It's just another new year's eve

.. but this one is special to us.  It’s the first one Alan’s Mom is spending in our home, and the last for my Mom after two previous New Year’s here.  =(  It’s also the first Christmas which, as Alan aptly put it, we don’t have to put up with appearances for the sake of celebrating one New Year’s celebration with the rest of the family we used to know, half of which has decided they didn’t want to be part of this family anymore.

We’re making the most of it.  I’m grabbing some fillet mignons from the butcher’s shop nearby, (I might make some lasagna, )macaroni salad, roasted potatoes, alongside the usual ham and queso de bola.  Tomorrow, my Mom’s making some kare-kare.  We already have her signature leche flan in the fridge, my mother-in-law’s making some fruit tarts, and we’re all set.  We still have some cheese from Paris and some grapes for the hors d’oeuvres, although I’m tempted to grab some fancy ones to bake and heat in the oven.

2006 has been quite a jolting year to us but we are looking forward to a fresh start in 2007.  It’s another year ahead we are looking forward to with an optimistic outlook.  Despite the challenges presented by the previous year, we have successfully hurdled it and have come out stronger. 

I always start the new year with a positive attitude.  I always tell myself, it will always be a better year.

Christmas in New York 2006

Hold your mouse over the photo to see the captions of those I’ve managed to write down, and click on the photo to be taken to the album.  From the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, the Swarovski Star in the same area, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the holiday displays of Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany’s and Lord & Taylor, have a taste of the holidays with the New York flavor in it.  Happy holidays everyone! 
Storefront display of Flowers of the World on 55th Street
The Swarovski Star on Rockefeller Center
The tree at Rockefeller Center
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree standing tall
The Angels seem to have been redesigned this year
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Saks Fifth Avenue 1
Saks Fifth Avenue 2
Saks Fifth Avenue 3
Saks Fifth Avenue 4
Saks Fifth Avenue 5
Saks Fifth Avenue 6
SAKS: In search of the perfect snowflake
SAKS: Birdhouses
The Burberry store on 57th
The Louis Vuitton Flagship store on 57th, decked w/ the same lights as those in its Paris store
Bergdorf Goodman Goodies
Tiffany's all decked out
The Trump Tower: Nobody's getting fired this season.. not even Ms. USA
Lord & Taylor: Santa in the snow
Lord & Taylor: Skating in the park
Lord & Taylor: Dancing dolls
Lord & Taylor: Find the Pinay New Yorker in the picture
Lord & Taylor: Santa hard at work
Lord & Taylor: the toys in Santa's Shop
St. Patrick's up close
Tiffany's 4
Tiffany's 3
Tiffany's: No blue box, it's silver this holiday season
Tiffany's: Guess who is wearing that pink coat?
Bergdorf Goodman: Dressed to Party
Bergdorf Goodman: Polar Bear calling
Bergdorf Goodman: Dress to the nines
Bedgdorf Goodman: Lady in white
Lord & Taylor: Santa's helpers
Lord & Taylor from across 39th Street
Lord & Taylor: Santa going over his list
Lord & Taylor: A group of carollers
A silly elf helping Santa with his list
Lord & Taylor display on 39th
The star on 57th and Fifth Avenue

On my reading list: Joie de Vivre

I requested two books from Alan this year which he obliged: Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living  and A Year in ProvenceI started reading JOIE DE VIVRE yesterday and I managed to finished the chapter on breakfast this afternoon.  I enjoy reading the book because of the way Robert Arbor relates the French philosophy about eating, food and life in general.  It’s a meticulous guide not just to what they eat, but how they eat it and why they eat it the way they do.  Arbor dispenses his own brand of wisdom while giving the reader an insight into his personal history.  Each page rings true of the subtitle of the book “Simple French Style for Everyday Living”.

For starters, breakfast is simply toast, butter and/or jam or honey and coffee — but despite what seems to be lean fare, it is a time to spend mulling about the day ahead.  As Arbor aptly ends his chapter, he says “My advice to you is to enjoy your breakfast and to give a quick thought to each day’s potential.  This is the first big step in discovering joie de vivre.”

Lunch at Bar Americain

I left the office at 1PM and had an unscheduled lunch date with Alan in Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain on 52nd Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues.  This is one of the things that keep our relationship “fresh”.. we sometimes “regress” (if you may call it that) to dating — and it is something that try to make time for. This is one of Alan’s current favorites for lunch near his place of work, so it was convenient and fortunately, there was a table available.

For starters, we had the Artisanal Ham Tasting which Alan himself recommended I try.  You get three different preparations of the same ham (a special ham from Kentucky whose name I cannot now recall).  The portions are really a single serving only and are not to share.  The ham was served with a mango salsa as one of the three varieties, another between a bite-size biscuit and the third atop mozzarella cubes in a special sauce.  (Our waiter, Kent, described each one to us with such flair your mouth starts watering just thinking of the flavors he is describing!)

My entree was the spice rubbed Hanger Steak and served with Fries Americain (which is still French Fries to me).  Alan had his favorite Burger Americain, also served with Fries.

Don’t be fooled by the name and its menu proclaimed as regional American cuisine because the restaurant takes it French twist seriously.  (Yes, it’s spelled Americain — not American.)  The fries are not served with ketchup but actually with two different mustards and a mayonnaise concoction.  (I would suppose you can ask for ketchup, but they won’t give it to you unless you ask.)  The steak was a good portion but again, a single serving only.  The burger, though, was a man-size burger.

For dessert, Alan had the expresso as we shared the 5 fruit crepe.  Magnifique!  It was quite a meal!

Alan and I never quite run out of things to talk about during moments when we’re by ourselves like this.  I guess we’ve proven that marraige doesn’t mean silence at the dinner table just as what one saw in the movie TWO FOR THE ROAD.  It may be Bar Americain or Wendy’s — or even just coffee and some marble loaf cake at Starbucks — I always fint these dates very special because it’s part of our “couple time”.

Alan and I actually sat by one of the tables by the wall on the left

The wonder of technology

I’ve been busy configuring my laptop to use this new portable photo printer Alan gave me as one of his Christmas gifts.  It’s my new toy.  I got an HP Photosmart A310 which is so compact I can easily pack it to take with me.  It will even fit into one of my roomier totes.  I had resisted a personal photo printer for the longest time thinking it would be too expensive, but I like the way HP bundles its toner and paper so that it comes out to just under 30 cents a print which is your regular drugstore rate.

Although digital photography has made so many things possible — nothing beats holding the photograph in your hand and being able to go back to it over and over again.  I’ve been busy printing copies to send to Manila. =)  Can’t wait to share them with my family back home..

Looking forward to the year ahead

No matter how bad things were in the past, I would always look forward to the coming year with hope.  2006 was a good year for me on the whole, so I have more things to look forward to in 2007.  I know things can only get better.

My son continues to grow before my very eyes, and each day is a new revelation.  Alan and I are now on our 6th year of marriage which is quite a feat for Alan and almost as good as my longest relationship in terms of length of time, but definitely better in terms of quality and strength.  Alan and I have had our challenges this year but we have come out stronger and better partners, lovers and friends.

My parents continue to enjoy good health, and once more, I have been blessed with Mom’s presence in Angel’s life.  Although 2007 sees her leaving us for good, I have at least 6 months of the year to make the most of the grandmother-grandson bond that they share. 

I was blessed to have had the chance to take two important journeys — the first being my homecoming after almost 4 years of being away in April of this year (my last trip home was in December 2002), and then my return trip to Paris in late November.  While I know it is asking for a lot to hope for another trip home in 2007, who knows?  All I can think of is that my father is advancing in years and I never know when the phone will ring with bad news about his health.  Nothing can really make me get used to missing my siblings who all are back in Manila.

I have spent a year with the new boss who has definitely made me look at work in a different manner.  For the past year, I have never gone to work with dread or anxiety.  We have finally gotten into the groove of working together and I can say we have gotten to know each other better in the last 12 months to make the next 12 something to look forward to.

I may not have done as much as I had wanted to for myself, and I know I have fallen short of many of my personal goals — but goals unmet cannot measure to the other unexpected achievements I have made so I am not disappointed.   Things will take care of themselves — they always have because He takes care of me and my family.

Here’s to another blessed year ahead for all of us!

The Bryant Park Tiangge

The Shops at Bryant Park
Goodies everywhere!
Last Minute shopping?
Bryant Park Tiangge 2
Bryant Park Tiangge 1
The buildings beyond the park on the 40th St side
Eversince I started roaming Manhattan as a tourist in 2000, I have always loved Bryant Park.  Alan used to work in one of the buildings on Park Avenue, and I would walk to the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue (between 42nd and 40th) or the Manhattan Public Library across the street (corner of Fifth Avenue and 40th) for internet access during the day, and just to while the hours away.  Alan and I would usually go into the city together, I would roam, we’d meet up for lunch, I’d go around again, and then we’d go home together.  He let me go into the city with him at least once a week the first six months I was here until I finally got my work permit and started working on 39th Street, a stone’s throw away.
This Christmas, we have our own Bryant Park “tiangge” which I got the chance to photograph last Friday on my way to Alan’s hotel for their company holiday party.  I didn’t get to check out the stores but what I saw was pretty interesting.  It reminds me of our own tiangges back home — not quite the same, but it invokes the same holiday spirit and the urge to shop, shop, shop.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to visit Union Square and Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall before the holidays are over for a look see at their own bazaars — their offerings are quite diverse and make for interesting gifts.  No more giftgiving for me to do, though — so I’ll just be browsing.

When sleep takes me over

I thought I wouldn’t make it to the end of the day but I did.  I guess it was because it was the time of the month.. plus I’ve been very tired the past few days.  I woke up fresh this morning thanks to the fact that Angel made sure I was in bed before 10PM.  Meanwhile, father and son are still asleep next to each other.  Mornings like this, I hate waking them up.  Even my scrapbook has taken a backseat to my headache so I didn’t really get to do much yesterday.. I hope to so some catch up today and maybe post something at Pinay Francophile.

I didn’t even get beyond booting the laptop last night.  So here I am with my belated blogpost. 

We just wound up one holiday and we’re heading into another weekend.  It shouldn’t be half as exhausting because although we do a New Year’s eve Noche Buena, too, it means less parties to divide our time between.  I am also excited because Alan and I got a new gas range yesterday.  This is special because it’s our first own gas range, having moved into the unit with this ancient circa 70s unit which started to fall apart on me.  (Even our first apartment rental came with an electric range and ref which is standard for all units here.)   It’s arriving on Saturday which is also an excuse to redecorate that corner of my tiny kitchen because what we currently have is a double oven and we don’t think the wallpaper of the previous occupant covers the space behind the tall unit we’re replacing. 

My coffeemaker just stopped gurgling so I guess it’s time to make my coffee and get ready for work.  Thank God it’s a short week.. shorter still because the boss is out the last two days.

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This was one exhausting Christmas

It’s back to work for me tomorrow, and I thought I’d try and write a short post here before retiring, minutes to 1AM.

I’m tired, but I’m glad it was a good holiday weekend for us as a family.  I haven’t had the chance to post because I’ve been THAT busy, but I’m hoping to do more in the next few days before the New Year weekend hits me again.

By the way, for those wondering what the comments in French on the sidebar are, try the Translator tools of Google for help.  Let’s try to keep the comments here in English if not Tagalog or any Filipino dialect.  I’m going patriotic here because after all, this is all about the Pinay New Yorker.

I hope everyone is doing well.  Here’s to a short and easy week for all of us!

Last minute shopping

It seems like all of New York was still going crazy trying to do some last minute shopping as we braved the mall and our favorite Target branch.  All hell almost broke loose as people tried to figure out which line was heading towards which open cashier while everyone was cursing under their breath complaining why they didn’t have more cash registers open.  (Maybe Target management forgot that it’s the night before Christmas eve..)

We got home before midnight with practically everything done.  Now I have to spend the rest of the night wrapping gifts while the little tyke is asleep.  (Finally gave up just before 2AM..)  We’re all excited!  Alan and I most specially since we can’t wait to see Angel’s reaction to the gifts he will be getting.  We’ve already been telling him how he’s supposed to receive a lot of presents tomorrow because I had told Santa he had been such a good boy all year.

We also got the presents for the Lolas.  I think it’s going to be a good Christmas.. it’s extra special because Angel is now more appreciative of the spirit of the occasion.  Each Christmas only keeps getting better!