted to share the notes if you'd like to join the fun. Just download the PDF here, print and cut. Or come up with your own. The creativity is half the fun.

40 Good Things

My 40th birthday is this weekend, and to celebrate I'm doing something good. 40 good things, actually.

I've made a list of 40 things that can bring joy to myself and the people around me, and I'm going to try to do them all before year's end. These things might be tiny tasks or they may involve a grand plan. They may take 30 seconds or span a whole weekend. They may involve a stranger, a friend, a family member or myself (because I deserve a little kindness, too!). One thing's for sure, though: They are gonna be good.

40 Good Things

Give someone else a present
Pay 5 strangers compliments
Leave 10 lucky pennies on the pavement
Leave 15 comments on social media
Send 20 postcards to friends

Leave 25 love notes in the world
Write in my journal for 30 minutes
Give $35 to a charity
Take a 40 minute nap
Do every good thing that presents itself that day

Write a letter to someone you admire
Bake cookies for a neighbor
Cook Rama's favorite dinner
Spend one hour of uninterrupted Henry time
Spend one hour of uninterrupted Maira time

Let Rama sleep in
Make a mixed CD and give it away
Let the person behind me cut in front of me at checkout
Take my mom out to lunch
Treat myself to a massage

Help a new mom
Ask a stranger how his/her day is going
Offer a Mac tutoring session to Mom & Dad
Donate things I don't need to Good Will
Give spare change to the next person who asks for it (if no one does, put it in our travel piggy bank)

Buy coffee for the person behind me in line
Bring treats to the kids’ teachers
Make lunch for Rama (put a love note in it)
Write a thank you note to a former teacher
Feed someone who could really use a meal

Forgive someone
Apologize to someone
Make someone laugh
Reach out to a friend who may be struggling
Send a random friend flowers

Tip someone generously
Give Rama a back rub (don't time it)
Go one day without complaining
Go one day without gossiping
Call a family member just to say "Hi"


Care to join me? Follow along here or on Instagram, where I'll post about it from time to time. I'll use the hashtag #40goodthings.

P is for Party

I was pretty giddy the weeks leading up to Henry's 1st birthday. Beyond the obvious occasion of celebrating one year of his marvelous existence, I was excited to throw a good party. I knew that Henry wouldn't remember the day at all, but I wanted a celebration for me and Rama and our family, too. A celebration that said, "We did it! We were parents for one whole year and we did an awesome job!" A celebration that also said, "Thanks for being part of our son's life!"

Inspired by this party and using my current favorite palette of red & aqua, I went to town planning an alphabet and flash-card themed bash. To keep things simple, we opted for a menu of pizza, salads, snacks and cakes (yes, plural). Then, I designed a few pretty touches to make it special, starting with the above invitations. Rama illustrated our son's adorable mug for the cards. He is king of portraits and can capture anyone's likeness.

Since most of our guests were adults and babies, our party favors were something people of all ages could enjoy. I baked lemon cookies, put a few in glassine bags adorned with "C is for Cookie" labels and sealed them with some Japanese masking tape.

I am a sucker for gift wrapping. I scored this aqua wrapping paper for 99 cents at Party City. I made the "H is for happy" tag and found the red ribbon in my stash.

I made a birthday banner and tacked it to a nearby tree. In addition to the party favors, we provided bubbles and sidewalk chalk for the young and young at heart.

Our cake was the best, lightest, fluffiest mango cake from Red Ribbon, a Filipino bakery. It has become a family tradition that my parents bring it to our shindigs. Note the imprint from the birthday boy's little hand and the robot topper gifted from our friends at Giant Robot. Too cute.

I also hired our friend Emilyn Chin to bake some mini cupcakes. Her talents fill the void of the late, great Leda's Bakery that was my favorite in LA until they closed early last year. The cupcakes are white cake filled with lemon curd and topped with buttercream frosting, and yes, they are as yummy as they are pretty.

Henry wasn't sure about all the fuss at first, but I think it's safe to say he did end up having a blast.

It was a hot, hot day, but as the sun set, we were blessed with some shade and a little breeze.

We did it!

Lastly, I crafted "lucky duck" thank you notes to match. The little duck illustration is by me. The last cupcake was eaten by me, too!

Photo of our family and cake-covered Henry and me by Stacy de la Rosa. All other photos by yours truly.