So long 2021

My 2021 wasn’t terrible. I became a Mom, and I celebrated and enjoyed life as much as possible. I explored and pushed myself to try new things. I got creative with ways to motivate myself, and I continue to move forward. It sucks that I’m spending the last day taking care of a sick baby, but such is life.

Below is my picture recap of the year. I choose one picture to sum up each month.

January- I became a Mom! I gave birth to Maxine Amelia on Dec 19, 2020. My first month as a mom was rough and full of learning moments, but I’m thankful every day for my munchkin.
February- My mom turned 77 this year. With the pandemic, it was tough to see her and our family. This amazing picture (of three generations) was taken at my Aunt’s house. We celebrated my Mom’s birthday, and family members finally met Maxine.
March- With a new baby, it’s hard to get out, and it was tough to have time just for my husband and me. I signed us up for a beer and cheese virtual tasting as a date night. It was a lot of fun and informative.
April- I did many fun things in April, including an oyster shucking class and a cooking class with Daniel Boulud, but nothing can beat my Dad finally coming home from rehab after fracturing his hip. December 2020, my father fractured his hip, had to have surgery, and caught covid and pneumonia in the hospital. At the beginning of the year, my father was moved to a long-term care facility in Jersey first and finally placed in a rehab facility in Queens soon after. It was a challenging situation, mainly because of covid and I couldn’t see him. He finally came home at the end of April, and he got to meet his granddaughter for the first time.
May- I decided to sign-up for a flower CSA from May to October. It was a bit pricey, if I’m going to be honest, but so worth it! I picked up flowers every week; it was very refreshing. I even tried my hand at arranging the flowers. It was fun and relaxing.
June- Andrew and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by attending a virtual magic show by Dan White. It was AMAZING and blew our minds.
July- We celebrated Dad, who turned 79! My family has a house in Long Island that we share by the beach. My dad rarely visits, but my Aunt and Uncle threw him a little party, and he enjoyed the day and area.
August- We had a family vacation in the Catskills at the end of August. We rented a house with a pool and jacuzzi; it was amazing and much needed. I don’t have many pictures of my husband smiling, so I’m taking advantage and showing his beautiful smile.
September- Self-care became tricky during the pandemic. I finally decided enough was enough with my hair and chopped it off. Quite liberating if I say so myself.
October- I turned the big 4*0* this month. We decided to head over to Crystal Springs Resort for a few days and enjoy the fall season. The resort was fantastic with great food, and I took advantage of the spa. We went apple picking, pumpkin picking, went through a corn maze, and enjoyed wine and spirit tastings in the area. It was very low-key and chill.
November- Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I appreciate the time with family and the overall idea of gratitude. I shared my journal of things I’m grateful for already in another post. My husband had to work on Thanksgiving, but I still enjoyed the day, reflected on everything I’m thankful for, and cooked a feast.
December- This month was filled with friend and family activities, but I couldn’t help picking the time decorating the gingerbread house as my picture for the month. It gets harder and harder to find activities that my parents are willing to do and be a part of. Next year, I will continue to brainstorm ideas.

It was great to reflect on the year. I hope you had some time for reflection as well.

Cheers to 2022!

Enjoying the holidays

Recapping my year is a must, but first I want to share how I spent my holidays. This year looked and felt different, but I was determined to make the most of it.

Tree watching:

I kept it local and virtual. I watched the tree lightings virtually for Athens Square Park and Astoria Park.

Astoria decorations:

I honestly didn’t venture around the neighborhood as much as I wanted, but I still got to see some beautiful decorations.

Home decorations:

I didn’t do much this year. I confess I didn’t even open up my Christmas boxes. I went with simple and familiar. Each year, I do a tree of Christmas cards, and for a tree, I got a tiny one this year so that we could enjoy the stuffed toys from my daughter’s advent calendar.

Christmas parties:

I’m fortunate that I could celebrate with my groups of girls. Both parties weren’t fancy, but I had a great time, and most importantly, everyone got to meet my daughter, Maxine.

Family activities:

A big hit this year was the gingerbread houses! Two were made with my husband’s niece and nephew, and one was made with my parents.

The advent calendars were also an obvious favorite. We all enjoyed our own. Andrew had a whiskey one, Maxine had a stuffed toy one, PJ and BB shared a fancy feast one, and my parents and I had a chocolate one.

I had low-key family parties with great food, but I’m pretty proud of my Christmas Eve dishes. I went all out with a seven-fishes-themed spread. We had raw oysters, crab, salmon slices, mussels and clams in a white wine, fried shrimp, and baked fish. We also had steak, brussel sprouts, and mashed potatoes. For dessert, I made brownies.

Christmas outfits:

I was so excited to dress Maxine up this year for parties and PJs. I couldn’t help myself.

Christmas cards and gifts:

I went with both personal cards and virtual cards. I sent many of my older family members cards with personal notes and sent a virtual card with pictures to all my online family members.

I gave many food-related gifts and personal touch gifts this year. Below are some of my favorites.

Overall I had a great holiday, and I hope you did as well.

Tree Lightings in Astoria

It’s that time of year where all the tree lightings happen. The infamous Rockefeller Tree ceremony was this Wednesday. I didn’t watch it this year, but it is a beautiful tree, and I know I’ll visit it eventually.

I want to keep it local this year. Two tree lightings are happening in Astoria tonight at Athens Square Park and on Sunday at Astoria Park. Check them out if you are in the area!

Via 30th Ave Business Association Instagram
Via Central Astoria Local Development Coalition Instagram

Advent Calendars 2021

I didn’t know that advent calendars were a big deal. Last year, I bought a chocolate one for both my mom and me to enjoy the season. I was pregnant, about to pop, and covid restrictions were still in effect, so I thought the calendars could be something we could do together even if we weren’t in the same place. Each night, my mom and I would find time to talk and enjoy our little treat. We loved it!

The chocolate was the same each night, but the quote with it was different.

I loved it so much I kind of went advent calendar crazy this year. I got a calendar for my parents, husband, my baby, my husband’s niece, and nephew, and even the cats have one.

My mom and I love chocolate, so I got a Godiva calendar for us. Dad wanted in, too, so he has his own as well.

I’m excited for this calendar because the chocolates will be different each night.

My husband is really into whisky, so I got him Flaviar’s Whiskies of the Galaxy calendar.

How cool is this box?!?
Fancy!

Maxine is almost one, so I decided to get her a stuffed animal calendar that could go on the Christmas tree.

Isn’t it cute!

The cats will be sharing a Fancy Feast calendar.

Meow

I got Andrew’s three-year-old niece a Disney advent calendar that will have a different story each night.

Andrew’s nephew is ten, so I chose a calendar that is a little more hands-on.

I hope we all enjoy them!!!

Starting the holidays off with Mom

Last year it was hard to get together for the holidays. Not only was I pregnant, but Covid happened. So I’m not surprised that pretty much everyone is jumping on the holiday bandwagon early. I started the holiday season with my Mom at the beginning of November. We did an Ethel M Chocolate tasting and went to a holiday market to benefit The New York Junior League.

On November 5th, we participated in Ethel M Chocolates- Holiday Cactus Garden Lighting Online Tasting Experience. The event came with hot chocolate, a chocolate tasting kit for two, and some paperwork to remember and enhance our experience. This was the first virtual tasting experience for my mom, so I was excited for her.

The event kicked off via Zoom with speeches and the Cactus Garden lighting ceremony. Then our Chief Chocolatier did a hot chocolate demonstration focusing on three ways you could up your hot chocolate game. Lastly, it was chocolate time! We sampled a white chocolate peppermint silk piece, milk chocolate pecan pie, a pumpkin spice piece, dark chocolate egg nog, and then milk and dark chocolate fudge pieces. My mom’s favorite was the white chocolate peppermint silk, and mine was the milk chocolate fudge.

Chief Chocolatier- Mark Mackey
Mom getting into it!

We had the best time! Ethel M has tastings all the time. Check out their website; they should have a holiday and a New Year tasting coming up.

On November 12, Mom and I attended The New York Junior League’s Golden Tree, a shopping event where the vendors give 20% back to the nonprofit. The league’s mission is to promote volunteerism, develop the potential in women, and improve communities. I also volunteer with the league, and this was the first event that I brought my mom.

Here is the gorgeous Astor House
Mom and me

Before we shopped, we enjoyed tea and yummy bites from Kings’ Carriage House.

Check out the spread!

After tea, we enjoyed three floors of vendors.

Isn’t this bag cute!
Original ornament from Christina’s World
Bought a scented candle from Zagara Home
And a elegant necklace from Therese Custom Designs

Golden Tree is done for the year but looking forward to more holiday markets like the Queens Craft Brigade event.

via Queens Craft Brigade’s Instagram
List of vendors for 11/28 via Queens Craft Brigade’s Instagram

What holiday markets and events are you excited for?

What I’m thankful for

I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving with you and yours.

This entire month I’ve been creating space to give thanks in all areas of my life, and each day in November, I identified something I was thankful for. I’ve done this for the past few years, and I’ve found it powerful and therapeutic. It has helped me reset and focus on what is important to me. Here is my list. I hope it inspires you to do the same in your way.

Nov 1: I’m incredibly thankful for my daughter Maxine. I went through three miscarriages within a year before her, and it was a tough time in my life. Being pregnant with her during the height of the pandemic was not fun, but it was a blessing in disguise. The pandemic forced me to stay home and take care of myself, and that is exactly what I needed. Last year at this time, I was having my baby shower and getting ready to give birth; time flies. Here is our first and our latest selfies. I love her so much my heart is going to explode.

Our very first selfie
Our latest selfie

Nov 2: I’m thankful for my two kitties BB and PJ. These two lovelies made me a fur mom and have brightened my day for ten-plus years. I don’t give them enough attention these days, but I love them so much. One important thing I intend to do this month is take them to the Vet. It’s so important for pets to have yearly checkups. Also, my PSA of the moment, pet insurance is everything. If you can afford it, get it. It will help in the long run.

Here is a picture of my two beauties, BB (white tabby) and PJ (orange tabby)

Nov 3: It is definitely an acquired taste in entertainment, but I enjoy the Masked Singer. For those unfamiliar, it is a reality show where celebrities perform in a mask and leave clues for a panelist of judges to guess who they are. The performances are great and all, but what I love about the show is that my husband and I watch it together and try to guess who the celebrities are. It is something we both do together. My husband is great at guessing the identities, but I’ll never admit that to him.

Nov 4: I don’t drive anymore; my husband does all the driving and is usually the one with the car. When I need to get around, I Uber, and I used to take the train daily, but I haven’t been on mass transportation since the pandemic shutdown. Today I had to pick up a food delivery, and I had a round trip set with the same Uber driver, and my daughter came with. My thanks today goes to my driver. Not only was he extremely friendly, but he was also great with conversation. We talked about our families, the pandemic, and work. Some Uber rides can be extremely awkward, but sometimes they are pretty pleasant.

Nov 5: My mom will be my focus today. I’m thankful for her every day, but she comes to mind today because we enjoyed a lovely virtual chocolate tasting together. Jeez, I don’t know where I would be without my mom; she basically raised me by herself (my parents separated when I was three). She drives me bonkers most of the time but I honestly don’t know where I would be without her.

Nov 6: Today, I had a fantastic spa day with my childhood friends. We don’t get to see each other often, but when we do, it’s like no time has passed. The spa was amazing and had a lot of features, but we each booked a Korean Body Scrub, and it was everything. Now the scrub itself wasn’t exactly fabulous (beauty is pain people), but the results were. My skin came out glowing! My technician took care of me and is who I’m thankful for today. She scrubbed me raw, massaged me a little, cleaned me up and my bathing suit, and did it with a smile. Thanks for taking care of me!

Posing at the spa

Nov 7: Today is Marathon Sunday. My day has been filled up with memories of me running the marathon in 2017. I ran/walked it, and it took me forever, but I finished. I wanted to quit so many times, I hurt myself a few days before, I didn’t train as much as I wanted, and the weather was awful, but I kept going. Friends along the way, the crowds cheering me on, and the random strangers sharing their stories helping me along the way were a god sent. I’m so thankful for the memories, and I’m determined to beat my score in the future.

Nov 8: Today is my Auntie Oyee’s Birthday. I have a special place in my heart for my Auntie because not only was she my babysitter when I was a baby, but she has been a confidant all my life. She always supports me, and for that, I’m truly thankful.

My aunt with Maxi

Nov 9: I heard from my old co-worker Sandra today, and I’m so grateful for her friendship. My old work environment was a bit toxic in many regards. She always had my back and supported me when I needed it, and I can’t thank her enough.

Nov 10: I’m very grateful for my love for adventure. Tomorrow, Andrew and I will climb a side of a skyscraper. Let’s see how it goes!

Nov 11: I’m very thankful for our Veterans. My life would be very different without their sacrifice and service.

Nov 12: I’ve been volunteering with The New York Junior League since 2014. The league is a women’s volunteer organization focused on empowering women and improving communities. I’ve learned so much, met a ton of great women, and have been able to use my professional skills for a good cause; I’m very thankful for that.

Nov 13: Today, I had brunch with my girls. I’ve known this group of friends for over 25 years. So thankful that even though we don’t see each other often, time doesn’t change our friendship.

Nov 14: Every Sunday, my husband and I try to visit my in-laws for family time with the baby. His brother’s family and sister also attend, so it always feels like a party. I’m grateful for this special time, and Maxine is always around family.

Nov 15: I’m writing this as I watch my baby Maxine take a nap. I’m internally grateful for the quiet moments to myself that I’m able to get. Whether to plan, read, meditate or exercise, I know it is super important to take the time.

Nov 16: It’s getting pretty cold here in New York. I’m grateful that I have access to heat at all times.

Nov 17: I’ve been trying to exercise for some time and have struggled to find motivation. I came across the Conqueror Virtual Challenges. You choose a location ( most of them are bucket list locations), the number of miles you want to accomplish, and set a goal on when you want to complete it. You log your physical activities and receive information about the location you choose when you reach specific milestones. It took me a minute to figure out some of the app features, but I’m loving it right now and am grateful I found it. It makes exercising fun and a game. The best part is you get a medal to show off after. The location I chose is Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Screenshot of App

Nov 18: Sleep is hard to come by these days as a mother to an 11 month-year-old, but thankfully Maxine has been sleeping through the night. I hope to keep that up.

Nov 19: Last year around this time, my father fractured his hip. It was awful, I was just about to give birth, and he also caught pneumonia and Covid in the hospital. Anything that could have happened did. I’m so grateful that he pulled through and fully recovered. He has to walk with a walker or cane, but that’s life. I’m just so happy that I can continue to make memories with my Dad.

Dad with Maxi

Nov 20: Today, my focus is on my apartment. It’s a hot mess, but it’s mine. I’m so thankful for its shelter and comfort. There are so many individuals and families who are homeless, and it breaks my heart. At this moment, I feel so blessed.

Nov 21: This weekend, I took part in my Sorority’s virtual 5K. Even better was that I could use the miles for my Angkor Wat challenge. I’m thankful for my body, most specifically my legs, for keeping me active. I always take my health for granted but that is something I’m working on.

At Cunningham Park in Queens

Nov 22: I’m incredibly grateful for my husband, Andrew. We’ve been together for a total of 12 years. He is an amazing father and my best friend. He pushes me to be the best version of myself and I’m thankful for that.

Fun family pic sans the cats

Nov 23: I’m an only child, but I was lucky enough to be surrounded by my cousins all my life. Rose and Lizzie are my two cousins who are more like sisters. We don’t see each other as often as I would like, but they have always been there for me, and I’m very lucky to have them in my life.

Messing around

Nov 24: I recently signed up for an Oyster CSA. Every other week I pick up fresh oysters and seafood. This week, I picked up oysters and littleneck clams. This is my second pick-up, and so far, everything has been yummy. A huge thanks to World’s Your Oyster Co. for putting this all together.

Shuck them all by myself!

Nov 25: I’m thankful for you. Thanks so much for reading.

The Edge’s City Climb Experience

It’s the season of giving thanks and one of the things I’m truly grateful for is my love of adventure.

My husband and I participated in The Edge’s City Climb earlier this month. We climbed an angled staircase of a skyscraper and leaned out over the edge. It was scary, thrilling and liberating all at the same time. Extra bonus is that you get an amazing view of New York City.

The whole experience was about two hours. The first hour is all about safety. You fill out waivers, get suited up and checked multiple times, and learn about using the equipment. The next hour is enjoying the climb on the staircase and enjoying the view. I found the climb a little strenuous, because you have to pull your gear with you, but the view is totally worth it. I highly recommend it!

Here are some photos of our experience.

Right before our climb
Climbing up!
Half way there!
I was so scared! Looking down was way easier for me than falling back.

More treats than tricks this Halloween

Halloween this year was pretty amazing. It was just the right amount of activities for the entire family.

As a Halloween/Fall activity, I like to carve or decorate pumpkins. This year I didn’t get around to carving myself but we made it an activity for my husband’s niece and nephew.

I also decorated some pumpkins with some stickers.

One was focused on cats and one with bats and ghosts.

The night before Halloween, as a date night, my husband and I did a virtual Halloween Scavenger Hunt with Watson Adventures. It was pretty tough! The hunt had a haunted theme and we visited various websites with some kind of scary involved. What made it tricky was some of the questions involved us navigating links with virtual tours and 360 views that can be difficult to find and figure out on a laptop. Our daughter was also still awake and would not fall asleep. We had the lowest score of the night but it was still fun.

We were Team 8- Haunted Pumpkins. We didn’t really open our video because our daughter was all over the place.

The best part of Halloween was dressing up Maxine. She was the cutest baby leopard. I also had her in pumpkin pjs the night before Halloween.

On Halloween, instead of trick or treating, we did a virtual experience instead, and enjoyed a bubble show from Bubbledad. Maxine had no idea what was going on but it was cute to see all the kids who zoomed in participate in the interactive portion of the show. The kids got to make their own bubbles by using a cardboard tube, straws, and socks.

Bubbledad working his magic.

To cap the night off, I had myself a delicious treat from Pecking House.

Chili fried chicken and cauliflower with squash and candied pepitas, roasted brussels sprouts, and heirloom bean salad. Everything was delicious.

Next year, I want to aim to dress up as a family and enjoy trick or treating or attend a party.

Fun in the Catskills

It’s officially Fall, but I’m still reminiscing about summertime. This year I got to enjoy the Catskills twice. The first time, I went camping with friends, and the second time, I stayed in a house with family.

Camping was fun, even with a seven-month baby! We stayed at a Tentrr campsite. Tentrr locations are unique because they provide all the camping material for you, and everything is already set up ready to go. We had a huge canvas tent, chairs, an area for campfires, and an area for eating. Another bonus of Tentrr locations is that they are pretty private. The place we chose is part of an abandoned zoo, and it was great because we were able to explore the area if we wanted to, and even though we were camping, we were able to use some bathroom facilities it had.

Here are some pictures of us camping.

Our Tentrr Tent

While in the area, we enjoyed the local Farmer’s market and ice cream shop, hiked Kaaterskill Falls, and did a tasting at the Rip Van Winkle Brewing Company.

On our way to Kaaterskill Falls
Baby’s first hike
Family pic at the falls
Banana flavor
Tasting at Rip Van Winkle Brewing Company

In late August, Andrew and I, with his family, rented a house via Airbnb. The house was by Hunter Mountain. It was simple, but it had plenty of room for us and had a pool and jacuzzi; we didn’t need anything else!

Here are some of my favorite shots.

Shirley House

Sadly enough, this summer just flew by. Before it is officially Fall, I want to recap some of my summer adventures.

I was able to visit my family’s Long Island house in Shirley twice. Once to celebrate my Dad’s birthday and another to have a relaxing week away from the city.

Here is a pic of my Dad.

Looking good for 79!

My Aunt found these gems of my Dad.

My Dad and Grandma ❤️
My Dad and Uncle ❤️

My Aunt and Uncle are really into clamming, so much of what we had eaten was clam-related, but it was delicious. My Aunt and Uncle work wonders in the kitchen.

Clam Chowder
Clam Casino
Clam Rockefeller
Fluke and veggies

During our week away, we enjoyed the house, visited the beach, and even went clamming ourselves. My husband Andrew, friend Patrick and I got to enjoy my Uncle’s boat. I need to come to the Shirley house more often.

Here are my favorite pics of the week.

Enjoying the canal
Exploring with the boat
Clamming time
Just a sample of the clams we got
Our cats PJ and BB lounging
BB exploring
Snuggles with Maxine
Peaceful times at the beach