No pressure

Friday came and I was feeling the pressure to do a Friday Five post, but the evening slipped by and I was just having too much fun trying to sort and organize my beads.

Sunday evening and I realized I had a Monday Musings post to put together — and I could have — but I wanted to take it easy and enjoy what was left of my weekend. I had spent the weekend indoors, tidying up and doing chores, and binge watching some shows I hadn’t caught up since their return from the winter haitus.

No pressure.

I’ve always believed that blogging should be a relaxing and spontaneous activity. At least, it is, for ME. Maybe that’s the reason why I have failed to monetize my writing. I write when I feel like it. I didn’t get to do any of that this weekend, but I feel like I got to accomplish a lot.

So this weekend, I forgot about lists and just took care of what was to be done with the things in front of me, instead of me thinking of things to do beyond what was already there. One habit I’m trying to cultivate is dealing with the tasks I can at the very moment it occurs to me that something needs to be done. No more procrastinating and putting off things that can be done this minute. I have this tendency to put off putting away things and leaving them “for later”. They tend to be forgotten. And then they pile up or just end up lying around. I put away what I can and discarded what needed to be thrown away. Much accomplished in that respect!

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Junk mail tends to float around so nowadays, I don’t even put the mail down “for later”. I sort them as I pick them up and get rid of what I know is not essential.

My favorite part of the weekend was just catching up on my favorite TV shows and sorting my beads. I think the weekend was more productive that way.. and I know I can write when I can..

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It can only get better

I tried starting a blog post before the week began, talking about how I was trying to pump a lot of optimism into my upcoming week. It had been a rather chaotic one. I like “busy,” but sometimes it doesn’t work too well with other distractions. Still, I capped the previous week with some much needed “me” time last Friday which was the best part of those 7 days. (Note to self: you should do this more often.)

And we’re at Wednesday. I try to write more but I really need a major push forward there.

Work was hectic as can be, and while I don’t think we’re getting a reprieve for what’s left of the week. I hit the ground running and energized. Maybe it was the quiet weekend with my not so little guy. I took the time to breathe, stayed up late on Saturday with a new earring design I couldn’t stop making (!), and slept til noon the following day to give my body a chance to bounce back.

And Friday came again.

There are times when you really just need to pull away from the fray and sit quietly in a corner.  It was one of those days, and I focused on happy and positive thoughts, and some happy time over lunch.  I needed to recharge. I needed to lift my spirits up and find those feel good moments to make up for the bad ones. I had dessert. Without guilt.

Dessert from Ortzi
Gone are the days when I would be chided for even considering one. Part of me hasn’t quite gotten used to the idea that it IS okay to indulge once in a while…I still ask if I can get dessert. (And I’m trying to get rid of that habit..)

Focus on the good things and then tuck the negative away, and embrace the thought that it can only get better. Take care 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.

My weekend 

Midday Shadows in NYC. Awestruck and speechless.. thinking about the things and people I miss, but missing them all in a good way-- with happy thoughts and memories and promises of more. #nyc #mynewyork #mynyc #manhattan #midtown #midtownmanhattan #newyI started writing this post Friday but had early on decided it wouldn’t be a “Friday Five” post.  Yes, that’s me, pretending to go against the norm.

The previous week had seen me working hard and I was mentally and physically exhausted as my weekend began.  So this weekend was all about more planning and getting ready for yet another long week ahead.  I was hoping to put up my Christmas tree (– note that the goal was to put it up, not decorate it yet), but that didn’t happen.  I have been trying to decide on my Christmas card (to make or to print?) but I have the idea but have a lot of refining to do on that end.  I had hoped to find and finish some jewelry pieces (for me, and to give as gifts) but I had gotten so wrapped up watching “Westworld” and catching up on “This is Us” that you guessed it, I didn’t quite get to even beginning.

I had been lugging my book in my tote all week but only to move less than a dozen pages, and I said to myself, there will surely be time to read this weekend — and again, I was wrong.  Sometimes we start the weekend with all these grand plans and find ourselves nowhere near getting to any of those things we thought we would be able to do.  I used to feel so disappointed, but I have learned that lists, at most, are for guidance.  Weekends are supposed to be a time to chill, and chill, I did.

We’re counting days to 2017 and I’m kind of sad to see 2016 go with so many things still up in the air… I have to move in one direction or other, not out of necessity or desire to, but because the world is just moving faster than me.  And it’s not about pushing or being pushed– life just doesn’t stop for anyone.  So while I don’t always move in the way and towards that which I want, I try to keep moving and to keep going.

So I went down to the city to do some errands and get my week started early this gorgeous Sunday.  For once, the bus was not rerouted, and we actually made it in on time.  And for the first time in many weeks, I got my fromage (cheese) dinner rolls from Madison Kayser.  Happiness that was under $2!!  I would have wanted to sit down and have my French Onion Soup, but I didn’t have the time.  I really didn’t have much time for everything I had wanted to do which would’ve required a day and a half but I got to do enough to make it feel like real “me time”.

I guess that’s the reason why I don’t feel like the entire weekend flew by with nothing accomplished.  I was able to spend time to do some things that were solely all about me.  That makes for a weekend well spent — and a productive one, at that– for me.  Hope yours was, too.

Friday Five: Yay!

Friday5

So, okay, this is much delayed.

Life happens.  I’m not apologizing, and it’s another weekend so I’m feeling all chipper.

I tried to write but I seriously did NOT have the time because my real world had me in chains all week, slaving away.  But it’s Friday!

As always, we start with the updates based on the last list that appeared here two Fridays ago:

1.  Sort the fabrics I picked up from Brooklyn over the weekend.   Done!  I’ve even managed to wash a few sets just to make sure that they are good to go once crafted!

2.  Write five topics to write about here and in my craft blog.  I actually managed to complete this for both blogs, but while the idea was that the “drafts” would help me move forward with the blogging, I haven’t been able to hit the pace I was working on.  Still, it got me posting, and there’s a new post for each site.

3.  Gather the books that I hope to read in the coming days and actually write about it.   I have the books, just haven’t had the chance to list them down.

4. Pull together at least one “care package” from the things I hope to destash and send out.  So I’ve been “cleaning up” but have pleasantly rediscovered things I had made and bought over the past two years which I had misplaced.  So yes, I got the one care package started, but haven’t sent out.

5.  List 10 things in the “turning 50 good deeds” to do.  I didn’t quite hit the 10 but managed to write 6, and wrote about it here.  In addition, I have created a page with the post title, Gift of 50,  (see navigation bar on top please) to keep the updates on one page.

I think that wasn’t so bad — even if it took all of two weeks to actually make progress.  Again, I’m not killing myself over this.  So for this weekend, here’s my Friday Five:

1.  Gather the books that I hope to read in the coming days and write a blog post on it.   I might even start drafting this this afternoon.

2. Care package work-in-progress send out.  One of the sets I have to hang on to, but I think I can actually pack the second and send off before next Friday.

3.  Plan the big five-o celebration.  I’m very big on celebrating birthdays and “big” doesn’t actually mean a huge party — I just want a table of friends to toast the big day.  And it’s right around the corner!

4.  Find the loose postcards I want to work on and actually set aside time to get this project started.  We’ll start with identifying a box they can all go into and then I will write about what I hope to do with them.

5.  Draft a craft project calendar.  I’m trying t plan for the year and get things on track — scheduling christmas cards ahead of the holiday season so that they actually get sent, for one, this time around.

It’s been a very busy week work wise and I cannot be more grateful that it is finally Friday.  It’s been one of those weeks where I was too tired at the end of the day to focus on anything else but catch some much needed zzzzzzs.  But the week is over and there’s finally time to recharge and relax.  Tomorrow.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Breakfast, etc.

Breakfast etcI had intended to take a picture of today’s breakfast treat to accompany this post, but it disappeared before I could.  I cooked up some Spanish chocolate and dunked ssome slices of Edam cheese.  Yum!  Not quite the quezo de bola that would have made for the perfect pairing, but when in New York, you make do.  I simmered the chocolate “coins” and stirred in a teaspoon of butter (to keep it from boiling over) and let it stay on the lowest setting to make sure it was all cooked through.  This is yet another one of my weird eating habits because most people wouldn’t combine the two in a cup.  I get the chocolate to near-boiling, and then I drop the slices of cheese into a cup of this sinful beverage.  I let it sit long enough for the cheese to soften (or melt, as was the case with this very soft Edam), and I scoop the cheese out with a spoon to eat with my bread of choice.  Today, it was just simple potato bread dinner rolls.

I really should pay a visit to the Filipino store in Woodside to check if they have the Marca Pina queso de bola available already.

The weekend has been quiet and uneventful, and I’m hoping to get more done today.  I’m just staying put at home.  I had offered Peter brunch in the city, but he begged off.  Perhaps it’s all for the best just so I can get more tidying up done.  One cabinet at a time.

I found the cake decor on Angelo’s first birthday cake when we did a Sesame Street theme, and while I had Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Elmo originally, one of my guests took Elmo and I was powerless to take it back.  (A special child of the ex sister-in-law… I do have a heart and decided not to ask for it at the end of the party.). That, along with some invitations (baby shower, baptism, and yes, my wedding) went into the memory box holding those tidbits of his younger years in my closet.  I just love how his eyes glimmer when we go through the contents of that box occasionally.  Soon, I will have to get a bigger repository of memories!  Keeping mementos has always been a weakness of mine — so much so that I have collected bits and pieces which are now totally useless and meaningless.  It’s uncanny how things change meanings for us through the years, and what once was so precious can suddenly be indispensable after a period of time.  So those that have lost meaning have found their way into the trash bag.

Not too long ago, I vowed to destash and find a home for the things I had hoped to get rid of.  I am collecting my Artist trading cards (ATCs) to send to my friend, Raine.  I don’t have the time to sort through the postcards just yet, so I am putting the unsorted ones in a box to be dealt with later.  Although I feel like I have barely done anything, I think I’m making good progress.  No procrastinating and that’s an accomplishment by itself.

I am seriously trying and working on getting things done, inch by inch, box by box.  I’m not going as fast I had hoped, but thinking about not being able to do it at the pace I was hoping to do it was just stressing me more and stalling my productivity, so I’ve learned to let that go.  Sometimes, overthinking things can slow us down more than help us as we try to move forward.  The point is to just do it.

I am trying to shake off the shackles that are keeping me from moving on.  It hasn’t been easy.  Sometimes I feel as though I’m making strides, but in truth, I am moving and not accomplishing anything.  Too many questions are racing through my mind, and the occasional unpleasant memory that pokes at my mind and heart don’t help.  I keep telling people I’m okay — and for the most part, it’s true — but there’s a part of me that is stalled and feels like a car struggling to get out of the pothole it’s gotten stuck in.  The important thing is that I’m aware of where I am, and I am trying my hardest to work my way out of it.

Sometimes it’s as simple as changing the photo in a picture frame.  I found one hidden behind a couple of frames above a tall shelf and saw a dust-covered photograph, a memory more than a decade old.  I wiped the frame clean and found something more relevant to my “now”.  I put that photo in my bedroom where I will be able to see it and be reminded of what’s important to me at the present time.  It’s a simple yet powerful reminder that I have to move on..  The wooden frame was etched with the word “FAMILY” and some emotional words that define it.  Even that has changed meaning for me and the new picture — one of Angelo and I — embodies what that means to me now.

I have started reading again.  That’s another blog post, though, so let me hit “publish” now before this starts languishing in my “draft” folder yet again.  Here’s to a wonderful week ahead for all of us..

Friday Five: Rerun

Last week, I said I would:

1.  Find a suitable box to store my gown in.  Still trying to find one.

2. Redo the rose quartz pieces I unstrung.  Started cleaning the rose quartz of the oxidation.  (Yay!  Some progress here..)

3.  Do my own version of the Proust questionnaire. (Blog post in progress.)  Still trying.

4.  Sort the art supplies I got from National Bookstore.  (Chinese paintbrushes and speedball tips!) Found half of them and looking for the rest.

5.  Reboot “The Thank You Postcard Project”. Next?

As you can see, I didn’t quite get anywhere which is sad.  But hey, the week saw me playing Florence Nightingale for the first part, and then everything just got thrown out of whack (schedule-wise) with backlog at work and all.  So I will not complicate things by creating a new list and will instead stick to this one.  Again, trying to keep it simple.  That is the whole point, after all, of doing the list.  It is supposed to help me focus on 5 tasks that will help me feel that the weekend and the succeeding week turns out to be productive.

I have gotten some new comments on my most read posts which deserve a Feedback on Feedback blogpost, but I want to  be able to sit down on this and write — as in really write — a thoughtful blogpost.  Thank you to those who have written, and again, if email is easier, please e-mail me at pinaynewyorker @ gmail.com .  (I still get e-mails at pinay_newyorker @ yahoo.com but I hardly check that account.)

It’s a gorgeous Friday in Manhattan and I am so tempted to stay later and run around, but I have things I need to take care of before the evening comes upon us on this side of the world. It’s been a very hectic week for me and I am looking to recharge (hopefully) this weekend.  Maybe tick off a thing or two from the list above.  Wish me luck.  If I had my way, I’d be in the park with everyone else, chilling in the shade and just enjoying the afternoon breeze.  But work awaits and I just can’t — not today.  It’s one of those days that leave me pining for a 3 day weekend which I know would never be enough.

Enjoy it, wherever you may be.  Have fun and try to do the things that make you happy.  Just be.

Happy Friday, everyon!
Lovely day in #BryantPark this #Friday noon.  Grab your spot-- bet the tables are all taken.. #HappyFriday, #NYC..#41floorsabove #newyork #midtown #Manhattan #lunchspot #lunchtime