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.

New York, these days

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AI have been back to work part of the week since April. I would go in 2-3 days during the week, going to and from work via express bus, which is practically a door to door trip each way for me. In that, I am lucky.

On the express bus

Every morning, I’d hail the bus with mask on as the buses flash a sign: “Mask Required”. Arriving in Manhattan, I’d do my usual stop, saying a prayer at the St. Agnes Church. Some weeks ago, I noticed that QR codes were now posted on the pews in place of the missals. Some pews were cordoned off to observe social distancing, and there were huge dispensers of sanitizers outside the inner doors of the church. The confessional has returned to the main church instead of at the basement were there was more ventilation. They were adapting.

New York Today

The usually bustling Graybar Passage I walk through to go to the Grand Central concourse has been sparse with commuters even these many weeks since I came back. We are nowhere near the usual crowds we saw pre-pandemic, both in the morning and what makes for the afternoon rush hour now. I think this is one of the best indicators of how different things are now. Graybar Passage

I sometimes walk in as a train is offloading passengers which mimics a rush of people into Grand Central, but it’s still not quite there. The main clock which is usually surrounded by people waiting for a rendezvous with friends or family is dotted with less than a dozen people now at any given time.

Grand central by the clock

The streets appear to be alive again with more tourists, but seemingly local, given the international restrictions in place. Kiosks and makeshift “outdoor” dining areas show which restaurants have survived and are trying their best to stay afloat. These, I think, will be here for a while longer as concerns continue to mount about the onslaught of the Delta variant. While we generally feel safer even in enclosed spaces, there is a preference for outdoor dining or seating where it is an option.

I think one of the indicators of change in the pandemic norm is the fact that Starbucks has expanded its hours to end at 9pm, when the select stores that stayed open were closing at 6pm many weeks back. Some of their stores have also allowed indoor seating again, whereas that wasn’t an option in the spring. Still, many of their branches remain shuttered, although it appears it is only temporarily.

On my way home

It’s not quite the same. The city that never sleeps seems to have taken a step back and slowed down. City traffic sometimes approximates the bottlenecks and crawl of days gone by, but you can still sense the eerie thinning of the usual vehicular stream. We are here that we are not. At least, not yet.

The Starbucks Mug that started the collection

The Starbucks Mug That Started The CollectionI have been meaning to write about my Starbucks mug collection forever, but photographing the mug that started the collection was always a problem.  It was a nondescript undbranded mug in clear glass, and transparent glass is always a challenge.  But here it is, finally.  Note that I had written about this back in 2008, but I can’t even see the graphic anymore, probably because it is an outdated link from the first blog platform I used to house this blog in.

It orinally came as part of a Valentine’s Day gift set of cookies and coffee, if I remember right, and after the 14th, they split up the collection and sold this on sale.  This was in February 2001 when I had just started working.  So this mug does not only represent the beginning of a collection, but it was also one of my first real purchases with my own money.

I don’t normally use my mugs but this one, I do.  Not just because it was the first, but because it has all these pretty pink hearts.  I have been putting away the mugs I have acquired through the last 2-3 years, but I do know I’ve hit the 100+ mug mark a while back.  Life has made me put the collecting on hold, but friends have continued to bring me one from their travels or from just around here– so the collection has been growing.  In fact, it’s the last few mugs that I have received that has prompted me to finally start writing about the collection.  I’m hoping I can finally get a more up to date photo album going.

There were Starbucks mugs in the pantry when I got here, one or two they had purchased in previous trips, but it was a determined effort to get mugs as souvenirs in my travels that prompted me to start the collection.

I actually had a regular mug collection from my teens back home, and there was even a time when I gave them away as Christmas gifts, filled with some chocolates.  I think a mug or two has survived that collection, but I didn’t take any with me when I got here.  Starbucks was already in Manila a year or two before I left, but it never even occurred to me to get the first mug they had as a souvenir back then.  I did get my Manila mug after my first trip back home in 2002.

In time, I found the regular everyday not-city-specific mug a point of interest, more so when they were on sale.  And at the height of my collecting frenzy, I even bought some of their earlier mugs from eBay.  (So yes, I do have some mugs with the original siren logo.)

I had some space on my kitchen cupboard, and I wrapped my mugs in cling wrap and displayed them in two rows until I ran out of space.  With a do-it-yourself redecorating in mind, I’m still trying to figure out the best way to display the mugs when I finally bring the collection together.

Meanwhile, I washed my first mug and drank my morning coffee from it.  Like I said, I have received some meaningful additions the last couple of weeks– not so much for the uniqueness of the new mugs– but for the stories behind them.  I didn’t feel right about just writing about any mug without writing about this one, because collections are always most interesting when you go back to when you started them.  At least it is for me.  The next question is usually how long you have been collecting, and that gives you 16 years as of this writing for my Starbucks Mug Collection.

I don’t go out of my way to collect them, but well meaning friends remember and give them to me without my asking.  I still look at the sale or clearance sections the few times I actually walk into one of the many Starbucks stores around me, but knowing my mugs are mostly hidden stops me from getting more.  I want to catalogue them first and figure out a way to display them or store them as a cohesive collection.

Will I trade?  Only for your city or country mug for my New York City mugs, please.  I have received inquiries about a mug or two in my flickr album, once upon a time even getting a $200 offer for one of my Christmas city mugs.  I had to say no.  What’s in my collection will remain in the collection — at least until that time that I decide it’s time to let the collection go.  Not quite there, and I don’t think I will ever get there.

My Starbucks mugs have a sentimental value to me,  so much so that I have declared them my personal property.  Even if there was a time I had shared the collecting with someone else, the collection is mine.  These mugs embody memories of good times and happy travels, of friendships and warm thoughts that made people think of my collection and contributing to it.  And more happy memories and warm thoughts are yet to come.. I look forward to more mugs joining my collection.

Sweet surprise

Starbucks Chicago Mug Surprise from Lou  I like surprises — more so when it comes from the most unexpected place out there and it comes from out of the blue.  (Which basically defines “surprise”.)

So on the day I had stayed home last week, I took a peek out my window to see if the mailman had already made his regular pass, and when he did, I went down to grab our mail.  I looked down the door mat when I opened the door and there was this square priority mail box from the USPS with my name on it and a familiar name on the return address tag.

I have never had the good fortune to meet up with Lou in person, but I have had a longstanding friendship on the web with her, mostly because of our off and on conversations on this blog and hers over at Multiply.  In fact the truth of the matter is, I joined Multiply because of her.  She and I pop in and out of each others’ comment boxes, and try to keep track of the goings on in each others worlds through our little spaces ont he blogsphere.

I opened the box and found — ta-dah! — the latest addition to my Starbucks Mug Collection.  Finally: Chicago is on my shelf..  Maraming, maraming salamat, Lou!

Starbuck additions

New Orleans Skyline New York 2008 Holiday mug Vienna Global City Mug New York City Skyline England Global City mug Los Angeles Skyline

I haven’t been too good with updating my Starbucks mug collection online but I’ve been picking up a few here and there and receiving one or two from friends who remember that Alan and I collect Starbucks mugs.  I tried to update today but I’m missing the latest New York City mug (not the holiday mug pictured above) which, I hope, is tucked away in my office.  (Where else could it be when it’s not among my mugs in paperbags here at home?)

Each mug has a story which I’ve been meaning to write about as well, but I’m getting there.  For now, I’m trying to keep up with the cataloguing so I can finally get everything on my flickr photostream.  (Clicking on any of the thumbnails above will take you to the photo set housed in my Flickr account.) 

There was quite a number of holiday designs that came out this season which I’m looking forward to getting once they are put up on sale, and in the meantime, I made sure to grab the city holiday mug before they ran out.

Alan went to New Orleans for a conference early December and searched for a city mug high and low, finally finding one just before he headed home.  He had picked up the Los Angeles Skyline mug a while back, but I had left it wrapped in the Starbucks tissue and completely forgot about it in a corner in my kitchen until today.  The New York City Holiday mug had come out a couple of weeks ago and I picked up the last two at a nearby Starbucks when I bought some holiday presents from there.  (Why two?  I’m “investing” in the second… more on that later.)  My Vienna and England mugs were unexpected presents from friends, one from Alan’s colleague Thibault and the other from our friend Danielle.  Both were not requested and were spontaneous purchases by friends who knew we collected the mugs.

I have tried to be reasonable in picking up mugs to add to the collection.  Although it is the first thing we look for when visiting a place outside of New York, I don’t go out of my way to purchase rare and in demand mugs.  I was surprised to get an offer for $250 for my 2006 NYC Holiday Mug featuring the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, I didn’t immediately grab the offer thinking it was tempting, but I didn’t feel quite right about selling at that price.  When I got back to the serious collector two days after the offer was made to me via e-mail, he said he had managed to acquire one for just over $230.  I could put up the mug I had on auction — but do I really want to go through that and rob my collection of what appears to be a most sought after piece?  I think not.  Well, not yet.

So this year, I picked up two of the holiday mugs.  Who knows?  This time next year, someone might make an offer, or better yet, I might decide to sell it on auction.  

I get offers to sell me this or that mug — but I try not to buy anything online.  I have two or three New York mugs I’m missing which I want to get eventually, but I’m too lazy to go and bid and compete in an auction for these pieces.  In time..

Meanwhile, Alan is set to go back to Paris this January, and I have already instructed him to pick up a Paris Eiffel mug.  We have one of the Arc D’ Triomphe.  And if he ever heads to Brussels (which is very likely), I’m hoping to grab one from there as well.  Their first ever Starbucks didn’t open until after our visit there this time last year.

The mug that started the collection

This is my first ever Starbucks mug which started my collection in February 2001.

It’s the valentine mug of 2001 which was the first ever mug I ever bought, and which has spurred me to collect more.  Although I have quite a sizeable collection now, most of my mugs have a story to tell, and in chronicling the collection, I think it is also good to take note of the stories behind the mugs as well.I had arrived in New York in June of 2000, and although I had been going to Starbucks regularly thanks to my coffee drinking hubby, I never really paid particular attention to the mugs.  In February 2001, I saw this mug and was just drawn to it because of its design.  I picked it up and used it as a pencil holder in our room.  We had a few mugs in the house already by then, but they were already there and being used by Alan when I got here.This will always have a special place in the display because it’s the one that started it all.

2/22/17: A note from Pinay New Yorker: A more updated post appears here.

Coffee talk in Manila

Okay, before the coffee afficionados out there go up in arms against me, I deeply regret not having picked up my usual stock of Figaro Barako coffee as I usually do.  Totally my fault.  Hoping to get the freshest batch, I postponed getting my coffee beans just before we left, and the only branch we found ourselves in didn’t have any in stock, promising a fresh delivery the following day when I just completely lost myself in last minute things to do.

I did manage to grab some Kape Vinta from Starbucks during my last breakfast with Gina in Greenbelt 1, along with two other coffee blends, Muan Jai (from Thailand) and Arabian Mocha Java.  I haven’t quite tried the two other blends which were P100 and P200 more than the local favorite, but they show much promise.  It might be a while until I can brew a cup, though, because one of Alan’s friends had given me quite a huge stash of coffee beans from Kalinga (presumably Apayao) and Baguio.  Since the latter were not commercially packed, I want to start grinding them first when my present stock is depleted.

I was also overjoyed to find that there was a new Starbucks Manila mug.  (It’s about time!)  Another special addition to my collection, I picked up one of the generic mugs on the shelf to add to my “babies”.

This is a priced addition, and I’m glad that this edition doesn’t fall short of the usual size nor quality of the regualr Starbucks city mugs collection.  Sadly, I can’t say the same for the original issue of the Cebu Starbucks mug.  I’m happy.  Over and above any new city mug, a mug from “back home” will always have a special place in my treasure trove of Starbuck mugs.serveware.

The barrista asked me how many I already have.. that got me stumped.  I haven’t quite gotten beyond trying to catalogue my collection as I keep adding mugs every few weeks or so.  I really should do this before summer’s over and try to figure out a way for me to display all of them on the top shelf of my kitchen shelves where only around 2/3rds of the whole collection sit.  My guess is it’s in the area of 50-75 mugs.

With the diet in mind and knowing I had my bibingkas and puto bumbong to indulge in, I decided to stay away from the ensaymada this time.  My mug more than made up for all the other goodies I missed at Starbucks in Manila.

Yes, no Starbucks in Belgium

In response to comments from Mina and Jayred regarding my post about the absence of Starbucks in Belgium.

I have made it a point to find the nearest Starbucks to wherever we are headed, and it did shock me at first to find that there was none in Belgium. There are even online petitions for Starbucks to bring their business to the country. Of all the countries Alan frequents because of his job, Belgium is the only country we have yet to get a mug of. (I already have Paris, Zurich, and Geneva.) Friends have given me London, Berlin, Hamburg and Madrid. In Asia, I have Manila, Cebu and Singapore. Then I received an Australia mug from my bestfriend, Donna. And there is my growing US city and occasion collection which grows a mug or two (or three) when a new series comes up.

Update: My Mug Collection

A fellow Starbucks mug collector, Mina, stopped by and left me a comment.  (Thanks for stopping by, Mina..) 

I have been hoping to continue cataloguing (sp?) my mug collection but it’s not one of my priorities right now.  Besides, I still feel bad about breaking one of my mugs, and it hurts that it was one of the newer ones from Alan’s trip to Phoenix.  It somehow slipped from my grasp as I was bringing it to the kitchen sink.  It fell on the carpet so only the handle was shattered, but the mug was nonetheless broken.  I don’t want to dwell on it because I don’t want to get obssessed with getting a replacement.

There is still no Starbucks in Belgium, so the last trip saw no new addition to my collection. =(

I’ll get over it.

My Starbucks Mug Collection

At the risk of making people think I’m converting this space into a photo blog, I’m presenting my first attempt to catalogue my Starbucks Mug Collection.  (The link will take you to my Flickr account where you will be able to view the photos in detail, and hopefully soon, with accompanying comments and descriptions.)
The mugs shown are those that are yet to be displayed on my kitchen shelf where the majority of my collection is.  There are a few that are currently being used as coin or pencil holders, and there are at least two in the office, one on my desk, and one which I use for soups I need to heat up.  I’m still trying to decide whether to photograph them with flash or without, as many of the photos above were taken with natural lighting.
Many of these mugs have stories to tell — a good number of them are gifts from friends who knew I was collecting Starbucks mugs.  More on those stories later.  For now, here’s the first batch of pictures of my mug collection.  Manila, Cebu, Paris.. the New York ones are on the shelf, but I will have them join this roster soon.