Sep 22, 2013

Gastronomic Excursions : Veselka and Veniero's last Thursday

Veselkas big plate of pierogies (boiled)

Veniero's "award" from Steve Harvey on his show

Autumn Trifle from Veniero's
We moved to our new apartment last May and I have been preparing dinner most of the time now. We seldom order in or go out because of a hectic schedule. When lived in the Lower East Side, we go to Veniero's and Veselka almost every month. I have eaten at a lot of restaurants at that area and Veselka never fails me. I order the same stuff everytime though. Borscht (?) or Matzoh Ball soup and a big plate of their famous pierogies. they have many flavors to choose from for the filling but i always get the same item. 7 pieces for the big plate : 2 goat cheese and arugula, 2 sauerkraut and mushroom, 2 spinach and cheese and 1 cheese or sometimes meat. Dessert on the other hand is always at Veniero's. Both establishments are just a few blocks away from our old apartment. But now that we are in the West 100s part of the city, we have to make do with whatever is here. There is a bakeshop a few blocks from our apartment that has delicious and cheap cakes  I cant get enough of the tres leches cake. the hubby likes their flan. And when I get lazy we order Chinese take out from Empire Noodles. They have good noodles. Some of their dishes are a bit expensive but the food truly tastes better than the other Chinese restaurants.

We still go downtown to get items from petco for the 2 baby girls and our recently added pet, a dog. We also go visit Mom and most of the time when we do there is a big meal waiting already for us. By the time we leave her apartment, we are no longer thinking of food. So its been a couple of months since we visited the two Vs that we love.

Last Thursday we went to go visit Mom to return the shopping cart we borrowed 2 weeks ago. We were already on the train when we realized we forgot the cart. Fail. So we bought desserts for her instead a couple of  extras for ourselves. Since we were down there we decided to swing by our favorite Lower East side restaurant Veselka's, and yes I had my usual=)


Daily thoughts : Run route photos




Ran 9 miles today from the library all the way to the park and back home. The weather was beautiful. It has been cool since fall started but today was just perfect. Overcast skies with a threat of some drizzle but I got home dry except of course for the sweat on my clothes.

Some photos also of the dog while we were out walking this morning :




Capped off the night with a delicious bowl of Beef Stew prepared by Mom (I didnt make it a lunchdate today because I had to wait for a package to be delivered by the fedex guy). Cooked chicken adobo with pineapples for tomorrow's dinner.

Sep 17, 2013

Daily thoughts - Aldrich Lloyd Talonding napabilib mo ako, at napaiyak rin



Just saw a video on the newsfeed on my facebook about this kid. I looked up this particular video because the one I saw on facebook was the interview with Ellen Degeneres and I got curious afterwards. I havent read the full text on the boy's story but I was truly amazed upon hearing this young talent. I was also moved by the song and the message this kid had for his late father. I had to grab a box of kleenex. beautiful song and message. Made me miss my Dad too...

Aug 30, 2013

Daily thoughts - Dont wake me when Summer ends

Summer is almost about to end here in NYC. I still have until Sunday to make that trip to Coney Island if time permits or we could swing by the Botanical Gardens. Im on a time crunch here to at least say that I had a great summer! I really love the weather compared to any other season in the US. Some people find it a tad too hot but Im a Tropical Mammal and Ive spent most of my life getting baked by the sun voluntarily and involuntarily. Fall and Spring are nice too but for some reason I just have a warm spot for the warmer weather.

I am a bit disappointed I havent made any trips to the beach this year nor did I get to hang out at Central Park to have a picnic or sunbathe. Back in my home country, it is like summer all year long except for June - September when we have to deal with a deluge of rain, flood and issues related to it. Summer in the US somehow makes me feel like I am just around the corner from the house where I lived for 2 decades. And now Summer is about to end, sigh...I anticipate the prelude to a long cold winter about to begin. I am not designed for cold weather so although I was totally thrilled to move to NY 2 years ago, part of it to experience snow, now its not quite the same. I got to experience my first real winter last December (2012 because in 2011 it snowed for one day and that was it. ) and although the outfits were really cute I dont like Winter. It takes so much time to get all bundled up and unbundled again. Getting in the subway is another interesting story. Outside its cold so the extra layers of clothing or a thick coat makes you warm and cozy. But once you get to the platform to wait for your train (which sometimes take an agonizing 10 minutes), the ventilation is so bad you feel like you are about to pass out. this time the same insulation that protects you from the elements of snow does the contrary because its hot in the tunnel. Not to mention there are herds of commuters breathing and competing for that precious air. Wet tracks and slippery roads make accidents common too. I almost fell on my face one time while I was coming out of Barnes and Nobles because a sheet of snow covered this metal thingey by the entrance.  People usually put salt on the sidewalk during winter but I dunno if it works on metal floors or grate because the purpose of the salt is to melt the snow. I mean, it wouldnt help your shoe gain any traction.



Snow for the first few days was exciting especially since Ive always wondered what snow tastes like. My husband had to restrain me from opening my mouth because once we were out I wanted to catch some snowflakes. According to him the snow could be laden with pollutants and a myriad of other unidentified nasty obejcts  that could potentially make me sick. He can be a little extreme with his ideas on germs sometimes but he is probably right. Id rather err on the safe side (ie the snow could be clean but at least i dont get sick in case its not).

Running during winter isnt fun. Athough running during the summer when humidity is around 90 is crazy either. I have experienced both and my conclusion is to just run in the gym on both occasions.

I ran only once before winter officially started. It was sort of Post Fall, Pre Winter and i didnt get to check the accuweather channel for na update. I was not fully geared  for the event. i had a coldgear tights, a beanie, gloves and a jacket (one meant for fall). I think every part of my body was tingly and my hair static that day. I realized it was just too cold but I had 4 or 5 miles more to go. I was stuck on the Hudson River running path where I cant get on a bus nor get in the closest subway station. If I walked Id freeze to death. I ran but even the heat generated from that activity was insufficient to ward off the cold.
Obviously I survived but from that experience alone I know I wont have any plans of doing a repeat performance. so Winter means exercise will be at the gym which im not too crazy about. its usually the only resort when the weather is too extreme.

But there are perks of Winter that I look forward to. Mostly its festivities related. You can also don layers of cute colorful outfits. No more reasons for people to let ass cheeks hang out in the open. Im not really into fashion but I like decent clothing as much as possible. Nothing wrong with expressing one's self as long at is isnt too tacky and overly scandalous. sometimes i wonder how someteenagers even manage to get out their parents' front door wearing clothes that seemed like it was meant for their 5 year old sister or brother.

there is just a place for everything and your ass belongs in your living room or better yet the bedroom and not in front of me and especially children.


I dont know whoever thought this was trendy but it's downright trashy.

Lady please put those ass cheeks away!

Then there are more deviants like this too:

Well at least he is in his kitchen (unfortunately it is online).

Anyway, Summer im going to miss you. See you next year.

Aug 29, 2013

Daily thoughts -JEANE NAPOLES do you know where your mother is?

Dear Jeanne Napoles,

I have always shown disdain and disgust on people who flaunt their material wealth on facebook or other forms of social media. 



 


 Although sometimes, i can be a little unfair because these people have legitimately acquired such fancy things. But nothing infuriates me more than someone who brags and claims she "amazingly doesnt give a shit" when the rest of the Filipinos back home struggle to pay bills, send their kids to school and pay their taxes in full. its not because that person is richer and we are not that annoys me. The thing that pisses me off is the fact that this person,who is obviously drowning in materialism, still has no clue that everything she is parading online as coming from her parents' wealth actually came from someone's else's hard earned money. Yes Jeanne, in case your parents are lying to you, you are able to afford an extravagant lifestyle because your parents stole 10billion pesos from the Filipino people to make that possible. 

So before you think of purchasing another Hermes bag, Hublot Watch or whatever insanely expensive item you want to get for the purpose of showing off, remember, the Filipinos are watching. And in case you failed to call your mom because the NBI have probably tapped all your phonelines, you can still monitor what is going on with her on this website. The admin of the site have devoted an entire tab just about your mother.

How does your family sleep at night Jeane?

Aug 26, 2013

Daily thoughts : The Prophecy of Senator Ping Lacson on the Pork Barrel

The President of the Philippines have spoken (finally) that he wishes to abolish the Pork Barrel or PDAF. This was of course after the clamor of the public demanding the said scrapping of the said government funds.
Netizens were up in arms after news of blatant corruption spread in popular media site Facebook and other online news platforms.

Janet Lim Napoles is the infamous character now called the Pork barrel queen embroiled in this very hot issue. She is currently in hiding and is considered an armed and dangerous fugitive (10billion pesos.. you can hire an army with that amount). Right now there is a protest going on in Luneta where a displeased and angry mob of Filipinos show unity that they will no longer accept this kind of corruption to go on.

Recently, 15 more politicians have chimed in their support for the the PDAF to be removed. Some of these politicians have also been implicated by Pork Barrel Queen Janet as being involved in this scandal of public funds misuse. But the question is, why are these politicians expressing this sentiment just NOW? 10 years ago Senator Ping Lacson has been vocal about his stance on this matter. I read on this post that after Senator Lacson gave his speech, 

"then Senate President Franklin Drilon banged the gavel and ordered a recess. After the recess, the senate president adjourned the session."


Author of the post added "That banging of the gavel gave a massive headache to the citizens of the Philippines. The pork barrel was left untouched. The rotten system kept going. 

Ten years after that speech, it is now the Filipino people who are demanding the abolition of the pork barrel. Will it take another 10 years for the senators to listen? Will it take another decade to stop this culture of corruption?"

Here is the now famous speech, unearthed after 10 years and 10 billion pesos (and probably more) stolen and stashed away by the politicians we put to power and trusted. 


Senator Ping Lacson

Living Without Pork

Senator Panfilo M. Lacson

Privilege speech
March 11, 2003

Mr. President, I rise today on a question of personal and collective privilege.

Last week, we passed the Senate version of the General Appropriations Bill of 2003. No less than the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and principal sponsor of the bill aptly described the 2003 budget as "bare-bones", thus appealing to his colleagues to contribute their share to arrest the projected budget deficit which our economic managers expect to hit the PhP300B mark by year-end.

I now answer the call.

I call for the scrapping of a very corrupt and corrupting system in our political institutions. All I ask are a few minutes of your precious time - and of your mind.

We now must move to abolish the pork barrel system. We must see its end during our watch without need to mourn its loss. It is a virus of corruption that must die.

And, there is no better hall on this space on earth to make it happen than the Senate - expectedly, a place of men and women with mature age, with honor, with dignity, with integrity. Further, there is no better time to declare its end than now - when the country's budget deficit is at an alarmingly uncontrollable pace. For the past year, it was PhP213B. Of course, we do not believe the numbers.

One thing, I may say is apodictic. It is still counting. There is nothing in the pork barrel system that gives us pride. There is only everything that makes us hide in shame.

It should not matter anymore under what name the system sounds. Be it the Countrywide Development Fund, or the Congressional Initiative Allocation, or the Priority Development Assistance Fund. It is, and will remain to be a fund of compulsive corruption.

The name itself traces its origin to the pre-civil war days in the United States when, in periodic fits of generosity, white masters would give their black slaves salted pork in barrels. More often than not, the eagerness of the slaves would result in ugly shoving and rushing to grab more pork than the others. The more pork one could grab for himself, the more triumphant he would appear than the others who were meek and reluctant.

We may not realize it, but the Filipino people would sometimes see us behave like slaves rushing to the pork barrel. A critic has a worse description - that of swines rushing to get more slabs than they can consume.

Mr. President, our countrymen expect to see every peso of their taxes wisely spent on every project. They become profoundly disillusioned every time they are robbed of it.

Let me say now what they hate to hear. But they must hear what we have been afraid to say.

Under the pork barrel system, only less than half of the taxpayers' money actually goes to the programs of work. More than half habitually goes to the pockets of corruption. Occasionally, depending on the insatiability of the corrupt, a shameful twenty percent of the fund is left to finance the project. Holy mackerel!

We can pretend all day not to know. But the Filipino people have never been stupid not to see through such pretense.

Let me give the breakdown. It is nasty.

• 2% goes to the Commission on Audit as S.O.P.
• 10% is given to the district engineer and other officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways.
• 2% is passed on to the Barangay Chairman.
• 14% goes to the contractor - 10% in profit and 4% as value-added tax, thank God!
• 5-10%, if the Mayor or Governor so demands.
• And - hold your breath - 20% of project cost is earmarked for the legislator who identifies the project.
Shares sometimes vary depending on greed.

Even the billboards that advertise the proponents of infrastructure projects are overpriced.

Legislators who allocate funds for the purchase of medicines and other pharmaceutical products, as well as school supplies get bigger takes. By how much, Mr. President? Some suppliers say, it is, "from here to eternity."

In a book published in 1998 by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, entitled, "Pork and Other Perks," the author wrote about vivid accounts of actual pay-offs involving legislators. Thus, a pay-off usually takes place inside the office of legislators. The more sophisticated ones prefer hotel rooms and restaurants. Sulo Hotel in Quezon City is said to be a favorite.

"Pork barrel" every year runs to billions of pesos. I hate to say it. The people hate to hear it. But they lose billions of pesos anyway. They lose these billions to the many deep pockets of corruption.

Mr. President, my esteemed colleagues, there is no saying here that every senator or congressman is corrupt. It is only to say that we have all become suspect. The public has every basis and right to suspect. And we seem not to mind anymore.

Mr. President, those with clear conscience among us do not need to rage. They only need to help those without it.

In this regard, may I take this opportunity to thank the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and some of our colleagues who have expressed support to this advocacy.

One colleague, Senator Joke Arroyo has done something truly admirable: he had not allocated a single centavo from his "pork barrel" allocation for the past year. However, I cannot help but wonder how his PhP200M pork was realigned since it was part and parcel of the 2002 GAA. That is the reason why I want my allocation this year deducted from the proposed 2003 GAA. I have an unsolicited advice to the distinguished gentleman from Makati and the Bicol region - why not slash the 2003 national budget by PhP211M more?

To all of us in this august chamber, maybe we can help alleviate the burgeoning budget deficit by waiving our 2003 pork barrel fund allocations. We can actually do our share, no matter how small, in balancing the budget by doing just that. With twenty-three senators, at PhP211M each, four billion, eight hundred fifty-three million (PhP4.853B) will automatically be deducted from the 2003 national budget.

The Speaker of the House, Jose de Venecia, can equally display his statesmanship by doing the same in the lower house. With more than 200 congressmen, at PhP65M each, that would be another PhP13B at least. Let us be the first to sacrifice for the sake of tiding us over a financial nightmare. I, therefore, call on the Senate and the House of Representatives to voluntarily give up the pork.

Mr. President, it is a simple choice between self-respect and self-aggrandizement.

That is exactly my point. Those among us whose hands remain untainted and unsoiled by the fruits of corruption from the evil "pork" must now be insulated from the temptation it may bring upon us. How? Let's try scrapping the "pork." There is life without it!

We all know who we are and what we are on this issue. That is one thing we are all sure about. Mine are not speculations - I definitely have my own sources. The figures I brought out earlier are never a figment of my imagination.

If the "pork barrel" stinks, how much longer must we suffer the stench? I believe it is time to abolish it altogether.

Mr. President, we were elected by the Filipino people to make good laws for the common good and never to make gold under the "pork barrel" system. We are here to make laws, not to build roads and bridges.

We were voted into office to provide check and balance under the principle of powers; and not to accept fat checks to enhance our bank account balance.

Former French President and Prime Minister, the late Jean-Raymond Pompidou, was correct. There is a whale of difference between a politician and a statesman. He said, "while a statesman places himself at the service of the nation, a politician places the nation at his own personal service."

With the "pork barrel" system, we are all perceived as dirty, corrupt and greedy politicians. Without it, we can all become better statesmen and public servants.

Whenever our committees investigate anomalies in government, does it not occur to us how equally guilty they think the legislators could be?

Mr. President, pardon my asking. There are all kinds of arguments to defend the "pork." Its advocates invent new methods and formulas to make every legislator happy. Ironically, in the mind of every Filipino, they are all mad and madly corrupted by it.

I know that the pork barrel system has never been legally flawed. In fact, the Supreme Court has ruled on its constitutionality. But the Supreme Court never ruled that scrapping the "pork barrel" system would be unconstitutional either.

I can only hope the Senate leadership will take a serious look at this proposal and not simply toss it to the dust heap of the Philippine Senate history.

I am sure to lose some friends and create more enemies in this 12th Congress. I am sure skeptics will taunt me and the cynics will mock me without end.

I remember BAYAN MUNA Party-list Representative Crispin Beltran, he who declared the lowest asset in the lower house at eighty-one thousand pesos, said in a media interview immediately after my position on the "pork barrel" issue first came out, and I quote, "mabuti pa si Lacson ay may ibang pinagkakakitaan na illegal. Paano naman kami na sa "pork barrel" lamang umaasa?" Realizing that what he said was an instant give-away, he paused and started to stutter. Another congressman commented that this representation would not need to make money from the "pork barrel" because supposedly, "I have a lot in some foreign banks."

Mr. President, if this is my misfortune, so be it. It is not the one I cannot possibly learn to live with.

Mr. President, I derive no pleasure in telling what I have told. I am sure many colleagues derive no pleasure in hearing what they just heard. But the people surely hate what they already know about.

It is time to bring the "pork barrel" system down. Or, we all go down under.

We can surely live without "pork." Certainly, there is life without it.

Thank you very much!

Jul 15, 2013

Daily thoughts - Commendable customer service from PETCO

We recently adopted a yorkie who was abandoned by its owner. I will share more photos about him in a future post but for now I want to share an exceptional service I received from one of my favorite pet stores here. When we adopted our new baby Gummy bear last Thursday, we decided to immediately head over to petco to pick up items for him. I have never had a small dog live in a tiny apartment before so I didnt know what I had to get. Back in the Philippines, we had a bigger house and a carport to accommodate the many pets that lived with us. The dogs usually slept in the carport and had a leash or was in a kennel. Ive never had a toy dog before. I decided to take in Gummy bear because of his pitiful state after seeing his photo. A good friend of mine posted a photo on his facebook wall and when I saw it, I was just overwhelmed with sadness thinking whats gonna happen to the dog if he didnt get adopted.  I feared that pets like him might have a hard time getting a potential fosterer/adopter considering his age and other vulnerabilities associated with senior dogs. I decided to take the plunge but I was not quite prepared to actually bring him home and provide him with his basic necessities on the same day. 

Me and the hubby got a little crazy when we got to petco. we started grabbing whatever we thought was necessary from the dog section. wee wee pads, brush, toys, bowls, harness, tag, retractable leash, wet ones etc., Since we were there I also thought of getting the cats their wetfood and new ceramic bowls.For some reason, the counter at petco at union square didnt seem to have a display to show the prices as they were being entered in the system. Our bill rang up to $230 usd. I have never purchased anything for myself that was that much so I was taken a little aback with the hefty tag. But then again I reminded myself the items we got are for the long term use of our new furry friend. 

When I got home, i checked the receipt and discovered that we were charged 3x for one of the items. So i got on my computer and emailed Petco right away. I politely expressed my disappointment and my hesitation to go all the way to union square to have the amount credited back to me. I received a reply the following day from them. 

Dear Mam,

We are sorry to hear about your recent experience with our store at 860 Broadway, and thank you for bringing this to our attention.

At Petco, we strive to give every customer a fun and friendly shopping experience every time they visit one of our stores. I'm sorry to hear about the not so positive experience you had in this location. I assure you that I have already shared your concern to the appropriate department for immediate resolution. We are always investigating new features for our stores and rest assured your comments are sincerely appreciated so that we can continue to improve.

 I reviewed our records and it shows that you currently have two (2) * reward coupon/s which you can use next time you shop online or at your local Petco. To get your next $5 reward coupon you would still need $*** worth of purchase.
 Also, we have verified that you have earned three (3) $* Pals Reward coupons which have expired. Clearly, you are a valued customer and as such, we have re issued the expired coupons so you and your pet can enjoy shopping at Petco. I also added points on your Pals reward account for the extra charged on your debit card and it will generate additional two (2) $* reward coupons.  Pals Rewards coupons are valid for 45 days upon issuance. Please allow 24-48 hours for coupons to be generated.
To print your rewards online, all you need to do is to log in at www.petco.com with your email address and password. Just click on the My Account Home and under Pals Rewards click on the Pals Rewards Status to view the coupons. Enjoy shopping with your Pals Rewards.
For further assistance, please feel free to reply to this email or call us at 1-888-824-Pals (7257).

Sincerely,
MJ.
Customer Relations Coordinator


Healthier Pets. Happier People. Better World.
Petco values your insights, so please tell us how we are doing on our customer service survey.

I was totally impressed at how efficient and professional they handled my concern. They went above the usual kind of service I have been accustomed to in this country. Because of this I will always get my pet supplies from this store.

Thank you PETCO!

and I think it wasnt just me who was happy!



Daily thoughts - Work outs and Break outs

The past few days have been torture. the heat just wont let up and our unreliable ac is not helping. but still that doesnt stop me from taking a few minutes or hours to pound the pavement and enjoy the beautiful view out there





a few more breathtaking photos of some of my run routes in the past months













and of course when working out, it can be physically taxing and takes a toll on my skin. Im not promoting nor beauty blogging. just sharing that i thought of trying the trial offer from proactiv to deal with the breakouts. I will find out in a couple of weeks whether it works.


here is a cute photo of my cat trying to take over my mat. i rolled out it to stretch after my workout and she thought it was for her.


Jul 7, 2013

Daily thoughts- Home improvement stuff, a trip to the library, coffee and air conditioning

my gorgeous new placemats
First, Im excited to post a photo of my new placemats which i got for a steal at Bed, bath and beyond. We stopped by there on our way home. We spent the day at the New York Public Library at 5th avenue with good friends. The weather was horrible but inside the library the ac was nice. I wanted to stay longer but the exhibit we went to check out was not that big. We spent only 2 hours there and had to get going coz we also started to get hungry. I also managed to finally meet a good friend I met on the internet there. He works at the library and I cant wait to go back and visit him. Id like to take another tour of the building plus enjoy of course the wonderful world of free air conditioning. hehehe.

So anyway we had this wonderful dinner at a place called Lili's 57 over at 57th st. Food was good. I had the Lemongrass spicy chicken and tiger rolls. I dont remember what the rest ordered but the hubby had something called masaman curry. We walked our friends to the bus stop and bid them goodnight. We then cut through central park and had coffee (for him) and tea (for me) at Starschmucks. I honestly am not too crazy over their merchandise but the hubby loves their stuff. Speaking of coffee, we finally invested in getting a keurig coffee maker. I gave it to him as a gift on our 5th wedding anniversary. We have been putting it off because when I first got here, he already bought a cuisinart coffee maker. It just didnt make sense to spend more money just to make coffee.

He was really very happy when I did get him what he calls his new fountain of life. Lol. The thing came with 12 free samplers.


It seemed to have disappeared so quickly in 2 or 3 days. We wound up getting a box of 40 kcups of Brooklyn Beans from amazon. It has cute names like Brooklyn Bridge,  Cyclone, Corner donut shop, Breakfast Blends, Colombian etc. So far Im liking the Colombian with plain milk as creamer. I am jotting down my reviews on a notebook so I know which will be my favorite. We normally add plain milk so we can appreciate the flavor of the coffee. But there are also creamers we like. They have this creamer called the cold stone creamery international delight and they come out with some delicious creamers. Ive tried their cookie and ice cream creamers and those 2 are amazing. The baileys irish cream coffee creamer was also on sale at Fine Fare so I grabbed 2 of those and stuck it in the fridge. I just love coffee. I also like tea, cheesecake and ice cream =) And before I get carried away talking about food and drinks I think I better go back to the original trail of this post.

We went to Bed Bath and Beyond to get an additional fan because our portable AC has failed us. Since we cannot return the crappy thing, we have to resort to making it work at least for the remainder of the summer. Part of our dilemma is the size of the apartment. I think the ac is not strong enough to generate enough cool air to fill up the room.We have a long hallway going towards the door and hat has made the floor area bigger. We intalled a rod and put a curtain to cover the entrance to the hallway. We also bought a new vornado fan to help circulate the colder air from the portable ac to the rest of the room.

While im typing this post, i can say that there is noticeable improvement. Over the past few days it would take 4 hours before the temperature would go down. Today it took only an hour for the temperature to go down by at least 7 degrees. Even the cats seem happy about it. I see our cat Dapper laying on our bed which is unusual. Normally she likes to lay down on the dining table or on the floor. Sometimes she also wants to hang out by the bathroom floor. I am actually tempted to fill the tub with water, not for dapper, but for me to soak in. hehehe but yeah yey for the air situation in here.

Right now I just feel totally happy because it was such a great day. Everyday is not always as great but its up to us to really make the most out of each one. Not everyone is also as lucky to spend another day on earth so instead of moping and focusing on the things that make us sad, why not choose to look the other way and be grateful?

And here is a mushy post I put on my facebook wall today:

"when i read about chaos in the world, all the hurt and suffering, i stop to pray and wish for better days, not for me but for those who have to witness and experience such turmoil..around the same time I feel grateful for being blessed with health, kind friends and family and endless opportunities. All my doubts are dwarfed by the grand manifestation of His presence. Have a Blessed Sunday everyone. God Loves you."





Jul 6, 2013

Daily thoughts - 2nd FOJ and happy times at home

Celebrated Fourth of July yesterday with family. Lots of good food and I also cooked some pancit because its Mom's special request. We also took home some left overs and thats good news coz I dont have to cook for a couple of days at least. Yey for that. I love to cook and I have been doing that almost everyday since we moved to the new place. But the temperature in my kitchen is just going to make me melt. Too hot this Summer! But yeah it is nice to go visit family at such an occasion. We did'nt get to stick around too long because we had to hurry home to our girls and make sure they havent suffered from heatstroke.

Its been so hot the past few days that  even with all our fans on (2 tiny flippi, one lasko tower fan, one compact fan) plus our portable ac running it is not even enough. We have this wallclock that has an additional feature and it picks up the temperature of the room, and also there is the window fan that takes the one outside. Thats how we are able to tell whether there is any slight improvement with all the fans blasting at the same time. Sad to say it has only improved the temperature by a notch or two. Fail. too late to return the damn thing. We already discarded the box for the portable ac. Besides I cant imagine hauling that huge piece of shit on the subway again.

Cats are getting agitated over the insane heat

Dapper walked and plopped herself in front of the fan

Thumper and Dapper 
I have to put ice cubes in their water bowl everyday too to alleviate their discomfort.

But other than that though the four of us are all doing great and are having a marvelous time at our new apartment. We are still in the process of moving stuff from storage to our new home and getting things in order in terms of organizing where to put which. Its like the fun and games doesnt seem to end! We are always running around getting things done. Im not complaining like it is that exasperating. In fact Im enjoying our home improvement sessions a lot. Its just that the whole process is a little addicting like we want to get more stuff to make our place comfortable. Not that it isnt now. We basically have everything we need, but im forever finding trinkets and cool furniture that I think would look awesome in our apartment. I think I should stop looking at Pinterest! hehe we kind of joke about it because we think older people get excited over such things. Even the simplest addition like coasters, fridge magnets and the like make us jump in glee! well the jump part is exaggerated but everytime we do pick up a package at the lockbox at Gristedes, we are always crazy excited.

Here are my new magnets=)

And our new coasters :



Needless to say, Im a fan of George RR Martin=). Also here is another item I got for the closet door:

Dapper wanted to photobomb the poster
There are a few more cute stuff I got but I havent had the time to upload photos.

I am truly loving it here at our new home. Plus I discovered this delicious cake called Tres Leches at the bakery a few blocks away . The cake means 3milk. To me its 3 layers of deliciousness.


Sarappp!
Here is a beautiful view of the Washington bridge during one of our daytime strolls:




Jul 4, 2013

ATTENTION : AIRBRUSH MAKE UP MANILA. IF YOU WANT TO THRIVE IN YOUR BUSINESS, TREAT YOUR CUSTOMERS RIGHT!

My friend just experienced horrible customer service from a place called AIRBRUSH MAKE UP MANILA. Just wanted to share:

"Excuse my ranting but AIRBRUSH MAKEUP MANILA has the worst customer service everrr! Unfortunately theyre the only ones i know that sell dinair stuff here. They make me pay for shipping, couldnt ship so i go and pick it up at her house in makati. I text her 15 minutes before i get there and still had to wait outside forever. Didnt have stocks of what i wanted (she didnt inform me before i went there), said she couldnt give me my 300 refund because she didnt have cash on her and said she'd deposit. Well hello its been 2 months. Its just 300 pesos! Mygad. This is on top of really crappy replies when asking about their products. DO NOT Buy anything from them!"

Jun 11, 2013

Thoughts for the day - Apartment Hunting Conclusion

Last April I wrote a post about how difficult it is to find an apartment in NYC. I read this article that sums up pretty much what to expect when it comes to housing options when you get here. Based on the figures and complex issues discussed on that article with regards to fees, preference for location and the stringent requirements, it has actually gotten worse. And I failed to mention, that post was written 5 years ago.

When I moved to Singapore 6 years ago, I had only 10 bucks on me. But since I was promised a relocation allowance and a sufficient paycheck by the employer who hired me, I was hopeful that I would find an apartment without incident. Back in Singapore also I was still single. So it made sense to lease an apartment with friends or co workers. I lived more comfortably with extra income to put away for the rainy days.

It was nothing compared to what I went through when I arrived in NYC. It is hard to find a job and doubly hard to get an apartment that wasnt a dump and had a reasonable rate.

The most recent application I submitted for an apartment was a month ago. But I have been trying for over a year, to find a place that would not totally wipe me out financially. Currently, Im living off of my savings and Im taking the time to find a job. I wanted to find a comfortable home where it was geographically as desirable as possible (ie close to the subway and major hotspots of the city). A dream thats not unique to people who have been wanting to move to the Big City.

The good news is we finally found a perfect place! It is reasonably sized and affordable and close to all the amenities. It is both a miracle and a blessing we got this apartment. It is also close to my husband's school and the subway. I also discovered the numerous cheap grocery stores nearby. There is a starbucks across the subway, and a chipotle 2 doors down from it. I found a bakery that sells delicious donuts at .50 a piece, several 99c stores that has almost everything I need, a curtain shop, fine fare, gristedes, popeyes, rite aid, to name a few. I cant believe how lucky we are we have found our home sweet home smack in the middle of everything.  Right now we are gradually adding stuff to improve our humble abode=). Will be posting photos soon.

May 15, 2013

Daily thoughts - Goodbye Boomer

We recently got our own apartment. It is supposed to be a very exciting time for me because Ive waited for over a year to finally secure this one for me and my little family, including our cats. That includes the 3 cats I was planning to bring here. And as I relayed my wonderful message to a family member, I was told just today that Boomer, my blind cat, passed away. I feel numb right now. Heartbroken. Yeah she was just a cat. She was blind and sickly too. I want to console myself with the idea that she wouldnt have made it anyway. I mean if she did get her shots, who would give her a clean bill of health? she looked too sick to travel. Ive been sending money for over a year so that it would cover the expenses of the cats I left behind. I heard there are 4 cats left. I lost count of the original number but it doesnt matter. She is gone, and so are the other cats I cared for when I was still back home. I cried, cursed, I still feel bad and angry but I have to move on.  I did my best for her and spent over a thousand dollars making sure she was fed, bathed and cared for. I never wanted things to end this way but even with the best intentions we cannot always get what we want.

I love you Boomer. I dont care that other people thought you were garbage because you were blind and dirty. You are a sweet cat and you deserve all that attention love and even a portion of my paycheck. You are His gift to me. Thank you for being a part of my life..

May 1, 2013

Daily thoughts - Uneventful but still an exciting weekend =)

We didnt do a lot this weekend. We went to one of our favorite restaurants called Heart of India for brunch, Hubby snuck to get new comicbooks at his geek hotspot called Forbidden Plannet, I scanned the aisles of Walgreens for some good deals, we grabbed coffee from Starbucks and then went home.

Ah, the humdrum of married life...but not really. I never get bored doing simple things as such. Even during weekdays, I love doing the wifey things like cooking, cleaning, preparing dinner. But for most part of the day I just hang out and do anything I want. I even manage to jog or shop when I feel like it.

Weekends are sacred to me though. Its officially family time and I always look forward to it.

Lunch or dinner at home or in a restaurant, on  a weekend is special. The spouse is preoccupied with tons of schoolwork so any opportunity to steal a few hours of his precious time, with me just jabbering a bit of nonsense while he listens, means a lot to me=). i  know he is juggling way too many courses this semester, so I dont demand too much from him. IM so proud of him. He is doing so well in school even managing to be on the Dean's List and is getting both his Bachelor's degree and masters at the same time. There are these instances I kinda get this feeling of "inadequacy" because I dont know what to contribute to our "intellectual" conversations. I just dont know a lot about the stuff he is learning because its not related to medicine which is my field. Not just that, his reading voracity is just unparalleled. I have never met anyone like him who loves to read so much. Even before he went back to school, he always spent a great deal of time just reading. His pace is just off the charts. 

I look forward to when we do talk about other stuff unrelated to school, like current events, politics, religion and other topics we have mutual interest in, like Kim Kardashian and the information found inside the National Enquirer. HAHAHA SMH. God no. He would never waste his time reading that awful kind of garbage. 

Speaking of National Enquirer, we think its insane how some people pay 5 bucks for each issue of that horrible ass wipe kind of reading material. They have a new issue every week so thats 20 dollars a month. I have a patient who asks me to get her a copy of the magazine every week. Sometimes she even forgets to pay me back (selective amnesia). No wonder everytime I listen to her talk, nothing comes out of her mouth but worthless chatter, vile character assassination of some celebrity. She knows the "latest" scoop about who is getting a divorce and how much the separation is going to cost the couple. She knows who has had the most number of botched nose jobs and breast implants, who is cheating on who, and of course the latest on the Kardashians and Kim's pregnancy. If she gave me the money I can probably just get all the information for her free from the internet. But of course, its not just the hollywood prattle tattle. For the most part, its the "glossy" train wreck photos of celebrities-drunk, trashed, sans make up, and them looking like the rest of us (ie. thank-god-they-are-just-as-ugly-as-us-when-they-get-up-in-the-morning kind of relief fans get) that gets its weekly following. And of course everyone is up for their daily fix of the juiciest, nastiest scuttlebutt=).

20 bucks may not be a lot of money but id rather donate that to a worthy cause or get a good book.
You save that money and you can get a really good book at Barnes and Noble or Strands. Or if you hang out in front of Astor's place, there is a mobile book flea market that sells second hand books for 5 or 7 dollars. I admit sometimes I do find tabloid trash entertaining. but I just wont spend money on it or too much precious time.

There just isnt enough time. For instance, I would look up at the clock when Im checking facebook and replying to emails and Id be surprised at how my 2 hours went by so quickly. So every opportunity I have to spend with the hubby, I make the most out of it. Even if its just the usual mundane stuff. Sometimes when we hang out at home, its either I cook or we order take out. We still get a kick out of just eating dinner and watching our favorite TV Shows. The whole affair is just an hour and a half and he has to go back to reading while I put the dishes away and take care of the girls. It seems boring and routine but surprisingly I just enjoy the pleasures of our quite life. 

And its nice to just end the day with a cup of our favorite hot tea his is Earl Grey, mine is Chamomile before we retire to bed.

Im fortunate I married a man who thoroughly enjoys his weekend just hanging out with his family, reading, eating, watching our favorite tv shows.

Routine and seemingly boring but not when its spent with someone who stimulates me intellectually and otherwise. Baaabbbbbyyyyyy. Lolz.

Apr 24, 2013

Daily thoughts - Apartment hunting Day 1

Im off to Columbus Circle to submit paperwork for an apartment. I also have to swing by the post office to get a money order for the application processing fee. Freaking 100 dollars. Damn thats a lot of money. Same amount I allocate each month to feed the cats back home. To some that's nothing but breadcrumbs, but in my case I value ever penny I worked hard for. I think that amount could go to some shelter and feed many cats..So hopefully this fee goes toward something worth it! Every housing application form entails some form of effort (Look up the location, find out whether its safe, also if there are nearby grocery stores and if the subway is easily accessible) and unfortunately fees from the applicant/s. Whether or not you pass the screening, that deposit is theirs to keep. In short, even if they scan your paperwork and think you dont qualify (even without doing a background check) they can toss your documents to the nearest bin (or shredder) and they can just tell you oh sorry you did not qualify. And still keep your hard earned cash. That thought is somehow disturbing. Shit.

Anyway, thats part and parcel of dealing with brokers. There is no getting around it. Another important aspect of apartment hunting is doing one's homework. Research on the going rate of apartments the same size and within the vicinity of the one you have applied for. That way you know whether you are being ripped off.


Apr 21, 2013

Daily Thoughts - A crazy week

On Monday, a bomb exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. There has been 3 confirmed deaths and over a dozen with mangled extremities, more than a hundred with less threatening injuries. When I first heard of the news that day, there were no names tied yet to the casualties. Just the same, I was in a state of shock, disgust and sadness. Also a tinge of it-was-a-blessing-in-disguise-kind of relief for me not to have made it there for this year's race. Nevertheless, what happened was definitely not a blessing, it was a horrific crime. An act of shameless cowardice, stupidity and utter nonsense. The motive still a mystery though, but the feds are working on discovering why these kids (yes one was a teenager) pulled this stunt that will forever haunt this festive event.

The previous year I applied for both the Boston and the NYC Marathon.  I didnt qualify for either race. The NYC race however had a lottery for those who cant make the qualifying time.  No luck for me though, they took my registration fee anyway. It was only 11 bucks so I figured Ill treat it just like a donation. So when the race was cancelled I am not going to lie that I was sort of gloating over it. A bit because I was bitter, but moreso because I was upset over how insensitive the organizers were for not cancelling it sooner. I just thought it was not right to move forward with a race when a lot of people have been displaced, with no electricity, food, destroyed homes and worse deaths caused by Super Hurricane Sandy.

The cancellation of the NYC Marathon was mostly a disappointment to some runners and mostly the organizers and of course our "beloved" Mayor Bloomberg. I understand how the runners reacted to it since I believe majority of them saved and prepared for this big race. But there were those who also understood the need to cancel it and showed empathy to those affected by the storm. This should be the hallmark of a big event like the NYC Marathon, Unity, and not insensitivity and focus on monetizing especially in a crisis.

The Boston Marathon on the other hand, was not cancelled, yet the aftermath of the explosion rocked the state and the nation.

Another disturbing thing that happens during a tragedy like this  is when people spread lies. I despise it when some people are quick to blame one religious group especially when there is insufficient evidence. Nevertheless, spreading also a rumor and inaccurately making up a story especially alluding to a victim as a "fake" is just downright unfair and crass.

i saw this on my friend's facebook wall. 
The photo above is an example of such sheer stupidity. I was quick to point out to my friend that although I agree with her thoughts that people should not jump the gun and come up with conclusions that this act of Terror is a ploy to spread Islamophobia, I still find it very unfair to not have some common sense to do research or simply watch the news to know that the man on the left actually did lose his legs to the explosion. The man on the right photo is a totally different person.

Jeff Bauman Jr 
Jeff Bauman Jr was among the spectators at the finish line. He was waiting for his girlfriend when the bomb went off and cost him both his legs. If you doubt my story, ask Bradley Cooper, he visited the guy just recently. It is not right to play him for a fake just because some people want to prove a point.

The "good" news is, they have one of the suspects in custody, one killed I heard. The bad news, we all know that, still lingers however that beautiful lives were lost in this tragic event and others who are physically  and permanently disfigured. Lives totally changed after this event.

Criminals are getting bolder each day, its scary. But life has to move on. We gain nothing if we let the tragedy stifle us from loving what is beautiful with living.

Speaking of life, I quit my job because of an abusive boss. Im living off my savings for now and  I dont regret that decision although it was totally unplanned. I was coerced into resigning and it turns out that kind of behavior is sort of illegal in this country. I mean making it look as though someone voluntarily resigned when they didnt is not tolerated and has legal consequences . The long and short of is, my boss plan to get rid of me backfired on him. The event in Boston also made me  think of how uncertain our time here is on earth.It would have been very sad if I had died and I was still stuck in a job and life I hated.

Ive been on the lookout for a job that hopefully will be something I would enjoy doing though. I am not a demanding employee and if companies ask for qualifications, I too as an employee deserve to have a list of my requirements. Medical/Dental benefits, career growth, reasonable rate, feasible in terms of commute time and expense, and most importantly Respect. Unfortunately, you dont know early in the game whether you will get the last and most important one. So Im doing my best to research on all the potential offers I have been getting before I sign any paperwork. Fortunately, there are sites to find these information You can google it  up and indicate the name of the company then type employment and review. I discovered a bunch of scam/fake companies and it saved me a great deal of time, effort and MONEY. Yes some people were swindled because they were desperate to find jobs. There is a wealth of massive information on the wide web. But you have to do your homework. Most especially in a setting where the economy has gotten so bad that anyone is willing to take on any job to survive. 

Sure I need the job, but I am not desperate. I may be practical but I also want to be careful since it doesnt look good either on a resume if you keep hopping from one job to another. This week I have been in a few interviews for a new job. Also apartment hunting for a new place. Another fresh start. Im getting tired of the Lower East Side. I  mean, i love the restaurants here but the perpetual sound of sirens on the main thoroughfare gets old after awhile. I even sleep with earplugs now just to drown the noise. I do admit though that its kinda great to live smack in a spot where you find Kmart, Starbucks,  Staples, Whole Foods, DSW, Movie Houses, Trader Joes, etc and  St Mark's long strip of exotic and interesting restaurants.Plus there's the easy access to the subway that takes less than 20 minutes to get to Times Square and Central Park. Reality check though for me though  is  gentrification has made this part of the city too upscale for my budget. I'm currently hell bent on saving some dough  to further my education and take that dream trip to visit the Holy Land hopefully in 2016. So something's gotta give. In this case, a less expensive apartment hopefully not in the sticks somewhere.

Also, I have my misgivings about how NYC will handle another (God forbid) Sandy like catastrophe. The Lower East Side may not have been as unfortunate as other farther places like the Rockaways or Staten Island, still it was odd that past 18th Street, there was electricity after the hurricane. I never got around to sharing my Sandy experience because I have been so busy since November. Plus there werent a lot of photos to actually share since I didnt anticipate that a blackout would occur for a couple days (weeks, and months for some) at our apartment. Not too much photos to share except for a few and that of me and the spouse buying waffles in a dimly lit food truck, ironically parked in front of ConEdison's brightly and fully lit building (assholes).

I experienced having to walk the streets on a busy night and there were no traffic lights or even makeshift lights along the Lower East Side. I worked along 34th street and I walked to and from work for 4 days after the storm. There was no water, electricity, phone signal and the 911 and 311 lines were inaccessible. We had to check on grandma too because she lived alone in her building and we helped haul water all the way up to her apartment and get supplies. Price gouging was prevalent, yet there were people who showed kindness too. Chase bank for instance gave free food. Duane Reade on Chrysler building let us charge our electronics for free. B and H along 34th street also let people charge their electronics. Percy's Tavern on Avenue A gave away bagels the next morning and even allowed patrons and non patrons to charge phones/electronics on their generator. Its long overdue but Thank you guys! No love from Con Edison although the night prior to the hurricane, their vehicles were parked in front of Barnes and Noble (Union Square). Now in retrospect all I can say is the image they tried to project was an Overkill. Because those vehicles didnt serve us in anyway during the time we were crossing those dangerous streets those dark nights (Shame on you Conned Edison). 

And again Im putting off the detailed Sandy experience post for another day. But here are some of the few photos I was able to take using my low resolution phone. 

I ran for 11 miles on October 29 and found these at Union Square after my Long Slow Distance run.

Con Eds trucks ready for the storm: (pre storm photos)







The Day after the Storm:

power strip appropriated at Duane Reade Chrysler Building
Hubby bought a power strip at Duane Reade so we can charge more electronics. But he was also generous enough to let other people piggy back on our extension cord. He received profuse thanks for the offer.



Heart of India Dinner, Rogan Josh and Curry

Dinner in the Dark, Romantic! hehe

We bought our dinner from this place called Heart of India. Another restaurant we love. They have great authentic Indian food. We were so happy to find that they were open although the restaurant was barely noticeable because it was pitch black along 2nd Avenue.



B and H along 34th street
B and H along 34th street put out a long table in front of their store and let people charge their phones for free. 


Apartment on 8th avenue
This was quite a sight. I was walking on my way to work (an hour walk) and I saw this. My phone battery was almost dead but great thing I took a snap of this building. Later that day it was swarmed with reporters and I saw it also on the news.


waffle truck Wafels and Dinges


the building across the food truck is Con Edison 
And as you can see, all the offices inside Con Edison building is lit up while the rest of the Lower East Side grappled in the Darkness. 

a rainbow after the storm! free food! =)

Food truck giving away food sponsored by Chase

Thanks guys!

Its 12am and Im bushed. But it was a great day despite a hectic week. Im grateful Im alive, happy, blessed. Amidst the chaos in the world, I find solace knowing the Lord is there.. 

Happy Sunday!=)