Chicken Cobb Salad for me, please

Chicken Cobb Salad LunchDieting makes lunch a little complicated because it means thinking healthy. I opted for a Chicken Cobb Salad with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (14pts) from Pret A Manger which has an out let in all four directions from where my building sits. They have outdone even the ever-present Mickey D’s.

I went to a vacant guest office, closed the door and sat to enjoy my salad. I like salads because you can’t wolf them down in a rush. It took me all of 25 minutes at a leisurely pace. I feel full despite the fact that Pret’s salad’s are modestly sized. It gave me a chance to soak in the view from this corner office and just spend a quiet lunch hour. (I told the receptionist I was going to pray.

Well, it was a quiet moment to reflect and pray.

I’m praying for my family back home, for this young mother who wrote me and whose questions on law school I will answer over the weekend (promise!), and for those who don’t know prayer or what it’s all about.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Walking Healthy

Walking up 6th Ave

Yesterday, I decided I’d try something new by walking from 42nd Street to 54th and try to accomplish two things: one was to take pictures for a post I’m drafting, and two, to exercise. (Shocked? Lol… So was I!). I figured I had enough time (it took me only 15 minutes) at semi- but not quite – brisk walking.

Walking up 6th Avenue

I did stop to take the pictures I needed (and then some like those accompanying this post) and got to my destination. I needed the “activity point”, having just rejoined WeightWatcher’s. I’ve been good so far, and I’m still feeling my way through. The program had worked for me before I got pregnant, losing around 30 lbs and dropping from a size 12 to an 8. I had done it in between my initial departure from Manila and my first trip home. My brother met me at the arrival area and told me he didn’t recognize me.

I have a little more to lose than that now but I’m trying to find a long-term solution instead of a quick fix. (The latter tends to allow the weight to come back as quickly as the weight went.). They’re marketing the program now as a lifestyle choice and it means altering the way I eat by sticking to some guidelines. I can still have my treats, but it would mean trading something off for it. I just want to get healthier and avoid the common illnesses associated with aging. I am, after all, 47 now. Let’s see how far this one goes and when I reach my first goal of a 5% weight loss. (Current and weight goal confidential. Ha!)


My Gratitude JournalI’ve long meant to write in a Gratitude Journal, but as always, the “form” was always much too much of a hurdle. This time around, the process was somehow reversed and I fell in love with the paper and the journal then I decided this would be my gratitude journal.

It is always good to think of our blessings, in good times and during the bad — more so when we are emotionally challenged because it helps remind us that life is not always “against” us. We often neglect to take the everyday joys we come across forgranted, because they don’t move us to jump up and down for joy or to swoon or gush — yet these little joys help to bring us to a good place.  “Ordinary” blessings from day to day, no matter how small they may be, are never insignificant in the bigger scheme of things.

We often fail to give thanks because that same feeling of contentment leads us to a sense of entitlement. And yet sometimes, admittedly, I know I come across a lot of good I have not earned a right to — but which are thrown at me out of the natural goodness and generosity of a higher being.

We are constantly in search of happiness, yet we fail to recognize that little things like a sunny day, or a warm greeting from a stranger as we walk towards our place of work — things that help make our day a little brighter if not easier — are things that we should consider blessings or things we should be thankful for.  I realize that “blessings” tend to have a religious meaning, and for the many who don’t recognize the existence of God or a higher being in some shape or form, then these blessings are ordinary things or happenings that come into our lives plain and simple.

If only we recognized them for being what they were, then the challenges we face might yet turn out to be not as big a challenge as we thought them to be.

It’s not a novel idea.  Many people like Oprah have their gratitude journal.  This is the journal that only lists what you are thankful for — it’s a little book of treasures of what you consider good in your life.  A fellow Pinay Swiss I used to follow used to list Five Things to be Happy About in her journal.  (Where art though, Jayred?)  And who says we have to stick with five?  I had started doing that at random but have not done the list in while.  (It has been ages!)

Gratitude Journal 00

I wrote: “I’ve always had a love affair with paper, and everytime I looked at the shelves withe the journals over at Barnes, I can’t help but pause and browse.  I’ve always been so impressed by these handmade paper journals which always stood out.  I’d always make it a point to open the sample and leaf through the book just to feel its pages.  The rough texture of the handmade paper has an elegance to it which I can’t help but admire.

Made in Nepal.  I remember the holiday bazaars I’ve been to in the Philippines which shocased similar products.  Can we actually come up with something like this and find it ont he shelves of Barnes, too?  I wonder.

I haven’t even made up my mind about what kind of journal this will be.  A gratitude journal… I can certainly use that.

Thank you. — Dinna”

Journals in Barnes and Noble

It was on this shelf that I spied my journal.  Sometimes we feel a pair of shoes or a bag on the shelf beckoning us.  This one, I felt, had my name written inside it already.

The handmade paper seemed thick enough to take on ink and paint — but the thickness of the paper made for a few pages only.  Somehow that didn’t bother me.  Besides, at roughly $10.00, I can easily get another once this runs out.   This is the one that swept me off my feet.

Handmade paper journal from Nepal

I like that even if it’s a little bit chunky, it’s lightweight.  I wouldn’t mind getting exactly the same book next time.

After two posts I’ve come to realize that paper is paper and the ink will seep through.  I’ve decided to do some stencilling for the next entry to “cover” what little did bleed through to the next spread.  I have also decided there will be no collages in this book. The binding won’t be able to take it, and I’d hate for it to get ruined.

My first entry started like the picture below but has now progressed to being colored in some places and written on in some.  I am thankful for having found my journal.
Gratitude Journal 01
Time to start on the next layout.  No pressure.  In between cooking dinner for the boy and catching up on my favorite TV shows, I have plenty of time.  It comes when it comes.

What are YOU thankful for?

Minutes after midnight — a five minute post

Here we go again… another  Sunday and another weekend ended.

I really should be sleeping but a few minutes towards the ending of “Michael Clayton”, I violent cough rocked my chest and I can still feel the ruckus it caused internally.  From out of the blue.

I had given up on posting despite two or even three drafts I had started through the course of the weekend, but I wanted to end the day and the weekend right.

I feel like I accomplished enough.  Had a hair cut (still wondering when I can do a pic — something not too radically different from my avatar but still different in one way or the other.)

Started a GRATITUDE JOURNAL I will write about tomorrow.  (Yes, another one — me and my journals.)

I have felt a renewed determination to lose weight after I tried out clothes at Tanger, the Outlet, last Saturday.  Not for lack of any clothes that fit, but having to say no to some pieces I wanted to get because my love handles were bursting out of the seams literally was quite a disappointment.

It was rather heartening, though, to see that I haven’t grown past my current size, so while I haven’t achieved any substantial weight loss, I haven’t gained.  (I’m trying to find the positive in all this…)

I did 10 episodes of “Orange is the New Black”.

Time’s up and I need my beauty sleep.  Here’s to a great week ahead for everyone…

Sitting quietly in Bryant Park

It was that kind of day — I was totally exhausted when I walked out half an hour earlier than my usual 6pm. I thought I’d grab a treat — it wasn’t that hard to decide which one. It’s a lovely day to walk through Bryant Park today, and it was even made more pleasant by my techy pal, Tomy. (No, that’s not a typo — he spells his name with an “m”.). We parted as he headed down to Grand Central, and I bought my treat and found a seat here at the park. It’s pleasant and a tad cloudy, with a good crowd but I didn’t have a problem trying to find a seat.
Friday Red Velvet Whoopie Pie from Crumbs in Bryant Park
I just needed a break to breathe. It’s a perfect evening to just sit quietly and enjoy the buzz of the rush hour traffic at the end of the day mingling with the different languages floating around me. I can sit here until the sun fully sets but someone is waiting for Mama at home.
My whoopie pie up close
Well the jazz band just started playing and I really need to get on my way.

I was about to end this post when I saw this heartwarming plate on the seat across from me:
Bryant Park seat plate
Read it upclose.. I’m sure it’ll put a smile on your face as it did on mine..

Bryant Park: Denise's Place
Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday into Friday in 5 minutes

Thursday to Friday Blog GraphicI’ve had this window open for most of the evening and here I am finally getting ready to head off into la-la land.

I had to stay home today to take care of the mother-in-law and of course, Angelo.  My caregiver called in sick.  As it was easier for me to take a day off, I promptly called in my “emergency time off” card.  And just as I couldn’t do anything when I got the 7:30-ish text from my caregiver saying she wouldn’t be able to come in, I guess the boss had no choice but to just be his usual self-sufficient self sans his ever dependable Executive Assistant today.

I tried to avoid logging on to do any work except for the end of the day.  I was, after all, supposed to be off.  I didn’t ask to work from home.. I actually gave a day for this.

We capped the day with a light dinner at the neighborhood Mickey D’s, picked up some odds and ends at the Asian store then headed home.

I just got some news from home which makes me wish there weren’t 10,000 miles between New York and Manila.  Alas, it is more than just 10,000 miles — it’s work, home, Angelo.  So the 10,000 miles stays.


Daily Prompt: 15 Credits and all the buzz of school

Daily Prompt:  Another school semester will soon begin. If you’re in school, are you looking forward to starting classes? If you’re out of school, what do you miss about it — or are you glad those days are over?

I have been out of school for almost twenty years now.  My classmates from law school are all over the place — one is a Mayor, one (or maybe even two) are lawmakers, several are very successful lawyers.  The same goes for my college friends.  And in high school, we just celebrated our Pearl jubilee this year.

I have always been happy in a classroom, even during that brief period during my freshman year when I was besieged by a momentary lapse of confidence during my first semester at the state university.  (I looked around and wondered what made me deserve to be in the same space as these “scholars”, forgetting I had earned my place beside them.)

I spent some of the best years of my younger life in college where I found some of my closest and dearest friends who still are dear in the present time.  But those friendships have been enriched by the years that have passed, and those tried and tested friends have continued to be a part of my life.  I learned more about life during those years in Rizal Hall and those life experiences carried me through what would be a very challenging couple of years after I left college.  More than just making me part of the real world — being immersed in a very liberal and diverse academic community — my way of thinking and viewing school and life as a whole changed dramatically.

I sat in classes where the author of the required book reading was the professor.  History was no longer just a narrative of events but an analysis of the emergence of a counter-consciousness that leads a class to resort to upheaval to effect change.  I couldn’t completely shake off the sheltered life that saw me being brought to and from the university by a driver , but I learned to challenge the limits imposed upon me by my parents.

Law school proved to be even more challenging because I suddenly found myself having to work to help support my education.  By then I was commuting, trying to juggle work and school, yet somehow I made it.

When “work and school” became “work” alone, I started to actually miss the routine of lugging my books and reading and sitting in a classroom.  It didn’t quite hit me as hard, though, until I moved here to New York in 2000.  It wasn’t so much all the fun times with the friends and the people that came and went into my life during those years.  I find myself missing the challenge of reading and getting into the very core of a concept or subject matter, reading about it, fleshing it out and feeling enriched by that knowledge.

(Audible sigh)

As a mother of an incoming fourth-grader who was born and raised here, I feel a real need for me to educate myself about American History and have started listening and viewing an “online lecture series” sponsored by Yale.  I have thought about physically attending a class and perhaps enrolling for audit courses, but finding a way to carve out real time for it is out of the question.  I guess I have to stick to e-learning for now.

Yes, I do miss school.  I miss being in a classroom.  And my brain cells are all raring to get at it if given the chance to get back to work on text books and tomes again.


I thought August would be better than July with all its heart-tugging sense of loss or heaviness of the heart that dragged me up and down throughout the month. And here I am almost at the end of August still feeling kind of down.  Should I be worried that I find solace in shutting myself in a room — or a bathroom stall — and I breathe a deep sigh of relief when I hear the click of the door behind me?

I linger and wish I didn’t have to come out.  But even that half a minute longer between opening the door again and walking out to the “world” is comforting.

I have been trying to post for the last two days.  There were a lot of things to write about, but there are days when it’s tough trying to pull my thoughts together. 

I try to overcome this  by keeping busy.  And yet that only distracts me — it doesn’t help me get rid of it.

Maybe I’ll sleep early today.  That might help. 


Sometimes I feel like I’m being such a horrible mom.  My temper keeps kicking me on my backside.  Or there are times when I think I can do better holding it all in.  Between cooking and working the microwave or the espresso machine, I stare blankly into space, or at my hands.  Not thinking.   Just looking.

I look at myself in the mirror and I wish I could have more self discipline trying to shed the many (many) extra pounds.  Or I simply look down and the frustration creeps up on me.

I feel as though I am adrift — not heading here or there.  Just adrift.

I try to find inspiration in my usual muses.  I try not to read too much of the news back home like I used to.  I just worry about my family and friends with the monsoon and the rains.  The pork barrel and Napoles scam is much too disgusting and again, frustrating.  And even the entertainment section of the news is just down in the gutter with video scandals and all. 

Fortunately, there’s some relief from — of all places — Facebook.  It’s very heartening to see a dear friend who, in his first bid, won the mayoralty seat of Cainta.  I will never tire of seeing him among his people — and I am not surprised to see him wading in chest-deep water taking care of his constituents.

Kudos to you, Mayor Kit.  The people of Cainta are lucky to have you. 

A smile.

It reminds me that even in the midst of all the misery we find ourselves steeped in, there is still a lot of good in this world.  Napoles and all that corruption be damned.

Perhaps tonight, I’ll shake this off.  I might finally go ashore and be adrift no more.

Maybe I need to knead some polymer clay.  I made some beads last night which I finally baked after forming them over the weekend form leftover clay.  I couldn’t create the necklace I wanted to create, though.  I kept botching up the wirework.  Again, maybe tonight.  Or not.

I’m praying for all the people out in the cold or still wading in water somewhere out there.   For all those people in evacuation centers.  Keep them all safe and warm in your arms, dear Lord.

Daily Prompt: Three of Ten – Saturday Morning Buzz

Daily Prompt: Scribble down the first ten words that come to mind. Pick three of them. There’s your post title. Now write!

Words: Saturday, morning, sunny, quiet, buzz, weekend, chocolate, postcards, thoughts, way

I know.. not that wild a title — and really, not a wild set of 10 words to choose from.  But I’m trying to “push” myself to write on this lazy, sunny Saturday.  I just realized it’s already noon.  I keep thinking “morning” — but it’s noon already.  (Just prepared lunch for the mother-in-law who wants to take us all out to lunch.)

My normally quiet place that buzzes with the TV or DVD is a little busier with some workmen replacing the shingles on our roofs.  Our unit had its turn yesterday — they’re doing the ones across the courtyard today.  I guess that’s where “buzz” came in.

I am halfway done through with my online grocery shopping.  We used to think it was more expensive, but when you go down to the last cent and factor in convenience, delivery, and most importantly, quality, it helps.  It’s just that they don’t carry all the brands I need, and there are simply those brands I need to get at cheaper prices at the wholesaler.

I’m thinking about the things on my plate this weekend.

1) I have two swaps I need to finish for swap-bot.

2) I have Andreanna’s owl picture frame magnet with the magnet I got glued to its back hanging from my fridge door in a sort of experiment.  I’m hoping the 3/4 inch diameter circular magnet will hold it, and so far, it hasn’t disappointed.

3)  Snail mail: Letter to Gina, card to P.

4) I want to create a piece for myself and for the store.

5) I need to do the cold wash delicates I can’t wash with the jeans and other clothes that have those dangerous zippers that can rip a hole or what not in them.

Sounds like  a lot.  I have approximately 36 hours until the weekend is over — let’s see how far I go.

We got stuck in traffic last night no thanks to a fire on the 59th Street Bridge.  We ended up snaking our way out of Manhattan — with the usual 20-minute drive out with traffic turning into a two hour delay.  Thanks to the traffic, though, I was able to finish the blog post preceding this and promptly published it when I got home.  (Hence, no five-minute blog posts.)

Saturdays are usually reserved for errands after lunch.  I’ll make a guess it’ll be Bobby’s Burger Palace — or maybe not.   In any case, I have to start getting ready.  Even that takes time.    So what have you been up to this Saturday?