Five things to be thankful for (at the start of the year)

Work in Progress: my altered bookI try to write these lists as spontaneous as I can — without thinking if I can help it.. I just think they come out more naturally and more honestly that way.

1.  Caramel — my favorite confection of all..

2.  Warm hugs from my little guy who rushes down the stairs to open the door for me every time I arrive, giving me a hug and helping me with my bags, and making sure my slippers are all set on the floor — needing only for me to literally slip my feet into them.

3.  Laughter and swollen noodles..

4.  A large cafe au lait in lieu of lunch..

5.  Friends who will bop me in the head when I need a good smacking, and who will pat me on the back when I deserve it.

Of roadtrips, etc.

Vacations are things I look forward to and dread at the same time.  It’s not so much the vacation per se but the getting there.  Sometimes we fly, sometimes we drive.  Last week’s vacation was a drive to Williamsburg, VA which was probably our fourth if not fifth trip there.

This year was different because the ten-year-old now chooses to travel comfy (translated: with a pillow and blankie) and he packs his own backpack now.  (I still pack his clothes in the suitcase, though.)  And while car sickness is still a problem despite his Sea-Band Acupressure Wrist Bands, it’s a little easier to manage.

I personally pack my go-to tote which contains my journals, art stuff to bring, magazines and other knickknacks.  The sanitizers and wipes go into either his backpack or my tote, but always INSIDE the car.

Things to remember before leaving the house:

1.  Pack your chargers and make sure all handhelds are fully charged.  (You only have so many plugs to charge into in the car.)

2.  Bring drinking water and other beverages to save you from buying at every stop.  If you travel with kids who drink from juice packs, freeze a few the night before and keep it in a cooler.  You won’t need any ice to go with the drinks because the individual packs will cool the container.

4.  Don’t forget snacks.  Kids often get hungry between rest stops and you don’t want to have to stop just for food.

5.  Pack a plastic bag specifically for trash in the car and discard at the next stop or when full.

6.  If your child tends to get car sick, fold and pack several good plastic shopping bags.  Make sure they have no holes so that you don’t have to scramble with gooey drips if you happen to have the kid throw up into a bag with holes.

7.  Pack ample napkins or a roll of paper towels if you can.  You never know if you will have to clean up.

Things to remember when in the car:

1.  Make sure the seats are comfy and that your child stays buckled up.

2.  Keep the drinks in cupholders where they will be upright and will prevent spills.

3.  Use the compartments behind the seats wisely by putting items that you might need to grab in a huff like napkins or barf bags.  Keep the maps, information sheets or ticket printouts there as well.  Avoid storing bulky items that might impede movement of the passengers.

I enjoyed this particular road trip.  It was relaxing even if I had to grab a bunch of motion sickness tablets an hour into the trip at a stop, and coax the boy to down the tablet.  The good news is that it worked almost instantaneously as promised!  We did our usual stops — finding one Cracker Barrel restaurant along the way for lunch. Browsing their country store is always a trip in itself and the food is reasonably priced and satisfying.

I had the seasonal Campfire Chicken Meal which came out wrapped like the left and unwrapped to a sumptuous feast on the right.
Cracker Barrel Campfire Chicken mealCracker Barrel Campfire Chicken meal

All for $9.99!  It’s always an enjoyable experience going around their stores and eyeing the decor in their restaurants which are, uncanniliy, almost perfect repiicas of one another.

Needless to say, we did another Cracker Barrel stop on the way back.  It’s now part of our road trip routine.  Cracker Barrel branches are located off of most high way stops all throughout the United States.  If you haven’t tried it yet, just going in is an experience that should make your trip worth it.

Chicken Cobb Salad for me, please

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

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

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

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

Happy Friday, everyone!

DIY: Handmade card printed on a brown bag and tag embellishments (+Lunch)

The last two days have been very hectic and busy — but today, I just took a step back and let myself recharge.  Here’s another handmade card with words of inspiration I picked up online:

Handmade Card: Brown Bag print: LIVE LIFE

Handmade card: Dedication within

Amen.

Meanwhile, here’s a sneak peek into what I had for lunch today, courtesy of the Thai food cart on 43rd close to the corner of 6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas.)  I thought I’d eat something light.. Care for some?

LUNCH: Thai Style Dumplings
THAI STYLE DUMPLINGS
LUNCH: Uber spicy Green Papaya Salad
(Uber Spicy!) GREEN PAPAYA SALAD

At last, we meet!

Since I started blogging here in August 2004, I’ve gotten to know other bloggers or just plain strangers who have strayed into this space of mine.   There was Jeannie in Paris (!), Elaine here in NY, and now Lou from Chicago.  (Lou was actually the reason I signed up for Multiply ages ago.)  These blogfriends have gotten to be more than just readers and bloggers I read after the years that have passed.

I regret that I have yet to meet some of the more remarkable ones like my favorite couple, the Two Jeromes, Jerome and Jher.  Despite the many times I’ve gone home since we met online, sometimes it’s not that easy to pop in and sometimes things get too hectic.  I remain hopeful that we will meet one day.  Many of those who have interacted with me in this blog have come and gone.  There are those who keep tabs on me, though, popping up here and sometimes at my Etsy shop’s website.

We’ve “known” each other through life changes and the shared grief of lost parents.  I’ve discovered new hobbies like lomography which I’ve always been interested in but I just don’t have the energy or time to get into.  Lou is a fantastic photographer as well.  We’ve shared with each other our ups and downs and hobbies through our own spaces on the web.  In words and in pictures, we took a peek into each other’s lives.

When Lou left me a comment here that she was headed for New York after Christmas, I thought I’d just ask and see if she might have the time to meet up.  I know how vacations can get hectic.  I am the last person to take it personally when I cannot be scheduled or when people schedule and don’t end up confirming so we don’t get to meet up at all.  If it happens, it happens — and happen it did!

We scheduled lunch for Friday in the city.  I wanted to pick some place closer to where she was staying by the Upper East Side, but I ended up staying close to familiar ground.  Celsius at Bryant Park or Bryant Park Grill.  I’m glad Lou picked the former because it’s a seasonal restaurant that “pops up” in Bryant Park when the rink is on the great lawn.  While I have seen it the last couple of years, I’ve never been in it, and this luncheon was as good an occasion as any can be to explore this restaurant.

Lunch at Celsius NYC in Bryant Park

The food was great from the calamari to the braised short rib I had and the caramel pecan chocolate fudge cake we shared for dessert.  Unfortunately, we were both so engrossed in catching up that I failed to take pictures.  (Lou managed to take a picture of the dessert before we dug in, though.)

It was as if we had known each other all these years in the “real” sense.  I have always been struck by Lou’s no-nonsense straightforward comments and friendly advice.  One thing that struck me in our personal exchange last Friday, though, was this simple line from her:  “Some people come into our lives to stay, and some people are just passing by.”  How true.

I know I have this running joke that I have 8 readers keeping track of the things I write here, all of whom are not related to me nor known to me personally.  =)  I’m happy with the 8.   It is always a blessing to actually talk to them in person when fate brings us together somehow.  And when that happens, it feels like we’ve known each other forever.  Indeed.

Enjoy the rest of your stay in New York, Lou.. until you come back to view its beauty when the trees are green and the flowers are abloom.

Citipond in Bryant Park

"Me" time in the city

Late autumn morning on Park Ave

I meant to hop on the Third Avenue bus but ended up instead on the 6th, so I ended up taking the “scenic route”, getting off on 34th and Park Avenue and walked down to Grand Central.

Park Avenue is always a nice walk — and I had enough time to stop by a favorite church on 38th to say a little prayer, and snap this picture as I spied some trees still displaying the colors of autumn closer to my destination.

I had lunch with my friend, E.  No agenda — just to spend some “me” time, and help her get some ampalaya if she hadn’t yet.  I had fun.  It was a good way to spend a day to unwind, even if I have a long list of  “to-do”s.  Sometimes we just have to pause a while to just do something spontaneous, like deciding on the fly to have pad thai for lunch, and share a pint of banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery.

Day two of my week with the tyke.  (Conference in Vegas for his Dad.)  I am mentally getting to that point where I hope to put up the tree.  I had finally sent out my latest Artist Trading Card swaps.  Like I told E, I am withdrawing for the season from ATC swaps, as I try to get back to the shop.

I skipped a craft fair over the weekend because preparing for a craft fair would mean adding to the stuff I need to clear out for the holidays.  I figure I will get to it in the spring.

Meanwhile, I’ve to space to clear for the tree, Christmas cards to pull together and project to finish.  Soon.

Ten-minute blog post on "Happy"

It’s 11:30PM and I’m tired, but I thought I’d blog before hitting the sack because it has been a day full of “happy”.

Happy that I’ve arranged my jewelry making supplies organizers into a neat stack in one of the closets — and keeping my fingers crossed that I can get creating again.. soon!

Happy to have had lunch with my cousin, Mia, who has moved to New York.  It always feels good to be with family — even if among her three sisters, Mia, being the youngest, must have the foggiest memories of me.  That’s the advantage of being older, though — I remember more.  Lunch at Bryant Park Grill — and a date in the works.

Happy to have finished my first ever artist trading card.  I’m still pretty nervous about sending this off for my first ever ATC swap, but I figured waiting and not doing anything is not going to make me better at it.  (More on this at a later time..)   Creating I go.

Happy to continue to be creating new layouts in my happiness journal.  How much happier can you get than a pink rose bouquet on a two-page spread?  (Now trying to think of a graphic to use in the next spread which is an almost teal or teal blue.)

Ten minutes are up.. More tomorrow.

My Altered Book: HAPPY - Multi-leaf layout