Midnight high

I’ve started drafting my next blogpost on the 30 Days of Blogging Prompts Journal I’m putting together, but the second prompt is a tad bit too deep for me to write as quickly as the first I attempted last night.  I’ve made a list of what make up three of my legitimate fears (and how they became legitimate), but it’s not as simple as listing them down.

I’ll get to it tomorrow.

I really should be off to la-la land now, but my siblings called and we had an hour to chat and catch up.  I even got to speak with Mom.  That is always good, except when she’s upset about something and she was okay today.

DSCF0220My mom turns 73 on the 9th.  I was in Manila to celebrate her birthday last year.  That celebration of the woman who made me who I am today was one of the few happy memories of 2012.  This year, we’re celebrating birthdays apart, but I’m trying to convince her to come over.  That is if the Embassy gives her the requisite visa when she goes for her interview on the 12th.  I’m not too worried.  I’m more worried about convincing her to take the trip after the visa renewal is granted.

Mothers are a strange specie, and I say that as a Mom myself.  But what would we do without them?  Where would we be if they weren’t around?

I love you, Mom.  We all do.  I hope you’ll give me the chance to spend some time with you soon here on my side of the world.


As random as it gets (30 Days of Blogging Prompts – 1)

I promised myself I’d be in bed before midnight and I am. (Ten minutes to go before the bell tolls..)  I did, however, want to write a quick post before turning in because I’ve been agonizing about writing 10 random things about myself.

I’m doing a “30 day blogging prompts” journal swap and I have yet to start.  The way the swap goes is we are supposed to write according to a daily blogging prompt which number 30 in all, and at the end of the 30 days, we are supposed to send the journal to our partner.

The first prompt seemed simple enough but it turns out, it isn’t that easy.  So I’ thought I’d do “top of mind” and list here 10 things as they come without thinking.  (Random, indeed!)

1. I love pink.

2. I am a chocoholic.

3. I’m very tactile.

4. I discovered I could cook when I moved to the US.

5. I know how to drive (went to driving school) but can’t get behind the wheel because I’d need my own highway.

6. I love to write.

7. I consider myself more of a crafty person than an artist.

8.  My favorite cities are Manila, New York and Paris in that order.

9. I have always loved Snoopy so it’s a a happy coincidence that I work for a company that uses him as it’s mascot.

10. When I was a child, I wanted to become a doctor but when my mom had a tonsillectomy and I held the bag containing her tonsils, my stomach almost turned, so I went for the “other” choice and became a lawyer.  (Which is a secret in my current life because I’m overqualified for what I do…)


I knew that writing spontaneously without thinking would make me come up with a random list quickly.  It worked.  See the succeeding prompts below and follow the links from post to post if you want to see how I do with this 30-day blogging prompt gig.

30 Days Of Blogging Prompts

Day 1: List 10 random facts about yourself.

Day 2: Describe 3 legitimate fears you have and describe how they became fears.

Day 3: Describe your relationship with your parents.

Day 4: List 5 things you would tell your 16 year-old self if you could.

Day 5: What are the 5 things that make you happiest right now?

Day 6: What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?

Day 7: What is your dream job, and why?

Day 8: What are 3 passions you have?

Day 9: List 3 people who have influenced you, and how.

Day 10: Describe your most embarrassing moment.

Day 11: Describe a few of your pet peeves.

Day 12: Describe a typical day in your life.

Day 13: Describe 5 weaknesses you have.

Day 14: Describe 5 strengths you have.

Day 15: If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

Day 16: What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?

Day 17: What is the thing you most wish you were great at?

Day 18: What is the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?

Day 19: If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

Day 20: Describe 3 significant memories from your childhood.

Day 21: If you could have 1 superpower, what would it be and what would be the first thing you did with it?

Day 22: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?

Day 23: List your top 3 hobbies and why you love them.

Day 24: Describe your family dynamic from your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.

Day 25: If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?

Day 26: What popular notion do you think the world has wrong?

Day 27: What is your favorite part of your body and why?

Day 28: What is your love language?

Day 29: What do you think people misunderstand the most about you?

Day 30: List 5 things you would hope to be remembered for.

Slow Saturday and my happy mailbox

It’s not even 8pm yet and I’m here in bed, typing away and yes, getting ready to turn in.  It’s surprisingly a very relaxed Saturday evening.  We grabbed burgers from our favorite Bobby’ Burger Palace before heading home, so I was spared the task of whipping something up for dinner tonight.  We even had my mother-in-law taken cared of thanks to lunch at PF Chang’s.

So I’ve tidied up, and while I could be doing yet a last errand before turning in, I’m here trying to wind down.  Not quite done yet, and hoping to get started on some long-term swaps at Swap-bot.com.

I just sent off two mail art envelopes I’m rather proud of but which I don’t want to post yet because I don’t want to pre-empt the surprise.  I took a sturdy envelope and collaged it all over as the theme for this particular swap was Collage Mail Art.  I’m really beginning to like mail art which is not as high-pressure as ATCs and which is more practical in terms of expectation.  I try to do something in line with the recipient’s profile on the swap site, then I add a few elements that relate to mine, which is usually something in reference to New York.  I will wait a few days until the recipients get theirs — might be a while longer, since one headed towards Chicago, and another for Australia.

I haven’t done my “Five Things to do this Weekend” list for two weeks now because life has been awfully busy thanks to work.  I’m looking forward to things easing up a bit the next two weeks, but Monday promises to be a chaotic day.  I usually go through a lot of motions sending off the boss to some foreign land, making sure all arrangements are taken cared of (done), all data required is gathered by his Chief of Staff (presumably done), and that an itinerary is pulled together for the trip.

For the first time, I was pre-empted by someone working for the Chief of Staff who had committed to do the itinerary, and I was more than happy to let the task go to someone else because we’ve really been very busy with a slew of other things that were  equally if not more important than the painstaking task of covering every facet of the trip.  With stops in Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Mumbai and Delhi, I could use all the help I could get.  So I was rather taken aback but not totally surprised that there was a misunderstanding about the itinerary.  They were only taking care of the Tokyo leg, with no information at all on the rest of the trip.  I had no choice but to take over.

I guess the slow weekend is a God-send because it will help me prepare for the week ahead.  I’ve done it before, it will be done, but I hate the stress of having to do something I could’ve started last week and refined in the succeeding days in one day.  But that’s life.

I’m not rushing to complete any other swaps except for one which should be a breeze.  I have a couple of chores which I can easily handle tomorrow.  More letters to write, hand washing to be done, and a piece or two to sew.  I am reminded yet again that I have a fully-functioning electronic sewing machine in the attic.  Although I’m not too sure it still works as it might need oiling after practically more than 12 years of non-use, it’s a pity that it’s sitting there gathering dust.  The truth of the matter is that my art gurus are into sewing paper — yes, paper — and adventurous crafter that I am, why not?  It’ll have to wait another day.

I just sent off this card today which was inspired by the artwork of Nicoletta Ceccoli.  Her art is rather unusual and dark, but the colors and the soft lines mesmerized me.  I’m hooked.

Printing the graphic on thin kraft paper also lends it a softening touch.

Handmade card by Gotham Chick

The kraft paper I used here was rather thin that it crinkled when I pasted it with mod podge onto the main card.  I left it at that.  I also used two coats to “seal” the collage including the simple word art.  I like the way glossy mod podge gives a linen-like finish to the surface giving it a soft gloss that seals the work flat.

I’ve also experimented on printing straight onto newsprint — as in literally onto a sheet folded to size from a newspaper (my printer has regular paper limitations, unfortunately, ) and the result has been magical.  It seems to ‘magnetize’ the paper, though and makes it initially difficult to handle, but it gives a glossy sheen much like what we see in glossy magazines.  (I had always thought that it was because magazines were printed on glossy paper, which is the case — but it produced the same effect when I printed straight onto newsprint.)  My next batch of mail art used this printed newsprint but again, I cannot as yet post any samples until they have reached their intended destination.  I plan to do this with my personal photography which should make for some interesting compositions.

Meanwhile, here is the mail art I received from my partner, Roxanne (roxswapbot).

Mail Art: Sender's Choice from Roxanne 1 (Front, uncovered)

The “envelope” she used was quite a “teaser” because she had used a soft plastic CD case, giving us a peek into what was inside.  My interest was immediately piqued by the very revealing packaging.

Mail Art: Sender's Choice from Roxanne 2 (Back, unopened)

The packaging was very playful and I didn’t want to just open it although I was dying to see the contents within.  I waited patiently for the chance to be able to do it when I could photograph it as the little presents within were revealed to me.

Here are some close up details of the outer packaging before I opened it:

Mail Art: Sender's Choice from Roxanne 3 (Close up of removable sticker at the back)

Mail Art: Sender's Choice from Roxanne 4 (Detail in front)

She had used tape extensively, so I knew that once I opened there would be no putting it back together again.  So what was inside?  Have a look:

Mail Art: Sender's Choice from Roxanne 5 - metal alpha

My name spelled out in a very unusual metal die-cut alpha.  That alone made me happy already.  And there was that turqoise-tissue wrapped teeny-weenie package… what could possibly be in it?

Mail Art: Sender's Choice from Roxanne 6 - first package within uncovered

Ta-da!  Inside were two pewter charms of a pair of dice.. (Someone read my profile extensively!)  So next I opened the tiny envelope which revealed a mini-treasure trove of its own..  More goodies!

Mail Art: Sender's Choice from Roxanne 7 - Envelope within

And she could’ve stopped with the metal beads!  Yet another package…
Mail Art: Sender's Choice from Roxanne 8 - tiny package within upclose

And inside was yet another present —

Mail Art: Sender's Choice from Roxanne 9 - another charm within

This unique charm of a token-like charm with a cupcake imprint that said  “good for one Birthday Wish”.  (Closing my eyes to make that wish now even if it wasn’t until April!)

Happiness.. you can see that she had put together a truly well thought-out package for her partner… and I can only imagine what the second of two partners had received.  But I have no cause to be envious because I got quite a present.

I am often tempted to feature the items I receive in the swaps, but I’m afraid to start a precedent which might lead to other senders feeling bad if I don’t post their items here.  I am often pressed for time posting my own work — and that would give me a major backlog given the swaps I’m in.  This was an exception because I learned a lot from what Roxanne had put into my envelope and because it was truly a delight opening each “layer” of the package.

We usually rate with a 5 and a heart for such outstanding swaps like this one, but I would’ve wanted to rate her with a dozen hearts but I can’t.  The least I could do was share the joy here in my little corner because joy indeed, is what she had brought me.

Mail Art by Gotham Chick

I’ve been a member of Swap-bot.com for a half year now and I’m still learning.

I principally joined upon the urging of Kat (of CuriosaKat) who I had bumped into in the Postcrossing  Philippines group on Facebook.  I initially resisted the urge to do Artist Trading Cards or ATCs but I eventually gave in and have enjoyed it.  Mail art, however, is something new.  I did try to join a decorated envie (or envelope)  swap at the start, but I got scolded for not understanding the instructions.  I had made the envelope, decorated it, and sent it in another envelope.  I didn’t realize (stupid me) that I was supposed to decorate the envelope, stamp it and send it on its merry way.  (Lesson learned..)  I had to resend, and I got my rating of 5.

Sometime in December, though, I had gotten overwhelmed, overcommitting myself — and I ended up with delays that caused two ratings of 3.  (Ratings are important to join other swaps.. it’s the equivalent of street cred in the swap community.)

The two below were mail art I created for a recent swap.  I’m going at it again with another swap this weekend, and I think I”m getting the hang of it. Some very interesting mail art have maid it to my box and if my pictures come out okay, I will be posting them here soon.

These were made by printing over repurposed brown bags… they came up very grungy which was the effect I wanted to produce, and some printed stickers I picked from the web.
Mail Art by Gothamchick

Mail Art by Gothamchick

Mail Art by Gotham Chick

Thoughts that take me home

Three days ago, I woke up to an update from a dear, dear friend I have known for probably 41 of my almost 47 years on this planet. She belongs to a select few who I consider my true “kababatas” or people I grew up with, although we did it in the confines of the classroom. These days, the ladies in Manila are fortunate to be able to meet up and have reunions and catch up on the challenges and joys of motherhood, married life and work. I am green with envy. My best means of being a part of those heart-warming get-togethers are the pictures they post on Facebook, and the occasional e-mail.

I try to keep in touch through the birthday prompts I get. Not much, I know.

We always expect good news when we get an update from friends and family, but I wouldn’t consider the update I got as good nor bad — but it made me pause and sigh a prayer to the heavens.

I know that the e-mail update took all of my friend’s strength physically and emotionally to pull together. There are letters like those that I wish I could muster the strength to write, but the subject matter is, by itself, too heavy a burden to sit through with pen and paper. So I let the thought linger and fade.

All I can do is say a prayer.

I see my friend in the pictures — and she’s still smiling. That makes me smile with hope because it shows me she is fighting on. I close my eyes and I think about her and I picture myself surprising her and giving her a hug.  I smile but the tears threaten to come. I am reminded yet again that life is short. I send another prayer to the heavens hoping I be given another chance to hug her, even if I don’t know when I can go home again.

Even writing about it can bring me to such emotional ambivalence. 

I have been fortunate to have been blessed with many dear and true friends.  In that respect, I consider my wealth priceless.  During those times when I felt like I was at my lowest point, they have helped to bring me back to my senses and have showed me that I am more than blessed beyond the treasure that my family is to me.

These are the thoughts that take me home… to my dear, dear friend for whom I pray for the healing touch of God.

 Central Park in the fall (Great Lawn)

Planning a wedding?

I was thinking of my cousin M’s forthcoming wedding this May and how I could help… I bumped into this idea of a wedding website that is now a usual tool for brides-to-be and I wish they were more popular 12 years ago to help me with my wedding.  And they’re free!

Apparently, Wedding Paper Divas offers a free wedding website to go along with over 40 of their most popular wedding invitations. Imagine creating an ad-free personal wedding website complete with online RSVP capabilities and more—and keep it FREE for one year!  So I hopped on over and found out that the free wedding website include:

  • Being able to match your site to over 40 of Wedding Paper Divas bestselling invitation designs.
  • Easy to design. You don’t need to be a programmer to do this! Just point and click at anything on the site to customize.
  • Custom Domains. You can truly customize your site with a domain that is just for you like ourwedding.com.
  • Unlimited Photos.
  • Guest comments
  • Music and Video
  • Online RSVP, Blog, Password protection, guest list manager, and much more.

Get started now to ensure that everything will be beautifully designed and perfectly coordinated as you prep for your big day.

A bit of inspiration: Sabsy, public school teacher

My forays into Facebook these days are very brief. I have also been slowly weeding out whose updates I see. It’s painstaking but I have been doing it one by one, a little at a time.

I was going in and out of FB today when I came upon this video a friend posted, and I’d like to share it with you for a bit of inspiration. Unfortunately, it’s in Tagalog, so those who are not native speakers will not understand this very moving and inspiring story of a privileged lady who has been educated in the best institutions in the country but who chose to serve by being a public school teacher.

A modern day hero who makes me think of what I would be if I weren’t where I was today. It makes one want to be just like her. While we can’t all be as brave or capable, we can all take something from her story. I wish I could take her words of advice and wisdom to the young minds she is molding and send it across the universe so that the young may find their own inspiration.

It gives one hope for a country many have given up on. It reminds me of my young medical student friend, Ahmad, and how in his own way, he is trying to be like Sabrina “Sabsy” Ongkiko.

Take a moment to listen and watch…

Art Journal Every Day 2013

ART JOURNAL EVERY DAYI managed to compile a set of entries for 2011 and 2012, and while there were long lulls, the journey then was a learning experience for me both in art and in expressing myself.  I know that it’s a month and half into 2013, and while I had been working on the journal since the start of the year, I didn’t really write any entries until today.  My work on my art journal is pretty free-flowing.  There are times when I work on backgrounds one after the other — or other times when I work on a piece from start to finish before moving on.

You don’t have to be an artist to do an art journal.  I, for one, don’t consider myself an artist.  I’m a crafter.  But I am a writer, too.  There are many forms of so-called smash books where you put anything and everything representative of what you want to journal about.  Not all journals these days are your run-of-the-mill all words journalling.  There are now “focused” journals where you write according to journal prompts instead of just writing about your day.  Or there are these art journals we do.

I have been encouraging my friend P to write a journal or journals actually, and I try to encourage her to keep at it every time I send her one of my handmade cards.  If you want to get started on art journaling, read on.

1.  Pick your journal.  Some people like moleskins, some people prefer those thick, beautifully bound leather journals.  It can be as simple as a composition notebook that you might want to “alter” by working on the cover.

I did a composition notebook last year but I ended up pasting two page entries on top of the pages which caused me to have an uber-thick journal bursting with pages.  For my next journal, I picked a rather ambitious 9 x 12 sketchbook which I had bought on sale in December 2012.  I have already bought a second “spare” in case I need more pages.  The idea is hopefully to combine the two at the end of the year into one book, granting that I am able to fill up that much of the journal.  You also have to give allowances for pages being torn away as spoils and needing “refills”.  To do that you have to have easy access to the same journal, and since this was on sale, I didn’t want to run the risk of running out.

2. Gather your art supplies.  I started with Angelo’s leftover watercolor set from school.  I progressed to a more versatile set at Michael’s, but I do not buy the expensive watercolor sets.  The one I use has a whole palette, but it only cost me $5.00.   My paint brushes are from the dollar store.  (You’d be surprised at the variety and quality of the paint brushes there.)  I have his leftover crayons as well.

As I progressed on to acrylic craft paint, I’ve gathered a stash of very versatile colors and have them all in a huge plastic bin, with the colors either on a swatch of masking tape on the top or of late, written for easy reference.

3. Remember that art journaling can be a mixed media effort.  You can collage, paint, sketch, draw, or anything that for you represents your preferred mode of expression.  There are times when we think of a subject matter that we want to put on paper and only one word represents that feeling, like for me, there was a time I did a journal entry with the French word “Oui.”

 Art Journal Every Day: Work in progress

4. You have to be forgiving of your own mistakes.  This is all for you, by you, and about you.  Mistakes are always a part of life and you can always remedy the error or move on to the next journal entry.  No one is judging you.  

5. There is inspiration galore out there to pick up ideas from and to see how other are doing it.  I visit Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s website, Balzer Designs, every day for inspiration.  I actually participate in her Art Journal Every Day Flickr Group and link up when she has an Art Journal Every Day post like this one — IF I have an entry to share.  (My Flickr set on my Art Journal Every Day entries is here.)

 Art Journal Every Day: Work in progress

6.  Be easy on yourself when it comes to what you will write about.  Journalling is supposed to be a no-pressure, spontaneous activity ABOUT YOU.  It need not be profound.  It can be as simple as a quote that suits your mood, a word (like I said), or a picture.  It can be an ad in the magazine.  Let if flow.

I love, love long weekends

My bistek was still simmering on the stove when I started writing this.  I began the post while waiting for the onions to cook and the meat to tenderize just a tad bit more.  We had a relaxing dinner in front of the TV, all warm and toasty at home.  It’s been crazy windy outside — I could hear the gusts hitting the walls violently.  I’m also looking forward to writing letters tonight before turning in.  We’re off tomorrow because it’s President’s Day.  More three day weekends, please.

It’s been a rather productive Sunday as I took out a bunch of thunder polish glass crystal and other earrings I had crafted months back for a craft fair.  They never really made it onto the etsy storefront, but I decided to pull them out of the box today and embellish them further.  Two years ago, I was very strict with myself in ensuring that I used the same color crystals in my pieces, but today, I was bold and daring and mixed them up.  A lot of them were rather short so I extended them for more drama by adding a bead or two.  Not quite shoulder dusters, but long enough to present some sexy swagger when you turn your head or when you walk.

GothamChick on ETSY: Mocha bitsI also wanted to take advantage of the sunlight and took photos.  I’m hoping to post them in the shop tomorrow.. or starting tomorrow.   These days I’m going either ‘tiny’ or ‘long’.  When I watch my favorite shows, my eyes tend to focus on the earpieces worn by the ladies — and I noticed that tiny simple earrings looked as fab as the long and elaborate pieces.  I’m still keeping away from the ‘big and bold’, though.  Just not my style.  This freshwater pearl and aventurine cutesy is a current favorite of mine.  I am going to make one for myself one of these days.

I also finished a batch of my glass domed pendants featuring Marian images.  (Thanks to bebs1 aka Lou for the idea and the inspiration.)  I’m trying to create a necklace based on a design she showed me, and while it is not an exact replica, the idea is similar.

 Marian Images as glass dome pendants

I currently have four images in three sizes, and I’m working on getting an additional two in this same format.  The idea is to use one of the larger pendants as the focal point in a 5-pendant charm necklace, using other religious metal charms.   I am still trying to see if it will work to have five of the smaller pendants in the same fashion.  Might be a bit too much, so I’m sticking to the original idea.

Mary: Four Images

I did get my LIFE 4×6 in the sleeves (!) and am now in the process of completing as much of the journaling as I can.  I am hoping to photograph and finally post about it before the week is out.  First month done!  And here we are in the middle of the second month of the year.  Where did the last couple of weeks go, right?  Time flies by so fast..

It would have been nice to have gotten away to somewhere — but work beckons.  New York State had reduced the winter break to two days instead of the usual week-long stretch to make up for the days lost during Hurricane Sandy’s onslaught and after, so he goes back to school on Wednesday.  Add to that the fact that Angelo had been afflicted with the flu the previous week, so we’re just resting and recharging on a “staycation”.  Besides, it’s back to work for us on Tuesday.

Long weekends are precious for working moms like me.  Work and motherhood equals a double job, literally.    Even now, in the middle of my long weekend, I’m here in front of the TV watching a favorite show, The Mentalist, and I’m also thinking of the leftover bistek I need to put away.  At least I get another day to “rest” tomorrow.  They let me sleep til closer to 9am today, then we all remembered the boy had a haircut appointment at 10am.  (Even I forgot and I set it up…)  More time to just sit and hug my boy.. and laugh.. and just be mother and son.

I feel like I accomplished a lot.  At the end of it all, I might even have an art journal entry in..

Officially Saturday

It’s twenty minutes past midnight which makes it officially Saturday on my side of the world.  Meatless Friday done and passed… and I’m exhausted and fighting off sleep.

I had actually successfully napped next to the boy earlier this evening which gave me my second wind.  It didn’t do much, though, as my womanly ailments are getting the better of me this time of the month.

Productive day… I printed off some pictures for my LIFE 4×6 February.  I am still working on completing January but I wanted to photograph the layouts while in a sleeve.  (Target this weekend!)  I even did some print over print experiments but used my photo printer instead.  I must say the result wasn’t surprising but I loved what came out.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will show the final product as close to actual when I photograph it tomorrow.

It’s been a long week.  We’ve been very busy at work.  Thankfully, the weather hasn’t been as bad.  It was a great improvement from last Friday’s snowstorm.  Can we move on to summer please?

I’m skipping my list of five things to do this weekend in this post but will put it up tomorrow.  My brain isn’t quite in the mood to think about other things that need to be done when I just want to go to la-la land.

Meanwhile, here’s one of two sets of journal tags inspiration that I made for a swap.  I used three of my favorite “Happiness” quotes.

 Journal Tags