Journaling in 2022

My Art Journal 2022

I returned to Art journaling in 2020 as a means of keeping my head straight in the thick of the pandemic. I let the juices flow and did sections instead of filling out the pages chronologically. Although I have yet to bind the different sections together and there are some unfinished layouts, in my mind and in my heart, those pages encapsulate what my year was all about. For all the challenges that the opening salvo of covid dealt us, I know I came out with more than what I lost that year.

I began 2021 by working on the first layouts starting with the fold out pages of the year which I traditionally do. And that was that. The year flew by and no art journaling for me. While I’m not too happy with that, all I can say is “Life happens.” And it did.

Towards the end of 2021, I heard from a friend from far away who is nevertheless always close at heart. Many years my junior, she and I shared a passion for art, jewelry making and postcards. She is one of the few people on my very short list who I try to see whenever I land in Manila. Long story short, she proposed a journal exchange. Many years ago, I left Manila with a mini journal from her which is now tattered and all worn because I used to carry it in my purse. I was more than willing to do this with her.

So that makes for two journals I will be working on this year.

For my main personal journal, I have decided I will keep my 5″ x 7.5″ page format from 2020. As one of the more challenging tasks was deciding on the format, I think I’ll keep to the recycled folder or card stock I used, more so since I’ve drifted more towards painting my backgrounds. And it was simple enough to cut other paper to size to fit in it. Settled. Like I did in 2020 where I did a summary of 2019 at the start, I will use the 2021 fold out for this purpose.

My shared journal 2022For my shared journal, I’ve decided to use this handmade paper and journal from Nepal which I have several of. I absolutely fell in love with this journal when I stumbled upon it at Barnes & Noble. I liked it so much that I bought 2-3 more besides the one I had started a gratitude journal on many years ago. (Which I actually rediscovered when I was looking for my spares..). So the idea is she’s writing on a journal I will reply to later, and I am starting mine. I will leave space or pages for her to write on later, after we exchange journals– whenever that may be. It’s like a conversation in our heads on paper, with a longer response time intended. And the next time we meet or sooner, we exchange journals again.
My shared journal
Journaling is a very personal thing to me because there, I can chronicle my day and my feelings and thoughts freely. I have often gone back to my questions and musings at a later time, usually finding a different and better insight into either what I had gone through or what I am going through. It’s a journey in words and images.

I’m starting the year with a determined effort to set aside time and focus to actually get back to this — and I’m hopeful that I will be able to do more than I did in 2021.

Off to Austin and Back

I wrote this piece the first weekend of November as my son and I headed to Austin, while on the plane taking us there. As always, life took me over, and I’m at least three posts behind — all about this trip. It was a good way to go back to a semblance of normalcy after almost two years of being in the Covid bubble.

On our way to Austin

(November 6, Saturday) We’re two hours into our flight from New York to Austin, and while I am dying for some shut eye, I can’t sleep. I brought a magazine and a book to read, and a postcard swap list I need to work on over the weekend. I’ve so far read 2 articles in the magazine which is a feat — considering my magazines usually go unread. I read a couple of chapters of the book. I’ve checked the swap list and just need to send out the pairings. I will do that when I land or maybe when I return to New York.

We’re heading to Texas to attend a wedding on Monday. It’s a small party and I have known the groom since he was a baby. And the best part of it is, I have the 17 year old son with me. We are both sooooo excited!

It’s our first flight together since the pandemic began. The airport was abuzz with people and the lines were long but moving. American Airlines has a self check in system that is new to me, but I found it rather efficient. I have not flown domestically since 2012 when I went to a cousin’s wedding in Chicago. I was with the son then, as well.

Bag drop off was slow but it was tolerable. I maximized my one free bag and we carried the rest. We’re in Texas for only 4 days. One night will be in Austin the city, and the last two in Marble Falls where the reception will be held. I’m guessing it’s their version of Tagaytay or the Hamptons, so I’m looking forward to a bit of exploring. I had ordered a free copy of the Austin Visitor Guide which arrived in the nick of time. And I just remembered I left it at home, of course.

On our way to Austin

I thought I had my packing plan in place. Still, I ended up doing it the night before. I wanted to choose my outfits for the walk around town, but even that ended up being done last minute. The only thing that was predetermined was my outfit for the wedding. Dress, check. Shoes, check. Jacket for the Uber low temps of Austin nights, check. Sparkly gold bling platform peep toe slippers, check. Fancy satin scarf, check. Purse, check. The only thing I really bought for this wedding was the jacket and the purse. Everything else was already in my closet.

Just another one of the many things that made everything fall into place. I was meant to attend this wedding even if it was being held on a Monday, with the chapel and the reception an hour away from each other. How can I say no when the universe was screaming “Go!”

The flight was unbelievably reasonably priced. It was also relatively short so covid fears aside, I figured I’d survive wearing the mask for the three hours or so I’d be up in the air. Besides, I could always take a drink if I needed a break. (We were actually served snacks.). The hotel in the city was understandably pricey, but the hotel close to the reception (as recommended by the bride) was reasonable.. All systems go. It looks like the bigger chunk of the expense will be transportation between the city to the next town, and then to the chapel and the reception on the day of the wedding. I can take a local taxi for the reception back to the hotel, then one last big fare to the airport. See, I don’t drive. But figuring all that on Uber, car service, etc., vs. what I would’ve spent on a car rental, I’m not really off by much. (That’s me justifying to myself.).

On our way to Austin

The last plane ride I took was my Manila- Legazpi – Manila – Sydney Manila vacation in July of 2019. It feels like a lifetime away, more so as the homesickness creeps up on me, followed by a deep frustration over the quarantine requirements in Manila. I have stopped trying to look at what is possible in the near term. I am trying to assuage the pining for home by thinking of December 2022. That way, any opportunity to travel like this one, comes as a gift.

It seems that planning for a vacation to any other country or state is going to be easier, so trips like this one provide a welcome break from the cabin fever of covid.

The scene at the airport was almost normal in terms of the crowd, but most people were complying with fully wearing their masks— a mask was required everywhere. Some people took it off while waiting at the gate, and some had it over their mouth but not over third nose which I personally find so irritating. But on the plane itself, there was even an announcement to make sure to wear your mask even as you sleep so they wouldn’t have to wake you up. So far so good.. but then again, the flight is only half full. (I have situated myself in my own three seat row across from the son.)


(November 9, Tuesday) On the way home on a Tuesday evening flight from Austin to Néw York. The plane is barely half full. I tried to situate the son across the aisle in his own row, but he naughtily defied my seat plan. Yes, he’s next to me.

I am leaving Austin with happy memories of a vacation spent with my soon-to-be college boy. There was no ditching me to hang out with his friends this weekend. He was stuck with me. We tried some homegrown faves in the two places we visited, and the last meal we had in Marble Falls has changed the way he looks at barbecue ribs forever.

On our way to Austin

The wedding was heartwarming and touching. I am glad I decided to go and be there for the new Mr. and Mrs. Lim. I suddenly felt old as I realized how the baby now has a baby himself now, and was taking that big leap at his bit of forever.

As for me, I feel as though the universe just reminded me life goes on. And it did. And I’m glad I ventured out and took the chance to have a fun weekend with my boy. Happy memories aplenty!

Saturday Brunch in Manhattan


This previous weekend, I had made plans to have brunch in the city and I knew where I wanted to go. Fell in line to be seated, and this being the first time I’ve gone to dine in the city since the new vaccination requirement, I saw firsthand how it’s now a thing in Manhattan. Proof of vaccination, please. I flashed my excelsior app which I had just added to my apple wallet this month. Done. I was told to take my seat to wait for my table to be ready.

Saturday Brunch at Angelina Paris NYC

The group behind us chose to forego dining here because of that— it seems one or two of their party had yet to be vaccinated. There’s actually a move to reverse this mandate, with some restaurateurs alleging their business is being singled out to enforce this requirement, at the risk of losing potential customers who cannot meet it.

I personally feel that everyone has a right to know who is and who is not vaccinated, because not being vaccinated is a potential risk to those of us who are. While I respect this as a personal choice one is free to make, I think I have a right to know if I’m sitting next to or in the same space as someone who isn’t. To paraphrase French President Emmanuel Macron, it’s about time that those of you who are not vaccinated stay home, while those of us who are can move with more freedom. Of course, this is not to say that we move around without the mandated precautions of masking (now required in many establishments although optional in some), and maintaining social distancing.

We cannot let our guard down just because we have been vaccinated. We all must exercise caution and continue to safeguard ourselves and our family against the dangers of covid.

A 30 minute wait? I have had my mind set on brunch here for a while, more so since I’ve always only taken pastries to bring home. Today, I’m going to sit and have brunch.

Menu options give you two breakfast packages and a brunch option with choices, and of course there is always the alternative to go a la carte. I wanted to enjoy the Angelina Paris experience, so I went for the brunch.

Brunch Menu, August 2022

I’m not really a breakfast person. I used to skip eating breakfast, but I’ve come to realize that my body tends to binge when deprived, so smaller, more sensible meals made better sense for someone like me. When home, I am happy having avocado toast and coffee. I’ve developed a liking to simply mashed avocado seasoned ever so slightly with a dash of pepper and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Saturday Brunch at Angelina Paris NYC

Today, it’s Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon for me. The other options were spinach and feta, avocado or Canadian Bacon. I tend to gravitate towards salmon to go with poached eggs, which to me, is the better pairing for a flash of flavor. I’m glad I made that choice.

Saturday Brunch at Angelina Paris NYC

Can I just say I’ve never seen such perfectly poached eggs that look like they were shelled and boiled? They were so divine to slice into and the over easy yolk oozed out and melded so well with the Hollandaise sauce. The homemade smoked salmon sitting atop a crunchy toast was just heavenly..

Saturday Brunch at Angelina Paris NYC

My nutritionist is trying to make me rethink eating by making me stick to a set of foods that would be healthier rather than being calorie conscious. It’s worked for me mostly, except when I deliberately indulge in my devilish treats. Today’s brunch is half and half of that, and I’m not apologizing! It’s affirming when the one you dine with tends to order the same thing you order..

Brunch was capped by a White Chocolate Praline Crepe with pistachios, raspberries and Chantilly (whipped cream).

Saturday Brunch at Angelina Paris NYC

The flavors just melded together with a flavorful sauce that wasn’t overpoweringly tart nor sweet. Perfect to cleanse the palate of the hints of smoked salmon that lingered after. I must warn you that this might be too big a meal for people who prefer to eat light. If you ask me, it was just heavy enough to satisfy.

Saturday Brunch at Angelina Paris NYC

Besides, I tell myself, I’ve been pretty good for the most part. I saw French Toast on the a la carte menu which is what I will have next time I stop by for brunch. Looking forward to that in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, I can’t really pass up on picking up a treat or two for the next day’s breakfast.

Take home

Monday Musings on a Tuesday.. yet again

Monday musings in paper and ink

DISCLAIMER: Clicking on the links in this post might actually result in a commission for the Pinay New Yorker.

I’m trying to give it more effort to actually write. The last post took all of almost 4 weeks to see the light of day, because I kept editing it and changing the flow. Over the weekend, I finally told myself I had to get on with the writing. So back to Monday Musings for a start – and sadly, I’m into Tuesday. Such is life. But on with the blurbs. (I try to make these mini-posts on a hodge podge of topics or thoughts currently front and center for me at the start of the week.)

Back to the stones. I have been making a mental note to actually set aside time to start creating again. In the last 4 weeks, I’ve made 2 sales which is a sad number given any retail outlet like my online shop – but what baffles me is the fact that the sales actually happened. This, even if I haven’t been doing any marketing push, let alone add new pieces to the shop. Is it a sign? I can only imagine how my numbers could be so much better if I focused on the shop. Recalibrating, I am going to be more determined to actually get more done with the shop beginning today. Starting with this post.

Earlier this year, I actually made a more determined effort to start getting myself organized. I went through my supplies and sorted my gemstones, pearls and findings. I almost succeeded not getting any additional supplies, except that I came across some rather eye catching accessories in my favorite retail outlets which called out to me. I saw them transformed into something else, given the chance to add my own touch to it. But they have been untouched.

Discovering China’s direct suppliers was a thing for a while, until my return to postcards came and totally threw my plans off. But I’m trying to get back on track. This is one of those times when I know I need to pay heed to the signals from the universe and actually strike while the iron is starting to fire up – just to get it to “hot”.

Reading again has been quite refreshing, and I am well on my way to hit my 6-book target for the year. I am still trying to get my posts on my very eventful Fourth of July weekend together, but one of the most concrete accomplishments that outing actually produced was a renewed fervor to read more. My two friends, Gedd and Jelaine, are actually voracious readers who shared with me an interesting mix of fiction and non-fiction favorites. As a result, I’m almost halfway through Stephen King’s “11-22-63” on Audible, and continuing to read the English translation of El Filibusterismo – yes, the one we were required to read in high school in Filipino. (This is the translation by Soledad Lacson-Locsin).  I am trying to line up my next reads, and as it is, I only need to finish this two and a third to make my yearly quota of six. I’m beyond happy that this part of my 21 for 2021 goal is on track to be completed for the first time in so many years.

For those who have all the time in the world to read, 6 might seem like a very puny goal for the year – but being that I’ve failed to meet that bare minimum the last couple of years, this is a feat as it is.

I’m making masks again. While we have been given the leeway to forego masks at work if you’re a vaccinated employee, the resurgence of the Delta variant and the newer Lambda variant makes me think that masks are not totally out of the Covid scene. As of today, 49 of 50 states are seeing an uptick in cases. I have been wont to take off the mask when outdoors and yes, sometimes, on the bus, but have become more careful in indoor settings or even outdoors when there is a lot more people traffic. Even as I walk out in the open for my daily routine, I carry a mask in one hand and promptly put it on when I see people approaching from the opposite direction. I am not taking any chances and the direction to wear or not to wear masks is up in the air for now. I had precut fabric that was ready to be sewn, and they are now ready to be finished for wearing in the coming days.

Writing those letters finally. I had thought I’d get to this sooner, but I’ve written three letters over the weekend and about to write my fourth. My son was asking why I was writing and not emailing or texting instead – well, it’s not quite the same. So there are letters heading out to surprise some people with something to read and hold for a change. I’m all for the advances of technology, but there are times when old fashioned letters can be more meaningful than that email you get on your laptop or phone.

When a hello from the past is a warm hug to the heart. Once upon a time, I came across a young medical student who was back in Manila, and who became a very good friend. We corresponded and followed each other’s blogs and shared bits and pieces of our lives. We lost touch, but I tried to keep track of him by looking at his social media feed. The medical student became a doctor and went back to his hometown in the hinterlands of Sulu. He wanted to serve his people in a place where sometimes, it would take hours of walking to get medical help. What could be more noble? He could have opted for a more financially rewarding career in a city hospital or in private practice, but he went home to serve his people. And from out of the blue, I receive a heartwarming email from him. The doctor is now married and still among his people. My heart is smiling as I write this. Some people enrich our lives just by living theirs – such as my young doctor friend. More about him and this special friendship another time.

Proud to be Pinoy: Thank you, Hidilyn Diaz! (Proud to be Filipino) Finally, a gold for the Philippines. I am proud of Hidilyn and the honor that she has brought to us Filipinos. It may be one gold which is dwarfed by the many chalked up by other countries, but for us, that is a major achievement that will forever be etched in our minds and hearts. What a way to start the week! Truly an inspiring athlete who stirs so much emotion for us Pinoys.

Road trip firsts on the MetroNorth

I don’t really ride the train — except the subway, which really is a local train ride as far as I’m concerned. The few times (as in 2-3 times) that I had ventured to take the Long Island Rail Road to visit my friend in Lindenhurst, Long Island, were still, technically, very local.

Thursday, July 1st, saw me actually doing my first interstate train ride, as I jumped on a Metro North train at Grand Central heading to New Haven to join my friends for the Fourth of July weekend.

Road trip: on the metro north

While I have avoided riding much of public transportation during the pandemic, I thought this was different being that it was not a regular commute to just anywhere. I was heading to Maine for the Fourth of July weekend and had to join friends who were based in Connecticut, hence the ride. Two hours and something to New Haven, we then drove a few hours to Augusta, Maine where we spent the night. We wanted to do the remaining 3-4 hours to Greenville before noon so we could make it to our destination without killing too much of the day on the road.

This was a trip of firsts for me. It’s literally my first road trip on my own without family. It came together rather spontaneously over lunch two weeks before, and things took a while to arrange until everything fell into place. So when all was said and done, I hied off not knowing what to expect.

I just wanted to spend the long weekend doing something different. Beyond the road trip, being away on a planned hike was something totally new for me as well. I had my apprehensions about the whole thing but decided that it was a good opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. I did my research on what I needed to bring, bought the minimal gear needed (hiking sneakers with good traction), borrowed a Swiss Army knife, and assembled my weekend wardrobe. I researched and pulled together my own hiking essentials, skipping the head lamp for light flashlights and worked out an elementary first aid kit. Since there was no electricity except in the main lodge, I also bought a solar charging power bank. (More on all of this later.). I had a light backpack already and at least one water bottle. My friends had promised to bring me towels, an extra pillow and more water bottles. They were the seasoned outdoors people— so I listened and just did some extra research about where we were headed.

I hurdled the first task of packing my gear after two attempts, reminding myself that it had to be done in such a way that I could lug everything in and out of the train, both ways. I didn’t really want to take an Uber to the city, and even if I did, I had to make sure I’d be able to make it from the car to the train platform. News flash: there are no trolleys at the station. From the initial 4 pieces, I trimmed it down to three. I had a roller luggage, a full back pack and a casual tote. I decided I would not bring my laptop even if I meant to work part of the first and last day on the road. I also chose my most battered tote so that I wouldn’t feel bad about setting it down on the floor if I had to. This was roughing it out for me.

I had ordered postcards to bring and send back on the day we confirmed I could be added to the reservation, so I packed my return address labels, stamps and airmail stickers along with the right pens to use. I have always made it a habit to send postcards back home from my travels, either addressed to me or my son. I would also send to a select few fellow postcard collectors or friends— sent straight from where the postcards were coming from or were about.

Postcards for the road trip

While I would normally be more conservative with the shoe allocation, I had to keep in mind that this was a hiking trip. I was told to bring shoes I was already comfortable in, plus the optional water shoes and slippers for the shower and the cabin. All check. My hike sneakers arrived a few days before the end of the month, so I “broke the pair in” by using it during my 10,000 step walks at least 2 days before. I could’ve traveled with the hike shoes from the get go, but wearing comfortable shoes while traveling (by air or land) meant slip ons. I went with my leather TOMS which would’ve been lighter in the luggage if I packed them, but I walked in them instead. The sneakers — both pairs —went in the suitcase with the water shoes and the slippers. 5 pairs of footwear, on any given trip, was actually a lot for me..

I looked up the schedules way ahead of time, and coordinated with my friends in Connecticut. We finalized schedules the day of, and I hopped on the train that would get me there just in time for my friend, Gedd, to pick me up at Union Station closer to 5pm. On the way to Connecticut, I purchased my off peak ticket from one of the many kiosks in Grand Central, then looked up the track information from the boards.

On the train, most people observed social distancing so it wasn’t terribly packed. Besides, I slid into a 2-seater and put the roller in front of the second seat beside me so nobody could take it. Unlike the express MTA buses I was used to riding which had USB ports for charging, the train had actual electric outlets to plug any hardware you might want to charge. My first ride was uneventful, and it helped that I got on the train at the originating station and got off at the last stop. You can’t go wrong with that.

Upon disembarking from the train, I followed the crowd as they exited into a modern tube that then led to the more classic Union Station. Road trip: on the metro north As it happened, Gedd was running late and that gave me time to stop by the lone convenience store which had a postcard rack. (Happiness!) I picked up some (more) postcards and a snack and sat until Gedd showed up. How lucky could I get? Postcards of Connecticut right there at the station.

Road trip: on the metro north

Our ultimate destination was Gorman Chairback Lodge in Greenville, Maine. They had plotted the trip so that we broke it up in two by spending the evening in Augusta. This meant driving from Connecticut to Maine through most of the evening, and then heading out the next morning in time to reach Greenville just around lunch time.

As we made our way back to Connecticut, I bought my return ticket via the Metro North app, activating it as we approached the front driveway. Once on board, I just flashed the QR code to the conductor and I was off.

The train ride to and from Hew Haven and New York was pretty uneventful but memorable for the first it was. That might seem like such a shallow thrill for people who commute on the MetroNorth or LIRR on a regular basis, but not for me— more so in the time of Covid restrictions. Strange, though, it may be for someone who has been in the US for almost 21 years now — and stranger still that I have been in New York all that time. Like I always say, I learn something new everyday. It’s really a convenient way to travel for shorter distances, or when you want to take the so-called scenic route. I’m already planning my next trip which might be a longer ride, but definitely to a destination close by.

Grand Central the night I came back on July 6, 2021

Monday Musings: Of Busy Weekends and Rainy Mondays

Monday musings in paper and ink

It’s been a while, I know.

I have a blog post on postcards ready to see the light of day, but I’m trying to get some graphics in. I keep telling myself on Fridays and Mondays that I will start writing more purposefully again, and not waste this space I have here. My Monday Musings and Friday Five sections are, after all, supposed to be the blogposts that require the least effort, but it’s been a struggle. Well, today I write.

It was a busy weekend. Since returning to work (part of the week) in Manhattan in April, I’ve also returned to my pre pandemic routines. Certain people do my grooming best — and eyebrows are a tricky matter. So I hied off to the city to visit my nail technician. While there are nearby salons within walking distance from my home, I felt a sense of loyalty to Helen and wanted to help her out as she was still not working the full week at the salon. Little things like that can mean a lot to certain people in our lives, more so during very trying times like the ones we are currently in. The best part of the trip to Manhattan on a Saturday, though, was walking into a concert of the New York Philharmonic in Bryant Park ad I headed to the bus stop. I couldn’t stay longer than the time it took for me to get a quick bite, but I sat and I listened and it was just heavenly. This is one of the things I love about this city I live in.

Saturday with the NY philharmonic in Bryant Park

Sunday at the Postcard Club and show. After their regular monthly meeting had to stop because of COVID last year, the Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York has resumed their meeting and I finally made it! I made it a point to try to catch the afternoon hours as I was afraid I’d get carried away with the postcards for sale, but I think I did good. Caught the last two hours of the very light crowd, but it was nice to see how things worked. I’ll write more about that in a full blog post another time.

Sunday at the postcard show

Reading with intention. I tucked my latest issue of TIME magazine in my purse and I browsed, coming upon the recommended summer reads. I was actually tempted to stop by Barnes and Noble on 47th to check out some of the recommended titles, but MUJI got in the way. (I am actually glad I didn’t go further than 42nd or else I would’ve totally missed out on the NY Philharmonic.). I’ve been reading more deliberately these days and I think it’s help to relax me and keep my brain alert. Still in the thick of a second pass at “Without Remorse” on Audible and the English translation of “El Filibusterismo,” I think I will be able to do better than the goal of chalking up 6 reads by the end of the year.

Reading El Fili

“Sew” happy to be sewing again. I started sewing again early last week, working on cut up fabric that were meant to be masks for the return to work. I actually have enough in my “arsenal” and NY is relaxing mask restrictions in most open space situations, but I’m not taking my masks off anytime soon out of an abundance of precaution. I‘ve decided to tweak my patterns and can’t wait to wear them in the coming days. More importantly, I want to go back to sewing garments — since that was the original plan of getting into the sewing classes and getting my own sewing machine. Plus, there’s the fabric stash waiting to be worked on. Baby steps, as I always say.

Paint my world. I have been doing an online watercolor class. I was not surprised to learn that everything I’ve been doing so far is wrong. Well, that’s the point of taking the class, after all. Thank you, Nikki Traikos, for setting me right. It’s been an enjoyable journey so far and I am grateful for being able to take the lessons virtually. At the start of the year, I had set the goal of being able to do at least one class. This certainly gets that off my to do. I’ll share more later.

Back to almost normal. I’m writing this as my express bus is crawling into the midtown tunnel. Every morning I go to work, one to two times a week, I try to take pictures of Grand Central to show how light the crowd is. It is still very far from what it used to be. The traffic that has us stopping and going through the crawl this morning, though, is normal. So I’m hoping this means that there will be more people in today. Perhaps. New York is hoping to go to 100% capacity by the Fourth of July. and while I don’t think the usual crowds of workers and commuters will be back by then, we are slowly but surely easing back in to as close to normal as we can get.

The bus is making its way to the first stop on 36th and 3rd, and I must head up to my perch. The pavement is wet from the morning showers. I’m hoping it spares me a wet commute later tonight, but I’m ready. The lady in the fuschia pink trench coat came with some plastic slides to walk in, if needed, and there are my short galloshes. Almost forgot to check in with my morning health app before I badge in! Off to start my week right in pink, indeed.

Chocolate and memories of holidays back home

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4APreface: The post below was created a week or so ago while trying to dictate my thoughts to my phone as I walked. I know I should’ve edited it sooner to retain the flow of thought, but it was Christmas week which was busy for everyone. I tried not to edit the actual content too much because I also wanted to see how I composed the post in this fashion.


I always found myself composing blog posts in my head as I walked, forming sentences in my head. At least one blog post idea pops up, and then when I get home, I forget or I sometimes lose the motivation to write. I simply get overwhelmed by all the other things I need to do.

The last couple of days, I found myself inspired to write again. There are times I find myself unable to write for long periods of time which can get very frustrating when I look at what I have and have not written down. There is a sense of loss for the thoughts that didn’t find their way here.

So I’m trying to write more, even just short blurbs that I can expand later on. When I walk, I usually have music blasting in my ears from my phone. Lately, it’s been the music from the Netflix show Emily in Paris that has kept me company. I usually walk from an hour and 15 minutes to as long as two hours- depending on the combination of walking and jogging that I do.

Much to my surprise, I have managed to walk every single day for the last six months, and always at least 10,000 steps for the last 133 days as of December 26. That’s really a big accomplishment for someone like me who has never really exerted effort to exercise or do any physical activity in my entire life.

It’s really all about taking better care of myself given my age and my health history. Both my parents are diabetics. I remember when I used to be too lazy to even use my gym membership at work. These days, I can’t believe that there are days when I fear that the weather outside would prevent me from going on my walk. So yes, I have walked in the rain and not so much in the snow, but after a snow storm.

I have taken to walking in the evenings lately because work has been rather hectic the last couple of weeks. I actually like it better at night. I don’t have to worry about having to put on the sunblock. Vanity, I know. Secondly, there’s less people walking around or driving around. It doesn’t mean that there’s totally no one around, but there’s just less people traffic.

It’s the weekend before Christmas and I’m trying to get all my Christmas cards written, stamped and sent. I’ve done a whole lot better compared to last year. I was actually sending out Christmas cards on Christmas Day. This time, I had all my Christmas cards ready weeks ahead, but of course life and work took precedence. I had wanted to prepare some packages to send out to friends, but ended up postponing that.

I’ve always been very big on Christmas. It’s actually my favorite holiday. It’s not so much the giving of presents or the traditions that have embodied the holiday for me, but more because it signifies a new beginning. Christmas is the birth of Christ and like all births, symbolizes a fresh start. Personally, I find it a very joyous occasion. No matter what challenges I may be facing or may have faced in the months preceding it, Christmas is always a happy time.

It’s also one of the times that I miss home the most where it is twice as Christmasy than it is here in New York City.


The other day, I made some hot chocolate from cocoa I had brought home from my last trip to Manila in 2019. Cooking the Christmas chocolate has always been a task my father used to be responsible for. I remember him requiring certain special butter to add to the mix, and he had a wooden mixer to make the tsokolate frothy and thicker. He would put the handle between his palms and shake it while submerged in the hot concoction. The chocolate always had to be a certain consistency with just the right amount of butter and evaporated milk added to it. This was a staple for the Christmas Eve feast, and in the Christmas morning breakfast we serve our guests the next day.

We’d usually have it with some sweet ham, sliced from a whole leg and that sharp Edam cheese. I close my eyes and I am there again. It was sweet and rich and just such a decadent drink of merry and joy.

I miss Papa. He has been gone years now, but every time I have some of this local cocoa, I am back with him again. It makes me pine for holidays in Manila with the rest of the family.

And those snapshots of christmases past run like a montage in my head as I walk, or when I catch a whiff of the tsokolate as I hold the cup up to my lips to take a sip.

Sundays be like

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AWeekends have not changed much when you think about spending it at home. It’s when you think about how much has changed about how you spent your weekends before the lockdown and after everything changed that it catches up with you. Life in New York has somewhat returned to something close to normal, but we are watching the numbers closely and hoping the uptick in new cases will be confined to certain areas and eventually stemmed.

I like spending my Sundays quietly and lazily. Unless something was planned beforehand, I don’t even go by the clock… I do things when I want to do it. I set up a breakfast treat and brewed some coffee, sat and ate leisurely while thinking about the things I want to accomplish today. No chores. Just things that need to get done but I won’t kill myself over not doing them. The week, even if working from home, is busy and hectic enough, framed by work schedules and task that need to be done.
Sunday Breakfast

I had things to do Saturday that ended up with me too exhausted to do anything much. I had taken the beads out of my supplies stash to make a few necklaces and bracelets for my sister. I didn’t get anywhere last night so I’m hoping to create a few pieces today. The request was for labradorites and jaspers, and some dyed jade had arrived over the weekend.

Sometimes I need to handle the beads a while before inspiration hits. It will come if it comes.

The weekend this weekend

It’s almost 2am and I’m just getting ready for bed, and for some reason, i decided I would write a post before I tried to bring myself to lala land. So if this turns out to be an incoherent attempt, blame it on the late hour.

It’s been a busy week. I’ve tried to start sewing again several times with no success. I am hoping I get to do some tomorrow. The art journal has been receiving lots of attention these days and I’m actually very happy at how that’s turning out because I am already thinking of next year’s journal.

I decided to take my daily walk later today, with the goal in mind of grabbing dinner along the way. It was chilly but not freezing cold. I walked with the determination of a woman craving a treat, and while I did get my grilled octopus and managed a bed of homemade Caesar salad to put it on when I got home, I think I overdid the dessert. Buyer’s remorse. Too late, I know, but I felt I deserved it. My diet app would tell me I’m being so emotional (with a “baby” at the end, to boot!) but I will live. I will try to be good for the rest of the weekend. Indulging myself last weekend resulted in gaining back some of the weight I had shed, but I’ve lost enough not to panic over it. Besides, I’ve started shedding it again.

Grilled Octopus over Caesar Salad at home

I’ve managed to walk 10,000 steps minimum everyday for the last couple of weeks– seeming out inclines and making sure I walk to a fast beat. (Donna Summer’s “Heaven knows” being the current favorite. ) I’ve counted the steps between two points in various configurations that I can easily plot which direction I should go to make my daily goal. I have been surprised at how close distances actually are between home and places I used to ride a cab to– not realizing they were actually walkable.

I like weekend walks because I’m not pressed for time like I am during the week. Whether I walk before officially starting my work day, or sneaking in a stretch during my lunch break, I don’t quite have the same freedom to walk as much as I want without worrying about the time. So tomorrow and Sunday are what I would call “adventure walks”.

But for now, it’s time to lay my head down on my pillow and drift off to dreamland. I am just so glad the weekend is finally here.

We remember, once again

Every year, when this day comes around, I remember where I was and all that happened 19 years ago.

Last Friday, I wrote on Instagram across my accounts:

“One week after, we returned. I was there when it happened, on the other side of Wall Street, closer to the water. I saw paper flying everywhere when I got out of the subway not knowing the first plane had hit. I went to work and started getting the calls from other states and even from Manila, asking if I was okay. Then I heard the explosion of the second tower getting hit. I saw the rolling plumes of dust and smoke when the first tower collapsed. And then the second. We couldn’t see across the street as the building disappeared in the thick dust. I waited for hours before deciding to walk home with some coworkers. Dead pigeons littered the streets, overwhelmed by the soot. I finally came upon a working subway station around 14th street and I took the subway back to Queens. So many lives lost in what was a senseless attack. #gothamchickwasthere #weremember911 #gothamchicksays

Downtown one week after