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.

My Weekend be like..

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4A Work during the week makes weekends a special treat, even if it means just staying home. And I usually prefer to do just that— just chill. Of course, there are always the many chores that need to be done over a period of time that weekdays cannot accommodate. There are weekends when I do make plans, but this wasn’t one of those weekends. For the most part, weekends are all about relaxing and recharging for me. Yes, even during these very challenging times.

As a divorced mom to a 17 year old, there are weekends and there are “me” weekends — those that are just about me, myself and I when the son is with his dad. This is one of those weekends.

I didn’t make any plans except where to insert the not-so-welcome task of schlepping to the corner laundromat to do my load. (The son has been tasked to do his laundry with his dad. So it’s MY clothes only.). The Co-op laundromat has been out of commission the last couple of weeks. Not worth ranting about here, so I won’t dwell on that.

Here I am trying to write about the weekend while sipping my iced green tea at the neighborhood Starbucks while waiting for the laundry cycle to complete. That I am actually sitting here inside the store, maskless as I am drinking, IS a big deal. Indoor seating was not allowed by Starbucks not so long ago, masks were ALWAYs required, and they promptly observed shortened hours and closed at 6pm. Not to say that I’ve relaxed with the masking. I’ve been wearing them everywhere— even outdoors— EXCEPT when eating or drinking.

At Starbucks this weekend

The best part of the weekend is sleeping in. Saturdays and Sundays are really the only days during the week when I have the luxury to do just that. That means waking up later than 8am — but sometimes, the body just can’t let go of the 6ish or thereabouts stirring. I think it’s age. No matter how late I turn in, I’m preprogrammed to actually wake up as the sun peaks into my heavy drapes. (I know, I don’t like blackout curtain, so I suffer through my sensitivity to sunlight.)

Postcards heading out

Saturday was mostly spent at home. I’ve had a pretty tense couple of days and a rocking weekend before that. I literally crashed when the previous weekend ended as things appeared to settle. Sometimes life totally takes me over even as the world is oblivious to what’s going on in my life.

So here’s my weekend — finally! I tried to avoid touching the postcards but I have some promised swaps that need to go out. I did a couple of masks and resisted the urge to cut more fabric. I made some mask necklaces so that I can wear the mask on my neck while at work. I browsed for the next project. It might be something to sew, if not crochet. I read, I listened and I finally finished the final season on Bosch on AmazonPrime.

And the oddest thing was, while I didn’t make up my mind about the next to do, I did decide I was going to create a rosary to post in the shop. Mind you, not a rosary bracelet— but an actual rosary. I will actually gather the materials Sunday night and tablet for my “down time” during the week. Perhaps it’s all the praying I’ve been doing of late. I had a shortlist of sick friends and family which somehow doubled over the last couple of days. I pray and seek an indulgence as I do my daily walk, after I pray with my favorite prayer app, The God Minute.

I do my grocery shopping throughout the week but wanted to get a few things in the fridge for the week ahead. My son has a pretty fixed repertoire so it’s a matter of (him) deciding what he wants for the evening. I miss ordering out which fiercely resists— saying he prefers my cooking. Forget that there are days when I can really use a break from the second job— but I delight watching him eat dinner and enjoy the food I prepare.

I told myself I’d finally make that cheesecake. I have bars of cream cheese in my fridge which were meant to be made into cakes weeks ago. (I promise I will not risk anybody’s gastric health by offering the cake to anyone else.). I had to wait to get the eggs and the cream, though. Made the cheesecake this afternoon and I defied the conventional wisdom to use my electric mixer and mixed by hand with a metal serving spoon. (The author of the recipe gave this as an option and says this was how it was done in Spain!). I whisked away the last 3-5 minutes to get rid of the clumps of cream cheese. I’m pretty good with following recipes and the byproduct looks promising. It needs chilling for a few hours. We shall see.

Postcards heading out

I did continue with the sorting of the vintage postcards. I am going to put myself on a moratorium for the next couple of weeks as I’ve acquired quite a hearty bunch that needs sorting and putting into the album. Until that is taken cared of, I am NOT buying any more to add to the collection, no matter how cheap they may be!

Just a small batch of postcards going out tomorrow to a special collector who puts so much effort into what she sends out. I figured that the least I could do was try to level up, even if I can’t quite approximate her artistry.

The day is ended and I’m winding down. I am hoping for a good week not just for me, but for everyone who means something to me. I pray for the special mentions on my prayer list— “from all the evil that surrounds (them), defend them..”

Here’s hoping everyone was able to enjoy a bit of quiet and peace this weekend to help us deal with the week ahead. I wish you well..

To those with afflictions, I wish you healing. In my heart of hearts, I pray that your burden be lifted or at least lightened.

Postcards and the Storyteller

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I started collecting postcards back in my late teens when I joined the International Youth Service (IYS). That was in the age of actual snail mail, well before email and the internet. Yes, back in the day when people knew how to use rotary dial phones, and we had this thing called a rolodex instead of the contact list on your phone or email account.

IYS was a student penpal service, matching young people with their preference of country, gender and age. For a minimal fee which you paid in international money order, you sent a form to Finland and waited to get an address to write to. I found some friends with whom I corresponded with for many years. One in particular, Clara from Hong Kong, has been a friend even to this day. Although there was a long lull in our correspondence, we managed to find each other again a few years back, reuniting in Hong Kong in 2018. We started writing when she was about to end high school, and I was about to go into college. She was able to visit the Philippines several times as a tour escort for outbound groups from Hong Kong to Manila, which is how we managed to make so many memories together through the years. I would’ve attended her wedding if I could, but that was not meant to be. Years passed, she was widowed and now with a grown daughter, and thanks to Facebook, we found each other again.

I learned a lot about other cultures through the many friends I found via snail mail, and one of the favorite ways by which we introduced each other to our respective countries was through postcards. Even back then, I considered them my window to the world. I really couldn’t travel out of the country then but found myself visiting all these foreign lands through these postcards.

When I started collecting, I collected all the postcards that I was sent, sending back postcards printed by the likes of National Bookstore, Bookmark, Goodwill, etc. Back then, at least half a row of shelves, and not just a rack, was devoted to different types of postcards, alongside 4-5x as many greeting cards. This was when people found a greeting card indispensable to send greetings and messages to friends and loved ones for any and all occasions.

Vintage postcards in my collection

I have to admit that at the start, I bought the Philippine postcards purely to exchange and send out. It took me a few years before I realized I should be keeping a copy of each card I sent, even before I made a decision to leave for New York.

When that time came in my mid-30s, my postcards made it to New York with my then fiancée, in one heavy shoebox. Another shoebox travelled with my balikbayan box when I finally moved in 2000. That, along with my pencils, were the only collectibles I took. I gave away my hardbound books and coffee mugs. (The mug collection would later make a return as I got into Starbucks mugs, a passion to this day.)

As I started my new life in New York, the postcard collection grew. I joined Yahoogroups and billboard lists which published postcard collector’s names and mailing addresses and collecting interests. We had roundrobins and swaps and swaplists. I can’t remember when it was that I started drifting towards maps and lighthouses. As I learned about different collecting categories and meeting people who collected them, I found myself just fascinated by these two. There were specific group swaps organized with these cards in mind. My collection grew. During local travels and vacations overseas, I looked for the maps and lighthouses. We even incorporated visits to lighthouses during our road trips when we could. When I suffered two miscarriages as we were trying to have a baby, we retreated to Montauk to visit the Montauk lighthouse and spend the weekend to heal. But I will not get into my fascination with these two categories today. That’s for another time.

Vintage lighthouse postcards

I somehow ended up drifting away from postcards as life got busier when I eventually had my son in 2004. There’s a definite demand on time and resources when you get into actively trading postcards, and although I never stopped collecting, I slowly lost interest in direct or group swaps. It was also around this time that I started sending postcards home every time we travelled, this time addressed to my son. I would pick up postcards wherever we went, and chronicle our trip and I would send them from the places we visited. Even when we were visiting family in the Philippines, I tried to send back postcards to give him something to go back to when he was older. All this time, I made sure to keep one postcard in mint condition for my collection.

Then around 2012, I discovered Postcrossing.com which seemed to be an interesting way to get back into the hobby. There I met other Filipino collectors, most notable of whom was Raine, a much younger then student of Architecture in the same University where I took my prelaw degree. She and I shared not just a passion for postcards, but a love for personal art and art exchanges. Because of Raine, I got into Artist Trading Cards and found Swapbot and ATC trading groups. I went back into postcards with a newfound interest in Philippine postcards to help me reconnect with everything I left behind. Swapbot also got me back into active swaps with other like minded collectors of postcards and other items. By this time, I had refined my collecting interests to include Vintage and Modern Philippines, New York and Paris. The first two were the places I called home, and the third, my favorite city after two visits many years before.

Vintage Philippine postcards

I got back into postcard swaps and trades with the same gusto as I did before and continued to add to my collection.   I joined a postcrossing group of Filipinos on Facebook under the banner of Postcrossing Philippines.   I  even got to attend two “unofficial” meetups in Manila while continuing to meet with Raine whenever I came home through a period of 4 years or so.. until some personal challenges made me stop once again.

In the beginning of 2020, I had tried to make a more determined effort to destash and shed the things that I no longer needed or didn’t have a use for.  The Pandemic and the lockdown that began in March 2020 made me look at my collection and I decided eventually, that the best way to trim it down to what I really wanted, was to go back to trading or swapping in postcard groups.

I started again in September, but the global slowdown of mail hampered my effort.  I picked up in November and December and have been back since.  I started an instagram account dedicated to postcards and my growing collection, under the handle “postcard_storyteller”.  I believe that every postcard is a way to tell a story, and I have a lot of those stories to tell.  Beginning with this one, and then some.

To date, I have also created a Youtube channel under the same handle and plan to produce more videos about the hobby.  I have joined a few other groups to widen my swapping circle.  All of those are stories for another time.  For now, it’s just me announcing to the world that I’m back, once again.  I don’t think my “return” will be complete without dedicating a portion of the blog to this newfound return to postcards, so let’s start off with this.  Here’s to more postcards heading my way, and heading out into the world to the homes of like minded souls who look through the same window to the world.

Monday Musings: Of Busy Weekends and Rainy Mondays

Monday musings in paper and ink

It’s been a while, I know.

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

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

Saturday with the NY philharmonic in Bryant Park

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

Sunday at the postcard show

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

Reading El Fili

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

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

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

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

Sunday inspiration

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I made some vegetarian lasagna last night which might actually become a go-to recipe for me this season. Like previous years, I have opted to forego beef and pork for the Lenten season as my personal sacrifice. But the lasagna will have to wait another time. It’s not exactly from scratch and more of the semi-home made kind, and I’m pretty proud of how it came out to be. Now if only it didn’t add the pounds the night after. (And I have one more slice left.)

I’ve been taken by M. Night Shyamalan’s “Servant” which I’ve been watching since Friday. I can’t wait until next Friday when the next episode drops. I’ve always been a fan of M. Night’s work because of his story telling mastery. No matter how dark or fantastic a story he might be telling, I don’t mind watching his movies over and over again. So when I saw the series on Apple TV, I decided to give it a try. The first episode was classic M. Night. I paused. When I went back, I couldn’t stop. I’ve watched the entire Season 1 and all of the episodes of Season 2 that had been released so far. Like I said, waiting for the next episode.

I’ve tried to stay away from the postcards today, because it’s preoccupied a lot of my time the last few days. The sorting continues, (Yay!) and I’ve been weeding out the cards for destashing. I’ve also discovered some cards on Amazon to add to my New York and map cards. I’ll say it again, much as postcrossing has changed the world of postcard collecting, I still prefer direct swaps. The disappointments are not as jarring as the surprises that might come your way from some other place of the world.

I have letters to write. One has been popping in and out of my head to a long time penpal and fellow postcard collector I’ve corresponded with for many years. She is like a little sister to me — and we share various passions together. From personal art (although she is undoubtedly the more accomplished artist) to jewelry making and postcards, we have share a friendship via long distance for many years now. I am wondering how she’s doing, and hoping that she has gotten my last postcard. She and I are close enough that I send a small packet for her whenever I send something to Manila in a balikbayan box, I will start the letter tonight.

I am in the February section of my art journal. I have the layout in my head, but I’m trying to make up my mind about the way I will execute it beyond the heart pages that I’ve already cut. It’s a bit problematic with the thinner used Manila folders that make up most of my journal. I can probably use something thicker, or layered pages for the watercolor or acrylic heavy layouts.

So I thought I’d try my hand at maybe thickening the pages by doing collage. I had a color in mind — I’ve been cutting away, but after picking up some pieces decided it wasn’t the direction I wanted to go. Maybe I’ll change my mind later. But I’m keeping the magazine pages that called out to me. I started with this heap below.

Collage

The black and white pages are similar to layouts I had used in last year’s art journal. I like the black dresses which can be drawn over or written on. From this pile, I got to the cut outs below.

Collage

I use straight scissors to cut huge chunks, and a pointy smaller pair for detailed cutting. Lessons from my days with mixed media artist trading cards. While others would prefer to cut with blades or a cutting knife, I have acquired some skill in cutting finely near the border or just outside the border.

Collage

I have the hearts cut out. I had hoped to try to at least assemble the signature together tonight but some cassava got in the way. Given how the folder paper reacts to water, though, I’m thinking if I should paint them first before I pull the section together. Decisions, decision.

My Sunday has been relaxing and busy. I’m thinking of three other chores I can focus on but they can wait. I want to relax and recharge and get my personal projects going this weekend. It’s terribly cold outside but I need to do my walk in a bit. No evening walks when the temperature dips so low, and not on a day when I don’t have to worry about returning to my laptop to continue working.

Last week, I received the health certification from my primary care provider that now entitles me to be vaccinated with the next cohort of qualifiers. Even if I am below 65, the fact that I have a chronic condition that puts me at risk as an asthmatic pushes me up the line. But it isn’t quite that easy. I now have to wait for the vaccine providers to open their system to people of my situation, and then I need to get an appointment.

My letter was dated February 13, in anticipation of the opening of the next tier by the state on February 15, Still, my provider has indicated that they hope to start vaccinating this next set of qualifiers beginning February 23rd. My local pharmacy’s webpage hasn’t quite updated their website to help me qualify just yet. So like the thousands before me, we must play the cat and mouse game of trying to get an appointment. This Sunday, I’m not going to bother myself with that. It can wait another day. And that is altogether another post — soon.

I’m getting ready for Monday and the rest of the week. I think I’ve gotten into a better rhythm after almost of year of working the way we work now. The stress has abated although it has not gotten any less busier. I guess I’m just coping better. Positive thoughts about what the week will bring will hopefully bring me to dreamland with more ease later. Here’s to a better and warmer week for all.

Baking Banana Bread on a cold Friday night

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It’s minutes to 10pm and I just decided I wanted to bake some banana bread. I have three huge bananas that are overripe and ready to be mashed and mixed into some goodies. The recipe I am thinking of following says I only need 10 minutes and bake time of just over an hour. I have time. What I love best about this recipe is it doesn’t call for the mixer. Yay!

I have come to enjoy baking during the pandemic with all the time spent home, and the need to do something different. I do have a mixer but I loathe the washing that needs to be done after the bread has baked and has been sliced. So here’s one for a recipe that actually just needs a mixing bowl and a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon. I’ve done quite a few of these recipes, but I thought I’d try a local Filipino favorite, if only because I found the best pandesal recipe on this website, Panlasang Pinoy.

All done as promised within 10-15 minutes. Oven preheated as I mixed the ingredients and it’s well into its first 10 minutes of the hourlong bake time. I have baked enough banana breads to know which ingredients I could tweak, so I avoided the raisins, and then added walnuts on top, and a sprinkling of chocolate chips but only one side of the loaf. So I’m going to sit it out here watching Blue Bloods and trying to complete a blogpost before the oven timer rings. I don’t know if I was inspired to bake because I wanted to write, or if I got inspired to write because I decided to bake and there was the wait time until my bread came out. But I’m doing both.

It was a very cold week for New York and many parts of the country. We are luckier than others as we are used to this winter onslaught of snow. I didn’t even bother to go out yesterday and today because the temperatures were just freezing, and the weather unforgiving. I decided I would sit this one out, 10,000 steps out the window. I’m trying to be more forgiving of myself for breaking my streak last week when the first big storm hit. One thing living in New York has taught me is you can’t taunt the weather and be smug about the cold. There are days when you just have to concede to Mother Nature. We’re having quite a few of those these days.

Snow in New York

The lady at the checkout register at the neighborhood grocery put it succinctly, when she reminded me we need a good amount of snow to prepare for the dry summer. It’s a long ways away but she was right. And I guess we can’t really complain.

So I’m riding out the snow and the rain and the ice. Work has kept me busy most of the week. It’s been rather hectic but manageable. It was one of those weeks where you found yourself relieved that Friday finally came. I think that was one reason I wanted to write. And there goes an audible sigh of relief.

I can smell the sweet banana scent wafting through my home. It’s that kind of warm and fuzzy that just comforts you on a cold night like this.

I’ve taken a break from writing postcards tonight. It’s been a busy two weeks sending out cards, arranging swaps and posting to my postcard collecting account on Instagram, @ postcard_storyteller. The destashing and organizing continues. I even found a stash of older mint stamps I bought from eBay some years ago when I was doing various swaps. Not just postcards. There was a time I got into Artist Trading Cards or ATCs, journal exchanges and other mail art projects. A lot of people are not aware that older and usable stamps are available online, not only as collector’s items, but for use in regular mail. Most sellers will sell it in lots at a partial discount — say , a lot of $25 stamps for $22. For postcard collectors and stamp collectors, or those who are into mail art, using these unique stamps lent a certain flair to the postal journey of whatever we sent out. It was part of dressing up the envelope or the postcard that went through the postal system.

And although I haven’t been journaling, I’ve been working on the art journal by sprucing up the first signature of the new one. I still have odds and ends to work on with the 2020 book, but I feel so thrilled to see what I’ve accomplished with it last year. Valentine’s Day having come and gone, I have an idea for a love-filled signature I want to pull together this week.

My heart is full.

The line keeps flashing in my head — and ringing in my mind, like an echo waiting to find expression in a bundle of pages of hearts. I have a lot to write about in reflection of how I feel so lucky to be surrounded by so much love. Some people tend to be bitter or cyclical about the commercial aspects of celebrating Valentine’s Day — but it’s not all about lovers. It is, however, all about love. Like last year, I have a bit to say, even if my little guy and I had to forego our valentine date. There is next year.

My weekend has begun and my banana bread is done. It came out a little darker, and I think it’s the chocolate chips that somehow spread out. I tried one end — couldn’t resist — and I’m happy.

My banana bread this Friday

All that snow

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AWe had quite the nor’easter Monday which saw New York City buried in over 12 inches of snow. I stopped counting at 12 inches. When I went out Tuesday afternoon to pick up a prescription from the local pharmacy, it was still windy and snowing. The walkways had been plowed but the whole area was still blanketed with thick snow. I cannot imagine how it was in Central Park.

My thoughts about winter haven’t quite changed. I am a warm weather person. Humid, hot, warm.. bring me back home.

It is very pretty when the snow is freshly fallen — when everything is a pure white.. then it melts and turns to slush and then we have to deal with it as we go about our daily business. Then it’s no longer cute.

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The sad news is that after a streak of 169 days of walking over 10,000 steps a day, I got stuck at home and there was no getting around to even attempting any portion of my daily walk. Today was a struggle with thick snow even on the plowed walkways, and it had started to snow again, so I had to head home after just under 4,000 steps. I feel like I need to recalibrate and restart.

I was initially disappointed but I’ve tried not to be too hard on myself. Covid has taught me to be more flexible and to be more forgiving. And forgiveness should really start with ourselves. So I forgive me.. and yes, I will get started on my next streak of 10,000 steps minimum a day soon enough.

I woke up to a cool and grey morning, and I finally got to make my tsamporado or cocoa porridge. Yes, we Filipinos like our sticky rice porridge with cocoa. I tried to do a smaller portion, but still ended up with two servings. Gone in one sitting. LOL. It was one of those mornings when I weighed myself but refused to stick to my calorie limits for breakfast.. just this once.. so I indulged. (I am almost fearful to see how much I ended up gaining tomorrow.). It brings me back to memories of home — even if the last time I had this, I actually made it even I was supposed to be the visiting daughter waiting on Mom’s home cooking! I didn’t mind.. it was all part of the full experience of being home with family. I remembered to use a ratio of 1 portion sticky rice to 5 portions water, and 1/2 portion cocoa. I would normally have put sugar but I opted for sweeteners so I completely omitted that.

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January just bid us goodbye and we are on the second month of the year already. Things seem to be moving faster somehow. And here I am looking at a stack of magazines that came in last month which I need to skim through and make a quick decision to keep or toss. I plead guilty to letting my subscriptions get the better of me — I don’t get to open to read and scan them when they get here, and they end up in a phantom pile which remains untouched for weeks on end. This year, I promised myself I will set aside time to scan, read, and discard what I don’t need. January magazines, you will be scanned this weekend.

I have been busy sorting my beads — again. I’ve made a concerted effort to eliminate the mini-bins I have all over the place containing pieces I had used to work on previous projects. Metal findings, crystals and glass, and gemstones. It’s been slow but I’m proud to have consolidated more than 12 mini containers. I’ve already washed them for use later. (I use dishwashing liquid but don’t use the sponge I used with the dishes and pots and pans. The oil residue tends to be left on plastic surfaces, so I use a half sheet paper towel to apply detergent to the plastic cups.)

The excess Christmas cards are all in one bag, ready to be put away in a special closet where I keep it for the following year. I was fortunate to have caught the after-holiday sale of Papyrus last year, and the subsequent clearance that followed before they closed for good just before Valentine’s Day. I am actually all good for next Christmas, but I’m thinking I might work on making my holiday cards again. Maybe.

It was a very different Christmas this year. I am hopeful that we will have an even more different Christmas come the end of the year — something closer to what we were used to. I’m trying to keep my expectations reasonable, though. We all thought the lockdown would end sooner, and that we would be going back to something akin to normal like back to the office by this time.. We were thinking that in October, but now, it looks like the projected return in May is still up in the air.

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I am patiently waiting my turn to be eligible to be vaccinated. At almost 55 and not being a frontliner, I think mid year or the fall is pretty optimistic given how the rollout has gone. So I’m taking care of the other vaccinations a golden girl like myself needs — like the shingles vaccine. I almost got it this weekend but the pharmacist told me I needed a prescription because I was under 60. (Something they could’ve told me when I called to inquire… they said, come on over and so I did.)

I will confess that my initial reaction to the vaccine was one of skepticism. I kept telling myself I don’t know what the side effects are — and is it worth the risk? Since the rollout started, the waiting has given me time to reflect and think. I’ve seen friends who are qualified to be with the initial batch of recipients get theirs, and I have to admit that I am green with envy. I wish I could get mine.. and shortly after, I wish my boy could get his. But the way they are going by age and risk factor, there are millions ahead of us.

I used to jokingly remind friends about the premise of “I am Legend” — the remake of “Omega Man” — and how a vaccine gone wrong started a mutation in humans that led to catastrophic results. And that was something that was supposedly vetted — even in the realm of cinematic fiction — and science failed miserably to foresee the consequences. What more this vaccine which was rushed through the usual years of trials and tests — not without reason, but still, it makes one wonder if we are taking a bigger risk putting our faith on the vaccine.

I don’t want to dwell too much on it lest it change my willingness to be vaccinated before I actually qualify to get my shot. That’s for another post altogether.

Speaking of other posts, I’ve actually started to trade postcards again — in baby steps, primarily because so much has changed about collecting. And of course there’s the usual burden of postage costs, and the added delays thanks to travel and cargo restrictions across international lines. I paused there and suddenly thought about whether or not it would be better to sit things out in the meantime. But I have the postcards to trade. Again, a product of my efforts to get organized. I’ve actually been going through my spares and have identified the postcards that need a new home. One postcard at a time. It’s given me ideas about writing a post on things I have learned about collecting postcards which the younger postcard collectors might want to read about. I’ve been drafting that post in my head. Next one in all likelihood.

We’re still looking at colder days ahead. And then rain. (Never good when it snows a ton and then it rains. That can only mean ice which no one likes.). I am just grateful the week is halfway done. Work has been busy but an okay kind of busy. I’m dealing with it. No fires to put out just yet. (Fingers crossed.)

I’m trying to wind down now so I can get to dreamland faster. The weekend was a struggle, and I am trying to be optimistic about tonight being easier. There’s the sleep cast.. and a little help.

Goodnight, world. I’m hoping the universe carries me through to a restful sleep tonight.

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!

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!

Gift of 50 – Postcards and Chicken Sandwich

Gift of 50Life is good.  I keep saying I’m not quite where I want to be yet– but are we ever? And yet I know I’m getting there, because I’m moving towards “happier”.  It’s a deliberate step forward — I’m not waiting for “happy” to find me.  I’m making it happen.

I have much to be grateful for as I hit this birthday milestone, and a few weeks back I started this project for the year I’m calling the Gift of 50. (Please see the navigation bar.).   I have tried to make a list of 50 “gifts” to give back and pay my good fortune forward in thanksgiving for being where I am now.

Postcards on their way. I have been collecting postcards since I was 17 and have amassed a modest collection, but through the years, I have acquired postcards which are not within my collecting category.  I recently rejoined a Philippine Postcrossing group and am well on my way to finding a home for the postcards I don’t want to keep.

It feels good to be able to give someone a card or two (or more) from the cards in my collection which would otherwise just gather dust and turn yellow without much love from me.  I have found the recipients, so I am sorting and putting away the postcards in “packets”, and have started sending out individual ones to those who prefer their postcards sent that way.

As a collector, I know how it feels to receive something to add to your collection, so I am trying to spread the love so to speak.  I am happy to have had the chance to make new friends along the way, and hopefully trim my collection substantially by this time next year.

Chicken sandwiches are in demand, more so since a Chick-fil-a opened nearby.  So far, two meals given out.  I’m still iffy about writing about it, though, although one was impactful in a meaningful sense because I did it while Angelo was with me.  It felt good, he said — and I’m glad to have made that impression.  Paying forward the blessings by sharing with others is one of my goals in doing the Gift of 50.

It’s not just about being good — but being good in a way that makes a difference even to just one individual.

In the mail.  I  have two snail mail cards in the mail:  one to a friend who celebrated a birthday, and one to a classmate from way back who is currently undergoing medical challenges.  I have a second dear friend in the latter category for whom I have a card which will be going out, too.  I have always said time and again that there is something about receiving something you can hold through the post, in this day and age of electronic correspondence.  Nothing beats being able to go back to what was written and said in the card without having to flip a device.  The correspondence is a gift by itself which one can touch and come back to over and over again.

It doesn’t sound like much but I feel I’m moving in the right direction and actually making this happen.. The lunch I had hoped to have with possibly a newfound friend has been scheduled and I am looking forward to that.  I am making my ear candy and other little gifts.  There is a bigger project or two I’m also working on and hoping to get off the ground within the next 11 months or so.  I’ll keep you posted..