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.

21 for 2021: The Wrap Up

I tried to write a mid year check in sometime in July of 2021, but failed to finish the post. I’m actually glad that happened because I managed to do some major catching up in the second half of 2021. For the first time in a long while, I was able to accomplish more than what I had hoped to do at the start of the year. (Yay for me!) So here is how I fared against my list at the beginning of 2021.

1. Read six books. For the first time in the last decade, I actually made my 6 book goal and even exceeded it. I’m so proud of having listened to more than just one or two audio books, but I managed to read several to add or pick up from my personal library. It really feels good to not be putting this one in my “wish I could’ve done more” list for a change.

Read more books this year

2. Learn something new via an actual class. The language pursuit has momentarily been set aside, but not totally forgotten. I managed to go midway through an online watercolor class offered by Nikki Traikos on her website. It’s been a refreshing course for a beginner like myself — and of course, the first thing I have learned is that everything I was doing with my watercolor painting was actually wrong. I am getting there and hope to use what I learned (and am learning) in my art journal which I hope to work earnestly on in 2022.

3. Continue exercising and dieting to take better care of myself and reach my original weight goal which is currently 10 lbs lower than my post holiday weight. This has been more of a struggle but the good news is, even if I gain weight over a period of days, it hasn’t been too big of a gain to be insurmountable. I have managed to go back to my pre pandemic weight, so yes, halfway done with the 10lb goal below my post holiday weight, but still struggling to lose it.

Health concerns have made me focus not so much on the calories these days, but rather pay heed to the portions and food I actually eat to keep my numbers healthier. No alarms just yet, but at this age, it is good to be vigilant about taking care of ourselves.

4. Visit Central Park all four seasons. I am happy to report that although I failed to do all 4 seasons, I was able to explore Central Park in a more in-depth way than previous years by joining a guided hiking tour courtesy of The New York City Hiking Tours Meet Up Group last September. I regret that I didn’t get to write about it soon after I did this as summer was about to end, but I have a renewed appreciation of this behemoth of a backyard for the city that never sleeps. I saw parts of the park that I didn’t even know existed. While I will attempt a separate post on this sometime early this year, I am hoping to do more with this group when I get the chance to and when it’s warmer.

Hiking in Central Park 2021

5. Crafting: Organize my supplies and try new methods in jewelry making and personal art. Continue my Art journal. I am trying. Unfortunately, the art journal has been a side thought. I haven’t really worked on it as diligently as I worked on my 2021 journal. I ended up setting it aside which at this point is such a big disappointment. As far as the jewelry making is concerned, I did create a few pieces but they were within my safe zone, not allowing me to be more adventurous.

I am trying to get back to jewelry making, because despite my lack of focus on the shop, I’ve been racking up some sales that were totally unexpected. I can only imagine how things would go if I were more prolific in creating new pieces. Focus needed, I know.

6. Continue to find a new home for the items that I no longer have use for, but which can be of use to others. I had managed to destash so much in 2020 that I feel like I could’ve given it more effort in 2021. I ask myself if, perhaps, I have given away enough in the year prior, but the truth of it is, I have more I can actually do well to part with. So hoping I can get more done in 2022.

7. Work on the Gift of 55. Ever since I turned 50, I have tried to prepare gifts to give away to coincide with my birthday. It was a way of celebrating myself while giving to others. In connection with the lessons I learned in destashing items in 2020 as mentioned above, I had hoped to focus on something more meaningful in 2021 as I turned 55, but miserably failed. That means 55 acts of kindness to celebrate which will now be 56 for the coming year.

8. Keep writing. I think I managed to maintain a presence here although there is always that wish to write more. I am getting there. The problem is keeping the momentum going. I am trying. There’s been a better focus on writing these days, what with everything that’s been happening around me in a social and personal level. So it’s a matter of ramping up.

9. Keep writing those letters. I started writing people randomly during the last quarter of 2020. It has been a gratifying and heartwarming experience hearing from the people I’ve written. Beyond the Christmas cards, there were letters that actually made it out of my writing box. And I already have around a half dozen letters waiting to be written. I know that I will surpass my goal of writing one card or letter a month, so I am not going to put a minimum. I will just keep writing and sending those letters and cards out.

10. Get the podcast on the air. One of the projects that I got all excited about during the first months of the pandemic was getting a podcast on the air. I had the title, a friend so generously provided me with original music in different cuts to use, my niece rendered a graphic for the show and my first three shows were cast with guests that had so readily said yes. And then work and life got in the way, and I didn’t want to just broadcast haphazardly. I’m focusing on this anew in 2022 if only because I have since thought of another half dozen topics to broadcast and people to feature. It’s a project halfway to done.

11. Buff up stocks in the Etsy Shop. Like I mentioned, one thing I found rather surprising was the traffic I was getting, and the actual sales made during the pandemic. I wish I had the time and the energy to post more actively, but a newfound interest in raw materials to use for my pieces has sparked new inspiration. Still not quitting the day job, but this is definitely getting a new focus from me.

12. Sew at least one coat / jacket before spring, and another before winter. As you can see, I’m already looking at 2022. I see my sewing machine and I sigh in frustration, regretting that I have yet to finish another coat since I did one for my sewing classes at Mood University way back when. I have the materials.. I did manage to work on the cut up fabric ready to be sewn into masks. There was a time I went (a bit) crazy buying fabric on sale — and they are all neatly stacked and stored in my bins. Waiting to be sewn into something I will wear. Two pieces, minimum!

13. Fix my attic. I have a huge storage space that has stacks of boxes of stuff that need to make it to the waste bin. I’m thinking the best way is to devote an hour every month at least — in increments of 15 or 30 minutes, just to move things around. I’ve managed to do some tidying as I pulled out the Christmas tree and decorations for this year — and there is a semblance of order in one corner, but there are other corners that need touching. And I will get to that in 2022.

14. Sort my postcard collection. Going through the things that had lain hidden in boxes and bins through the years has made me rediscover postcards in my collection. I actively returned to postcard trading via some postcard groups on Facebook in 2020, and zoomed in particularly to Postcrossing Philippines, a group of Filipino postcard collectors. I’ve already started gathering the ones that really have no room in my collecting interests and have started giving them away. I received more than 200 postcards from this group alone, with problem less than a hundred from other swaps.

In some ways, this was a big distraction for me in 2021 but it also allowed me to socially interact with other collectors. It has been a time consuming aspect of my passions, though, which I hope to balance out with my other pursuits in 2022.

15. Catalogue and photograph my Starbucks Mug Collection. It came rather late but I managed to add some mugs to the collection after a trip to Maine with some friends (something noteworthy for 2021!) and a renewed interest in the holiday collection. It was a big disappointment, though, that I didn’t get to acquire the anniversary mugs that coincided with the 50th anniversary of Starbucks. (Hello, eBay, I guess.). I will try and devote time to cataloguing the collection, and am actually in the process of finding a suitable case to house even just part of what I have.

16. Put my family photos in an album. Some years back, my mother gifted me with an old style photo album from back home which I stashed in the attic. The good news is, it’s downstairs now in one of my craft bags. I just need to gather the photos and work on it.

17. Create the wall art I’ve been meaning to do the last year or so. I actually have two items I was hoping to create but beyond the main board I was hoping to put these works on, I haven’t really done anything. And this got stuck in limbo. I am seriously contemplating on whether or not I will forget about this or try to give it a go in 2022 again.

18. Finish, frame and hang a cross stitch project featuring Our Lady of Perpetual Help that I started more than 16 years ago. Long story…so I did find the original pattern but never quite got down to picking up the thread and needle again to finish this, but this is priority for me in 2022.

19. Set my affairs in order. One thing that 2020 made most of us do is make us face our mortality and the uncertainty of the future. I keep saying I will write my will and do my living will — but beyond identifying my emergency contact and giving immediate instructions to that friend, I haven’t really been able to set this down properly.

I did identify my medical proxy and just need to let that person know. With all that’s happened around us due to Covid and everything that’s still going on, my own mortality has been staring me in the face. Will to be written before my 56th birthday in April.

There you go.

I published this list with two of the 21 unwritten. I never got down to finish the list. I will try to do better with the 22 for 2022 which I will begin writing as soon as I hit publish on this one.

All in all and with everything that was going on around us, I still think 2021 wasn’t all that bad. Personally, it was a good year if you consider how my son and I managed to stay healthy throughout the year, despite health challenges suffered by other family members back home.

I returned to work in April and eased myself into a semblance of normalcy in my old perch, but in a new space. I lost the view but still have a convenient spot in the middle of Manhattan.

I have been blessed. Indeed.

Work in Progress: my altered book

I have been blessed. Indeed.

PS. This is a recurring topic I’ve tried to do every year, and previous lists have a home on a special page in this blog. Happy new year from Pinay New Yorker!

Travel Journal: Postcards from Austin

Through the years, one of the things I’ve always enjoyed doing has been to send postcards back home, addressed to my son. At first, it was more of the postcard collector in me, even if my focus has always been on getting the postcards mint and keeping them that way. But after I sent back the first few postcards, I found it to be a meaningful way to create a story of our travels and vacations. Others do scrapbooks, I do postcards.

His Dad and I had taken to writing postcards early on, with him sending me a postcard or two from wherever he went on business trips without me, or wherever we went on vacation. When our son came, I started addressing the postcards to him. It didn’t matter that he was too small to read them. I wanted to have them ready for when he was older, so he can continue the conversation in postcards.

So I always travel with a postcard mailing kit I keep in a handy holder – usually a hard plastic zip pouch. The important thing was that it was compact enough to fit in my purse, and sturdy enough to keep the postcards from getting banged up. I had:

  • Stamps on the ready in the denomination I would need it.  Unless I was traveling to an overseas destination, in which case I would get this upon my arrival.
  • Address labels with his name and our address on it – because I’ve been caught in a situation where I would buy the postcard and write on it at the same time and go look for a mailbox.  Having preprinted address labels for him and friends I meant to send postcards to made it so much easier.
  • Airmail or other stickers and pens – so I can whip them out when I got a break, while I was in the car, or later in the day when everyone was asleep and I could write on my postcards.
  • The postcards come last as I get those from the area we are visiting.

For our trip to Austin, I actually ordered some LouPaper postcards of Texas ahead which I decorated, addressed and wrote on, with the intention of sending them out to fellow postcard collectors from there . Upon arriving at the airport, I immediately scoured the magazine and souvenir stores for the all too familiar postcard racks, and grabbed a few. I try not to splurge here because I know they are usually pricier than the usual souvenir postcards found in tourist traps in my destination, but they also tend to be of a different line and quality. True enough, the postcards at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport were not the same postcards I found in other stores. When I buy postcards, I try to buy at least 2 of each, with one to keep, and one to send home. If a particular postcard looked interesting and I remember a friend who might want one, I buy an extra or two.

By the time I landed at the hotel, I had a dozen or so postcards which I kept in my bag and took with me everywhere, hoping to do some postcard selfies along the way. (And we did manage to do this – but that’s for another blogpost.)

There have been vacations where I sent as little as 2 postcards, and as much as more than 20. It depends on whether or not there are enough postcards available, enough things to write about and the time to do it. But this trip was special because it’s only the second vacation my son and I have taken just by ourselves, and this was most special for the shared memories.

[1]

LouPaper Texas postcard

11/7/21: Love that we got to do this together despite the pandemic. It’s been so much fun making new memories with you. We haven’t done this in years! Love you! Mum

[2]

“I love you so much”, Artist: Amy Cook, est, 2010, over at Jo’s Hot Coffee, Austin, TX

Postcards sent from Austin

11/7/21: I read about this even before we got here, so it was nice to be able to find a postcard, and actually see it and post next to it with you. (Thank you, Dusty!) And yes, MAMA LOVES YOU SO MUCH. Always, in all ways. Mum

[3]

Greetings from Texas

Postcards sent from Austin

11/7/21: Thank you for patiently sitting through lunch with Pearson, Keoni and Caspian. You sat there and let us catch up, quietly letting Mama have her moment with them. I love that photo of you and Caspian walking back to the car. You are so good with kids… it’s because they know you have a kind heart. Love you always— Mum.

[4]

Mr. Rogers (mural), Artist: NIZ

Postcards sent from Austin

11/7/21: Another iconic mural we got to see in person.  That pedicab tour was well worth the money.  You and I sat through it speeding through the streets, narrow alleys and walkways of Austin.  I know you enjoyed it, too.  I am so glad we got the chance to take this trip together.  I wish we could go on more fun vacations – just you and I.  Love you!  Mum

[5]

Greetings from Texas, the Lone Star State

Postcards sent from Austin

11/7/21:  DID I EVER TELL YOU how lovely and heartwarming it feels when you put an arm around my shoulders and hold me close as we walk?  That has always been one of the best things that happened since you shot past me.  I remember you used to do that even when you weren’t quite so tall and It was awkward for you, but you still did it as we walked.  I hope you will never tire of doing that. Mama loves that.  Sometimes, I wish you wouldn’t grow up so fast, but this is one instance when it’s okay.  Love yout o pieces.. Mum

[6] Welcome to Texas

Postcards sent from Austin

11/7/21:  THANK YOU FOR ALL THE FAB PICTURES AND THE LOVELY MEMORIES… I know that you don’t always like it when I want to take pictures of us — but I can’t help it.  I was doing selfies with a real cam, not even a smartphone, way before selfies were a thing.  I somehow mastered focusing w/o seeing what the camera was covering.  So many nice pictures in this trip because you let me click away. LOVE THAT!  Mum

[7]  Hampton.com

Postcards sent from Austin

11/9/21:  I almost missed this postcard tucked into the information packet in the room.  We didn’t get to see much of Marble Falls but I think we did well on this vacation, making a lot of memories.  Loved having spent all this time with you.  Can’t wait for our next Mom-Son vacay.  Love always, Mum

I had actually acquired quite a hefty bunch of postcards from all over Austin and I’m quite happy with these 7 I sent back. So many memories tucked into each one. I can’t help but reread them as I scanned them, and I know I will be going back to these postcards in the next couple of weeks and more. Even now, as I am typing away, my heart is smiling.

Postcards from. Austin

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!

Monday Musings: Another Covid Fall

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Hello, autumn. Another fall and we’re still in covid country. I’m writing this while I’m on the bus, heading to work, wearing a mask. Not the most comfortable 45 minutes, but it’s necessary.

I’m currently mulling about my booster shot. And I need to think about the flu shot as well. This time around last year, I had gotten a flu shot and a colonoscopy, and was anxiously debating about what I would do if and when the vaccine became available. I eventually got the dual jab in the spring. But back to the booster.

I know I’m going to take it– it’s a matter of when. Why the reluctance again? I guess it’s the absence of an absolute mandate that I have to. But I will.

Stumped on the sewing. My free patterns have been cut and taped together and set aside, and I’m trying to make up my mind about which one to “attack” first. I was thinking of making a cropped blazer for a wedding I’m attending in a couple of weeks — then I found the perfect velvet kimono which I think solves my problem.

As of today, I haven’t gotten it yet so I still need a contingency plan. At the very least, I might need to fashion a light lining. I’ve been warned of chilly autumn evenings where I’m headed, so just getting ready for that. I am still hoping to do at least 1 coat this season, and retire my current outerwear wardrobe a coat at a time.

A wedding in November. I am definitely excited to go and attend the wedding of one of my favorite “nephews” who actually isn’t a blood relative. I’ve known him since he was a baby and he and the love of his life are tying the knot. I am so excited to be with him at this important juncture, more so since covid restrictions are preventing his immediate family from the Philippines from attending. And what’s more, Angelo is coming with me! Soooo excited! There’s something about weddings that makes it such a heartwarming thought, don’t you think?Then add to that the bonus of doing this with my favorite date..

And so another week begins..

A month’s silence

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Nothing irritates me more than finding myself absent from this space for long period like a month. What makes me even more upset is the fact that I keep drafting blogposts in my head, practically every day. Sad.

My weekend has ended and I’m getting ready to start the week off. Nothing much has changed.

Manhattan still seems to be on “holiday” mode. The crowd in Grand Central hasn’t grown appreciably, but there are people going to work like myself. Still sticking to the 2-3x a week in the office and working remotely for the rest. Many companies, like mine, have further pushed out their return to work initiatives for the regular workforce to January. (Some even later.)

While I do appreciate being able to have a semblance of normalcy in my work routine, I find myself envious of those still working from home 100% of the time. Many aren’t in a rush to get back to the regular commute and grind in the confines of the office.

The new skyscraper lording it over the Manhattan skyline, One Vanderbilt, has finally opened for occupancy. They’re actually boasting of yet another observation deck which I hope to visit when it opens, more so since it’s literally a hop, skip and a jump away. The nicest find was that Epicerie Boulud has opened at the corner nearest to me on 42nd Street.

Epicerie Boulud

Their almond croissant is a treat! Flaky and yet not crumbly, and the almond filling is not like any other.

Meanwhile, school has opened with 100% in person attendance in New York. My high school senior has promised to be vigilant with the mask. So far, so good. While I had pessimistically projected that school will probably return to hybrid learning soon after it opened, the system seems to be poised to go back to normal. Fingers crossed.

Saturday Brunch in Manhattan

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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: Wet start of the week

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It’s been raining in New York. I woke up to the pitter patter of rain and grey skies. So I’m grateful that today was a Monday that I had the opportunity to stay home, instead of schlossing my way into the city. It did stop for a bit last night, affording me a chance to go and walk in the evening. It’s not quite as easy walking in rain boots but I didn’t want to punish my sneakers. That pair has served me well since I started my 10,000 steps a year ago.

Focusing on the sewing. While I still wasn’t able to fully stay away from the postcards this weekend, I did devote a fair amount of time taping together sewing patterns for two pieces I hope to work on in the coming days. I almost succumbed to getting more fabric because of a sale on sale over at Mood Fabrics, but a glitch in changing passwords kept me from buying more. (What a relief!). I’m going to do some practice pieces and see how they turn out.

I’m working on free patterns from Mood Sewciety where you can pick up quite a couple of staples. These are essential pieces that can get you going as you try to practice your sewing skills.

I’m getting on with Tom Clancy’s “The Cardinal of the Kremlin.” I have been a lifelong fan of Clancy and can boast of an autographed book, and actually having met him in person before he died. It’s just surreal listening to this audiobook which is partly based in Afghanistan and set during that time when the Mujahideen was fighting their Russian occupiers. Although a work of fiction, the book gives an insight into that part of the war ravaged history of that country which is now in crisis. It is a very emotional issue even for someone who is just a spectator many thousands of miles away. I cannot imagine the sense of fear and chaos in that part of the world right now. I try to check on developments in the news at the beginning and end of my day, and I’m not taking sides. All I know is my heart goes out to the people now caught in the turmoil in that part of the world.

It makes me stop and think and wish that people who enjoy the freedoms that they are born with would appreciate that more. And that they would cherish and responsibly exercise it, but not to the detriment of others.

I don’t want to get political. I never have, or tried my best not to. Human lives are at stake here, and any human life in whatever shape or form, is precious.

So we are off to another week– the sun is supposed to come back and bring the heat back on.. in a few days, we welcome September .

Postcards: What to write

Postcard Storyteller logo

A regular postcard is around 4″ x 6″, with a dividing line in the middle to denominate where the address of the recipient should be, along with the postage and airmail sticker as needed. The lines on the right side of the dividing line show us where to write the address — although I usually ignore those.. To the left, there would be the caption or description of the photo on the reverse, and some space to write something.

With roughly 3″ x 3″ of space to work with, a lot of people still find themselves in a quandary about what to write in that post-it size space. And should you actually be working with a bigger card, like say, 5″ x 7″, that becomes even more daunting for some! So below are a few essentials and writing prompts, in case you are at a loss as to what to write..

Date your postcard. Whether you will write it or use a date stamp, you are doing the recipient a favor by giving them a sense of when you wrote whatever you will write. As a collector, I’ve been thrown off track by vintage postcards whose postmarks are not easily discernible, either because the original was not that good an imprint, or because time has caused part of it to fade.

Affix a return address label, or write your address in smaller print, somewhere on the far left. Do not make the mistake of affixing a label right next to your addressee, because sorting machines and the humans who sort will sometimes make the mistake of returning your postcard to you. I use many of the free address labels that are used for fund raisers here in the US, but trimming it to its absolute borders so it doesn’t occupy too much space. If you will print, do it in 8pt or less. If you will write it, make it smaller in print than the body of your dedication.

This will also help the recipient identify the actual sender– more so if you tend to sign with a scribble or you have a nondescript nickname unfamiliar to the recipient. You also cannot presume that you are the only John or Ces sending to that person, and you’d want him or her to know it was you.

Introduce yourself in 10-15 words. I always like to know who sent me the card even if it’s a random swap like those we do on Postcrossing. In my case, that would be “I’m a Filipina who moved to New York 20 years ago.” (10 words). If I have space, I mention that “I’ve been collecting postcards for almost 40 years now.” (+9 words). If I have the space, I will put my collecting interest next, or if I’m sending a card based on a collecting profile, I make reference to what I collect in common with the recipient.

Another relevant fact to mention would be your family or work. I sometimes mention I’m a mom to a 17 year old or that I have a 17 year old son. If you have pets, and you know the recipient has them or is collecting postcards of those animals, you can put it in as well.

Say something about what’s on the postcard. I usually send a postcard of Times Square which is, literally, a hop, skip and a jump away from my place of work — and I mention that. “Times Square is just a few blocks away from where I work and is walking distance.” If you’re sending a landmark or iconic tourist spot, explain it in one sentence. “Mayon Volcano is a few hours away from me, and is a perfect cone volcano we are all proud of.” If there is a caption describing the front of the postcard, no need.

Postcards available for trade/Seap
Mention something you know about the person’s country or location. More so if you’ve already visited that place or province. It makes a connection — and makes the card you send out more personal. For recipients in France, I always mention I collect postcards from there because Paris is my favorite city outside of the US, having visited twice. Or if it’s a destination that you’ve always wanted to visit, again, it makes it personal.

I always smile when I read that the person sending me the card has been to New York or has always wanted to visit New York. It makes the connection.

If you will mention the temperature, please indicate in both Celsius and Fahrenheit. Again, thinking about the recipient who might be on the Fahrenheit scale as compared to your Celsius or centigrade. You want him or her to appreciate how hot or how nice it is where you are.

Embellishments vs. more words? My preference is the latter. The washi tape and stickers are fun to assemble on a postcard as artistic expression, but the truth of the matter is, I like receiving meatier and wordier dedications. I like hearing about the person sending me the postcard, because for the most part, the postcard speaks for itself.

When you write me, I want to hear about who you are–

  • Are you a young postcard collector or like me, a golden girl who works and has a grown up son? Maybe you’re a stay at home mom or do you work and if you do, what do you do?
  • Do you live in the city or in the suburbs or a small town or village? (I have a personal curiosity about the latter..)
  • Where did you get this postcard?
  • Do you collect a specific category of cards?
  • Do you collect stamps? (I don’t but sometimes it explains the fancy stamps on the postcards.) Stamp collectors tend to be more deliberate about the stamps they use.
  • How is the weather where you are as you write — how is the season going?

Think of 3 words that would describe you and build on that. Mine would be

1) crafty, “I like to do crafts like crochet, jewelry, journaling and sewing.” ;

2) chocoholic, “I love chocolates! Do you?’ ;

3) blogger, “I blog at pinaynewyorker.com”.

Have a personal tag line that is self explanatory. Mine is “I am a perpetual tourist in NY.”

And if you are a postcrosser, don’t forget the Postcrossing ID!

I tend to write a lot into that little space even if I know it will be a one-time swap or send. It’s my way of sending a piece of me beyond the postcard that will carry my thoughts and words across the oceans. So next time you’re tempted to load on the stickers, try writing more than you usually do. Think of what you would want to receive and read if this postcard was being sent to you instead.

Don’t be scared of that empty space. The words will come and before you know it, you’ve filled up the entire card. I hope these postcard writing prompts help you to write with more ease, next time you find yourself sitting down to write on a postcard.

Monday Musings: Hopeful

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It’s a cloudy day in New York today. I’m not complaining. It makes for a cooler day which I don’t mind at all. The day went by so quickly. The speed with which it went by left me exhausted at the end of it all, and here I am.

Postcards on hold. I know. Trying to wean myself from the load of the hobby, and almost succeeding. It actually takes a bit of time to send out postcards– from picking the cards, addressing, stamping and writing on the cards themselves. I’m preparing a special set of cards to send away via an even more special route, but work and other plans today put a dampener on my plans. I need to focus more on the collection than the swaps. Over the weekend, I sorted my newly acquired vintage postcards over the last couple of weeks and I have quite a heap to work with. And if I’m to pursue my other passions, something’s got to give.

Outgoing postcards
Trying to resist the urge to crochet. I’m really trying to focus more on the sewing, and hopefully start on the jewelry again, before I pick up another crochet hook. It’s helped that the project I’m thinking of will require new yarn, and the thought of buying more yarn is a big deterrent to beginning the project. I have quite a yarn stash and I would rather start on a project that uses up what I have, than begin a new one which will require additional spending.

Gothamchick, the blog, will be back soon. I am always saddened when I see how few and far between my posts are, but heavily disappointed that I haven’t written anything on that side since December. THAT has got to change. I am almost tempted to totally reformat the space, but that has been around for quite some time. Another major project that needs tweaking.

So there’s my Monday and I can’t believe I’ve been writing as much as I have. Maybe the meditation on creativity has indeed provided a much needed push. Whatever it is that has stirred my creative juices, I do hope it keeps coming.