And January and February ran past

Can you believe that we are now almost done with the first quarter of the year? I can and cannot. Can because it has been a busy first two months of the year. Cannot because how could it have gone by soooo fast?!

And I was on a roll here — then I wasn’t. But I am not going to punish myself with that thought. I am proud of what I have done with my first two months of the year in most respects.

I am trying to be more forgiving of myself in both big and small things. I’m letting most things go— taking a deep breath or a few, then moving on. It’s taken some practice and I don’t always succeed, but for the most part, I feel lighter. And I’m hoping it holds.

Most nights I find myself tinkering with my art journal. So happy with where that’s going and the amount of work I’m actually seeing on paper. I know I should also be working on the shop, but I need to push myself just a little harder.

I’m planning a big trip in a week and a half and I’m excited yet a tad ambivalent about it all. Family can be complicated —- let me leave it at that. Yet I know deep in my heart, that is where my home is.

I have been drafting several posts in my head , but my hands have been busy with the pens and the paintbrushes and the watercolor palette. I have resisted the urge to buy new supplies— largely because I know I have some stashed away from last year’s handful of trips to Michael’s. And even with that, I continue to create. You can see I am in craft heaven.

But I am back.. again. Probably starting off a travel series beginning when I hop on that plane or before. Meanwhile, let me leave you with positive vibes and wishes for a productive week head. It’s Ash Wednesday for us Catholics, and the end of a leap year February for all of us.

My Art Journal: First Update

I’ve stolen bits and pieces of my day the last week or two to come up with the first section of my art journal. It’s been slow but I am happy to be working at this pace. The point of art journaling, after all, is to be able to do a bit of art here and there to find some personal relaxation.

Again, let me stress, I am a non artist doing my own brand of art. I’m not good at drawing things, but that hasn’t stopped me from putting things together in my own artistic way. And I think art journaling does not have to conform to what others would find awesome– what’s important is that it’s your own personal kind of awesome. And journaling — in any form– should be a conversation with yourself. At least, that is what it is for me.

Why do I journal? I write my thoughts in words and in symbols or entries through pictures and phrases that are meaningful to me. No matter how painful or angry my words or entries may be in a journal written ages ago, I find lessons and reminders in those words when I go back to them. I relish the moments of happiness and triumph or joy when I relive them in those pages. There is a reward to being able to go back to a moment, be it good or bad, to get back in touch with that part of you.

I recently found one of my “What do I really, really, really want?” notebooks which I did at a very confused and bitter time. Things have settled since then. I got to a better place of “happy”. I am wont to dispose of the journal, though, because it’s purpose has been served. The point was to answer the question in as honest a way as possible. And through time, to go through the answers and hopefully find clarity with what you really want to do.

I’ve long since gotten past that tumultuous time of my life. And yes, I got clarity with what I really wanted,  and in the end, that stumped everything else. I might yet end up using those pages as part of a collage in one of the layouts in my current project.

Like I posted previously, because I didn’t get to do a journal in 2019 despite my best efforts, I want to begin this one with a recap of 2019. Those pages lead to my first cut out and multi page section which has the numbers 2020.

These layouts are on upcycled Manila folders so the paper takes watercolor, ink, and glue very well. I don’t use liquid glue but prefer the regular glue stick because it doesn’t saturate the paper with more liquid. The page bindings are reinforced with double sided tape and elements that help hold the pages together like the 2020 spread.

As you will see, it’s not strictly a 5.5 x 7.5 inch page layout. A lot of my layouts have at least one flap folding out. The page sizes are not standard because I worked with what I had at the moment. I even kept the tabs in some cases.

A question was asked in one of the Facebook groups I’m a part of regarding using manila folders for making junk journals. I had just done a quick reveal of the first signature of my book (or set of pages) and shared it.

You’ll find the youtube clip below for reference, and I’m going to work on doing a tutorial or two on the craft blog on how I pulled these pages together. Sooooo happy with the way it’s coming along.. Yes, I do have a channel and I just don’t have the inclination to work on developing it, but it’s one way I’ve learned a lot from fellow crafters from all over. There are just some tutorials best done on video rather than in pictures, don’t you think?

I’ve done much since I shot this video over the weekend.  I’ve been going through my stash of art materials both bought and created through the years, and I am so thrilled with the treasures I’ve found.

I found DIY Washi tape that looks as gorgeous as when I first created it and still sticks as well as it should.  That was one craft experiment that turned out great!  Various printed elements and of course, my paper flower garden.

I’ve looked at homemade washi tape tutorials, and I’m just surprised that there is none using the method that I used.  I am hoping I can do a video on that one of these days and show fellow crafters how I created what you see below.
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Friday Five: First for 2020

Friday5

Five goals. Five tasks. Five things I hope to do over a weekend when all I’m thinking about is sleeping in.

I’m not a thrill seeker or a restless soul and most weekends find me just chilling at home. Still, I find it nice to set simple goals to make sure I at least work on accomplishing something instead of just vegetating. So here goes..

1. Work on the destash. Identify 5 items to give away and clear out some of the junk in my room. Last week I threw away one bag more than I usually toss into the garbage bin. It get good to see so much being disposed of. For someone who has a tendency to hold on to things, I feel some measure of accomplishment when I am able to dispose of otherwise useless stuff. So more of that this weekend.

2. Go through my shoe rack. I know I’m making progress when I see shoes in the trash bin. There are more that should literally walk out the door, but I seem to have a special attachment to the shoes I have, no matter how they have been neglected or forgotten. Time to say goodbye.

3. Write a letter. I don’t know why it takes so much effort when it’s really something I’m very good at. Plus, I actually have people on a list. One to the post office by Monday.

4. Finish three pieces for the shop. I have actually gathered several unfinished pieces, but I haven’t really posted anything. Time to focus on this.

5. Pack away. I have things that need to be stored in the attic, and while they are boxed, they need to be brought up. I also need to stash things I might be taking in my next trip until I am sure I am taking that trip.

And my Friday is almost done. My bed beckons. Let’s see how this goes when I give my Monday update. Happy Friday!

My art journal

Creating a journal has always been more than picking one out and writing in it for me. Since I finished my first journal spanning 2012-2015, deciding on my next format made for a lot of stops and starts. But after so many failed attempts, I think I’ve finally found something I am happy with.

From the beginning, I knew I was going to use upcycled paper. Sheets from file dividers, used Manila folders, and I zeroed in on a size. 5.5 x 7×5. I toyed with the idea of sewing signatures together, but then decided on working on sections I could compile together instead.

I had started in a totally different direction before the last year ended, but I had a new idea which saw me totally focused on a different design direction. I am quite excited with the thicker and bigger layouts I’ve come up with. And I know that I can still add the rose petal collage embellishments to the existing pages.

I’ve gathered some old art work and materials I’ve incorporated into the layouts. I have even fished out an older basic watercolor cake palette (which is what you see in my section avatar in this post) and began creating basic page backgrounds. Just like my first art journal, I am trying to add fold outs and cut outs to make the book visually unique, starting with a 4-page spread of “2020”.

I found some magazine cut outs I had originally intended for a totally different kind of journal project and this time, I used them in some spreads for embellishing later on. I’ve even pulled out my stash of handmade paper I’ve acquired through the years to use as part of the layouts.

It’s coming out pretty nicely and I haven’t even started journaling.

I’d still like to begin the book by retracing the last 12 months as mini entries. 2019 was a positive year mostly because my world stayed in a good place. You know how people say things can only get better? They did and they stayed good. Nothing remarkable or ground breaking– but sometimes, “good” is okay. And that’s 12 months worth journaling.

I’m giddy happy thinking about how this project, which I’ve tried to get going so many times before and had fallen flat and hanging, is finally taking off. I can’t wait to paint and spray and paste and write.

Journaling has always been about capturing my thoughts and feelings in words and pictures for me to go back to in some future time. When I am in the process of writing down my entry or creating the layout, that is me lost in myself, trying to express what’s in me or memorializing the feeling or thought of the moment. It’s a way of speaking in my own inner voice. It’s something I didn’t get to do last year, but 2020 will be different.  Having gotten this far in just the first four weeks of the year, I know I will be able to tick this off my list this time around.

20 for 2020

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I’ve had this post drafted since the beginning of the year but I have been holding off looking for graphics.  (Note to self: Don’t wait next time.)  Halfway through the first month of the year, I’m hitting “publish”.  This is a list that hasn’t changed much but which I like to keep to sort of give me some guideposts for the coming year. I don’t like making resolutions — I prefer to be specific and set goals. There’s a few staples and an addition or two- just tweaking the list a bit to adjust to the times. And one new addition is a cadence or schedule to just keep me on the ball.

1.  Read six books. – I will keep the books nearer to me to make it easier. Sometimes, I find that I’m too tired and I end up getting sleepier when I open a book. But the goal remains. I am also reading on my devices. As of this writing, I have at least 3 unfinished reads, and I am determined to close one out before January ends.

2. Travel to one destination outside the tri-state area. – I have a few destinations in mind for 2020, and this is one of the items I find easiest to accomplish, even if it takes some planning. I almost got to do this this first half of January with a planned trip with the family back in Manila to Seoul, but their visas didn’t get released on time. If we do get to go in March, then I will be able to chalk this off my list. Otherwise, my favorite niece is arriving for a long vacation here in the summer, and she and I can do a weekend trip or two together.

The Blue Mountains and the Three Sisters
The Three Sisters and The Blue Mountains of New South Wales, 2019

3. Learn something new via an actual class.  It’s one of a few things, but I just need to plan more specifically. I might start with learning to knit properly, for starters. I actually learned how to using plastic chopsticks and my encyclopedia which had step by step instructions. While there are a ton of YouTube videos that give step by step instructions, I find that learning from a master is invaluable in getting things right.

4.  Take better care of myself by exercising, losing more weight.  It’s not just looking and feeling good, but the truth of the matter is this is now a necessity given that I’m getting older. 2019 saw me dieting but not making progress with the exercise. Not good, I know. I need to get started before the month is over.

5.  Visit Central Park all four seasons.  We’ve had a very mild winter and one of my dreams is to visit Central Park during or after a snowfall. I did that last in 2015 where I grabbed some gorgeous shots of freshly fallen and still falling snow. Hopefully, I will be able to do this again this year and visit during the rest of the year with more determination in 2020.

6. Crafting reboot.  I had hoped to do more sewing, but I did a lot of jewelry and crochet in 2019, even if it wasn’t for the shop. I’d like to focus more on the sewing to put my fabric stash to good use. Already excited!

Crochet triangle scarf
7. Destash more systematically. I’ve already started identifying the books. My closet is a continuing project. But I think I’m making progress because I’ve started parting with the shoes!

8. Work on the Gift of 54. This tends to creep up on me and I really need to get ahead of it, so I will start working on this the first month of the year, leaving me 4 months to the big 5-4 in April.

9.  Write more.  I started drafting three posts on New Year’s Day so I think I’m inspired. I believe it’s really about keeping it going for the rest of the year. I’m pretty happy where I landed in 2019 although my writing was in stops and starts. This time around, a post a week should be manageable, aiming for 4 a month, and hoping to do even better. I start the year with 10 possible topics with IG title graphics ready. Three of the 10 are scheduled for posting. I’m on track for a good start of the year! (Yay!)

10. Keep snail mail alive by writing a letter or sending out a card at least once a month.  It was very gratifying and rewarding for me in 2019. I am going to keep this going in 2020. I already have three letters I’m trying to write after writing twice that number in the last part of 2019. (Yay!)

11. Rebind my art journal, begin a new one.  Currently working on this. It’s right there.. and I am vowing to do a reveal video. I will rebind it myself if I have to. As for the new one in the works, I have two projects in mind, going the junk journal route. Excited about this.

12. Sample something new or visit a new restaurant or place (i.e., museum, intallation, etc.) and write about it.  Visiting the newly renovated Museum of Modern Art is on my list.. sitting in a cafe is another.. I have actually managed to do this in my social media accounts but I need to do this here as well and write about the experience with more purpose and depth. One a month.

13.  Publish a postcard set.  I think I need help with this and will seek the advice and services of a friend who is in the business of publishing and hopefully get a set done. I have the photographs!

14.  Visit at least one lighthouse.  I know which one I want to visit and had made plans in late 2019 but it didn’t quite work out.. I will rework the plans and make it happen soon.

15.  Encode my poetry.  Maybe.

16.  Visit more blogs / IG accounts. I joined “Medium” a few months back, and although I haven’t written anything in that forum, I have enjoyed reading others who REALLY write with purpose, and who intimidate me into my corner by their writing.  It’s always a good read — and I’m just afraid that if I start writing there, I might actually lose focus here.  So, yes, reading other people more — and it’s been a fun journey.

17.  Do a fundraiser for Barangay San Vicente.  My mother hails from a very poor community in Sorsogon in the province of Bicol.  x x x I want to be able to do a fundraiser for the young children there in time for the school opening. If not, for the Christmas season when my mom used to do a gift giving celebration for the young kids.”  Again, this just needs a project plan to make execution a snap. I actually got to visit Barangay San Vicente in July 2019 after my mother fearlessly declared she wasn’t coming to Manila even if my son and I were arriving.  (And of course, in the end she did.)  It was quite the trip to get there and back — and a lot has changed in the 20 plus years since I was last there. I’d still like to do the fundraiser — and maybe return.  For 2020 then, and into 2021.

18. Watch a live show or concert once a quarter. Another miss.  I actually enjoyed hitting rush tickets and just need to plan more. Just leaving this to-do here is obviously not working. budget and time-wise.

19. Undertake some home improvement projects. Christmas saw me getting rid of small appliances I had absolutely no use for.  Sometimes I can’t believe why I left them lying around gathering dust when I had absolutely no use for them.  I am going to devote one hour a week to do serious redecorating, whether it’s just clearing stuff out or rearranging things. I was hoping to redecorate in 2019 but I worked on more pressing matters and postponed. Organizing my clutter is priority and I think I’m making progress in that regard.

20. Rework the Etsy shop. Upon Etsy’s prodding, I’ve now switched to free shipping to anywhere in the US, and I’m going through my inventory and taking out the pieces that are just way too cheap to be profitable to be on the shop. One hour every week on this.  I’ve made a definite effort to start organizing for starters, labeling and putting like materials together.  The goal is to devote one weekend to creating pieces and updating the site.

So there goes my list for 2020, and here I am, hopes high.  I am grateful for another year with the sun shining in my corner of the world.  I have a lot to be thankful for in 2019, but then again, that’s another post altogether.  Wishing everyone an even better 2020 — like I said in my holiday card.

As in the previous years, this list has a special spot up in the navigation bar where you will find updates as the year unfolds. I am optimistic this will be a good year for me and this list. Cheers to 2020!

19 for 2019: The Final Score

It’s officially 2020, and before I write my 20 for 2020 post, I wanted to close out on the previous year. No excuses, and I’d like to keep it brief. I last gave an update here on October 9, 2019, and while I didn’t exactly complete the list, I am quite happy with where I landed.
New York Palace
1.  Read six books. – The books are here, and I know I just need to keep reading. I am really, really trying,

2. Travel to one destination outside the tri-state area. – Done. Visited the land down under a second time and visited BFF Donna.

3. Learn something new via an actual class.  Planning this now. I tried enrolling in an EdX class but didn’t get anywhere. Fingers crossed 2020 will be more productive.

4.  Take better care of myself by exercising, losing more weight.  I end the year a little heavier but I am where I want to be, but I am aware there is work to be done and working on it.

5.  Visit Central Park all four seasons.  I have failed to visit at all this year. Not good. It’s a very mild winter and I’m hoping to visit before the season is out.

6. Crafting reboot.  Done! Much progress in this regard.. here, I can say, I did get things done. More sewing in 2020 and I am hoping I can focus on the jewelry business more.

7. Destash more systematically. The dinnerware will go soon. There are a box or two of clothes heading home for those who might need it more.

8. Work on the Gift of 53. Epic fail.  I am going to work on the gift of 54 this next two weeks and get a headstart on this..

9.  Write more.  For starters, I want to set a goal of posting once a week in the blogs.   (Which is principally this one and my craft blog.) – trying to be more consistent with this goal and now have scheduled posts, and writing them to start the year off right!

Work on my other social networking accounts by doing scheduled posts at least once a week.   This needs a more scheduled approach but I’ve managed to get things going, principally because I lost track of one, and someone who tried to reconnect with me followed me on that one. Of course, I didn’t see it. I had even forgotten I had that account! Lesson learned.

Resume my handwritten projects.  Working on this before the week is out, and beginning with a summary of 2019.

10. Keep snail mail alive by writing a letter or sending out a card at least once a month.  Done. I haven’t quite written all the letters I had hoped to write, but I did manage to write quite a bunch of them. Happy with how this one went.

11. Rebind my art journal, begin a new one.  I must do this before it falls apart on me, along with a reveal video clip because I’m really proud of my first art journal.

12. Sample something new or visit a new restaurant or place (i.e., museum, intallation, etc.) and write about it.  I’ve done a few posts on IG of things and places but not here. I need an editorial calendar for my own guidance to get this going.

13.  Publish a postcard set.  Coming soon. I think I will ask the help of a friend who has a printing press.

14.  Visit at least one lighthouse.  I tried to plan a trip before it got too cold but life got ahead of me. Soon. For starters, I already know which one I will work to get to.

15.  Encode my poetry.  Writing more.

16.  Visit more blogs / IG accounts. I joined “Medium” a few months back– yes, reading other people more — and it’s been a fun journey.

17.  Do a fundraiser for Barangay San Vicente.  Major project for 2020. I WROTE, ‘My mother hails from a very poor community in Sorsogon in the province of Bicol.  x x x I want to be able to do a fundraiser for the young children there in time for the school opening. If not, for the Christmas season when my mom used to do a gift giving celebration for the young kids.”  I actually got to visit Barangay San Vicente this July after my mother fearlessly declared she wasn’t coming to Manila even if my son and I were arriving.  (And of course, in the end she did.)  It was quite the trip to get there and back — and I did take pictures, just not as much as I wanted.  And yes, I’d still like to do the fundraiser — just not hitting 2019. 

18. Watch a live show or concert once a quarter. Another miss.  Planning better things in 2020, maybe with my not so little guy even.

19. Undertake some home improvement projects. There is hope.

Not too bad, if you ask me.

I am about to write this year’s list and I am starting the year with high hopes for an even better year ahead. For starters, here’s hoping I get even a third done by the first half of the year at least.. and keep things going from there.

2019 wasn’t so bad after all — in many respects, I think it was even better than 2018 was for me. All in all, I am grateful.

Greeting cards have all been sent

Holiday cards and breakfastI have not really sent Christmas cards the last couple of years. Not for lack of trying, but it used to be such a big production, more so those years when I attempted to create my own cards and envelopes. (THAT big of a production!). I even succumbed to doing one of those photo cards way back when. Of course, there were years I opted for the store bought cards which I did this year– but I was never one to just address and sign the cards. I usually took this opportunity to actually write something.

My address list has grown relatively shorter because of life events. Divorce meant trimming off the ex’s friends from my address book. What is heartening is when I go over the list and see those friends who are still sending me their cards, even after all these years that I have not. I actually look forward to receiving these cards which remind me that I am still near and dean even if I’m on the other side of the world literally. They keep me updated with what’s happening in their side of the world. So this time around, I wrote more than just a message but an update as well.

This year, I gathered the left over cards from previous years which left me doing a guessing game on which ones got a card last year and which card they got. To make it simpler, I bought a new box and sent those to the ones I wasn’t sure of. I have practically sent all and I’m down to one last box.

It is never simply Merry Christmas. With Hanukkah and Kwanza, we usually go for “Happy Holidays”. Happy new year is a safer bet. The thing is to celebrate the celebration – whatever shape or form it takes – and to reach out to the people who matter to you, be it personally or professionally.

I actually enjoy the whole tradition from choosing the cards, writing on them, stamping the envelopes and sending them on their way. It’s just so much a part of the holiday spirit for me. I only wish I could do it way ahead next time and avoid the apologies for the late send. I have also taken to organizing my address list, using an old beat up address book given to me a while back by a favorite ex cousin-in-law. I usually cut out the return address label and put them in my little book. In this day and age of everything being electronic and virtual, I think I will keep my address book and keep updating it.

The Christmas cards are on sale now and I’m picking next year’s card. I have tried to keep away from glitter in the designs because even I don’t like getting glitter all over me which can’t be helped with those pretty cards. I like festive designs with a lot of color and shades of happy. I like to give something I would be happy to receive. I’m starting clean and sending the same card to everyone with no second guessing who got what the previous year. I hope to send them off much earlier next year, and I’m going to start by updating addresses by the end of January.

Sending those cards out this holiday season was a meaningful way to end 2019 and begin 2020. I have reconnected — this time, with a promise to stay connected. I am trying to be more consistent with that. Here’s hoping I get to do this better from here on.