#ThingsToDoIn2015: August update

Blog graphicI have been meaning to do a self check of this list for a couple of weeks now, but the trip home (yes, the second this year) and life in general, have gotten in the way.. My last update was in March (the first quarter), in reference to my first post at the beginning of the year.  It just feels but fitting to check on how I’m doing from time to time to actually get things going.  So where are we so far?

1.  Read six books. – Progress… I actually managed to finish a book while in Manila (Yay!) and am hoping to get on with my second… and I am positive I will make the 6 as promised.  It was actually refreshing to work through a book at a leisurely pace (read: mostly bathroom reading) and still enjoy a fresh read.  I have some serious material to go through in the next couple of weeks and hope to do some real reading to complete my goal of 6.

2. Take a trip to visit old girlfriends from SPCP/SPCQC — on my own — so that’s either Boston or California. – With two trips home and hardly any vacation days left, I’m going to edit this one and revise it to be just a simple meet up nearby — for now.  Planning something with some fellow Paulinians in my neck of the woods in the next couple of weeks.  Maybe a brunch or drinks?  Just to reconnect.

3. Do another craft fair and learn new techniques.  (Visit one, not sell in one.) – There’s only one more left for the year from my favorite craft fair organizers, Heirloom Productions, and it’s this October in York, PA.  So I’m a little iffy about even going given that I have a ton of craft projects on my planning board right now — and going will be craft heaven for me, but it will throw my current plans out of whack.  So unless there’s a craft fair closer to home, I think I will end up passing up on this one.

4. Take my little guy to ComicCon 2015.  (A request that was made in March and which Mommy committed to make happen.. ) – I would’ve wanted to buy tickets early but I wasn’t able to.  (Epic fail, I know..)  But all hope is not lost —  I’m still waiting on Midtown Comics to announce when they will sell tickets — and I’m almost afraid to even make a plan to go and grab a pair for my little guy and I when they do.  Everyone — and I mean EVERYONE — seems to be waiting on the big day because they are the only source for tickets this year that will still sell any.  Best effort..

5. Take at least one actual class beyond online.  (Yes, Elaine.) –  With the fall term coming upon me soon, I need to make a decision.  In the past couple of weeks, I’ve made a decision to try and learn how to sew, but I need to have my sewing machine serviced first.  (I do well by hand, but I need the real deal to make what I hope to make.)

6.  Watch at least 1 concert — hopefully Billy Joel’s at Madison Square Garden.. – It looks like Billy Joel won’t be this year.  Still hopeful.. still planning.

7.  Watch at least 1 play or musicale on Broadway.  And I saw God… =)  Actually made a spur of the moment decision (budget be damned!) to watch “ACT OF GOD” with the fabulous Jim Parsons via TKTS.  I landed on the front row and right in the middle within kissing and spitting distance, but so LOVED every moment of it.

8.  Go to the gym at least once a week — and maybe even earn a locker!  (Go 10x the previous month and you get YOUR OWN LOCKER the following month.) – Uhm.. next please.

9. Lose another 10 lbs at least before April.  (Lost over 20 in 2014!) – While I had managed to keep my weight at bay through most of the middle of the year, the trip home always throws me off and I am currently in the process of trying to lose all that I gained.  Not a happy topic to discuss but I’m not killing myself over this one.  It’ll happen — soon enough.

10. Tweet/Instagram at least one positive thought every week.  (I thought “everyday” would be too big a commitment to make.) – I haven’t been keeping tabs, but I think I’ve been pretty good with this one.

11.  Find a rehearsal studio and actually spend an hour just touching the piano keys again. – Music sheet… check.  Rehearsal studio research… check.  (Found me one nearby..)  BUT — haven’t quite gotten down to this.  Promise, before winter.

12. Spend a Saturday a month, on my own,just roaming NYC or some other place nearby.  (Do something “only in New York”..) – This, I’m very proud to say, I’ve been very good at.  Even made it to Brooklyn Heights last weekend.. YAY!

13. Leave one preloved book out in the open once a month for someone else to enjoy/read. – It’s probably because I’m such a book lover that I find it so hard to part with my books — at all.  But again, I want to get this going, specially in the spirit of finding a home for the books I would rather not keep.

14. Destash: Give 5 items away from my current stash (clothes, books, art supplies, postcards) every month. – Still trying to get this down pat… like I had written a few months back, I have been good with the “give away” part, but have been slow on the 5.  I have successfully set aside half a balikbayan box full of Angelo’s clothes — time to do mine again.  I did a first wave sweep in March before my first trip home April 2015, but I have been finding others that I need to give away to someone else who would have better use of it.  Plus I’ve been shrinking in size, so I need to stick to the smaller and leaner me…

15. Write one letter long-hand every month. –  Yes, still happily writing.

While most of my list remains in the “to do” section of my life, I think I’ve made quite a bit of progress given where I was last year.  I’ll say it again, I’m in a much better and happier place.  One of the lessons I’ve learned is that “better” is not always synonymous with “happier”.  But that doesn’t mean they cannot be used in the same sentence or spoken in the same breath.  It’s a matter of choice, a matter of priorities —  namely, prioritizing yourself above the other more important things you feel should go before you even think of you.  And after a long, long while when I thought self sacrifice was the ultimate in motherhood and a person’s existence, I have let go and can say I am better and yes, happier.  One last quarter to go and we’ll check back at the start of 2016 and see.  Getting there…


My Travel Essentials

I have lived in New York City for 15 years now, and I believe I’ve taken as many long haul trips– mostly to home (the Philippines). I have around 4 other international trips involving other destinations, and the others were a smattering of trips I’m too lazy to try and count right now. But through the years, I’ve refined and narrowed down the things to bring and do while spending long hours between destinations, and have defined a routine as well as my “must pack essentials” for my carry on.

I’ve seen similar lists and don’t mean to knock anyone’s down, but I’ve found some suggestions helpful and hope that mine would be helpful for someone as well.  Remember that these are just suggestions and not commercial endorsements.  I actually use and buy the products mentioned.

Here are the things I always travel with, more so for the long haul flights home. It’s a pretty basic list which I have gathered simply out of habit and not necessity.  As long as I leave the house armed with the following in my carry on luggage, I’ll survive the trip, come what may.
1. My go-to medication plus a bandaid or two. I don’t travel with a full first aid kit.. not even a mini one.  Allergy meds and my pain reliever of choice are a lifesaver, more so since I usually end up with very little, if not no sleep at all, the night before a trip home. (Which means a major headache during the trip.)  Not all international airports like Seoul Incheon International will have a pharmacy in site– and that is such a relief when you forget your painkiller of choice.  I have also had at least one bad experience of being trapped inside an airplane with an allergen (lady next to me was sniffing and sneezing, too) and the handy allergy meds in my purse helped alleviate the discomfort. Allergy meds are also essential if you are traveling with a younger child who reacts to food occasionally like my 11-year-old. That is the reason I always have one tablet in my wallet and we always have the same in the car. (The Pinay New Yorker takes Claritin and Aleve.)

2. My face cleaning and moisturizing regimen in travel size portions in one ziploc bag or vanity case. I don’t travel fully made up but I hate leaving my face with any layer of make up overnight, even if my evening is virtual as its spent on the plane. I usually take everything off before I hit la-la land and then reapply an hour before landing.  This will allow your skin to breathe and rest. Travel is not an excuse to torture it with extended wear! If I come on board with just powder and no foundation, I would usually put on a layer of moisturizer before I sleep to refresh my skin. No, I don’t do facial sprays. My routine has always been to cleanse and then moisturize. Whether your moisturizer is Oil of Olay, baby oil or a more complicated concoction, I find that it helps me to sleep better and arrive well rested at my destination. (The Pinay New Yorker uses a medley of products from The Body Shop.)

3. Travel size your toiletries. No. 2 would require you to grab those travel set containers. Most dollar stores, pharmacies and superstores carry them, and you can even customize your kits from specialty stores like Muji and Beabi.  I got this nice set from one of the pharmacies here which has proved to be very versatile because of the choices that the varied sized containers give you.  Try not to keep buying travel size toiletries every time you travel. If you do, buy the brands and products you use so you can refill them from your regular sized supplies at home when they run out. I find though that most travel size items are still a tad too much for overnights or trip size portions. They can be bulky and difficult to fit in your purse even if they comply with the 3 ounce requirement.

Do make sure to fill them up or refill them a day or so before your trip because they can be time-consuming and messy if done in a rush. Fill them to the lid, and wrap the containers containing thinner liquids like your toner in plastic wrap if you have experienced spillage caused by cabin pressure before.

4. Always carry wipes and tissues and a pocket sized sanitizer to clean up messes or when you just have to sanitize. Accidents do happen on board, during or after meals. While the cabin crew will assist, you would want to be ready.

5. Accessories to keep you comfy and warm. Don’t shoot me but I don’t travel with a neck pillow. For some reason, I haven’t been able to find one I’m comfy with so I dispense with lugging one on board. During flights, “comfy” to me means keeping warm. So instead, I make sure I travel with a scarf big enough to cover my head and face with for sleeping (yes, I’m one of those who sometimes ends up sleeping with my mouth open when I sleep seated.). In addition, I bring a larger handkerchief like my precious tubao to tie around my neck. Even in the winter months, I sleep with a kerchief because I just get cold that way very quickly otherwise.

Because I choose to travel with comfy shoes and I don’t need socks during the summer, I bring a pair of leg warmers just to keep my legs what else– warm. A pair of socks is a good alternative, but that only takes care of my feet and not my legs. (I’m old, there!)

When I can, I travel in a sweater or jacket with a hoodie, but that is out of the question when I travel during the summer like today. I would bring a season-appropriate jacket which I may or may not wear to the airport. I have also found that bringing an extra layering shirt in my tote has been wise given how they keep the plane cabins cold. (Read; freezing.). Bring something light enough not to crowd your purse — just in case you choose not to use it. Sometimes a simple second shirt can actually make the difference even when you’re wearing a jacket or sweater.

6. Snacks of your choice. I have been traumatized by my initial trip to New York 15 years ago when the plane ran out of breakfast as the last meal between my connecting from Tokyo to Michigan before hitting New York. Be it s powerbar, a small bag of nuts or a candy bar, bring some.  Don’t bring a whole basketful as if you were going on a picnic, though, and be mindful of flight restrictions on the kind of food allowed past the security check.  I am also mindful of not bringing anything pungent or offensive smelling, so as not to be  nuisance to others around me.

7. A book, magazine in hard copy or on an electronic device — and something to write on and with if you write a lot like I do. This trip, I have brought a scratch notebook of sorts to scribble anything and everything on.  In addition, I packed a blank notebook to scribble on.  I always make sure I have at least 2 pens, but make sure all my pens are together in either a Ziploc bag or a pencilcase.  Some pens tend to bleed when the cabin is pressurized so be careful when you set the pen down on your writing medium of choice.

Travel is something that I have found enjoyable for the simple fact that it takes me — literally — from one place to the next.  And moving from the familiar to something different every once in a while is always worth the trouble it may entail.  Here’s to my next trip, wherever that may be.


Touchdown Manila

I’ve actually been here a couple of days, just taking things slow and trying to enjoy the down time.  While I was just here in April to attend a wedding, this time it was a spur of the moment decision we had made for Angelo to finally get his long-requested summer stay in Manila.  We had always timed our trips to coincide with the holidays, and that meant arriving for his vacation with a homework packet.  It was understandably a dampener to what would have been a period of fun and relaxation. 

The flight home.  For the first time, I flew our national carrier, Philippine Airlines — and while I had wanted to fly my usual airlines (KoreanAir, Cathay Pacific), I had to adjust to the travel arrangements Angelo already had because he had flown 5weeks before I did.  (Long story short, I didn’t get to choose this flight.)  I had flown PAL many times before domestically, and even as recent as last April when we all hied off to Cebu for that beautiful wedding where I stood as godmother.  I liked that trip, but this last one left much to be desired.

It helped that I had set my expectations low, so I wasn’t surprised that the plane seemed to be old and worn.  I have complete faith in the crews that fly PAL, so I told myself, as long as they get me to Manila, I’m fine.  And get me here, they did.  So I am grateful to the professionalism of the two crews who flew us first to Vancouver, and then the second crew who actually brought us home.

The food was typical PAL, and better than most served on American flights.  My two favorite airlines, though, are favorites, partly because of their inflight dining menu.  Give me the KoreanAir Bibimbap anytime!  (And they do give it at every meal.. which means a two-time serving on a long haul each way.)  I arrived okay — not starving — but we don’t fly for the gastronimic experience.

Yet, all was not lost, and this is the reason I decided to devote a good portion of this post to the flight.  Kudos to the crews that flew on PR127 from New York to Manila via Vancouver on July 31, 2015.  You are the saving grace of this airline.  I got efficient and courteous service (expected), and very generous help when requested.  So forget that the control panel on my armrest kept falling out (no, I did not get electrocuted and it WAS working even if hanging by the wires, literally.), and that there was this tiny screen hanging from certain vantage points on the plane.  Blame it on being spoiled by every other airline I’ve flown in recent years who had individual screens in front of me — whether I was flying state to state or overseas.  (Even Aer Lingus had this!)

Whether I went to the galley to request for a drink, or ask permission to open the porthole by the rear door to snap a picture, I got my answer with a smile.  Even my water was poured with such grace I couldn’t help but wonder if they had practiced that motion during training.  No matter that the menu offering had to be repeated to every person on every row, the question as to your meal of choice was asked with a smile, and without the smirk that made you feel like you were being stupid for asking him something about the meal.  (Meal service, apparently, is not a favorite chore among most flight attendants..)  I wanted to tell them all that they did a good job, but I was busy lugging my luggage down the very narrow passageways and trying to wish the pain in my behind away — grateful I was finally home.

NAIA Terminal 2 – hmmmmmm… All these years, I’ve flown in and out of the same international airport in Manila — and it was an experience I almost dread, but not because of the fact that the airport was really dated.   This particular airport is not a happy place for me except when I arrive — so I have mixed feelings about plopping down into unchartered territory, landing in Terminal 2.

First, there was the immigration line which was always a coin toss between having “long lines” and “VERY long lines”.  I guess I was lucky my flight didn’t arrive with everyone else, so while there was a wait, it wasn’t unbearably long.  A couple of years ago, I got caught during the automation switch of the Bureau of Immigration, and I had to agonize through a two-hour wait with Angelo in tow before we were cleared for the gate.  He was probably 2 or 4 then, so I was actually in line with a young boy on a stroller.  We inched slowly to the front and when I was finally there in front of the Immigration officer, I painfully watched him try to navigate the system.

So you can imagine my surprise when I landed with an older immigration officer who not only processed me with speedy efficiency –but he also rendered courteous and friendly service.  That I am actually raving about it here should prove how impressed I was.  I even sent a direct message to the current Commissioner to make sure that I got the praise recorded officially.. Thank you, Immigration officer Tabao.. Job well done!  We always hear about the “bad eggs” — it’s good to hear about the good ones from time to time..

I walked through the new arrival lanes to the baggage claim area which looked new and promising, until I found myself waiting for my luggage which didn’t come out until after an hour.  Thank God, Immigration sped me through — I had happy memories to keep me preoccupied while I twiddled my thumbs as I lay in wait for the carousel to start showing us bags.  I got to meet an OFW from Vancouver who was hoping his luggage would come out before his wife’s flight from Hong Kong arrived.  (I think he beat her arrival by a few minutes.)  I met a nun who was home for the first time in 15 years, but sadly, to attend her brother’s funeral.  We spoke to each other quite a bit and had a few laughs, and then I saw one of my bags appear and I excused myself.  (Second and third bags appeared almost a half hour later.)  I would’ve met more but my brother started pinging me he was near.. where will he get me?  I suddenly missed the lettered zone in the old airport.

I found the “Bays” and let him know where I was.  (very short spans, though.)  I got into his car and his first concern was whether or not I was hungry — and thanks to the Chicken Tocino from PAL, I was good.. I didn’t realize that the trek home to San Juan would take 3 — YES, THREE – hours.. so you can imagine, I was famished by the time I got home and gave everyone else a hug.  I knew I was back in Manila — traffic and all.

No matter what the hassles and how my behind kept reminding me throughout the trip how long a journey it was, I am always happy to be home with friends and family.  And as they say now, it’s always more fun in the Philippines!

Reading again

I am hoping I am well on my way to starting on my 6-book quota for the year.  It’s July (yes!) and almost August (!!) and I have made a promise to myself I WILL do the 6 books AT LEAST.  (Ambitious, I know..)  It’s not for a lack of books to read.  It doesn’t help that I have the books in my Kindle which I’ve barely opened in the last couple of months.  I also received some books from cousins and friends from the last visit to Manila.

And while the hardbound books I so love are such a load impinging on my 100-lb baggage allowance for the trip home, I also managed to get Armida Siguion-Reyna’s book.  I had to seriously debate with myself about getting Enrile’s tome.. but I managed to get that somehow in the last couple of weeks, straight from National Book Store.  I know, my politics are showing here, but I am always in for a good read.  I am hoping that these two will be part of my 6 for the year.

I had gone to Barnes & Noble last weekend to get some books requested by my nephew and my niece, and the one requested by Audrey, A Work in Progress: A Memoir by Connor Franta was being offered on a “Buy-2-get-the-3rd-free” table so I had to make a decision on which other two books I was getting.

After going through the books displayed on that stack, I decided to pick up The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky which I am currently reading, and The Shell Collector: Stories by Anthony Doerr (for later).  What’s interesting is that as I was paying for my purchases at the counter, the young lady at the cashier gushed about Chbosky’s book and told me she reads it over and over again.  (Comments like that make me think about one of two things: the books IS that great.. or she is seriously messed up for not wanting to read something else.)  Well, the book has been made into a movie which I will watch after reading it, and that the story was picked up for the big screen (not to forget that it spent a considerable amount of time on the NY Times Bestseller’s list) should say something about how good a read it must be.

If you’re expecting a book review, this isn’t one so I’m sorry to disappoint.  I’m merely reporting what I am reading and what’s up next.  It’s not a heavy read but I’ve learned how to reserve my judgment for how heavy or light a story is for until after I close the book for good.  Some of the better books I’ve read have taken me on a journey from one emotion to the next, and there is no single feeling to describe the story that was told.

It is easy to read because it’s written from the perspective of a teen.  Another lesson learned is not to dismiss young adult reading as being “juvenile,” more so after I’ve read the entire Twilight Saga.  And yes, I’ve read the Harry Potter series, but I have stuck to one reading of all these books.  (I can’t understand why one would read something over and over again except if it’s Holy Bible.)  But again, who am I to judge.

I don’t have the luxury to  sit down and read it uninterrupted, but I’m savoring the fact that I’m actually holding the book in my hands.  There is something about reading the old-fashioned way, much as writing in longhand these days is a unique experience, that makes reading a book fulfilling.  I’m not saying I’m not ever going back to the tablet — I will.  But from time to time, it pays to actually hold the words in your hands.

I like the break that my mind gets from the real world when I have a book in my hands.  For a moment in time, I am part of someone else’s story that plays in my mind and heart as if I were watching it on screen.  And yet there is a profound difference in the way the scenes and feelings form inside me because of the words written by the author.

You should try it again some time if you’ve been enslaved by your reading tablet or worse, if you haven’t been reading at all.  (Horrors!)  Wish me luck with this one.

Then again, on second thought, I think I’m good.  Let me get back to my reading..
the Perks of being a wallflower

Having myself a Fab Summer

I was listening to Coldplay’s “Til Kingdom Come” for probably the 5th time while my bus was crawling out of the Midtown Tunnel yesterday when the title above came to mind.  I almost forgot that I was having a difficult time drawing my right eye with a flick — and before finishing the second, I clicked on the WordPress app and started writing.  (Eyes have been taken cared of..)

So how’s your summer been?

Those of you in New York City know we’ve gotten lucky with  moderate temperatures until this week, and even that has been a break.  We haven’t really had the sweltering heat of the past summers and that was unexpected.  The previous winter, mild as it was, tends to make us expect a harsher summer.  And we haven’t had that– yet.  Of course we’re just hitting the midpoint of summer and I could be speaking too soon, but I’ve always been a “warmer climate” person considering where I was born and raised.  Manila’s heatwave gives you good training for the hot summers of New York, but then it’s dry heat here.  (Imagine walking into an oven.)
#HappyFriday, #NewYork.. The #weekend is here.. take time to #recharge and get some #metime..#youarelmportanttoo #empirestatebuilding #lookingtowardsdowntown #sunnyaummerday #manhattan
I’ve been exploring more of the city during the weekends and lingering on later in the day.  It helps that the little guy is in Manila enjoying his summer break with his cousins, so I need not rush home to make dinner.  It’s been a time of new beginnings, plans and things that need to be done.  It’s also a time of renewal.  (More on that in another post.)

Unfortunately, I see the summer slipping by with some things falling through the cracks.  I will hopefully get to do a check-in on my 15 things for 2015 although I’m almost dreading it because I’m afraid I have missed out on many of the things I had hoped to accomplish, and half the year has slipped by.

The good news is I’M READING AGAIN.  I am actually so thrilled about actually lugging a book in my purse these days that I have taken to having the book within arm’s reach just so I can look and touch its pages.  (We call that shallow or mababaw back where come from.)  Simple thrills.

#MissionAcconplished, @juliaatolentino -- I couldn't actually remember the title andmfor@some@reason the pic or the message from @neo.phil.ia about it had disappeared -- but I found it in the #Buy2GetThe3rdFree table and snapped it up!  😀😉#bThe truth of the matter is, I had schlepped down to Barnes & Noble to buy some books requested by my nephew and niece.  I am always drawn to the tables where books are laid flat, enabling you to see stacks of it on top of each other.  There were no Minecraft books as requested by the nephew, and for the life of me, I couldn’t find the photo sent by my sister-in-law for my niece’s request.  So I walked around towards the tables and lo and behold, the book was right there: A Work in Progress: A Memoir by Connor Franta.  The thing was it was on a “Buy-2-get-the-3rd-free” table so I found myself walking around trying to decide if I will just get the book for my niece or if I will get two more.  Of course I got two more!  (Have to get that Barnes & Noble membership going!)

I have missed reading and the thought that I am finally getting down to doing some serious page-turning makes me kind of giddy happy.  Kind of.  At almost fifty, (yes, the Pinay New Yorker is THAT old) — I have discovered that the things that make me smile are no longer as profound or earth shattering or remarkable like they used to be.  These days, when a stranger says “Beautiful dress!” or “What a lovely necklace..”  from out of nowhere, that is reason enough to smile.  (This is the same dress that has seen a lady walk up to me at a grocery to tell me what a lovely dress I was wearing.  I am NEVER parting with this dress even when it is no longer age appropriate!)  Or maybe talking about movies or music or GoT.  (And if you don’t know what that stands for, then you aren’t in our ‘circle’.)  It’s being able to mention something from the 80s and know that you won’t get a puzzled look that tells you you’re from two different generations.  (As my brother who is only 3 years younger than me would say, that would be a generation gap.)

So what is my fabulous summer all about?  

Have a #cone-olli at the #NutellaBar in #Eatalynyc.  Your choice of #gelato atop a #nutellafilledcone, rolled in #roastedhazelnuts.  #yummy ! #foodporn #icecream #Itsliansdoitbetter #musttry #lovedit #dessert inNewYork #FlatIronDistrictIt’s about the Nutella Bar in Eataly which seems to have a hypnotic hold on me now, every time I’m in the area.  Not even the usual lines or throng of people going in and out of the place has deterred me from making a quick stop whenever I can.  On the contrary, it’s all those people walking around and the anonymity of walking in that crowd that kind of makes me feel at home in this place.

No, it’s not that sweet — even the sweet cream needs a little bit of nutella in it to make it really sinful.  I find it to be a good palate cleanser, though.  (Excuses, excuses!)

It’s about dreaming of learning how to sew (finally!) — but knowing it’ll have to wait for when I return from the next trip home.  So in the meantime, I’m focusing on hair accessories and trying to get my creative juices flowing to enable me to bring some pieces to give away as gifts in a week and a half.  I’ve startred sorting out my jewelry supplies as well with a more determined plan to actually revive the store on Etsy.   And no, I didn’t forget about my newfound interest in crochet — freeform crochet to be exact — as I featured in my craft blog, GothamChick just a few weeks back here and here.

I’m starting to go back to music that I love — jazz, in particular — and learning along the way.  It’s music that soothes and draws me to a time way back when I got so immersed in learning about modern jazz.   Back when they had a record bar (which is where they used to have shelves upon shelves of vinyl and stacks of cassette tapes), the lady in charge would lay out the latest releases and make her recommendations.  It is because of her that I heard of Eloise Laws, Donald Byrd, in addition to the staples of Alphonse Mouzon, Earl Klugh, Noel Pointer and Seawind to name a few.  Now I’m listening to Avishai Cohen who I was looking forward to watching “Live” in NYC but I just heard his tour had been altogether cancelled.. (Bummer..)

Summer’s been a time to enjoy movies, old and new, that friends have been recommending.   Don’t you just hate it  when people start talking about some title and ask you if you’ve watched it and you realize you’re way behind?  I never pretended to be a cinephile but I do appreciate good films.  I just haven’t had the time to sit in a theatre or find out what’s new.  (I miss Mr. Moviefone ..)  The good news is I am now raving about Everything Is Illuminated, Fading Gigolo and the original The Producers (1968).  I am not a film critic nor one of those people who try to dissect the “layers of acting” or the “depth of the story”.  I watch movies to enjoy them and I always try to sit in front of a screen with as little expectations of the story or the acting or directing.  I think we, as members of the audience, should just sit there and enjoy.  Every film, even those that are retellings of stories we already know are meant to entertain but will only succeed in doing that if we let them.  Save the popcorn — I’m still working my way down a list of other great movies.

I’ve made the effort to reconnect with friends from waaaaaayyyyyyy back.  As a friend from gradeschool wrote me, “(I) am happy to know that you are well on your way to getting to know yourself again and that you’re making strides where reconnecting with old friends is concerned. We do tend to lose ourselves when in relationships and though that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it is at times unhealthy. ”  (Bernadette aka Bambi has always written so eloquently.)

The sad part of being here in New York is that although some people maybe in the same neighborhood, connecting can take a lot of effort.  Sadly, we don’t all give it the effort it deserves.  Sometimes all it takes is an e-mail, a message on Facebook, or a chance encounter when you’re on the bus and you see a familiar face fiddling with her phone at street level.  (The Universe speaks, again.)

I miss my little guy but I am grateful for the break to focus on myself the last couple of weeks.  It makes me look forward to being with him again when I go home to pick him up in Manila in just over a week.  And there is so much to look forward to when I return to my home, New York, and ride out the last days of summer as we go into my next favorite season: Autumn.

Here’s to a wonderful rest of the summer for everyone.

A bit of Italy in Eataly NYC

I had heard of Eataly but never really went there, and even when I finally did the first time, it was not on purpose.  I had come to the city that weekend to try and get some yarn at the Michael’s store in the Flat Iron District.  It was already a tad cloudy by the time I got to Manhattan and thought nothing of the slight drizzle — and then it started pouring when I got out of the subway.  (And to think I had actually considered getting an umbrella from the office but thought it wouldn’t be necessary.)  So there I was, caught in the midst of a heavy drizzle threatening to turn into a downpour when I found myself on the Fifth Avenue entrance of Eataly.Eataly NYCThe place was buzzing with a ton of tourists and New Yorkers alike, so depending on what time of the day you go in and what day of the week you choose to visit, be prepared for a throng of people.

Eataly is a marketplace and food gallery of everything Italian.  Well, of course, there’s the crepes and the gelato and all that other stuff, but you come here to shop and enjoy the gastronomic delights they have to offer, and be prepared to be ooh and aahh and burp.  (Excuse me!)
#NYCtraffic snarled in #Midtown so I landed here @EatalyNYC past 4pm to grab a #latelunch. All this for a bit of #yarn!  Might as well enjoy it, more so since it's started to rain. #SundayInNYCsolo #metime #crochetcrazy #MyFreedormCrochetProject #PerpetuaThey have several restaurants which one would do well to reserve seats for ahead, but then there’s the bar seating which is “free for all.”  As I was by my loneome self, I gamely found a bar stool and sat and excitedly looked over the menu.  I picked La Verdure because it had an almost empty bar seating and was right smack in the middle of the whole marketplace. UntitledWhile I would normally be adventurous when it comes to trying out a new restaurant, I’m also the type who would pick something I know and love and sample how they do it and compare the new adventure of the palate with what I’m familiar with.  So I went for the lasagna — the Pasta Al Forno con Funghi (Lasagna with Cremini mushrooms and Bechamel) which was pure pasta heaven!  The pasta was paper thin (literally), and the sauce tasty without being too rich.  The cremini mushrooms gave it a subtle yet different flavor and the bechamel was a perfect counterpoint to seal in the many flavors.  Definitely a ‘must try’ when it’s on the menu — and the seemingly huge portion is really just right because the pasta and sauce have been constructed to sit perfectly together sans the bulk.

 I have learned to trust the restaurants to recommend the perfect wine pairing, and while I normally wouldn’t drink with a meal, I thought I would live a little dangerously this time around just to add to the entire food experience.  I asked my server for a recommendation and he asked my preference (fruity as against full bodied and strong, I said) and he made a suggestion.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember that now but I do recall enjoying it with the food — proving yet again that it pays to ask the experts who know their wine offerings.

I enjoyed my lunch and ate leisurely — with no clock ticking and the rain pouring down now on Manhattan.  I finished my lasagna and glass of wine, determined to find a sweet ending to the meal from the dessert counters if not the Nutella Bar which I spied on my way in.  There was also Il Gelato and the many counters offering their decadent pastries and cakes, but I chose to go and see where they claimed you can “buy happiness in a jar.”

 Be warned that the seating is usually full — and there is almost always a line at the cashier to order.  It would help for you to view the menu overhead and make a decision as to what you are thinking of having before making a queu to get your guilty pleasure, lest you risk the ire of the people who are salivating for their own piece of nutella heaven behind you.

 It’s basically soft serve ice cream you can either have served in a paper cup or a waffle cone (recommended) with or without nutella (recommended) or you can go for the waffles or crepe (which I had no room for given what I just had for lunch).  You can also get your caffeine boost here if you wish, but I usually don’t grab coffee with ice cream, or with anything after noon and it was almost 4pm by the time I got to this point.  Crepes and waffles in an Italian cafe?  Well, Eataly proudly says “We know crepes are French and waffles are Belgian but Italians make them better!”  (I know of one Italian who would proudly proclaim that Italians always do it better! LOL)   Isn’t that waffle bowl just yummy?  Indulgence well deserved!  (I have a confession to make.  I have since returned to Eataly for a quick piece of Nutella heaven in a bowl during one of my forays into the Flat Iron district since.  Couldn’t resist!)

I would definitely go back another time — with or without friends in tow.  Whether it’s for another gastronomic treat or a cup of espresso, with time to kill or just a quick run through — this is one favorite spot of the Pinay New Yorker now for the many choices when you feel like enjoying a bit of Italy in the heart of the big apple.

While the crowds might be dizzying to others, I like being able to disappear into that crowd and enjoy a leisurely lunch with the rest of the world passing by me.  Perhaps when I return, I can feature the stores and the offerings that make the market place even more appealing, even when you don’t feel like getting a bite. Bon Appetit!

Eataly is located at 200 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10011, accessible via the N or R subway lines (23rd Street stop) or the various buses heading towards downtown.  Once you get to the Flat Iron Building which you cannot miss, you can either look around and find it across the street or ask around.  Cafe Lavazza is open daily from 8am and Eataly market at 10am.


Is the weekend really over?  The next long weekend we are looking forward to is not for another couple of weeks, but I have better things coming up like  a trip to Manila to pick up my son before the next holiday.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

I have been focusing on moving forward and have been taking care of “me”.  With my little guy back in Manila, it has been easier to focus on taking care of the one who takes care of him most of the time.  I’m finally able to concentrate on the things that I usually gloss over, or those things that have to “wait” when I have to worry about dinner or homework or giving in to having him sit on my lap.  Instead of focusing on “‘Me” time after 10pm or so, I’ve devoted a whole weekend to doing just that.  And while I do miss my son, I have enjoyed the “alone” time.

I have been sorting through things and trying to discard what needs to be thrown away, and further sorting through the things I want to keep.  And I’ve also been packing.  I have seen things I had forgotten I had — not just craft supplies but mementos that are now being tucked into a box for safekeeping.

I end my weekend feeling grateful.

…for the flowers blooming all around me.  One thing I truly enjoy about summer is that all the blooms come to life in seeming shifts.  The tulips may be gone but the hydrangeas in their pretty colors are here to stay.  I even have a bunch all dried and yet still lovely in a small vase on my ledge at work.  They color our lives in a different way — and I have always loved how they remind us that life goes on and on and on.

…for sunny days.  Yes, even the ones that start out dark and grey with some rain.  It’s been a glorious weekend celebrating freedom and we have been blessed with sunshine.

…for summer.  This is really my time of the year.  No matter how punishing the heat may be, I love this season and all the energy it brings.  Everything comes to life — the trees that are bare in the winter are heavy with their greens.  You find yourself taking the time to walk a little slower to look up at the blue skies.  It’s not too cold to stop and sit in the park.  You can actually enjoy the outdoors even if you’re not outdoorsy like me.
#ThisIsMyCity #NYC #mynewyork #mynyc #manhattan #fifthavenue #Myny #mynyc
…looking forward to Manila.  I had a good trip home last April — short as that was.  I usually stay 3 weeks but managed only 2 1/2 weeks then.  It will even be shorter this time around because I’m really going home just to pick up Angelo and bring him home.

He had been requesting to spend summer there because that would mean a longer stay, and no homework for a change.  He has refused to go to summer camp the last year or two, so I thought it wasn’t that bad an idea to give in this year.  I can never go home too often with my entire family still there.  Just spending time with my Mom is incentive enough.

#JeepneyStories ; #BiyahengDivisoria .. #missingManila yet again and thinking of all the sights and sounds that make those of #FifthAvenue and #ChampsElysees but a squeak. This is how we do it in #Manila and this #NewYorker wants to go #home. #jeepney #pu
…for dessert.  I have an insatiable sweet tooth.  And I find it sad that though we all eat as a matter of necessity, the surge in health consciousness has caused this part of the meal to be shunned and treated as optional.  The way I look at it, that’s much too much of a deprivation and I’d rather skip the main course if it would allow me to indulge.  Life is too short, everyone says.  Some things I just can’t do without, and dessert is one of them.

Yay for butter pecan ice cream, the yummy milk or white chocolate wafer-thin slice (which I would much prefer over truffles but they are most welcome, too..), the Bailey’s double on the rocks I want to nurse through the end notes of a conversation after a good meal.  And dessert is best shared with another– like this light but still decadent Il Floutille from the 4th of July brunch with my dear friend, Peter, at A.O.C. New York.  I make a mean Leche flan myself which girlfriend Mily will swear by..
I think of all these things and I can’t help but smile and feel so lucky to be at this place where no matter how crazy life may get, I know I am blessed with so much. So tell me .. what are you grateful for?


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