Trying out Hug Esan in Elmhurst Queens

Two weeks ago, I attended my first ‘Eat Something New in Queens’ meet-up at Hug Esan, a Thai restaurant in Elmhurst.

I had such a great time. It was a date night/food adventure/reunion kind of night. An old friend from high school, small world, planned the event, and Andrew and I got to venture out, try new things, and meet new people.

Everything was amazing! Here is what we ate.

Pork Spring Rolls
Bamboo Larb Salad- *the spiciest dish
Crispy Pork Belly
Tom Zabb- spicy and sour soup with spare ribs and various mushrooms *my favorite
Esan Pork Sausage
Chive Dumplings
Moo Num Tok- sliced pork salad with rice powder
Larb Pla- fried fish with herbs in a sweet and spicy sauce *the most exciting dish
Som Tum Thai- papaya salad
Coconut Ice Cream
Thai Coconut Pudding

Until the next time!

Eat Something New In Queens Challenge

In March, I took part in the ‘Eat Something New in Queens’ Challenge. The purpose was to step out of your comfort zone, try new restaurants and food, and support local restaurants around Queens. Although I took a little staycation during the challenge, I still tried to participate. All the food I tried was excellent!

Here are the restaurants I tried.

Nneji is a West African spot in Astoria. It’s more a pickup type of place but has fantastic food. Don’t feel shy and ask the owner for recommendations on what to eat.

Harissa Chicken with Jollof Rice
Spicy Goat Stew with Okra and Tomato – was definitely spicy!

Coco Malaysian Cuisine in Elmhurst.

Golden Fried Chicken
Coco House Special Fried Rice
Chow Kueh Teow Noodles
Fried Squid with Fresh Mango

I’m half Filipino, so Filipino food is life, but I did find a new dish I had never had before at Kabayan Authentic Filipino Cuisine in Woodside.

Binagoongan Rice (Fried rice with shrimp paste, mango, and scallions)

My family stayed at the TWA Hotel in JFK, in Jamaica, during the challenge (more on the hotel in another post), but we still tried some great food.

Yardie Bistro was in the food court area of the hotel.

Brown Stew Chicken
Jerk Chicken
Beef Patty

Splurged a little at the Paris Cafe by Jean-Georges. It was well worth it!

Crispy Salmon Sushi
Burrata and Cranberry
Cream of Tomato Soup
Black Truffle Pizza with Egg

I had a blast trying all the food. The challenge has an awesome Facebook group page that offers food ideas and recommendations year round. If you love food and live in Queens, or don’t mind traveling to the borough, join the group!

Earth Day- All about the Sea Turtles

I randomly came across the company Fahlo. Which partners with non-profit organizations to create bracelets that come with an animal to track. Some wildlife organizations they work with are the Sea Turtle Conservancy, Save The Elephants, Polar Bears International, and Saving the Blue.

For Earth Day this year, I decided to support the Sea Turtle Conservancy, so I bought the sea turtle bracelet.

I love it and I wear it all the time. The best part is that the bracelet comes with a QR code to track an actual sea turtle. I’m currently tracking Pop Tart.

It’s a really cool concept and something I enjoy and feel good about supporting.

My next goal is to have my own small edible garden. Let’s see if I can make it happen this Spring!

Cunningham Park

It’s only fitting that on Earth Day, I would give a shout-out to my go-to park, Cunningham Park.

I have been going to Cunningham since I was a kid. Now my husband and I bring our daughter here all the time. The park has a great playground, space for sports, a path for running/walking, exercise equipment, and even a dog park.

The park also apparently has some walking/biking trails that I never knew about! I haven’t had a chance to explore those yet, but when I do, I’ll share my thoughts.

Here are some shots of little Maxine over the last few weeks.

Maxine’s Zhua Zhou First Birthday Ceremony

My daughter Maxine celebrated her first birthday on December 19. She is growing up so fast. I really can’t believe it! My cousin’s girlfriend told me about a fun Chinese ceremony when a baby turns one. It’s called the zhua zhou ceremony, where symbolic objects are laid out in front of a baby to grab. Whatever the baby reaches for and plays with can indicate future employment prospects or interests. 

We are a little late, but I thought it would be fun to do! I researched and found more information and potential objects to use via Gathered Gifts’ blog story.

Here is a list of some objects and meanings.

From Gathered Gifts

I substituted the following:

Abacus to Cash; Paint Brush to Hair Brush; Calculator to Whiteout; Chicken leg to Bamboo; Lego to Puzzle Piece; Microphone to Fan; Stethoscope to Thermometer; Sword to Shield

Picture of layout

Moment of truth. Maxine’s top three…

1. Shallot = Intelligence

2. Measuring tape = Designer/Architect

3. Shield = Law enforcement

Rounding out top 5…

4. Cell phone = Tech Entrepreneur 

5. Celery = Industrious

Not bad! LOL. I can’t wait till she is older to see what she likes and is passionate about.

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!

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?

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.

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