Midnight and blogging again

What is it about the so-called “witching hour” which brings me here to my little corner on the blogsphere to write and rant and rave?  I should really be hitting the sack after I started thinking about turning in maybe a half hour ago.  But there is a presentation I need to “clean up” and get ready to send tomorrow morning.  Rather than go through the rush of logging on (granting my VPN doesn’t give me problems) and then editing and uploading later, I thought I’d do the downloading and cleaning up now and just worry about sending tomorrow.

I’d send it tonight except that I am trying to be mindful of the intended recipient.  I know I don’t like receiving work e-mail in the middle of the night, even if I know I am not obligated to read or respond to the note.

I didn’t pick up my plier tonight because I was busy working yesterday.  I managed to post several items in the shop even if I didn’t get to do it until later in the day because work really got a little hectic.  For a Monday, it sure was busier than normal and I’m hoping things will slow down just a little bit tomorrow.

Busy is good, I always tell myself.  (So no, I’m not complaining.)

Coffee ground and coffeemaker programmed and ready to go.  (Check)  Thinking about breakfast tomorrow — yes, I can still make something for the hubby, little tyke is taken cared of.  Do I need anything for the little tyke?  Nothing tomorrow although I am making a mental note to go through the work he had done during the day.  We did homework while I was cooking dinner, and between me and Alan assisting him, I never got the chance to actually go over all that he was supposed to do.  I worry now that there is something that will require a major do over but I cannot do anything about it at 8 past 12midnight.

My 80-year-old mother-in-law is tinkering around in the kitchen.  It looks like she’s preparing a meal after having dinner sometime around 9:30pm.  Not really good considering she’s diabetic and will probably end up with a high blood sugar level tomorrow morning, but I’ll let Alan deal with his mom.  I have learned not to fuss when she is trying to get something in the kitchen as I sense she thinks we are being pushy in trying to help.  Although she obviously can use the help, trying to put myself in her place has made me take  a step back in respect of her desire for independence.

I’m 44 and am just 36 years away from where she’s at right now.  I am hoping all the things I’ve been doing and hope to do in the years to come will help me hold on to my memory and most of my brain cells better than she is doing at this age.  I hope I will be easier on Angelo and as I always whisper to the heavens, I hope I go AFTER Alan goes so I can take care of him.

It has always been my worry that he might be left alone and in despair if ever I end up going ahead of him.  So I keep telling him we have a pact, and I intend to stay long enough to take care of him in our old age.

Time to sleep now.

Ending a Four-day Weekend

My Thanksgiving Weekend was rather ordinary, seeing me staying home or close to home through most of it.  Alan had to leave for a business trip which meant having Thanksgiving lunch instead.  We do what we have to do.

There’s at least one more pot in the sink and I’m letting it steep in water so that the cheese can soften up enough to be easy to scrub away.  My movement in the kitchen is almost mechanical everytime I clear the dish rack to make room for more dishes to dry.  I can probably do this with my eyes closed.  From time to time I’ll find a plate or a bowl not in its right place.  That’s the reason why I don’t mind being the one to do it, because I’d end up redoing it anyway if it weren’t me.

It’s been a very productive weekend for me shop wise.  I have posted three new fabric flower brooches in the shop on Etsy, and right before I started cooking dinner in anticipation of Alan’s arrival, I managed to finally create the long-planned drop earrings I had been putting off since the last trip to Manila.  I had made an investment on a set of large baroque cultured pearls but I wanted to be able to create something using 14k gold wire or headpins.  I had to have them made, but I finally got them yesterday.  Voila!  (Pictures need to be edited and will be posted her post-publication tomorrow.)

I really should be hitting the sack after having put the coffeemaker on to brew on the dot tomorrow before I wake up, but I felt a need to sit down and write.

The best part of my weekend was spending time with my little tyke.  I look at how he’s grown and I cannot helped but be awed at how much his personality has evolved even in just the last year.  He knows which buttons to push but at the same time, I see more and more of myself in him.  He makes me smile.  During those times when I am riddled with resentment or anger, he calms me down.  All he has to do is put his arms around me and reassuringly tap me to comfort me.

I’m glad Alan’s back home.  Our weekends are never the same without him.  So we go into December this week.  Where did 2010 go?  Soon, it’ll be 2011.

No Kindle, but got my Mammogram

I recently joined an internal contest requesting for stories about what makes one proud to work where I work.  My prime motivation really was the prize: a kindle.  It’s one of those thing I put in the “nice to have but can do without” category, but I figured since it was about WRITING a story, plus there were supposed to be 2 winners selected so I thought it was worth a shot.

Alas, I just got my first rejection letter.  Guess I wasn’t meant to “kindle” after all.  Okay, trying to get over initial disappointment.

So I jump into my corner here where I reign as winner and queen. =)

Today is my “annual mammogram” check up.  After so many years of coming to this place, they tell me now that my primary insurance carrier is now “out-of-network”.  Thank God the hubby’s insurance is another company, although technically owned by mine.  The business of living is expensive just like the business of dying is.

I’ve been called to change into the gown and I see a woman in tears.  Six years ago, I was that woman, although it wasn’t because of a mammogram but rather an ultrasound where I found out the fetus inside me which was supposed to be 11 weeks already had stopoped growing at 9 weeks.  I know the feeling.

Mammogram done, back to work.

I’ve been asked to go back once (last year) and the wait between the call and the “all clear” after the second was torture.  It’s like getting the proverbial “seeing your life go before your eyes” but in slow motion.  So if I don’t get a call in the next three hours, I’ll be good.

I remember evangelizing about the importance of getting a mammogram to my high school classmates who  have been traipsing around Asia and the country but have not been too keen on scheduling an excursion to an imaging center.  This despite the fact that at least 2 dear friends have had to go through the horrors of breast cancer just recently.  While survival rates have dramatically increased in recent years due to the advances in medicine, early detection is still the key.  (Note to self: bug these ladies!)

So between my “kindle” miss and my mammogram being taken cared of this year, I’ve had a full day even if I’m just hitting the mid-portion of my usual day.  Just another day in the city…

Projects in the works

So I’ve been putting together christmas gift tags,  cards and other paper goods to sell at another store I’ve put up.  The idea is to come up with tags that are economical and yet worth using to dress up your holiday gifts.  Why plaster a plain sticker onto the gifts you give away when you can actually put something creative that has character to add your personal touch?  (Okay, I’m trying to sell my stuff already..)

It’s a little tricky trying to come up with a two-fold card when you think you put a label on the backside on the right side of the paper, and when it comes to that time when you have to cut it up, you realize you misprinted something.  After using what I thought was the right template, I proceeded to create several pieces and just discovered that one such side was skewed, so I will have to discard one layout and luckily, the second of two can be salvaged.

I’m working on vintage images of Santa Claus that I converting into quaint gift tags.  (Why is Dinna going through all the trouble?  Because there are people who buy it on Etsy. )

Speaking of which, I’m in the process of creating another necklace using this enchanting antique brass curved leaf focal I’ve fallen in love with.  I just got two more from my supplier and am working on creating it using my chunky dark brown freshwater rice pearls which, as always, makes me want to keep it for myself.  (I like, I like!)   The Mocha Feather Sweetheart Freshwater Pearl Necklace is currently still on sale and will soon be joined by my Dark Copper Feather Sweetheart Freshwater Pearl Necklace.  It’s almost done save for the extender chain.  I’m still trying to make up my mind about what I will use for the third one.

But back to my paper projects for the moment, I’ll hopefully be able to upload a picture soon.  I’m handcutting around the images so it looks very vintage-y and yet the print is vibrant and stands out.

It’s me getting into the Christmas spirit and trying to get another business off the ground.  It never hurts to be ready for the holiday rush.

Rainy Day in New York

Rainy Day in NY

It was a slow drive to Manhattan for work and the sun lazily slept behind the grey clouds today.  No sign of it shining and stretching its rays.

I just love my Blackberry Curve which takes the most fabulous pictures for a PDA.  But of course I have no idea how much better the i-touch or i-phone can be as I’ve never had the chance to use it, but as far as the point-and-shoots go, my blackberry has never failed me.

So it’s rainy in New York today and I have to trudge down to the post office — that or I walk down the maze to the mailroom somewhere in the labyrinth below the ground floor which wouldn’t be such a bad idea if it didn’t mean climbing back up.  (No elevators..)  It can wait.

Days like this make me want to rush home, but thinking about the traffic we will hit on the way back makes me rethink that thought.  (Too much thinking, I know.)  It’s gotten much, much colder now and the daylight goes much sooner.  Perfect for a nap.

Autumn leaves

During my first autumn in New York in 2000, I had a lot of time to kill as I was still processing my papers to become a legal resident here.  I had taken to collecting freshly fallen leaves in different colors.  The only criteria was the leaf was clean and still fresh.

I am trying to do this again but have not been quite that diligent, more so in preserving the leaf.

I am remembering now that the leaf must be pressed in a book to flatten it immediately or within hours of picking, because doing so after it has been off the tree for more than a day would make the leaves brittle and not quite as pliable.  (And that was how my first batch of leaves turned out.)

I want to try and make my dried autumn leaves frame again, but this time experimenting with putting the leaves bertween a layer of resin on top and at the bottom to laminate it.  I want to see if laminating the leaves would preserve the color or if it would age as the unlaminated frame did.

I was tempted to stop and pick leaves this morning on my way to the bus stop, but I had to rush down lest I miss my bus.  Four trees lining one of the streets along the way had four different shades of fall.  I could have gotten quite a bag of leaves.  With rain in tomorrow’s forecast, I know the first casualty would be whatever leaves remain clinging to the branches.

Early Monday, Late Night Sunday

It IS officially Monday already as my computer clock reads 12:45am.  I really should be making sure the little tyke’s bookbag is all set and ready for school tomorrow and I have my various bead organizers on my feet for stacking in the closet.  (Time to call it a night!)  But a magazine caught my eye and I ended up browsing and here I am logged on, blogging.

My brain is getting into holiday mode.  That’s one reason I’m feverishly trying to get as many items in the store as I can.  I successfully created two earrings which have left my finger tips a little sore but I’m happy with what I managed to produce.  I’m thinking of keeping at least one of the two pairs, though, so I don’t know how that computes for my Etsy store.  I did manage to work on some fabric and freshwater pearl flower brooches, but I need to sit down to finish them.  I even got to blog about it at the GothamChick blog next door, so my weekend wasn’t totally a blog blank.  And here I am now!

I was looking at all the tags and cards and wrapping suggestions from Ms. Martha Stewart and her Living magazine (can’t quite find the proper link except for the subscription page) so much so that I was hit by the idea to park her a minute and type away.

I’ve always loved paper and I thought I’d work on that little fancy of mine and start another store on Etsy (yet to be unveiled) to sell — you guessed it — paper goods.  The store’s set up but empty.)   I’ve even taken to looking at videos and websites in my research about paper making.  Everybody seems to make it sound soooo easy, but being a veteran crafter, I have tons of experience telling me it’s not as always as easy as the experts make it appear to be.  But paper making might have to wait until next summer —  one important lesson I’ve learned about working with paper is that the humidity and general clime affects the workability and quality of paper as a medium.  Still it hasn’t stopped me from rolling up some paper strips in the hopes of coming up with my woven kraft paper frames.  (More on that if and when I start working on it.)

More importantly, with the holidays here, I’m working on producing small quantity tags and gift cards.  (I see a ton of them on sale on Etsy — so why not?)

If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering where in the world will I find the time to do all this???!  My simple answer: why do you think am I blogging at 1am?  This is normal for me.  My “me” time usually doesn’t begin until 10pm, and with all the things I want to do, I have to “squeeze it in” between putting away the dishes from the rack and putting away leftovers from the night’s dinner.

I actually feel a little disappointed at what I’ve managed to produce over the weekend considering the time I managed to sit around holding my craft pliers in my hands.

I am trying to resist the urge to get any new supplies as I really want to “convert” what I have in store as supplies into stocks for sale.  I am thinking I should be good for the rest of the month.  I have bits and pieces of items now denominated as “work in progress” which I really want to convert into something to sell.  So far, I’ve been good at making progress in that department and hope to get more, more, more stuff online in this season of gift-giving.

Okay, the sandman beckons.  It IS Monday tomorrow — or today — and I’m looking forward to a productive one ahead.

Forever the tourist in my New York

There is so much to see and discover here in my home, New York, that I have always refered to myself as a perpetual tourist.

Even though I walk the streets of Manhattan five days a week and my office is right smack in the center of Midtown,  I still find myself admiring the everyday structures and landmarks around me.  I look in quiet admiration at the Manhattan cityscape as it greets me every morning I make my way towards the Midtown Tunnel.  On the way home, I find myself taking a peek at the Empire State Building to check out what glorious colors adorn it on any given day.  I have seen its reflection on the glass canvass of the building on the southeast corner of 42nd and the Avenue of the Americas hundreds of times before, but I still feel like taking out my camera to snap a picture each time I look up.

There is a certain thrill to sharing “my” New York with friends and friends of friends and I’ve always taken to sharing recommended lists of “musts” and a walking tour or two.

A friend of my sister and I from back home is in the city with her husband who is running this Sunday’s ING New York Marathon.  Edlynn and Brian are visiting the East Coast for the first time, and I had taken to writing them snippets of recommendations and tips for visiting the big apple.  I really must get down to writing them formally to share here.

So let’s start with the edible things you have to try when you’re in New York City — at least per my recommendation:

Bagels from the streetcarts. My personal favorite is the raisin bagel with butter or cream cheese.  There’s a different chewy consistency to this all-American favorite and I like the sweet flavor of raisins and cinnamon mixed with butter.

Hotdogs please! Whether or not you’re a health buff or one who will eat anything, the so-called “hotdog experience” is one you must not miss if you are ever in this part of the US.  What makes it different is a person-to-person experience, but besides being the equivalent of our usual streetfood back in Manila, it’s an economical way of doing something we everyday New Yorkers do.

Cupcake-wise, CRUMBS takes my vote. I had always thought that Red Velvet was overrated, until I tried their Red Velvet cupcake. The sizing can be dauntingly huge, but I usually share one with the hubby.  The medium size is okay for an individual serving, but the minis don’t quite sate my craving.  Branches on 42nd between 6th and 5th and on Lexington Ave behind Grand Central

While most others would go to the next “must” on my list for the cupcakes made famous by Sex in the City, I’d vote for the Banana Pudding of Magnolia Bakery as the hands down winner in their category! Creamy pudding with slices of fresh banana and cake bits mixed in… pure heaven!  (That’s rephrasing their own description: ” Layers of vanilla wafers, fresh bananas, and creamy vanilla pudding.. heavenly!)  They have a branch on the 6th ave side of Rockefeller center.

Going for more sweets, you’ll have to try Junior’s Cheesecake which tops all cheesecakes. They have a restaurant near Times Square w/ humongous inch-thick all-meat burgers and generally great food but the cheesecake is what you MUST try!

Pastrami Sandwich at Katz Deliwell worth the trek to Houston and the line.  I’m not a lover of liverwurst but someone told me that theirs is something worth looking into if you’re into that sort of thing.

Although they say Gyros and it’s really supposed to be pronounced “Hee-ros”, these wraps are familiar to us as the once (in)famous shawarma back in Manila. My personal recommendation: KwikMeal (corner of 6th Avenue or Avenue of the Americas and 45th street beside Citibank) or the food carts around 53rd and 6th Avenue which always seem to have quite a line forming behind them.  (Must be THAT good!)  The chicken, beef and sometimes even lamb can be served in naan or pita or over rice.  I personally go for the chicken on pita and I ask that they tame down the hot sauce and slather on the white sauce — yum!

Here’s to the taste of New York!

Memories of my college days over a lunch of pasta in Manhattan

Friday  was a special day as I had the chance to meet up with someone visiting from Manila whom I looked upon as a dear friend in my college days.  We were both part of an organization in UP Manila called the UP Lightbearer Service Organization, and while she was in Nursing and a year younger than me and I was in the Development Studies program of the College of Arts & Sciences, we spent a lot of time in Rizal Hall in our corner by the back until she had to move to the College of Nursing for her course proper.

Lunch was short but sweet and brought back many memories.  I can still remember the look on her face when I mentioned to her a personal fact she had relayed to me about her mother who had passed on years before we met, and she marveled at how I could’ve remembered that after all these years.  I told her it wasn’t that I had a terrific memory, but I listened then and what she told me had mattered to me because she mattered to me.

Thanks to Facebook, again, for hooking us up.  I promptly posted a picture of us online tagging friends from our Lightbearer days, bringing in more comments  from other familiar faces from back then.

Meeting with Merle reminded me about how special my college years were, and looking back now, how most of my dearest friends today were actually people I had met from way back then.  Some of them “crawled out of the woodwork” and surprised me when they condoled with me personally when I went home to lay my father to rest.  There was a lot to catch up on, but sitting across from them reminiscing and talking about the things we used to do and where we are all today felt as if we hadn’t really been that out of touch with each other.

We tried to remember names and we updated each other about those that we are still in touch with.  And of course there were words of advice and reflection — I had put on my “Ate” hat.  We recalled the many occasions we celebrated in our house in San Juan.  Remembering when we all tried to sing but Merle truly sang.

People constantly walk in and out of our lives, some to stay a while or for keeps and never leave  and some just to pass through.  And yet it is in those moments when we find ourselves back together after long absences when we can measure the depth of a friendship, notwithstanding the period of separation.

We spoke about relationships and planning one’s future.  We talked about hope.. about family.. and I watched her across the table — a grown woman now, but still a younger sister in my eyes.  I am green with envy that she lived in my favorite city, the City of Lights for two months to train for one of her previous jobs — and she has been to at least twice as many places as I have been.  But most of all, I am proud to see the person she’s become.

As we started saying goodbyes, she started to thank me for making time to meet up.  I have as much if not more to thank her for taking the time to bring me back to those wonderful days of our youth when life was much simpler, and for reminding me now how far we have both come.  That is one friendship that has truly blessed my life.