Monday Musings: Wet start of the week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Sewing decisions(

We’re in that moment in between seasons when we start switching wardrobes and start getting ready for colder days. I know I have started getting the jackets and light coats ready. There are days when we can still get away with just a sweater or wrap, but we’ve been having cooler mornings and even colder nights.

The coats have started appearing in the shop windows and in the online stores — and I’m on the fence about getting new coats because I have quite the fabric stash to make the coats I’ve been dreaming about since last year. My goal is to actually work on at least one coat or jacket and actually finish it.

Sewing awayI am a novice sewist. I went to school to relearn the basics of sewing in two progressive classes, and I’d go for the third class but I don’t think I have the Saturdays to spare. Besides, I’d like to give sewing a go so I can see how I am with the sewing after those classes I took..

For a time, I found myself postponing the projects I had lined up because I wanted to lose enough weight to a certain size and then create pieces from there. After all, one of the reasons I wanted to learn to sew my own clothes was because I wanted good fitting ones that would be made by me for my not so normal body measurements. I’m one size at the shoulders, another at the bustline and another at the hips. If I had to buy a dress that had no “give” or stretch, I usually end up a size bigger than what my shoulders would be which makes for a sometimes awkward fit at the top. More so with coats and jackets– hence, the effort to come up with a bespoke piece.

With autumn here, I’ve decided there’s no avoiding sewing the pieces now. I have two skirts waiting to be sewn together — and at least two coat patterns to cut and sew.

My crochet hook and yarn stash have actually kept me busy. I am working on a triangle scarf from a pattern I bought online, and I have so far managed to keep working the rows — and this after finishing 3 winter hats or beanies. I have to put the hook down if I’m going to get any sewing done.

I’m going to try and at least get started on one sewing project this weekend.. fingers crossed.

<#10daywritingchallenge Day 3

This post is Day 3 of the #10DayWritingChallenge. Below are related links to this blogging list.

10 Day Writing Challenge

Out of Focus

One Day Soon

Fridays be like

Slow Saturday

Getting back up on your feet again

Autumn Monday

Taking it easy

When you fail again

Self love

 

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.

 

 

Friday Five Update

Happy Friday!  Looking forward to the loooooong weekend! #happyfriday #longweekend #summer #sunflowrtIf I had been ticking off my Friday Five from two weeks ago, I would be able to make quite a progress report.  Off of last week’s list, though, I don’t have much.  So rather than confuse myself between the two weeks, I’m foregoing the progress but going on with my list for this weekend. And it’s a loooong weekend, at that.

1.  Write on the postcards I meant to send out to friends in Manila.  I’m further simplifying this.  I brought home two postcards — should be easy enough to send out.

2.  Work on the hem of at least one pair of pants.  This is priority because I don’t want to end up not wearing these new pairs again until the next spring!

3.  Report on my progress with the THANK YOU POSTCARD PROJECT.  I’ve been working on this and there is much to report.  If only I could find the time to sit down and write.

4.  Create a pair or two of earrings from my polymer clay discs.  Already in progress and ready for assembly this weekend.  I’ve been stacking them on headpins while trying to make up my mind on the composition of each piece.

5.  Create a non-polymer clay piece.

It’s Labor Day on Monday and just about the end of summer.  School begins again on Thursday.  So there is much to savor over the next three days.

Have a good weekend, everyone…

Thank God I have sewing skills

Before I became Mrs. Gonzalez, my husband used to have my mother-in-law do all his garment repairs and mending. Mind you, my mother-in-law is an accomplished “mananahi“, having put together my (ex) sister-in-law’s  bridal wear back in the day when.. but that’s not what I’m writing about.

Despite her skills with the sewing machine and with plain needle and thread, her eyes had been gravely affected by her age.  I remember chastising the hubby once when he asked me to replace a loose button in one of his suits the first year of our marriage because the thread used on the right button was a totally different shade not at all coordinated with the thread used on the original buttons.   So it stuck out like a sore thumb, and dashing as my husband may be wearing his suits to work everyday, that was a fashion faux pas his fashion-conscious diva-like boss probably raised his eyebrows on.  (Yes, it was a “diva” HE.)  Needless to say, I searched for the appropriate thread and changed it accordingly.

I have two projects on my plate thanks to his daily dress code — and one was a little challenging given the fact that I had to replace a gold button for one of his blue blazers, and it was a choice between finding the right button or replacing all.  It was a two-button suit but there were four smaller buttons on each sleeve which would’ve been such a chore.  And one of his favorite Egyptian cotton shirts which I had earlier patched a hole through via satin stitch now had three of the white plastic buttons breaking due to abuse from the press at the cleaners.   The fact that he had me remedy that tiny hole on the arm, driving me to Michael’s to find the correct shade of DMC thread to work with should tell you how much he loves this shirt.  The white buttons, even if there will be three of them, are not a problem at all.. it’s just a matter of sitting down to do it.

The bigger challenge was actually finding the gold buttons with a crest for the blue blazer.  Since I work on the fashion district row (although I am with a financial services company), it was a matter of finding the time to browse and hunt down that button.  I had no “spare” button to carry around (hubby lost it), so I took a picture of the button with the blackberry.  I made sure to take a picture of the button next to a finger so that I could gauge the size.

My first stop, of course, was M&J Trimming which is just a buttons, beads and notions paradise.  I stare upon the wall-high shelves of buttons and trims and ribbons and all sorts of other beautiful stuff crafters like myself go gaga-for.  I like M&J because of the high-quality and very organized way they display their wares.  The staff is also very helpful in trying to help you find the supplies you need.  Alas, no luck with my gold crest button.

My next stop was Joyce Trimming (which has it’s online store at eJoyce) and although it was a much smaller store — lo and behold, I found my button!  (Happiness!)  Of course what was even more exciting was the discovery of what would be a smaller (and less overwhelming) selection which was of such a kind and variety that it made me drool.  (Tissue please!)

By the doorway they had a clearance stash of bags of buttons and trims.  The trims went for $2.99 and the buttons, $3.99.  I had actually started going through the different bags trying to make a selection and then I took a step back and reminded myself I had enough projects on my plate.  At least now I know where to go for buttons and trims besides my favorite on 6th Avenue, M&J.

Would you believe I still buy my “banig” of needles every time I go home?  Is it the variety, the foil or the fact that they’re just so cheap in Manila?  Of course I have as good if not a better selection at the dollar store where I’ve found tapestry needles which I can use for thicker threads like yarn.  Perhaps it’s good, too, not to buy too many of them which eventually turn rusty due to non-use. =(

So I have my stewing stash ready.. my thread’s on standby.  Someone’s going to be happy to know…

Sewing buttons tonight

I love to raid the clearance racks at upscale boutiques and jump up and down for joy when I find a literal steal at 80-90% off.  I don’t know if that’s more of being “cheap” (!) or just being practical.  As the lotto prize has continued to elude me, I have to be a reasonable shopper.  (Or at least I try.)

Do you ever find yourself wading through tons of gorgeous outfits on the clearance floor, only to find out that you are running out of time because the hubby and the son have called to say they’re waiting for you outside?   (Sounding patient, but trying very hard to be.)  I had grabbed this gorgeous cardigan (again.. I told you it was a favorite..) only to realize later at home that it was lacking a button.  * SIGH *  Alas, it was one of those sweaters which had a fancy button the same color as the fancy yarn the knit was spooled from.  So I had to go looking for a suitable button to replace ALL THE BUTTONS with.  (Makes me miss Carolina’s in MegaMall which was my favorite “go-to” place for those buttons before.)  Couldn’t find the teal, but you can never go wrong with gold.

I did find a fancy set in, of all places, one of my bead suppliers here on Sixth Avenue.  (It is, after all, the fashion center.. supposedly.)  Tonight’s the night I’m putting those buttons on.  Tomorrow, I wear the cardigan!

Buttons have always had an appeal to me like candy in a candy store.  I always seem to gravitate towards the notions section of most dollar stores I visit — looking for fancy colored plastic buttons of the regular type.  I put them in a tiny ziploc bag in my sewing case, ever ready for that all important different colored button I cannot find the spare button for.

Incidentally, I keep all my spare buttons and threads (from the sweaters) in a specific box to make it easier for me to find when the need arises.  One of these days I will make something different with those buttons I have — maybe a fancy headband or what not.  One of these days.