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?

#IGstories and why I love Instagram

I used to carry a camera everywhere, ready to pull it out when I find something picture-worthy.  These days, I clutch my iPhone and get ready to shoot when the mood hits me.  I must say I love the iPhone6 camera because it is so much better than any of its predecessors, and I’ve been trying to learn how to maximize its utility — and it IS endless.

For those who have been reading my posts here, you all know I am on Flickr and also on Instagram (see my side widgets for my feed), so my pictures don’t go to waste.  And while the former is more for photo storage (yes, I’m a paying customer!), the latter has been a very good social tool and a different means of keeping my photos and stories together.

It’s not so much to maintain an online presence.  I have several hashtags that have become a series such as #OnMyWayHome (pictures snapped at the end of the day), #LookingUp (which are photos of the camera facing up, because I think we should always try to look at things differently), and now, #IGstoriesByGothamChick.

These are photos with stories typed on them in four sentences or less.  Another hit of inspiration, I guess.  Below are the first two.

I look at the photo and think of a story, and whatever hits me at that particular moment, I try to condense into a very short blub.  It’s like how you look at strangers conversing in the park or at a distance, and you imagine what it is they might talking about.
#IGstories inspired by #randomphotos in #4sentencesORless. #Photos&WordsByGothamChick -------------------- IGstoryNo1: They lay there on the grass, holding each other-- oblivious to the world around them.  All that mattered at that very moment was that th

I joined Instagram last year, and as of this writing, I have 1078 posts, 335 followers and I’m following 213 others.  I’m not really posting to get followers (just as I am not blogging to rack up readership) — but it’s nice when I find people like what I post.  The followers fluctuate only because others who decide to follow me are usually looking for commercial hits or likes back, and I am not too keen about going commercial.  (Again, even here.)
#IGstories inspired by #randomphotos in #4sentencesORless. #Photos&WordsByGothamChick. -------------------- #IGstoryNo 2 It had been ages since they had been in touch, then he saw her email.  He opened it, smiled and then sighed.   Happy times, but then r

So why am I on Instagram?

I love the way Instagram allows me to show my world without revealing too many details, save for the visual.  I can whip out the phone, snap a photo on the street, put one single sentence and then some hashtags and I am done.  Some pictures don’t even need any explanation at all.  I don’t need to take more effort beyond editing the picture, perhaps, or correcting some minor flaws.  For the most part, I try not to touch the photos or deviate from the original much except when I want to emphasize a certain aspect of the photo, or when I deliberately stylize the phot and turn it into artwork.

There is a community of photographers out there who share their world on Instagram with fellow IGers like me.  And these ran the gamut of professionals to amateurs who show me another side of the world via their own posts.  It’s a community of people sharing a part of themselves through their photographs.  Like most social platforms, there are new friendships formed even if only online.  It’s a less intrusive and yet prompt way to keep up with others — be it actual friends or people whose accounts I simply bumped into randomly.

I have even gotten to know at least one professional photographer who actually requested to take pictures from my perch atop one of the highest floors of the buildings in Midtown.  His photographs are truly breathtaking, and I’m looking to get a return favor by getting access to one of my photo bucket lists in Manhattan one of these days.

I have yet to meet another online entrepreneur whose shoes I proudly wear.  One day soon, Kelly.

I have always loved to take photographs.  There is something about capturing a moment or a glimpse of time and keeping that scene immortalized in a snapshot.  Way back when I was trying to get into college, one of the educational institutions I tried out for successfully told me my test scores showed I had an eye for photography.  Or as she had put it, I had a talent for pictures.

I often see people lugging around expensive cameras and I have to admit there have been moments when I had been green with envy.  Those fancy cameras actually have a rather musical click which makes me stop and look when I hear it near me.  And yet it has been proven time and again that although the big cameras with their many adjustments CAN take very crisp pictures, those great photos are taken by someone who has a talent for composition and style, be it with a disposable camera or a DSLR with a fancy lens.

Yes, there are stories to be told on instagram.  Stories like yours and mine — and in the case of my #IGstories, pictures with stories in four sentences or less.


For those who aren’t on iphone, you can access instagram by typing to go to my account, or click on the feed to the right.