Crafting, Work and Life in general

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I realized that January was creeping away from me when I started looking at February for scheduling things at work. That first month sure went by so fast that I didn’t realize my last post here was in the first half of the month. And we are off..

I’ve been busy at work, busy with life, and trying to get the craft projects going. For the most part, I’ve been trying to get myself better organized — a project I began before the year ended. As always —- be it in organizing my closet, my make up or my craft supplies —- it is just so hard to let go. But I’m trying.

As we all await our turn to get vaccinated, I have come to terms with the fact that at 54 and not being a front liner, I will have to wait a little while longer. So my life in the midst of this pandemic has remained pretty much the same: still working from home, being vigilant about wearing masks, and practicing social distancing as best as I can. I have also adjusted a bit more by being pragmatic about my pining for travel — I have sort of resigned myself to the fact that none of that is happening this year. If I’m lucky, maybe towards the end of the year. Otherwise, realistically, I really cannot picture myself going on any long journeys until at least 2022. So be it.

My days continue to be spent at home. I think I’m doing better with defining my work hours. I try to log off at 5:30pm, then I get ready for my evening walk and brave the cold. And yes, even the snow. My streak remains unbroken since I vowed never to go under 10,000 steps. 165 days. I am amazed at my own determination not to falter, even when I feel exhausted at the end of the day and all I can do is walk briskly. This might not mean anything to those who hit the gym religiously at a given cadence during the week, or who fiercely jog and sprint through the air without a sweat. For someone who has always been at odds with the concept of physical exertion, the mere fact that I have kept my daily walks a ritual this whole time is a personal accomplishment.

I have to admit, though, that the weight loss has been a seesaw the last couple of weeks. I know — the excuse of holiday binging is no longer applicable, but I’ve managed to gain back 5 lbs below my prepandemic weight that I had so valiantly lost in the third quarter. I’m trying to get back on track — and not add any more weight. Somehow, my resolve has not been as firm as it used to be, and for that I am not making any excuses. I am not content with being happy that I had managed to lose the over 15 lbs I gained with all the baking and the cooking I experimented after the lockdown. I have to keep at it to reach my desired goal. So I plod on.

I am trying not to put too much pressure on myself. The last couple of weeks have seen me being restless for hours in bed before I finally find sleep. There are days, though, when I do manage to plop my head on the pillow and drift off without a care. I keep reminding myself that I should try to end the day earlier instead of waiting for the stroke of midnight to get on with my evening routines. It doesn’t help that the 16-year-old has to be chased to bed! And yet when I think about these little “problems”, I have to pause and remind myself I am fortunate that this is all I have to deal with.

One of these days, I will write about the things this pandemic has taught me. I have learned a lot — even beyond my space here. Sometimes a lightning bolt hits me in the mind or in the heart, and I find myself in the midst of a realization — and it sticks.

Sometimes the thought snowballs in my head and I say to myself, I knew that all along but just refused to admit it to myself. And I pause again and let it sink in.

I am busy these days working during the day like always. Then at night, I sit with my boy and we have dinner while watching a favorite show. After everything has been put away and the dishes have been washed and I have freshened up, I fiddle with my craft projects. Sometimes, I write a postcard or a card or letter to send out.

I’m getting into crystals and trying to study more about their properties as sources of energy. Very interesting considering they have always just been gemstones to me. Pretty little things to work with. I have found some new suppliers from mainland China which has encouraged me to research more about crystals and their properties, while at the same time goading me to explore new ways to work with undrilled stones. Lots of avenue to experiment on doing just that — and I am all excited!

Crystals and my creations

I’ve been thinking about picking up the crochet needle to make another beanie or two, but I have enough in rotation right now — all made by me in the last 24 months, so I don’t really need any. It’s just that I keep seeing my yarn stash and I know those can be put to better use. The good news is, even with yarn sale after yarn sale at my beloved Michael’s, I have strongly resisted the urge to grab any more given my untouched spools.

The art journal for 2021 has been languishing in the prep stage — but I am not worried about that. I have at least two signatures left over from what I prepared for the 2020 journal, so once that gets started, I will keep going. That was such a gratifying journey, memorializing my year in pictures and words and what have you. I want 2021 to even be more creative and different — there is just so much to write about.

Time to pause and hit publish on this one, before it ends up staying in my draft folder again. Words wasted are thoughts lost.

21 for 2021

Every year, I’ve reworked the previous list of goals for the new year after reporting on how I fared in trying to keep with what I had written for the one just ended. 2021 will be very different if only because 2020 changed so much in the way we did things due to Covid. So with the restrictions that we are now faced with and the adjustments we must make in our new reality, I must tweak this year’s list drastically to adapt.

Just another one of the many ways that we all must live differently now. One thing that I know I will not change is try to work through a list of goals for the coming year, and yes, 21 for the year 2021 — no more, no less.

1. Read six books. Believe me, I am trying. I started several books in 2020 but never finished one. I think I’ll go back to the old school way of reading one book and not beginning another until I finish it.

2. Learn something new via an actual class. With everything going virtual now, this shouldn’t be difficult. I’m still working on my language classes but those are more of self study and not really a class. I might have something new to report before the month is out and cross this off my list.

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.

4. Visit Central Park all four seasons. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to visit once after a snowfall this winter, and get to the other seasons finally. It’s a bit harder trying to get this particular task done, but despite the restrictions and the fact that I’m hardly in the city, it is actually one of those that I think I can finally accomplish this year.

Central Park Summer 2020

5. Crafting: Organize my supplies and try new methods in jewelry making and personal art. Continue my Art journal. Last year was very productive in this respect and I’ve found new inspiration to create different pieces for the shop. On a personal level, my success with the art journal has further inspired me to continue it on to 2021 with a totally new journal. I’ve immersed myself with inspiration from artists I’ve encountered and followed and continue to learn from in the process. As I have tried to get organized, I’ve discovered that I have my supplies all mixed up everywhere and it would really just be easier if I could sort them out.

2020 saw me documenting my year in an art journal, and what I have come up with has inspired me to continue with the journey in 2021.

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 learned some valuable lessons in being able to destash with more purpose in 2020, which I hope to continue to do in 2021. I’ve found two groups to share these things with — one in my neighborhood and the other across the boroughs of New York City. I’ve always hated throwing things out and it was a good feeling to get rid of some of the things i needed to dispose of, while at the same time helping others.

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 think I will focus on something more meaningful in 2021 as I turn 55. That means 55 acts of kindness to celebrate. I will start working on this sooner rather than later, as April is just around the corner.

8. Keep writing. I think I’m off to a good start with three posts in three days. The problem is in keeping the momentum going. I am trying.. I have started some new writing projects and actually see myself making progress as the weeks go. 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.

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 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. 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. 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 have 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 this year.

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’ve already started gathering the ones that really have no room in my collecting interests and have started giving them away. As I go through my boxes, I’ve started sorting postcards, photographs and greeting cards randomly, leaving the actual organizing of the three bins for another time. The postcard collection, though, needs particular attention, and I’ve already begun the work.

15. Catalogue and photograph my Starbucks Mug Collection. I haven’t really had any major additions to the collection in 2020 but I managed to add maybe a half dozen mugs. I used to have enough room above my pantry in the kitchen to display them in two rows, but the space has since run out. I also need to “rewrap” the mugs that are still there due to the soot from the stove. (Yes, I packed them well, so they are not grimy on the inside.). Most of the collection is now in boxes in the attic, waiting to be displayed. I’m working on figuring out the best way to display them maybe in the dining room, but I just thought they were better off in boxes until I can find a nice way to showcase what I have.

16. Put my family photos in an album. I know that with most photos now digitally stored, the hard copy photos I managed to bring to New York from my trips home are all the more priceless. I have them in a box and mom had brought me a nice archival photo album I have yet to use. This year, I will get those precious photographs into that album.

17. Create the wall art I’ve been meaning to do the last year or so. I actually have two items I am hoping to create but beyond the main board I was hoping to put these works on, I haven’t really done anything. Even just one for this year will be great. I am rather reluctant to share more details beyond this, but should I finally get it done (hopefully this year!), I will share the final work in this space.

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…first, I must find it to start work on it again.

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. So on my 55th year on this earth, I will.

20.

21.

As you can see, I’m publishing this list with two still up in the air. This might take a bit longer for me to decide, so instead of waiting to complete the list, I’d rather publish now and get on with the year. (Another thing that 2020 has taught me — take care of what you can take care of now, instead of letting the task linger on undone.)

While some of the things I wrote above are more “guideposts” instead of actual goals, I’m actually optimistic I will get half of this list done. (Fearless forecast.). Wish me luck!

Fabric Hunting (How to get FREE crafting supplies)

Once upon a time, after I got my own sewing machine and had started taking actual courses in sewing at Mood University, I went fabric hunting.

I wanted to practice sewing but didn’t want to waste fabric I bought. I did purchase some pieces but found that there were occasional freebies on Craigslist and I have put together quite a stash.

From scraps to cut up bolts to boxes of spools of thread, I have managed to build quite a stockpile and all for free.

Well, save for the effort of lugging huge bags home, and the occasional cost of transportation (One was a pick up at a storage facility in Brooklyn which would have been too difficult and long a commute), they have literally been free.

So during this time when I’m sewing mask covers which I hope to contribute to some facilities in need here in New York, the free fabric has been a blessing. This has literally been a labor of love, but that’s for another post.

For those who know how Craigslist works, the freebies are strangely under “FOR SALE”. Because I don’t drive and largely because those giving them away were located in Manhattan, I limited my search to the area. (Yes, we do have a Fashion District.)

The first ad I answered seemed to be straightforward, as someone was giving away fabric scraps and notions somewhere in Chelsea. “Bring your own bag”, the ad said, so I brought a wheeled expandable tote. It turned out to be a small bag manufacturing operation owned by an old lady. She had reduced her operations drastically because of declining sales, and was thinking of liquidating her stocks. She had a writer who rented the small space for her factory for now and she wanted to prepare for an onsite sale. There were boxes of bag fabric scraps and samples.

In exchange, she requested me to help her do some heavy lifting to move some sewing machines and a table aside for the sale she was having in a day or two. I couldn’t say no to the old lady, so I lifted, and carried my very full and heavy bag home.

Much of the fabric from that stash needed washing because the sharp stench of glue reeked from some pieces that I left behind. It was an interesting haul, and a learning experience. The old lady wanted to go into online selling but knew very little about it, but she had a lot to share about pricing and merchandising. So besides the free scraps and samples, I got one on one mentoring on price points and her production method.

The second ad I responded to was from an independent designer who sold her own clothing label. She was into dyeing and had specified a pick up in Brooklyn. Her address was easy to commute to, so I ventured on my merry way.

She advertised for scraps and unused cut fabric, and again, a request to bring my own bags and totes. When I arrived at her apartment building, she had garbage bags full of the items she was giving away by her door. She even brought out more as she saw I had enough totes. I didn’t have the chance to pick and choose and took everything that would fit in my one giant tote and a giant roller luggage.

When I went through the stash upon arriving home, I was so surprised to see that she had given me cuts of fabric ranging from cotton to jacquard, in pieces as small as a quarter of a yard to 5 yards. I found the scraps of her dyed fabric very interesting, more so since I was experimenting with fabric beads and embellishments like roses at the time.

Last I checked on her, her label seems to be growing and she is now affiliated with a non profit that collects excess fabrics from designers to sell at a warehouse outside Manhattan.

Free Fabric hunting

The third ad advertised for scraps and fabric samples. This time, it was a Manhattan based clothing label sold on its own website and carried by certain high end department stores. I walked up to their office which also housed their manufacturing studio. I didn’t get to see that because I found boxes of satin and silk fabric samples by thei receiving room. Her fabric samples usually meant a half yard cut. Some had multiples, so I was actually able to use two coordinating designs for my first attempt at a collared shirt. While that particular project didn’t result in something I could wear, it allowed me to learn and practice how to sew a standing collar.

There were “scraps” that were as big as two yards long cuts of satin fabric in different shades and colors. Material I can actually use for linings for skirts or the purses that I had started researching how to sew.

One of the treasures I unearthed from this pick up was a twill drape that must’ve been used as a curtain for a wall or a section divider. The fabric was double width at 60 inches and around 4 yards, and from this I was able to practice on cutting and sewing an overcoat or topper. It became a practice run and I stitched and unstitched parts of the pattern until I got the hang of sewing armholes and sleeves and sections of the front and back of a coat.

Free Fabric hunting

The fourth was another designer who had her own clothing line, again, carried by online consignment groups and in her own online store. She had two bins of scraps I could pick through. She dabbled in knit fabric and while there were no huge cuts, the scraps from her cuttings were big enough to work with. She also had a interesting variety of knit and novelty fabric I wouldn’t even look for in a fabric store, but which I would take a second look at, displayed in a store.

My next haul wasn’t at another designer but rather an established service provider to the apparel industry. I didn’t know it until I was at the workshop, because the advertisement was for bolts of cut fabric and assorted supplies.

They appear to have cut through bolts of 60inch jersey, leaving approximately 14 inches which was a lot — given that it was a bolt. There wasn’t much left when I came — but I still managed to get around 6 bolts in black and white.

The bigger haul was the boxes of spools of thread and other notions — there for the taking. I must’ve gotten around 50 spools of thread, and bunches of 9 inch zipper, along with a hodgepodge of assorted spools and reels of trim. I came home with a giant spool of what appeared to be quarter inch cording, a giant roll of half inch interface ribbon among a host of other finds. I actually had to pick what I would take because I could carry only so much in my totes and rolling luggage.

Free Fabric hunting

I envisioned the bolts of jersey woven into necklaces, and the guy who gave me the fabric sort of looked disappointed, as he told me this was high quality fabric! I haven’t had the chance to work with the jersey but now look at creating a hand knitted chunky jacket out of the bolts I have. (Maybe for next fall..)

The last one was an ad from a craft store in Brooklyn that was closing shop and had to vacate one of their storage rentals. The call was for 4pm and I though I’d arrive by 3, but apparently people had come early and started arriving at 2pm. There was still a lot to pick from and I grabbed a 6 yard cut of an African print fabric, for one, and several cotton yard long cuts for quilting. There were scraps of spandex in different colors and a dozen or so unfinished projects, ranging from fabric diapers to African American traditional skirts. Well worth the transportation cost back and forth.

Free Fabric hunting

I haven’t been fabric hunting for a while now, largely because I don’t have any more space for it. I also want to start using what I have before I go and try to grab more. I’ve organized most o the items I’ve gotten, washing the scraps even, more so when they were full of loose thread and fiber. I’m asthmatic and I cannot work with that kind of extra.

I know, it’s about time I made good use of these freebies I have acquired in the last 4 years. I also know I cannot go out looking for more, specially at this time that we are all social distancing. But I’m taking stock.

I have joined Sewingforlives.com and have started sewing mask covers per their specified template. All the materials I have used so far, have been from these fabric hauls. I am well stocked to do dozens and dozens more. I am not setting a goal but just plan to keep sewing during my free time. As I work full time during the week (even if from home), my progress has been slow. The point is, I’m getting there, and my fabric haul is being put to good use.

This, plus the project to create face covers for my personal use for when we return to work. My goal is to have enough to use one daily for a 2-3 week laundry cycle. I haven’t quite found the fit and pattern that works for me so that is a work in progress. I’m concentrating on my donation of mask covers first — and that’s taking up all my free time for now.

I am slowly honing my sewing skills with this freebies, and for a good cause at that.

Monday Musings Boos

Monday musings in paper and inkI can’t believe that October is almost over — what with Halloween just around the corner.  Wow.  And before you know it, we are celebrating Christmas and then bidding the year goodbye.  We always find ourselves caught unaware although the passing of time and the arrival of the end of the year is a given.

Life just takes us over.  So back to the Monday ritual of writing random thoughts here.  (I know, I’ve fallen silent yet again.)

My Art Journal: A new beginning.  Yay!  I’m trying to keep it small and simple — and I’m working off of upcycled paper.  (Size: 5.5″ x 7″).  I managed to create the cover page and completed around five 2-page spreads to journal in later.  I am determined to get this going before the year ends, and I think for the first time in what must be around a half dozen tries, I’m going to get one going — FINALLY!

Granny Square crazy.  I thought I would do this project for spring next year, but now it looks like I’m going to finish my sweater in a week or two.  My crochet needles have been put to good use and if I could only start taking photos, I might actually be able to complete a post in the craft blog about it.  (Neglected space… I am not proud about that.. but will get to it soon.)  Crocheting has been very therapeutic for me, and I’m already on my 6th or 7th project for the year.  (Three hats, two triangle scarves, one still in progress, and now, a granny square cardigan.)  My hands have been busy, and I just love what I’ve come up with.

Back to meditating.  One habit I’ve been trying to get back into is meditating — but sometimes it can be such a struggle to find the time, but at least I am trying and will hopefully get back to it with more regularity. Not because I’m particularly feeling stressed– I just want to get into the habit consistently. Fingers crossed.

 

 

Autumn Monday

Monday musings in paper and inkIf you have been following my 10 Day Writing Challenge, you will see that I’ve been on a roll. This is Day 6 and I haven’t missed a post and have been writing as I had hoped to, and it looks like the personal deadline worked!

I am already planning a longer iteration after I finish with this one. (Uh-oh)

How can I miss out on my Monday Musings? It has always been a go to writing tool for me when the inspiration to write was running low. I would pick 3-5 random topics to write a short blurb on — no theme, no rhyme, no reason. And sometimes the topics became full posts at a later time.

Autumn, I feel you. It seemed like summer was having a hard time deciding on whether or not to stay or go– we were having some rather temperate weather when it should’ve gotten much colder already. Well today, I think autumn officially gave summer the boot as we woke up to lower 60s weather topping out at 69. I think I walked out the door underdressed in a thick long cardigan sweater over my dress , but I can always pin it closed later. The good news is, I brought the proper scarf.

Crochet break. I have been crocheting like there’s no tomorrow, although working on three pieces simultaneously has left me without a finished piece— yet. I tried to work with my current yarn stash for the first two, and I am venturing on working with a multicolor ombré yarn for the third. I ran out of yarn for the first two and I’m picking up new skiens to work with, and I’m running short on the third and have decided to wait for the next skiens. I am actually relieved to have been forced to take a break because my hands were beginning to feel the strain. I am very excited with this project and will write more about it in the craft blog. Soon.

To write or not to write about my Keto experience. I have been on the fence about this, but it has been on my mind. As someone who has tried several diets which have worked and some of which did not make a dent, I’m hoping my personal experience with it will help someone thinking of doing the keto diet or someone who might have a parallel experience with mine. So yes, I lost the weight, and yes, I gained some of it back. And finally, yes, I’m off of Keto. (To be continued..)

Getting ready for the holidays. I’m actually seriously thinking of sending Christmas cards again– something I haven’t done in ages. Every year, I try.. and every year, I have failed. I think for starters, I need to update my address book. Then I have to decide (1) if I will make my Christmas card or (2) if I will buy a boxed set or (3) order a printed one for the boy and I. Decisions, decisions. Let’s put it this way, if I don’t get this all decided and done by the end of October, I think I will skip this year again.

And we are searching for another Christmas tree. I bought one last year but it was practically the same as the one I was hoping to replace. I will write about that later but I need one of those hopelessly artificial looking plastic ones because I can’t do the real thing. Allergies, asthma.. so Christmas tree hunting we will go.

Celebrating you. I’m one person who’s very big on birthdays. Most people my age would rather not celebrate and just chalk up another year to just another one of those things that come to pass. But I like setting up parties, getting the cake, doing decor, wrapping presents and picking the birthday card and writing a dedication in it. There were a couple of birthdays the last couple of days that were special.. I tried my best. I always wish I could do more..

I’m trying to remain positive about the week ahead. I have a lot to do, that, I know. Here’s to a productive one for us all.

#10DayWritingChallenge Day6

Crafty Long Weekend

We are rarely blessed with four day weekends like this year’s Fourth of July (last week) and I had long ago decided I will stay home and try to deal with sorting out my craft supplies and projects, with ample time for catching up with the writing here and in my craft blog, Gotham Chick.  In fact, I managed to write something about my return to Polymer Clay there even before I started writing here.  I am trying to apportion my free time between the thousand and one things I want to take care of.. and whatever gets done, gets done.  What I don’t get to do, I will go back to another time.

I used to stress about keeping up and posting all my post-worthy pictures and blurbs all over– and then one day I just paused and stopped.  One thing I found out was that doing that wasn’t actually so bad.  It wasn’t the death of me.  Sure, the instagram followers stayed steady at just over 700.  But I never really set out to be a media influencer with thousands of followers.  I was happy to have a media presence.  And I am keeping it that way.

I can’t be holding my phone typing away when I want to find new ways to do crafts– and to actually make something of the many supplies I had acquired through the years.  I can actually keep crafting without buying anything with the way it is, unless I decide to change the medium of my crafts.  And I’m not planning to do that anytime soon.

I have enjoyed going back to my unfinished projects and planning how to make something new and different from that which I originally intended.  Projects I had discarded as epic fails can now come to life as something else.  It helps that I never throw things away unless I completely ruined it.  The crafty side of me always insists that even something already twisted or baked or formerly wound up can be fashioned into something new and beautiful again.
Work in progress

I found these round or donut-like beads I had made from polymer clay scraps.  Not quite there yet, but I think I’m ready to start working on the next phase.  Photographing them from this angle gives me new ideas to rework or use them, and I am taking this as the “before” pic.

While I have pushed the limit on sleeping late and waking up even later, I feel like I’ve had ample time to recharge and get things done at the same time.  

I finally finished hand rolling one of my silk scarves I had bought a while back.  Thanks to YouTube, I found a nice way to hand sew the edges of this panel fabric featuring a giant flower print.  Considering this was my first attempt, I’m quite proud of the way it came out.  It tells me what to do and what not to do for the next one, but I think it came out neatly even if there is some unevenness in the project.  I will write about that more in the craft blog soon.

I like the quiet pace of a staycation because then going back to work come Wednesday won’t be such a drag.  I’m actually looking forward to it as I prepare for a new chapter at work.  

The weekend has been all about taking care of me and that has given me a chance to breathe.  No special spa day or what not, but simply taking the time to do the things I want and care about at the pace I want to do it has been treat enough.  That’s my kind of a vacation.

Take care of you… 

Monday musing: Creative frenzy

I started writing this at half past six and the sun hadn’t quite awakened just yet. I had tried to wake up my brain with my usual cup of Joe and my quarter of a cup of oat bran. And I started writing.

Creating for the #GiftOf50.  I’ve had a productive  weekend with my tools. I’ve been busy sorting my beads (Saturday) and creating (Sunday and most of the nights preceding it). I usually string the beads onto headpins before assembling the actual earring dangle then I finish this as a second step in a batch. I only put the ear wires when I’m sure I’m done, with no other finding or component or additional gemstone or bead to add. Last night, I did the last step.

Here’s the thing.. I had started creating basically with the idea of making a batch of earrings to give away as part of my #GiftOf50 push. After assembling the earrings, I am now torn about actually giving them away and posting them in the shop. Did I just create a problem for myself here?
I’ve also been busy with my Marian necklaces which deserves a post altogether.  Three (make that 4) pendants and necklaces in production.  I have the pendants done (finally), but I am in a design quandary.  (again, have to write about this separately.)

Giving in to the challah bread craving. I love bread but I’m trying so hard to stay away from it.  The week prior has been good in the area of trying to keep my weight in check, so I thought I’d give myself a break over the weekend with a “bread run”,  even if only for one loaf of challah bread from my challah bread source in my area, Le Pain Quotidien.  I meant to make some French toast, but congratulate me for resisting the urge.  I did eat it throughout the weekend..  grilled cheese dinner on Saturday, and this simple yet hearty breakfast of tomato scrambled eggs for Sunday breakfast.

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Sunday breakfast of tomato scrambled eggs and challah bread.. brings me back home to breakfasts in Manila with the “tasty” sliced bread or better yet, pandesal. .

I’m not worried about the scale tipping a tad higher because I know saying goodbye to my carbs beginning today will correct that.  For me personally, I have learned that weight loss is best managed by weight control– and at my age, I am not killing myself over a slight weight gain (nothing over a pound), more so when I’ve succeeded in keeping my weight down.  I am at my usual plateau and the only goal now is to break it and even go lower.  Soon!

My happy mailbox..I have never stopped collecting postcards even if I haven’t been actively trading them, and it always brings a smile to my face when I find a postcard in the daily mail when I sort them at the end of the day.. what more when I get 3!! Thanks to my friends from Postcrossing Philippines who continue to keep my collection growing with their postcards from home.  Keep them coming!

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#HappyMailbox: Thank you for the postcards, @mumwrites and @skyorange … for the mail smiles you brought my way with these cards from the Philippines. 🇵🇭 Such wonderful additions to my collection! Mail coming your way.. 💌

More lawyer wannabe questions.  I haven’t forgotten and I am not ignoring them.  Thanks for reaching out via email — I always appreciate hearing from the people who stumble into my corner of the web.  Again, I am getting to the questions soon.  Keep dreaming..

Gotham chick recommends.  Sometime in 2015, I thought I’d create a specific account for Gothamchickshopper for product and service recommendations.  I created an Instagram and twitter account, and yes, a blog.  I’ve always had the account on my smartphone but haven’t really been writing about it.  (I hardly get to keep up with this one!).

So I’ve started being more focused with the new hashtag #GothamChickRecommends and hope to keep the social media accounts more active as well.  I am even thinking of doing a weekly roundup here.  My restaurant posts have become short blurbs that can be an entire blogpost and I really should focus on some of that.  (That’s me talking to myself.)

I think I’m off to a good start and will hopefully get at least one of these blurbs into an actual post here during the week.. plus one or two or three.

Happy Monday!

Off key

There are days when you know everything is supposed to be okay, but you somehow feel like your life is out of sync.  Much like how my two hands would play as if they belonged to two different bodies whenever I hit the keys for the first time, after years of not playing.  (Lightbulb reminder: Find a rehearsal studio to actually play at – still up in the air.)  It would take a few pieces or minutes to eventually get them to hit the keys in unison to make music.  Then it all  comes back.

I keep hearing about being “more than okay”, but things feel different.  I know.. I’m overthinking things.  We all go through rough patches, and then we hope for the best and pray that we bounce back.  Or if we don’t, that we actually land somewhere better.  It’s not exactly “bad”, but it’s not a warm-and-fuzzy kind of phase.  And like all phases, it passes — not just quickly enough.

Sometimes life likes to throw surprises our way — and no matter how prepared we may think we are (“been there, done that!” — I tell myself), there are still bits of news that will catch us off guard.  I say I’ve gone through this before — I lived through it and have survived — and I will do that again.  So I am not at all being smug when I say I’m good for all the experience I have tucked under my belt… Some well meaning friends are asking how I am doing.. am I okay?  (Let me throw back the line at you now, “More than okay!”)… No matter how self-assured that may sound, I am actually wondering if I am trying to convince myself I am.  Or maybe I am, indeed.

So how do I cope during times like this?

I think about the things I should be thankful for.  Like earlier today, I fell in line at my favorite bakeshop at the corner, Breads Bakery over at their Bryant Park Kiosk.  Every morning, I usually get off my ride (the ever dependable QM5 Express Bus from my part of NYC) right in front of it or just a few feet away.  I am usually good with resisting the temptation, but on days when I can’t shake it, I give in and plod my way to the order window.  It’s a choice of cheese straws (yum) or the feta bureka (yum yum) as a breakfast treat.

I fell in line and was approached by this friendly and harmless looking young lady who chatted me up and — hold your breath — offered to pay for this morning’s purchase.  Now I had my heart set on two burekas for lunch — and that was $5.  I asked her, “For real?”  And she said yes with a smile.

Then she handed me this card which said:

THERE’S GOOD ALL AROUND US IF WE JUST LOOK FOR IT.  Let’s open our eyes, and our heart.  And let’s See. Good. Daily.

There’s actually more blogworthy material on that business card size piece of good she handed me, but I think it deserves its own post.. later.  But the long and short of it was, she did pay for my purchase, and even posed for a picture which I promised to post on Instagram to plug their effort — but the picture didn’t come out well, and I would hate to have such a bad picture of her for all the world to see. It just didn’t do her justice.

Apparently, this was all part of a commercial shoot for a lens company, Lenscrafters, and they had wanted to interview me for a short clip — but I was in a rush to go to work.  I had already crossed the street to my building when one of the production assistants came with a pro forma release form of sorts which I filled in and signed. I told them they better tell me if I’m appearing anywhere!

But it wasn’t so much the 15 seconds of fame I might possibly end up enjoying or being given at a later time.  It was the feel-good treat on a terribly cold autumn day in New York City.  I got my burekas free, and someone made me smile.  #SeeGoodDaily

How often do you get a breakfast treat from a complete stranger?  That was one big “Thank you” I owed the universe.

I go back and look at pictures that bring me back to happy times.  No matter what they say, pictures have a way of reassuring us all is well — we are blessed — and in short, we are more than okay.  What more can beat a visual reminder of how much better we truly are compared to how we are imagining our world might be?  (Writing that last line somehow made me feel silly for even feeling this way right now.)

Perhaps it’s just the needy, whiny me.  (Shrinking into my chair now and feeling guilty of being a brat.)  I really shouldn’t be complaining.  I have been telling myself that over and over again… and it helps ease the anxiety, and it reminds me of how I have been so lucky to be where I am, and to have the people who are in my life today.  One of the more remarkable lines I had come across in recent days is that we should stop feeling bitter about the ones that we lost, but instead be grateful for those that we have.  (Or something to that effect.). How true.

And those pictures and the feelings that go with them serve to remind me that I have much to  be grateful for, and there are so many happy thoughts and memories tucked in there somewhere.

I self soothe with my drawing, sewing and my crafting.  Drawing has been such an escape.   My Paper Flower Garden is a continuing project, but even that can get tired and old.  There are times when I don’t feel inspired or motivated, and when that comes upon me, I put my pen or my scissors down and I let it go.  Putting pressure on myself will only serve to defeat the very purpose of the exercise, which is to calm me down and just bring me to a quiet place of bliss.

I have been sewing and my coat is almost done.  (Yay!)  There are nights when I stay up late redoing the stitching over and over again until I get it right.  Yes, my seam ripper is my bestfriend now.  I’ve gotten so adept at working with it that I can now systematically undo a full side of a garment I had painstakingly sewn with a few nicks.  I am getting to know my simple sewing machine better, and soon, she’ll be a bestie like my seam ripper.

As for my crafting, I’ve been trying to get my materials sorted so that  I can start creating not just new pieces for myself, but for the shop as well.  (I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record.)  I have actually started working on a brass metal stamping that I have glued onto a base fabric to bead and embellish.  I’m thinking “statement piece” necklace, but I have been busy experimenting on the base fabric.  (Felt to stiff interfacing to maybe faux leather.)  Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to figure out the design beyond the focal of the whole piece.  That’s taking a bit of time.

Trying not to resort to comfort food but my spirit has been broken.  Considering the food I’ve eaten outside of what I am allowed, I have actually done pretty well in keeping my weight gain minimal and manageable enough to get back on track more easily.  Still, I can’t be complacent about it because gaining is always easier than losing it.

It doesn’t help that there’s chocolate within reach, and that there’s the “Pancakes for dinner” alternative.  I have tried not to be too liberal with the leeway — I have struggled to get back to my lowest weight, and I want to break that barrier before the holiday food binging begins.

Aromatherapy to bring the happy thoughts forward.  I’ve always been a fan of sweet and fruity scents.  I like milky and “clean” smells — scents that bring back memories of fab times and fab people.  Do you ever find yourself associating certain scents with people you have spent time with?  I have.. and I do.. I don’t don perfume regularly but always slather on some lotion or body butter, and the scent or formulation I use at any given time are usually associated with how I feel or want to feel on any given day.  There are times when I just don’t care and the moisturizing matters more than the scent that lingers on — and there are days when I put a favorite scent on to just put some “happy” into my day.

I go “Lipstick girl”.  I have always proudly declared myself a make up lover / addict, and I used to saunter down the make up section of Rustan’s back home, just to ogle the palettes and displays of the various brands.  Be it in a drugstore or in a department store or Sephora, make up continues to have a soothing effect beyond description.

It’s like entering a candy store.  I just can’t have enough.

I have, however, significantly held back from binging on make up — for now — but only because I have more than enough in my stash.  I keep my lipsticks separate because they are determined by my color scheme for the day and the overall look I’m trying to achieve.  So I would fish through my make up box and look for the lipstick purses and just go over them and inventory my stock.  Yes, that makes me happy, knowing I have this shade and that.. in this form, be it matte or glossy — liquid or stick.  Other people go for shoes.  My comfort go-to in the pretty-me-up department is plain and simple lipstick.

We all hit a rough patch every now and again — it’s how we deal with our own demons that determine whether we let it drag us down or we up and go and move on.  I always choose the latter but it isn’t always done in a snap.  Like most things, it takes the willpower to bring “happy” or a semblance of it back into your day when everything seems to look bleak.

There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, but you have to get yourself there and out of the darkness.  Then you can sing in tune again, and dance in sync with the music.

 

 

Back to Monday Musings (on a Tuesday)

MondayMusingsLogoIt’s a tad frustrating to see that my last post here was mid May and we are getting on with June.  I had unsuccessfully tried to begin half a dozen posts, but no luck.  Rather than write a full post on any given topic or blog prompt, I thought going back to the bullet style update I do under this banner would help me get things rolling.  

What have I been up to?

Summer’s on!  It feels as though we skipped spring altogether and jumped head on into summer!  Is that spring being short or summer coming early?  It’s a little tricky deciding but our days are definitely hotter, and the preview of the heat coming our way is making me wish for fall.  Lighter clothes, less layers — yes!  But then I remember Summer’s past when I had to be creative with commuting to work– I literally had to don something else to brave the heat with and change to more appropriate work clothes when I got there!  Hopefully not again…

There’s a lot of fun summer trends making a come back like off shoulder tops and flowing skirts.  I’m excited because of my newfound sewing skills which I am trying to convert into something I can wear.  I’ll delve into that in more detail in my craft blog, but yes, I’m going to fearlessly declare that I hope to make my own clothes!

Vacation plans brewing.  I am getting ready for a trip the second half of June, but I’d rather write about that while it’s happening or maybe after.  I’m excited for many reasons, but principally because this is the first vacation I’m planning for just myself.  It’s doubly exciting because I’m meeting up with BFF Donna who will be there with her family.

One of my oldest friends from way back when, we only get to meet up when she brings her brood here to New York.  This time, we’re heading closer to her Down Under to get some sun!

I have been putting together my gear the last couple of weeks and have started packing.  Two weeks to go and I’m off!  Blog post coming on what I’m packing and bringing with me.

And of course, I’m still trying to decide when I should actually fly to Manila.  The trips are a little easier and more difficult to do these days now.  Angelo is bigger and is actually a better travel companion, but then adjusting the vacation to his summer schedule can be a bit heavy on the pocket as it’s peak season on our side of the world.  Still, we take into consideration his request to be able to stay in Manila longer so he can immerse himself in the culture, and more importantly, to get to spend time with family on both sides while there.

Make up happy.  I’ve actually avoided writing about this because I hate posting pictures of myself here.  But one thing I will always be is a make up junkie — something I have been since my teens.   My dream as one is to actually be able to sit in Juan Sarte’s make up chair and see myself magically transformed.  The story behind why Juan Sarte is actually rather long and personal, but his artistry should suffice as an explanation.  I would love to be his apprentice if I had the opportunity or luxury but I’d probably have to fall in line behind hundreds of other aspirants.

I’ve been experimenting with lip paint and just found a drugstore brand that compares to the fancier and pricier ones.  (Again, blog post coming.)

At 50 and as an Asian, I get so wowed by the fierce and bold reds and pinks I see in the streets of New York, but I am cautious about the colors I wear.  It’s very tricky when you take into account that the colors you wear should agree with your skin tone, and now at 50, your age, so much so that you just have to be discriminating in what you pick.

But make up has always been a source of joy.  You won’t believe how a quick run through the make up counters back home used to make me giddy happy.  These days, it’s as simple as checking out what’s on sale, and patiently running between the samplers and the make up cleansers in ever busy Sephora.

Sew excited!  Pun intended.  So I wrapped up the 6-week beginner sewing class over at Mood Fabrics’ MoodUniversity.  The next set of classes begin next weekend (June 13 for the Adult Advanced Sewing class), but I am going to have to postpone to the fall due to vacation plans.  And yet I’m all gungho about attempting some sewing for me to wear (yes!) this summer and fall.

More on that on the craft blog!

Legal Eaglets in waiting.  Happiness is completing a blog post here — finally!  Goal for the week: two more posts.  Let’s see where that goes.  I owe two of my 39 readers a reply after I got some very touching feedback via email (pinaynewyorker at gmail dot com) and each one deserves its own post.  Hoping.

Friday Five: Yay!

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So, okay, this is much delayed.

Life happens.  I’m not apologizing, and it’s another weekend so I’m feeling all chipper.

I tried to write but I seriously did NOT have the time because my real world had me in chains all week, slaving away.  But it’s Friday!

As always, we start with the updates based on the last list that appeared here two Fridays ago:

1.  Sort the fabrics I picked up from Brooklyn over the weekend.   Done!  I’ve even managed to wash a few sets just to make sure that they are good to go once crafted!

2.  Write five topics to write about here and in my craft blog.  I actually managed to complete this for both blogs, but while the idea was that the “drafts” would help me move forward with the blogging, I haven’t been able to hit the pace I was working on.  Still, it got me posting, and there’s a new post for each site.

3.  Gather the books that I hope to read in the coming days and actually write about it.   I have the books, just haven’t had the chance to list them down.

4. Pull together at least one “care package” from the things I hope to destash and send out.  So I’ve been “cleaning up” but have pleasantly rediscovered things I had made and bought over the past two years which I had misplaced.  So yes, I got the one care package started, but haven’t sent out.

5.  List 10 things in the “turning 50 good deeds” to do.  I didn’t quite hit the 10 but managed to write 6, and wrote about it here.  In addition, I have created a page with the post title, Gift of 50,  (see navigation bar on top please) to keep the updates on one page.

I think that wasn’t so bad — even if it took all of two weeks to actually make progress.  Again, I’m not killing myself over this.  So for this weekend, here’s my Friday Five:

1.  Gather the books that I hope to read in the coming days and write a blog post on it.   I might even start drafting this this afternoon.

2. Care package work-in-progress send out.  One of the sets I have to hang on to, but I think I can actually pack the second and send off before next Friday.

3.  Plan the big five-o celebration.  I’m very big on celebrating birthdays and “big” doesn’t actually mean a huge party — I just want a table of friends to toast the big day.  And it’s right around the corner!

4.  Find the loose postcards I want to work on and actually set aside time to get this project started.  We’ll start with identifying a box they can all go into and then I will write about what I hope to do with them.

5.  Draft a craft project calendar.  I’m trying t plan for the year and get things on track — scheduling christmas cards ahead of the holiday season so that they actually get sent, for one, this time around.

It’s been a very busy week work wise and I cannot be more grateful that it is finally Friday.  It’s been one of those weeks where I was too tired at the end of the day to focus on anything else but catch some much needed zzzzzzs.  But the week is over and there’s finally time to recharge and relax.  Tomorrow.

Happy Friday, everyone!