Have a "durger"

It was a crazy, crazy morning that started off with tepid shower water.  Not warm enough to get wet in, so I dialed the emergency hotline for maintenance and they had my hot shower running in half an hour.  Still, it set me back by a full hour which was rather nerve-wracking given all the deliverables today.  But I made it.

Durger, Mac & Cheese Bites, DoughnutThen I had to hit the ground running when I got to the office, and things only settled down at 12:30.  I was hungry and exhausted and my brain was fried.  I told the boss I was stepping out for lunch.  So I walked…and walked and came upon the “Trusty Truck” parked on the south west corner of 4oth and Avenue of the Americas.  Free tasting of their macaroni bites — hey!  And they were yummy… so I ended up ordering a Durger which, by their definition, is a burger in the shape of a hotdog.   And of course I got a full serving of macaroni bites. Durger, Mac & Cheese Bites, Doughnut

And I had spied this tiny doughnut kiosk the last time the tyke and I had gone around Bryant Park and I decided to stop by. $3.00/doughnut but DEFINITELY worth it! Go and look.. I got the Dulce de Leche which was just delicious!
Durger, Mac & Cheese Bites, Doughnut

I know, I’m being bad.  Seriously need to look at losing weight — but it was one of those days.  Besides, I’ve been good.  For the most part. =)  There are days when I want to be thankful that I’m working, but then it overtakes me and I start pining for my bed.

One more day then it’s the weekend.  I hope to make room for our Christmas tree and put it up. =)  Can’t wait.

It’s a cold, cold day in NYC today.  I’m thinking of taking out the scarves I’ve knitted and crocheted out of the closet.  I might finally trim my current project and attach the accessories I was hoping to put in.  (Pictures coming..)

Happy thought from Millet's wall

Another gem of a quote I picked up from my high school friend, Millet’s wall on FB today.  Posting it here for when I can add it to the happiness journal.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful,but gratefulness that makes us happy.”

~ David Steindl Rast

I haven’t really had the chance to work on any of my journalling of late, but I have a plan in my head to create a page-to-page film clip about the progress of my altered book.  The only chance I’ve had to work on it was to repair a portion that opened up again, and tonight, I will try and paint another spread.  I’ve just been caught up with all the holiday preparations for Thanksgiving but I’m going to catch up soon.

Pecan Pie.. maybe next year

So Thanksgiving is officially over and we must now get busy preparing for the next big holiday — which, at least as far as my family and I are concerned happens to be Christmas. Funny that I should be writing about this exactly a month to the date.

My four-day weekend went rather well.  Quiet, eventful (meaning I accomplished a lot), but allow me to skip the “What I am Thankful” boiler plate post.  While I had done this in previous years, I am now taking on the mantra that we should be thankful all year round — and not more thankful on certain occasions than most.  Thanksgiving, after all, with all its trimmings, is a pagan holiday.  It is perhaps one of the only holiday besides the Fourth of July which is celebrated across all religions and races in this great country.  I do wish to declare that my next big project for Thanksgiving 2013 is to be able to bake Pecan Pie from scratch.  An absolute favorite of mine, I am trying to sparingly dive into a delicious full-sized pie delivered to me by FreshDirect today along with the rest of my groceries.  (Tip: Their Thanksgiving related goodies are all 50% off.  Grab your pie now!)

My signature leche flan gets better with each year, although I need to nail down the exact number of multipliers I need to do to produce enough llaneras of my famed flan.  I follow Nora Daza’s recipe with a slight twist, replacing the last cup of condensed milk with a cup of evaporated milk, and more lime zest than she recommends.  I actually went down to the city on Wednesday to drop off some with my former Millie, a Cuban by birth who swears by my flans as to-die-for.  Plus I had to get the usual haircut since my hair was literally getting all frumpy and out of control.

I also cooked the leche flan a while longer than usual to toast the top, and while I had hoped to make some calamansi ice cream (experimenting with some vanilla ice cream flavored by honey calamansi concentrate), I was too exhausted by the time I got on the bus for the trip home to stop by the grocery to pick up the pint of ice cream I had planned to get.  (Next time..)

I cooked through Thanksgiving preparing my usual Foolproof Standing Rib Roast courtesy of Paula Deen — never fails!  The great thing was that Angelo insisted and cooked the Apple Sausage stuffing I did from scratch which resulted in semi-cooked onions and a slight burn or two which my young chef took in stride.  Steamed veggies, potatoes au gratin (just the boxed variety) plus my macaroni salad and we were all set.  The wine was a perfect pairing to the beef and we sat down to have our feast.

The highlight of my weekend, though, was the trip into the city with my little guy on Black Friday.

He obliged me with my stop at Victoria’s Secret  on 34th street (free tote with qualifying purchase.. I couldn’t let THAT go by!) and then we walked to the Toys R’Us flagship store on Broadway and 44th in Times Square.  We spent a good hour or so there as he browsed the racks of action figures, and the unbelievable deals.   By the time we walked out, we were carrying a huge bag thanks to a two-box set at a total bargain price of $20 (and each box was priced regularly at between $30-40 each) — but my office was just a short walk away.  We deposited our things there and headed for our usual date at McDonald’s for lunch, but only because STK Out was closed.  I was looking forward to having Angelo sample their savory burger and absolutely heavenly truffle cheese fries — but that it was closed wasn’t a complete surprise considering half the city was on holiday.  (Well, the other half went to work like those working in the service industry like Alan.)

The Empire State BuildingFrom the office on 42nd, we walked to 36th, and then Angelo said, “It’s too early to go home.  I want to do something fun.”  We went back to Bryant Park 42nd and walked around to check out the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park.  There’s also the skating rink at Citi Pond (the ice skating rink running through to March 3 next year),  and while I knew he was itching to try and skate, I wasn’t.  I told him we’d have to wait for when his Dad was available to go with him because he wouldn’t be able to catch me if I fell.  My personal choice is to stay by the sidelines and watch and click away.  Besides, there was  a long line of would-be renters.  Entrance to the pond is free you’re okay if you have your own skates, or you can rent from the organizers.  There are also coaches available for those who want to learn (although I don’t know if coaching is for a fee), and a portion of the pond towards the center is cordoned off for younger and novice skaters.  The rink moves in a single direction and is policed by skate guards.  (What else?)

It was midday and I was really (for once) hoping he would tire of walking and tell me he wanted to go home.  Instead, he came up with the bright idea of heading out to Central Park.  “I haven’t been there for so long!” — and while I was afraid he’d give in to fatigue before we could head back to the bus stop to take the ride home, I thought the worst thing that could happen was I’d have to grab a cab.  So off we went.  Took the M7 up to the 80s and then walked.  And walked.  And walked.

My feet were ready to give in before the tyke’s, but I wasn’t about to be cowed.  He wanted to climb EVERY rock we came across, and it took some stern warnings to prevent him from walking up the taller and seemingly more steeply inclined rock formations — but I felt like I had to let him go and do it.   More so when we got to the Gill in the Ramble, a mini-forest in the forest that is Central Park.  We had been looking for the Conservatory Water hoping to rent a remote-controlled model sailboat, but alas I figured out on the way home we were on the wrong side of the park.  (I have always been more familiar with the attractions on the West Side than the far side.)

Where the stream flows through: Central Park, The Gill

We must’ve gone into three playgrounds in all as we went walking through the various areas, climbed atop a dozen rock formations, but we spent the longest time in this meandering rock formation with an actual flowing stream.  There were many children here when we arrived so I felt it was safe to let him go up.  Plus one of the Dads was actually going up and down — playing along with kids who were Angelo’s age as they went through their bit of forest in this concrete jungle.  And when everyone else had left, my boy begged me to stay a while longer, even trading it for the quest to find the rent-a-remote-controlled-model-sailboat portion of the park.  So I relented.

The view was magical.  They had stone benches at the foot of the stream as it joined the lake, and while I tried not to take my eyes off Angelo as he walked up and down the rocks holding a twig in one hand, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the view below.

The view from the Gill as the sun begins to set

By the time he agreed to leave, I was running after the last vestiges of light as the sun began to set.  The tricky thing being that the sun can run down and disappear on certain days, and there we were in the midst of a the Ramble.. The lights hadn’t turned on yet, but for all the boasting about the safety of NYC and its parks these days, there are still those one-off incidents when someone bumps into some bad luck, and I wasn’t about to risk that with an 8-year-old in tow.

We walked again and climbed more rocks and took more beautiful pictures.

Central Park as the sun was setting

The boy was exhausted but beaming, and still begging to stay.  Even when the sun was already in the horizon, ready to bid the city goodnight, and the lamp posts of Central Park turned on in unison.

My boy amazed by the rocks of Central Park

It was well worth all the walking and the time in the cold.  This on a day when I decided to forego the leggings under the jeans thinking I wasn’t going to stay outdoors long anyway.  Lesson learned: never brave the cold under-dressed.

I finally get to chalk off one of my “to-dos” on my list — Central Park, and I actually intend to go back, hopefully before the last hints of fall disappears into winter.  I am sure Angelo will insist on going with me.  There aren’t many opportunities to do this — but I have promised to bring him back to Central Park in the spring.

It was a most heartwarming date with my little guy.  He’s grown so much.  I could see the priceless smile on his face — I felt like a real rock star in his eyes.  I wanted to write there and then — to capture the moment in words.  But that would’ve distracted me from enjoying watching him figure out ways and means to go up and down the rocks.. and see him flash me a smile every now and then.  So I folded my arms and hugged myself, tucked my scarf as high up my neck as I could, and I didn’t let the cold get to me.

He napped on the bus ride from the park to my street Midtown.  By the time we got off to grab what we had left in the office, he was re-energized.  I got some treats from the shops in the park and he tried some Kettle Corn NYC, then we hopped on the bus home.  I hugged him close to me as he dozed off again.. smiling.

It was, indeed, a happy, happy Thanksgiving.

In the silence…

Fall sunrise - 14Nov2012

I was standing at the bus stop as the sun was rising rather late (a few minutes after 7AM) and I happened to look up and saw this glorious reflection of the sun against the autumn leaves.  (Forget about the power lines.)


I was waiting with around 4 others but I didn’t care.  Sometimes,  you just have to stop awhile and capture the moment.  It’s the appreciate-the-autumn-leaves equivalent of  stop-and-smell-the-roses.

I hate telling people things they don’t want to hear, more so when they’re being told what they’ve done needs correcting.  (I try not to say “What you did was wrong”.)  I find it amusing that people can take the time to react negatively and get all riled up, only to gloss over any explanation of why their work is just not on point.  Oh, well.  As long as I know I did my job.

I have become less tolerant of other’s anger but have sadly been given to more outbursts of mine.  Whether it is outward or inward — it gives me pause when I realize I could’ve taken things more calmly, that I can do a complete 360 and just not let my anger get the better of me.  I hear such angry words as “No pushing, ”  “I’m freaking out right now” like they were just spoken yesterday.  And then silence.

The silence reminds me that we CAN shut out those negative feelings and thoughts.  Sometimes, it just takes more effort than usual.  It’s like figuratively putting our palms to our ears so we don’t hear a thing.  These days, when I start getting mad, I pause and say a prayer.  An “Our Father”.  Or a “Hail Mary”.

I just had a penne bolognese lunch with a slice of pecan pie because it’s been a long morning.  I think better with a full stomach, although my pants are getting tighter telling me it’s time to start dieting.  (Ouch!)  Okay, it’s more for the practicality of not getting a new wardrobe — plus the more important focus on health and well-being.  The mother of another batchmate of mine just passed away last night and it got me to thinking again about how precious and fragile life can be.  So I hug more and say “I love you” as often as I can to my precious boy.

Last night, I was making “lambing” and asked him if he would cook me dinner.  Of course, he said no saying he didn’t know how to cook.  Then I tried to further prod him by saying “Girls like boys who can cook.”  And he responded in return, “I like girls who CAN cook.”  Case closed.

Some "Happy" from Friends and Journaling

I have a “love-hate” relationship with Facebook these days.  I am hardly there, and when I do log in, I pop in and go out quicker than quick.  I browse the updates which isn’t much considering that I now have a few hundred friends (which isn’t so cool when you look at how the feeds go), so I am seriously considering trimming down that friend list.  I’m sure a lot of people also don’t appreciate getting nonsensical updates from me.  I wouldn’t be too surprised to find out that many of them have unsubscribed from my feeds, although there isn’t much going on on my own page.

From time to time, I do come across some gems, like today, I picked this quote up from a friend, co-paulinian and colleague of my sister at work,  Edlynn.  I had to go back and grab the line, post it here, and will be putting it in my happiness journal at a later time.

“The secret of happiness is: Find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it.” — Dan Dennett

And I got a pleasant surprise when BFF Pia K popped out on the chat — which was quite serendipitous by itself.  (As you can see, I’m still hooked on “serendipity” as I am continuing to work on my Artist Trading Card Mega Swap.)

Pia and I have known each other since the second grade, which is 39 years worth of the Pinay New Yorker on this earth.  I’ve written about it here a while back that we used to be mistaken for sisters back in grade school.  We went to the same high school and landed together most of our four years with the nuns — I think we managed to do it for 3 of 4.  She went to the other branch of the same University I went to and we completely lost touch.  We sort of “got back together” the last 4-5 years which was literally thanks to the post offices on both sides of the world.  And for that, I am eternally grateful to every mailman I see.  Our friendship, you see, was rekindled and kept alive by snail mail.  And I am still trying.

Though I don’t write her quite as often, I continue to try.   Despite the technology all around us, I still believe that the written word on hard copy carries a different kind of magic all its own.

So we had a good chat about how age makes you wake up at odd hours, and how, even if you crave sleep, you end up doing so little of it. (I told her it was age.)  We talked about our kids — which, we agreed, was one of the best accomplishments we can claim in our lifetime.  (Unfortunately, Pia beats me with 4 of her own against my unico hijo.)  And we traded light banter and then FB conked out on us and I had to go back to work.

Somewhere there, though, we talked about journaling.

I told her to just write whatever, whenever.  Journaling should be spontaneous.  The first thought, the first word, the feeling that comes to mind at that very moment.  That is the essence of capturing the moment in words just as you would want to do it with a picture.  I thought I’d come up with some journaling prompts for Pia as she starts this new journey.

1. There’s always a sticky, a tape receipt, a paper napkin handy where you can scribble the date, the time and place, and even a single word like “Thanks.”

2. Think of a happy memory.  Start with “Remember the time…”

3. Grab some words of wisdom.  They might not be your own, but the thought of wanting to share it with someone you love or care for makes it your gift.

4. Cut up a picture, or even a magazine ad or article that reminds you of something or someone and paste it onto the journal.

5. Even a simple “I love you” can fill a whole page with feelings.

Good luck on this new journey, P.  I have always believed you were a great writer — I have always worked hard to catch up with you but have never quite caught up.. =)   Take care, my dearest friend.

Keeping Warm

I don’t buy scarves.  Well, not the ones meant to keep you warm in the winter, that is.  Since I started making my own through crochetting and knitting, I have kept away from buying anything from the stores.

I’ve started knitting again.  Nothing fancy — just thought I’d (finally) use some yarn I had bought towards Spring this year which I had intended to knit into something useful for the winter.  While Fall is momentarily back today again, the weather forecast has the temperatures dipping anew beginning tomorrow, so I have started taking out my winter gear.

Bernat Really Big Yarn in KathmanduI’m working with Bernat’s Really big yarn in Kathmandu (shades of pink, beige and brown) requiring size 19 needle.   I actually think I’m using something even bigger — a size 15?  (Need to check later.)  The stitch and the yarn make for a rather bulky stitch so two stitches make for an inch.  Roughly.

After three skeins, I find that I need at least two more plus fringe, so I will go back to the yarn store (if I can remember which one) on 38th where I picked it up from.  One skein produced around a foot long of 13 stitches across, but a good scarf should at least be 5 feet at this thickness.  The good thing with using a bulky yarn like this one is that it allowed me to work faster, although working with huge knitting needles can be cumbersome.  (They are even thicker than my fingers.)

Today was a real departure from the cold weather of the previous week.  Sunday was apparently just as nice but Angelo and I stayed home.  It gave me a chance to catch up with my tasks for the weekend (hooray!) and saw me getting closer to hopefully getting on with the jewelry making again.   (Keeping my fingers crossed.)  The only thing I wasn’t able to do over the weekend was write the letters and do the postcards I had hoped to send out.  But I have started working on that today.

A day at a time.. keeping warm.

Spaghetti saves the day

It’s only Saturday evening and I’m already wishing it was another long weekend. I did get to sleep in this morning. I managed to finish some ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) that were due out and I finally cut my serendipity background for the megaswap, but I’m not quite ready to show the finished ATCs yet. It turns out that I could produce 14 ATCs out of the 12×12 spread, so that leaves me two to keep for my personal collection.

I like to keep one if I can and when I have the time to make them for my own album.

We did do errands today and ended up in the house early evening, but I was too tired to cook up any dinner and still quite full from lunch at Bobby’s Burger Palace. (We finally got our rewards card after all those visits! One point for every dollar spent and a free burger per 100 points.) Fortunately, I had made enough spaghetti sauce to get us through dinner the other night and tonight, so I finally found the time to sit and blog on a weekend.

24 hours to go and it’ll be the night before another work day for me. I have this picture of a dream of having my own craft cave — a room serving as my craft studio — much like the craft closet featured by Michael’s in Craft Wars. (I skipped my weekend Michael’s fix today — it was too late, and for some reason, the volume of people in the mall just sapped me of energy and left me wanting to sit and just chill. And why were some stores soooooo hot??? So anti-browsing!)

I have three things I want to do before I turn in tonight, and I want to finish them in at most two hours. (I do have to get the boy ready for bed the usual time because there’s Religious Ed tomorrow.)

1. Write some letters/postcards;
2. Sort my tags (I had printed digital designs directly onto some manila tags which came out rather beautifully);
3. Start/finish a set of Eiffel-tower themed ATCs due yesterday.

I’m keeping my list short and simple so that I don’t get distracted and I keep my focus, and so that I can hopefully accomplish something concrete instead of bits and pieces of a 10-item list.

Can you believe that Christmas is just around the corner? Wow.. I have to seriously put together my Christmas cards. Fortunately, I have a few dozens of previous cards I can send to those I’ve never sent to, and then there’s the two to three dozen cards I have to create for those who are on my holiday list. Alas, that’s not on my list tonight. Perhaps tomorrow? I am devoting my day to catching up with my “sorting”. There is a craft fair in December at the local Church I am seriously mulling about joining — but I need to find out the cost of logistics first. (Another post on that one coming.)

I just want to enjoy this “me” time, make my list of things I want to do, and try to do one or two things before I turn in. Three achievable and doable tasks, a time limit, and hopefully measurable results.

Dinner time for me. Spaghetti, it is!


Serendipity Background 7: Skeleton Leaves and dried white flowers alternating with bits of woven cinnamay 2 (Upclose)

I am currently working on a serendipity background which is essentially a huge piece that one puts together with the intention of cutting up the original into smaller usable pieces.  So for Artist Trading Cards which measure 3.5″ x 2.5″, you essentially create one artwork to break up into the smaller cards.  I am working on two of my first ones, and the one pictured above is what I will use for the swap.  As I write this, I’m working on a tandem post in my craft blog, GothamChick.com, which should be up before the weekend is done.

So you see a snapshot of but a portion of the serendipity background which measures 12″ x 12″ above.  I had some pressed rose petals that came in handy, some dyed skeleton leaves and woven cinnamay if not abaca fiber.  The white flowers were bought here in the US already.  I’m all excited.

According to Wikipedia,  “Serendipity means a “happy accident” or “pleasant surprise”; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it.”  So we’re looking for whatever “happy” or “pleasant surprise” this layering of materials will produce.

We come across a lot of happy accidents on a day-to-day basis which we often only realize upon reflection at a later point in time.  And sadly, not all happy accidents end up being happy once all is said and done.  Sometimes, the universe just plays a mean joke on us and we find ourselves just plain surprised — not “pleasantly.”

I’d like to find more $5 or $10 bills tucked into my coat pocket but wouldn’t want to have to spend that to pay for some unplanned expense.  It just seems that often, the happy ends up being pulled down by something in the opposite direction.

I’ve grown cynical about the upside of things in life in general.  We often find ourselves growing wary of letting ourselves get carried away with what might, at first glance, appear to be an abundance of good fortune.  At the back of our minds, we wonder what price it will exact from us.  Perhaps it’s just age getting the better of me.

The past weeks have been very challenging for the communities and states around me.  I will say it again, I have been blessed.  We have always been fortunate where we live.  No matter how much snow falls, we have managed to stay warm and toasty in our home.

I am touched, though, at the outpouring of notes, text messages and e-mails from friends who asked about how we were doing.  I know the prayers for our safety reached the heavens because we fared pretty well.  I am no longer surprised at how the threat to life and limb can make even those most determined to stay invisible crawl out of the woodwork and reappear.  It is heartening to note that through it all, my well-being still matters somehow to so many others and it’s not because I owe them any sum of money that they are afraid will end up not getting paid if anything untoward happens to me.. HA!

So other than trying to hurry through walking under the huge trees lining our streets on the way home and praying that I don’t find myself under a fallen branch or worse, an uprooted tree, or that I don’t slip in the ice in my Helix-like snow boots, I can take the cold as it stings my face.  It’s hard to answer the queries beyond “We survived unscathed.”  I get a little emotional knowing that many are still suffering even if we have barely gone into winter.

I have to admit that I often ask myself what I’m doing in a place that can be so brutally cold in the winter, cursing  under my steaming breath, as I walk briskly home.  Then I open the door and Angelo greets me from the top of the stairs, walking down to kiss me, giving me a hug and checking out what I might have brought home for him.  (Usually more for the latter.. ha!)  And I’m literally warm all over — even if he suddenly gets me all riled up because of unfinished homework or a mess of toys that greet me as I walk up to the living room.

That one is not serendipitous.  It is a given– a true blessing — in my life.

Bob Carlisle sings it beautifully in Butterfly Kisses: “Oh with all that I’ve done wrong / I must have done something right/ To deserve a hug every mornin’ / And butterfly kisses at night.”

We have our usual Friday evening date tonight, and he’s still thinking about what he wants for dinner.  I told the boy to call me at 5pm so I can get it on the way home.  We’d normally sit shoulder to shoulder watching something in the living room, but our cable box is still out of commission, so we’ll probably sit side by side holding a tablet each, watching our own shows separately.  =)  (The cable service works when streaming on the iPad, but not through the cable box.  Go figure.)

Happy Friday indeed.

Feeling blessed

We have come upon very difficult times in this part of the world.  First there was Hurricane Sandy, and now the Nor’easter that swooped down on us last night and left another swathe of devastation.  Trees that survived the hurricane force winds of the previous week finally gave in to the tremendous weight of snow.  Like all things, there is only so much abuse and torture a living creature can take.  Eventually, no matter how strong one’s fighting spirit may be, you bend and give in.

It was  a hazardous ride home last night as the bus I rode struggled to literally plow through the snow on the road.  It would’ve been normally easier if the snow plows had done their work sooner.  After almost three hours, I finally made it home as my bus zigzagged through fallen tree limbs on the roads we passed.  I waded into almost a foot of very soft fresh fallen wet snow.  It was a lovely sight to behold as snow tends to be luminous at night — truly awesome beyond words.  But I carefully trudged through slush and snow, hoping against hope that no limbs or branches would fall on me as I made my way through.

This morning, this is what greeted me.
Snow in Bayside - 07Nov2012

With the trees still heavy with leaves that had yet to “fall”, there was quite a lot of snow that would fall like a snow shower when the winds blew.  I had no choice but to walk in the middle of the street to make it to the bus stop.

A tree in the far right corner of this courtyard (shown on the lower righthand side of the picture) that had survived through many natural onslaughts through the last 10 years finally gave in.  It wasn’t uprooted, but many of its bigger branches fell and broke off.

Snow in Bayside - 07Nov2012

It is Mother Nature asserting her power and reminding us all who is in charge.

Through it all, I feel blessed.  We have been untouched by the wrath of nature, and if at all, have only suffered through the added trouble of commuting to work through the special circumstances brought on by damage caused elsewhere.  I feel for those whose homes are gone, or who are suffering through the ravages of no heat or no power.

It helps one to put things in perspective.

Sure, I am trying to get groceries for the next couple of days, but even without that extra trip to the grocery, I’m pretty well-stocked to the weekend.  (Just that the boy has run out of his favorite snack of the moment, but he has other choices.)

We are blessed indeed.