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.
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.
Coco Malaysian Cuisine in Elmhurst.
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.
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.
Splurged a little at the Paris Cafe by Jean-Georges. It was well worth it!
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!
Easter was a two-day adventure this year. My family and I dyed and decorated some eggs, had two yummy feasts, creative Easter basket ideas, and egg hunts.
Dying and decorating the eggs was a family affair! My mom was in charge of the dye, but we all pitched in decorating the eggs with stickers.
Saturday night we had our big feast.
I got my daughter a Slumberkins Unicorn basket, and I got my husband and me a little planter that Maxine could also enjoy. She could watch the veggies grow before her eyes. She is still small, but I think she’ll still enjoy it.
Lastly, and my favorite, the egg hunts. I did two, one indoors at my Mom and Dad’s place on Saturday and another outside at my in-laws. Maxine had a blast!
My Mom is a leap year baby, so she celebrated the big 7 8 twice this year. Last night we had Filipino food, and tonight I went all out ordering some yummy food from Sugar Freak in Astoria. Since it’s also Mardi Gras, I thought, why not indulge in a seafood boil!
Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, but I’ve been celebrating all week.
On Wednesday, I took part in a chocolate-making class with my parents. It was a lot of fun and very hands-on. We learned how to temper chocolate and made jumbo peanut butter cups, pecan turtles, almond bear paws, dipped Oreos, and strawberries. It was messy yet yummy!
On Friday, Andrew, my parents, and I did a Valentine’s Day-themed chocolate tasting. The tasting was packed with chocolate facts and insight on how they make the chocolate. We also tasted five different chocolate pieces, milk chocolate peanut butter heart, milk chocolate sea salt caramel, pecan toffee crisp, dark chocolate truffle, and dark chocolate lemon satin crème heart. Mom loved the peanut butter piece, I loved the dark chocolate truffle, Dad loved the truffle and lemon satin crème, and Andrew loved them all.
This month, I took part in The Sweet Frugal Life’s January Pantry Challenge, where I took an inventory of what I had in the pantry, fridge, and freezer to make dishes. I wasn’t super strict with it and only made a handful of meals, but I still consider it a success!
The main takeaway from my experience; I have a lot of soup in my pantry!
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.
It was great to reflect on the year. I hope you had some time for reflection as well.
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.
I kept it local and virtual. I watched the tree lightings virtually for Athens Square Park and Astoria Park.
I honestly didn’t venture around the neighborhood as much as I wanted, but I still got to see some beautiful 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I became a condo owner!!
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.
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.
I started Grad school! I decided to get my masters in Nonprofit Leadership.
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.
I got married!!!
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’m not going to lie, 2019 was a rough year for me personally and professionally but I had some really great moments with the people I care about. So here is my year in review…
January was a tough month for me but Andrew and I were still able to have a kick ass date night at Secret Summer’s Aquarius party. Here I am with the naughty wolves.
In February, Andrew and I decided to get away from NY for Valentine’s Day and his birthday and headed to The French Manor Inn and Spa in the Poconos.
Early March, I celebrated my Mom’s birthday at one of our favorite restaurants London Lennies.
Enjoyed Cherry Blossom season in DC with my friends Dawn and Christie in April.
Kicked off the summer season with my girls at Jones Beach for Memorial Day Weekend. Got the weirdest tan which I still have till this day.
Andrew and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary in June. We enjoyed a beautiful boat cruise and then a few days later had dinner at our wedding venue. Here is Andrew messing around on the boat cruise.
Got to enjoy my family’s beach house in Shirley Long Island in July. I don’t go there enough. It was beautiful and peaceful.
I’ve been pretty obsessed with trying to hit all 50 states lately. After working on a small puzzle of the US for a team building exercise in August, I bought a bigger one and plotted my next adventure.
My next adventure turned out to be a road trip in South Dakota and Minnesota in September! Here is a picture of us in the Badlands.
October is a very important month because it’s BIRTHDAY month! I did a lot of celebrating but my fav was exploring the Sojo Spa in New Jersey. Multiple floors, hydrotherapy, infinity pool….I can go on and on. Here we are in the heated pool.
I kicked ass for Thanksgiving. I cooked a full menu, cooking a turkey for the first time, which included an apple pie. I really out did myself.
Here is a picture of my turkey pre-oven:
Here is my apple pie:
And lastly, December. I started the year rough and I ended the year rough but being with family this past week has been a god sent. One thing I’m really proud of this month is getting my tree. I’ve never really grown up with a tree so getting one was a big deal to me. I’m sure I’ll collect more ornaments in the future but it was the perfect first tree.