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

 

Friday Five: Some progress

I am not too happy that the post preceding this is last week’s Friday 5 post, but I didn’t quite succeed in writing something in between.  Perhaps this coming week will be more prolific given all that is happening.  The good news is, I have made progress with my reboot  (Yay!)

I’m trying to keep focused on 5 doable tasks during the coming week as a way of trying to be more productive.

So how did I do against last week’s list?

1.  Sort my new supplies from Manila.  Beads, crafting supplies, etc. – Happy to report I succeeded here, and even managed to create a few pieces which I have chosen to break up and redo, but I did accomplish this task.

2.  Sort the ribbons from the M&J trim sale. – Boxed and sorted!

3.  Write one letter longhand. – Written, sealed and stamped and on its way to Australia.

4.  Pull all my new magazines together. – Done!

5.  Find a suitable box to store my gown in. – I had hoped to make a trip to oone of my favorite craft stores to get one of those pretty storage boxes, but I ran out of time the previous weekend.  There is this weekend to do that.  So four out of 5?  Quite a bit of progress like I said.

Here’s this week’s Friday five:

1.  Find a suitable box to store my gown in.

2. Redo the rose quartz pieces I unstrung.

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

4.  Sort the art supplies I got from National Bookstore.  (Chinese paintbrushes and speedball tips!)

5.  Reboot “The Thank You Postcard Project”.

It’s another weekend but with several milestones and holidays.  Today is my little tyke’s 11th birthday which made Mother’s Day a special one for me since.  It’s his last cupcake party (Fifth grade, finally!) and I am excited to celebrate another birthday…

So if only for all that’s happening this weekend alone, I hope to be here writing away just a bit more. Have a fab Friday, everyone!

Friday Five: Another restart

I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but I’m not apologizing.  Another try?  The idea is to list five doable tasks for the weekend or even the week to focus on.  I usually begin with an update on the previous week and then start a new list.

I’m starting afresh.

1.  Sort my new supplies from Manila.  Beads, crafting supplies, etc.

2.  Sort the ribbons from the M&J trim sale.

3.  Write one letter longhand.

4.  Pull all my new magazines together.

5.  Find a suitable box to store my gown in.

Let’s see where this goes.  Happy Friday, everyone!

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..

Dreaming of French Toast and other breakfast bits

For the last three months or so, I’ve been having a staple breakfast of egg whites (and the occasional whole egg on the weekends) and turkey sausages.  That meant giving up my weekend pancake treat, or any other breakfast other than that.  The good news is that I have lost more than 15 lbs which I can’t be happier about.  Luckily, I’m the type of person who can have the same thing day in and day out, like I used to have tapa everyday, or tilapia stuffed with veggies from the Jollyjeeps in Makati way back when.  There are times, though, when I crave something different.  A friend is boasting of making a mean french toast, and it’s been ages since I had that for breakfast.  I must say I make a good crunchy french toast which I picked up from one of our stays at a Marriott more than a decade ago, but it would  be nice to be treated to someone else making breakfast, though.  (One reason I love hotel stays, because I get to eat something I didn’t prepare!)

My mornings are a concert date with the Jesuit Music Ministry via JMM Covers on Youtube which is like my morning prayer ritual now.  (That’s something that has stuck with me after the brief stint with the Jesuits in law school ages ago..)  I used to stick to just three songs and a solemn recital of the Serenity Prayer, but my early morning wake up calls now give me room to play an actual playlist I put together on my GothamChick Youtube account aptly titled ‘Prayers‘.  They’re songs that are easy on the ears, and light on the heart.

Below is one of the gems I discovered, a jazzy and more soulful version of “Sa ‘Yo Lamang” which you won’t hear at mass but would love listening to on a beautiful Saturday morning like today.

I’m going to try and do an Art Journal Every Day update in the other blog if only I could get my blurring app to work (!).. that means a few minutes to actually continue a layout, and maybe paint more towards the end.  I’m trying to be more concise with my entries, but brevity has never been one of my stronger suits. (This blog being proof of that… Ha!)

Fortunately, there isn’t a ton of homework to worry about, and other than missing a performance at the Lincoln Center I was hoping to take Angelo to tomorrow, my weekend is looking good.  (I had vacillated about buying or not buying the tickets and of course it sold out before I made up my mind..)  I was hoping to take him to his favorite spot in Central Park, but weather permitting, we might actually do that on Tuesday when school’s out for Veteran’s Day.

Here’s to a good weekend with the sun shining brightly today..


 

 

A Happy Place Apart

Sunset over Manhattan - Can't ever grow tired of this view.  The Empire State Building as the setting sun illuminates it in the colors of fall. #sunset #nyc #Manhattan #mynyc #autumninnewyork #theempirestatebuilding #sunsetovermanhattanI am finally back on Instagram and back to snapping shots of my home city!  Although it’s a tad bit disappointing that I wasn’t upgraded to the coveted iPhone 6 just yet — there’s a company freeze on the upgrades — I suppose, at least until the big bosses get theirs.  I’m not complaining.  I’m just glad to have my main cell phone number back on line, although arranging the apps and icons on my various screens is still in progress and keeping me on the verge of a vertigo attack.

Sometimes, I get lucky.  The shot above was actually just one of those I took after walking to the other side of my floor, and I discovered a new trick to prevent the reflection of the interior lights from bouncing off of the glass window.  I simply stuck the phone to the glass, as in on top of it, as if it were a filter in front of the actual phone camera.  Voila!

Posted on my Instagram feed 2 weeks ago before the other iPhone changed hands, this picture was reposted by the official @empirestatebldg Instagram account and was liked more than 2400+ times on that page and garnered me at least a dozen additional “followers”.  Of course, I was honored.  Again, sometimes, I get lucky.

Yet another reason to smile.  Another little note to tuck into that bucket of “happy”.

My sister wrote me a rather pointed inquiry on my state of heart with a single sentence e-mail.  (“Are you okay, sis?,” she wrote.)  She has a knack for emphasis by decluttering her message and going straight to the point.  I’d usually just call her back but it was late last night and I thought I’d give her something to read.

Yes, I’m okay.  I’ve just been very busy of late, but I am doing okay and trying to concentrate on “happy” thoughts and bits and pieces that bring me to that happy place.  I’ve come to discover that there are actually a lot of things to tuck into my little virtual scrapbook in my heart — the one I go to when I feel the need to try and lift my spirits up.  It’s where all the reminders of “good” and “okay” are — in simple thoughts, lines, memories and snapshots.

You know how you would often remember bits and pieces of a conversation, or scenes framed by a certain event or moment in your mind.  It could be words you read somewhere — perhaps a magazine, an e-mail or a written message handed to you.  It might be the taste of something you had, a movie you keep wanting to watch over and over again, or a line in a song.  And even in this place of “happy” thoughts there are buckets for the different things that bring you there, from the ordinary to those special ones that bring you to a happy place apart.

Four words that have stuck with me through most of the past week and a half — “A Happy Place Apart”.   You want to keep going there but then you want to save it for when you need it most so that you can savor the smile, the warmth of that thought, of remembering things, or laughing over something you laughed about not too long ago.  And it actually works.  It brings me to that happy place apart from all the other happy places I have tucked in my heart.

It is that happy place apart that makes me say, yes, I’m okay.  Because in the midst of it all, I have a lot to be thankful for.  I have a lot to smile about.  I have a lot to remain hopeful for.  I’d be hard pressed to justify sulking or moping, or even asking “Why me?”.

It might be knowing I got featured by THE @empirestatebldg account, and I got congratulated by people I don’t even know from Adam.  Or the thought of indulging in a piece of my chocolate treat from Lilac at Grand Central Market, the uber sinful milk chocolate caramel nut bar.  (Seriously thinking of stopping by this morning despite the fact it will mean a major detour in the commute into the city, and a major dent on the diet, at that!)  It might be about happily anticipating some books I ordered in connection with an online History course I enrolled in recently.  (That’s another blog post altogether.)  It might be simply writing or pinging one of my three siblings across the oceans for a conversation.

And sometimes you hear something random like the latest news and it reminds you of something connected.  Even that can bring you to that happy place.

Another weekend for all of us — another weekend for more happy thoughts — and in case there’s a shortage of that, there will be that happy place apart tucked somewhere in my heart.