Unofficial Start To Summer- Memorial Day Weekend Recap

Like most holiday weekends, this past weekend just came and went. It was a low-key one, but I prefer low-key these days.

Friday, I got the best type of delivery. Crawfish!

10lbs of crawfish, to be exact, and they were still kicking.
I made them nice and spicy for Andrew and me.
I made them plain for Mom and Dad.
In terms of entertainment, I finally watched Turning Red. It had its cringy moments for sure, but it was super cute.
Saturday, I picked a bunch of goodies up. “A Place at the Table” was a curated box of desserts made by home bakers and professional chefs to honor Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Everything was delicious.
On Memorial Day, Andrew and I enjoyed a local street fair.
I had an overpriced lobster roll, but I had to have it.
I found a vendor who made fruity drinks… with some alcohol and gave a free refill 🙌.
Bad Habits was giving away free sushi samples.
Overall, pretty awesome weekend. Looking forward to what this summer will bring.

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!

Cherry Blossoms at Flushing Meadows Park

A bit chilly today, but Andrew and I made a trip to Flushing Meadows Park in Queens to enjoy the Cherry Blossoms. There are many Cherry Blossoms in my neighborhood in Astoria, but there is something about seeing them grouped together that is quite magical. Also, it filled my heart to see Maxine enjoying the park. Here are some of my favorite shots.

My loves

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!

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.

My decade in review

Oh my, so much has happened in the past ten years. The good, the bad and everything else in between. Here is my decade in review of some of my best memories.

2010

I was working at Interference, an event marketing firm in Soho, and been with Andrew for almost two years. We decided to go on a romantic vacation to Costa Rica. This was the first trip we did an all-inclusive package and got SPOILED. Here is a picture of us getting ready to zipline and me on the beach. To be that thin again… le sigh.

2011

I turned the big 3 0!!! We went on a Carnival cruise to Mexico. The port was in New Orleans, so of course we had to stay an extra couple of days to explore. Here is a picture of me clearly enjoying my birthday!

2012

I started working for nonprofits around this time. My first one was the Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation. Now they are known by a different name but their mission is to mentor young chefs. I had the privilege to help plan their 2012 competition at the Culinary Institute of America. The winner represented USA at the Bocuse d’Or competition in Lyon, France. No big deal right! Here is a photo of the competition set-up.

2013

I became a condo owner!!

2014

I began running this year. My first ever race was The Color Run. We had so much fun. I’m not sure why I’m the only one that got color blasted but ok.

2015

I joined the Volunteer Training and Leadership committee at the New York Junior League this year. The committee is now known as Volunteer Education and Training and is pretty dear to my heart as I become the co-chair two years later. The league is one of the oldest and largest women volunteer organizations and the committee I chose to volunteer with focuses on training women on various topics to help with their professional and volunteer career. This picture is of my very first event that I helped with as part of the committee. I’m now part of the Annual Fund team.

2016

I started Grad school! I decided to get my masters in Nonprofit Leadership.

2017

I did the unthinkable, I ran the NYC marathon. Well I ran/walked it but still. I worked my butt off and I raised $5K for the New York Junior League. Look at all my medals.

2018

I got married!!!

2019

It’s been a year of me creating my own traditions with Andrew. This holiday season I did a lot of firsts. I carved my first pumpkin, I made my first thanksgiving meal all by myself and we got our first tree.

I had a great decade, cheers to the next 10!

Winter Lantern Festival

Last week, Andrew and I accompanied my Aunt and Uncle to the Winter Lantern Festival at Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden in Staten Island. The holiday light show had over 1000 lanterns of various figures – mostly animals and flowers.

Here are my favs:

It was def. fun as a group. We had a blast.

Last minute trip to paradise

Andrew and I decided to get out of New York for a few days and booked a last-minute trip to the Dominican Republic. We’ve been twice before, and it has always been super relaxing and chill. This time around we stayed at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville.  I highly recommend it. We did all-inclusive and stayed in the adult only section, as the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana was right next door. It was perfect! We had access to two private pools, a private section on the beach and adult only restaurants but still had the opportunity to explore the family areas as well.

Here is the suite we stayed in, had a jacuzzi and outdoor patio area too =). The hallways had these amazing gate like pieces that made the place feel like you were walking in a castle.
hotel-room
One of my favorite things about the resort was the sculptures. They were everywhere and each pretty unique. I would say a nice blend of European and Modern.

sculptures

The pools were spacious, and there were plenty of spots. We didn’t have to reserve any chairs. Andrew and I even found a spot where he could smoke his cigar without it being an issue.

pool
The beach was beautiful. Pretty much all the seating had a cabana/hut feel, and there was plenty of space. The water wasn’t crystal blue but still a sight to be seen, and the sunsets were gorgeous. We took advantage of a free hour of kayaking on our last day.

beach

The food was pretty good, the best all-inclusive buffet experience I’ve had! On Friday, Andrew’s birthday, they had a seafood buffet with grilled lobster which was yummy. We also got to try their signature restaurant, Don Pablo, which had an AMAZING foie gras appetizer (we had two!) and their Brazilian restaurant.

food
The trip wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the spa. We got massages two days in a row and took advantage of their sauna and jacuzzi sections because why the hell not!

spa

Overall I had a great time. It’s been a while since I traveled to a country that doesn’t predominately speak English. It was a bit refreshing to have to try to speak and learn something else. This trip has reminded me how much I love to travel and to explore. Need to pick my next travel destination soon!