Monday Musings: A Long Weekend kind of Monday

Monday musingsIf last week was cold, today, New York is freezing! I am almost sure my favorite fountain in Bryant Park will be heavy with ice. Just when I thought this year would be warmer and easier. The morning began with single digits today and it didn’t really go up by much.

True enough, when I got to Bryant Park, this is what greeted me:

Winter2019
Bryant Park, 21 January 2019

Blogging consistently. While it seems like I’ve been a Monday and Friday blogger, I think that is quite a feat considering I haven’t been writing this much for the longest time. It takes a conscious effort to begin a post — but writing has never really been an issue to me. So it’s more about making time. I am trying and happy to be at this pace, yet hoping to write more in the coming weeks.

Destash ongoing. This should really be in my next Friday Five but it’s a Monday and it’s work in progress. And my weekend is still technically on because we have a long weekend this time around. (It’s Martin Luther King Day so I got Monday off.).

I started going over my magazine pile for destashing. The first one was a Food & Wine magazine from 2003. Older than my little guy!

Now, I’m one for keeping food magazines for the recipes, and right now I just can’t part with this. So of the three I’ve gone through so far, only 1 is heading out the door. I should do better than this, I know. I am trying!!! (Does it help that I’m planning to do a second pass when the pile has dwindled?..). There is more that I need to get rid of and I have vowed to do this in earnest. The goal is to go through at least a dozen this weekend, and I’m a quarter of the way through.

Fabric haul. From time to time, I browse Craig’s list for free fabric and craft supplies listings. I will write about this another day, but I got lucky when I hit it Friday evening and saw a giveaway in Brooklyn. I emailed and got an address for a storage place.

After trying to figure out the best way to get there, I settled on uber pool and packed my expanding luggage and shopping totes. Saturday, I thought getting there at 2:55 for a 2-5:30pm slot would be plenty of time, but I arrived just as the entire haul was almost totally gone! Still, I managed to grab some nice African prints and other fabric and yarn. There were also several patterns, some uncut and complete with instructions — in total making up for the cost of the trip back and forth. I figured it was more or less the cost of a trip to Michael’s and I think I got that much and more. I am craft happy!

Fabric happy

Taking time to go to my quiet space. It seems that I am needing to reflect more and more these days, with so many things happening around me, and not happening at the same time. I know it is a time for prayer — and a time for reflection. Someone told me I’m stressing too much about so many things that I should be easier on myself. Today, I tried.

Winter Restaurant Week in NYC. Yes, it’s this week!! I will write about this more next time but this is the Branzino I had at Ortzi by Jose Garces at the Luma Hotel NYC. Definitely recommending you try this!

Restaurant week NYC, winter 2019, Ortzi by Jose Garces

It’s called LUBINA on their Restaurant Week menu ($26.00++) for a two course meal. It’s Branzino with Gigante Bean Stew, Spiced cauliflower, Hazenut sofrito and Pequillo peppers.

Am I glad I braved the cold and went to the city and had a relaxing and filling lunch. Nothing beats good food and good company. That’s another post altogether.

Here’s to a good and not so cold week ahead for all of us here on this side of the world. And a good one for the rest of you!

Weekend breakfast = “ME” time

Weekend breakfast: cheese pancakes
I’m writing this as I’m enjoying that stack of cheese pancakes I whipped up for brunch this Sunday.  I save the big breakfasts for the weekends when I have the time to actually cook one, and because I like to eat lightly during the week when I’m watching what I’m eating.  Breakfast then would be my regular iced coffee and a quarter cup of high fiber oat bran, mixed in with a third cup of warm skim milk and a dash of sweetener.  I let it sit for a few minutes to thicken and I end up with almost a half cup of my version of an oat meal breakfast.  Or I would occasionally pick up a bread pudding muffin from my favorite stop on my way up to work these days: Eli Zabar’s over at Grand Central Market.

Weekends, though, are different.  I wake up when I want to (unless my thirteen year old wakes up before me and requests for a special breakfast which is rare!  — waking up earlier and asking for a special breakfast, that is!). I would know what I was having the Friday before when I would make a “bread run” through my favorite bakeries in the city — say when I feel like whipping up some French toast (give me some real challah bread!) .. this time, I only picked up some tomatoes (craving my tomato scrambled eggs), and I knew I would have pancakes for Sunday.

Weekend breakfast: tomato scrambled eggs and iced coffee

And there are the weekends when I’m on my own, and I get to structure the whole weekend around me.  (Laundry time included.)

I love the complete pancake mixes.  (I don’t know what I would do without dear Aunt Jemima!) While I don’t mind having them as is, slathered in syrup and heavy cream, I make a fancier version by adding something along the way.  I grew up on Maya hotcake mixes, and I remember happily making pancakes for merienda (afternoon snack) for the entire family.  Of course back then, I used a carajay (our Filipino version of a wok) and had to mix the egg and water in and cook the pancakes using a touch of oil or butter.  Fast forward to now in New York where I’m a mom and after I actually discovered I could cook!  We have Aunt Jemima and our old reliable non stick pans for those gorgeous pancakes..

My favorite version is a decadent caramel pancake where I sandwiched sliced bits of caramel squares in between, or put a good layer on top and microwave to melt..  I had tried mixing in the caramel as slivers in the batter, but the caramel would melt and stick to my turner. Messy.  When you are simply adding the caramel, there is no adjustment to the recipe.  I follow the 1cup mix: 3/4cup water as prescribed by Aunt Jemima.  

It gets a little trickier when you are adding dry ingredients like shredded cheese or mashed bananas, because the consistency of the batter changes.  How much you add of your extra flavoring ingredient depends largely on how much you want to have that flavor present in your pancakes.  I go by the simple rule of thumb that if I’m adding something to flavor up my pancakes, I don’t want a hint of it, I want it present and adding oomph.

For cheese, I usually end up putting in a quarter cup to each cup of mix, and then I up the water to a full cup.  I use shredded cheese that comes in those packets and when I’m out of that, I would usually do two tablespoons of the grated Parmesan which is stronger in flavor.  Just a heads up that the cheese can add pungency to the pancakes, so sensitive noses beware!  Personally, I prefer cheese pancakes with corn syrup, and I do them with a generous bath of heavy cream.

Weekend. Real fast: cheese pancakes
Another nice addition to pancakes is bananas which will give you a banana bread-like flavor.  I mash up half a ripe banana to each cup of mix and again, up the water from 3/4 cup to 1 cup.  You want your pancakes to flow and settle on the pan and not be chunky and all clumpy.  Mashing the bananas will give you clumps, but you also need those to incorporate into the pancake mix seamlessly.  I try not to mash my bananas to too smooth a consistency because I like biting into my bananas as I eat my pancakes.  If you want only the flavor without the banana bits, then mash away to a smooth paste and watch it disappear into your batter.
Weekend breakfast: Banana pancakes
Finally, how about some red velvet pancakes?  There was a time I had left over red velvet cake which I needed to disappear quick before it started showing in my middle portion. Again, rule of thumb to add around a quarter cup of crumbled cake bits to every cup of mix, but with this one, no adjustment necessary for the water.  The cake comes moist and literally extends the batter without adding more dry ingredients that would stretch the liquid portion of the recipe. At least that’s how it worked for me.

There are so many ways to make breakfast for one a special treat to celebrate you.  We often get caught up making special meals for others that we forget we deserve the special treatment, too.  On weekends when all is quiet and I only have me to worry about, I give it the extra effort to create a special treat and take care of me.

Crafty Long Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care of you… 

I am Important, too

The Daily Prompt: Value

I am trying to keep up with the daily prompts from The Daily Post to be more consistent with posting here.  There are just times when my head is so full of other things that it is difficult to sit down and write something coherent.  I try not to work too hard at it.  If it comes, it comes.. and while there are days when a silent spell takes my space over, there are times when the words just flow freely and I am just always here.  The prompts are supposed to help make that happen.  I try.

One of my favorite hashtags in my Instagram account is #YouAreImportantToo.  We go about our lives prioritizing things according to their importance to us — and oftentimes, we end up putting ourselves at the bottom of the list.  I guess it doesn’t help that we are basically raised on the concept of being selfless, or at least trying to be.  So we put everyone else ahead of us on the list, until the whole town is up above us.  If we were all on a totem pole, you find yourself at the base, with everyone else sitting on top of you.  And there you are carrying that load.

And yet, common sense tells us that you have to be strong enough to carry all that weight.  To be able to prop someone up, you have to have the strength help carry that load.  To help others, you must have the capacity to do just that which means you have to be in a good place yourself.

How often do we hear ourselves saying that we can wait our turn?  Or that they can go ahead,  and we can be last?

We all have our hierarchy of what is important to us, and that denominates our value system.  Where do you figure in that heirarchy?

I used to do just that — putting everyone else ahead of me, until I came to the realization that not only did that impede my helping the ones I wanted to help, but it greatly diminished my self worth.  Everyone was more important — I was supposed to put myself last, and for the longest time, I did.  Until I witnessed how someone showed me how wrong that was by thinking the same way.  It took me a painful experience watching someone put his happiness last, and knowing I was tied to that happiness, find myself the last priority.  And that was my wake up call.

I shed the martyr complex and told myself I was more important than last place.  That while I cannot be priority all the time, I deserved some importance, because I mattered. I had to start with me.

It was important for me to acknowledge that I was part of the equation and that I had to take care of myself in order to be strong enough and be able to do what I wanted for the other important people in my life.  It wasn’t a matter of who was more important, but more of valuing one’s self just as much if not more than others.  You cannot stand strong for others if you do not believe in yourself.  You cannot be there for others if you do not take care of yourself.

We put such importance on the other people who matter in our lives, and we often fail to give ourselves the priority we deserve in the pecking order of things.  Being selfless is a good trait, but not to the point of sacrificing our self worth.

I learned the hard way how important it is to give myself my due.  I’ve gone long enough thinking everything and everyone was more important than me and I could put myself last all the time.  When everything else was said and done, I felt like I lost, having deprived myself to make way or give way to others.  So others could have their fun, have their cake, their piece of the pie — I stood aside.

I have come to realize that I have to be in step with my efforts to take care of others by taking care of me.  That I have to leave some for myself, even if I just take a bite and give them the rest of the cake.  It helps me to help others better.  And to paraphrase the Golden Rule, it helps me to keep things in perspective where it comes to doing unto others what I would want them to do to me.  When what you feel and when your happiness and well-being is important to you, then you are better able to help others with theirs.

So it pays and helps to always be reminded that YOU ARE IMPORTANT, TOO.

 

It’s the weekend yet again

My day is never complete without looking at this side of #Manhattan. #Sunset  and the #EmpireStateBuilding make for quite a #breathtaking end to my day.  Goodnight, #newyorkskyline ! #ilovetheempirestatebuilding #ilovenewyork #lookingtowardsDowntown #myny

I started writing this meaning for it to be posted Friday.   But as always, life intervened and it stayed as a draft post and Friday was done.

It’s been a rather challenging week on many fronts but I made it to the weekend, and for that, I am grateful.  I’m just glad it’s the weekend and I can actually look forward to some form of break.  And I’m hoping I’ll get to rest enough just to be able to jumpstart the coming week come Monday.

I’m actually looking forward to next week.  It seems that I’ve been waiting for so many things to come and find me, but the thing is that everything is for next week.  Patience, in relation to waiting, is not one of my stronger suits.  I hate waiting.  I hate being made to wait.  But I guess the years have helped me to get a grip on my impatience and have enabled me to coast by and handle it just a little better.

I’ve learned how to focus on other things so I don’t drive myself crazy.  And there is that realization that there are things which are just beyond my control.

Saturday, as always is a “me day”.  Haircut.  Maybe a trip to my favorite craft store.  Pick up more of this fab waterproof eyeliner I saw at the dollar store.  (Can you believe that?!)  And maybe a trip to the city to go find me a gown.

It’s raining, though.  I guess its rainboots for footwear,  an umbrella on hand.  I had spent several weekends cooped up at home, but last week, I decided I was better off outside doing things to take care of “me”.

Well, here’s to another productive weekend..