Of blogs, friends, and snail mail.. oh, and yes, my Fourth of July weekend

I will try NOT to make this a rambling list, but coming off of a three-day weekend and continuing to be in holiday mode is a little dangerous.  Still, I didn’t want to miss out on the chance to update my corner of the blogsphere.  Happy fourth, everyone!

I was just visiting my favorite artist’s corner, Balzer Designs by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, where I stop by for some bit of inspiration every now and then and what do you know — she was writing about blogging (Some Thoughts on Blogging) which I could truly relate to.  I guess you can say this particular post is part of THAT inspiration.  I feel bad that I haven’t yet started my journey in art journaling just yet, but I might get on with it this July.  (Promises, promises…)  It helps that I am actually seriously considering creating cards for some friends I want to bug all summer long (and beyond) just so we can keep the USPS (United States Postal Service) relevant.

Earlier in the day, I also stopped by for an update on a friend from way back who is doing a great job chronicling her personal journey against the big C in The Evil Crab.  I have known Anna Lisa German-Thomson or Annalee as we called her then and then Chinot as her close friends know her, since our elementary days in St. Paul Pasig — and thanks to Facebook, we reconnected even if we went our separate ways from high school on.  We have popped in and out of each others blogs every now and then, but I must say her new blog has made such a big impact on me.  I hate that I had not been current with my blog hopping nor FB status checking (which, I now realize, is the curse of having too many people on my friend list), and it took me a while to catch on with what Chinot has been up against.  So a few days ago, I sent a card her way (yes, via snail mail) after sending her younger sister who I had know way back when, too, a note requesting for her mailing address.  I know that most people will swear by electronic mail — it’s just that I’m rather old fashioned when it comes to correspondence, more so when I feel a need to have my thoughts travel the distance in a tangible form.  I know it can make a difference and it has made a difference — so I have added another destination for my cards, letters and clippings.  (Someone in Horseshoe Village gets a regular dose.. or is getting a regular dose, too, again.)

The three-day weekend was a good chance to recharge, create, and spend some time with friends doing the winery route in the North Fork of Long Island.  I like picnics because they’re casual and relaxing, but I didn’t come prepared for the sun beyond wearing an almost full-length long sleeve tunic.  End result was sun burn on my neck, and I saved my face from over exposure to the sun by sitting on the side of the picnic table which had my back to it.  Some of Alan’s friends from high school had gathered for a reunion and some fun.

Cheese from Murrays, a small tray of dried fruit, some pepperoni and Saucisson Sec from Freshdirect, ample seedless grapes and fresh strawberries, crackers galore, packed the picnic bag with enough utensils (slicing board, serrated knives for the meats and spreaders for the cheese), ziploc bags, and take out lunch from Panera’s catering menu — and the lovely setting: Martha Clara Vineyards — and we were all set.  The wine was good, the company even better.

We went to Palmer Vineyards for a quick stop, then to Tanger Outlets, and finally dinner at Boulder Creek.  (I was too tired by then that I could only tackle a bowl of french onion soup.)  It was tiring but a lot of fun, and it is always good to reconnect with friends doing the things you like doing.  It was also refreshing to see my seven-year-old interacting with children from Manila — and with fellow Fil-Am children here in New York.

The weekend saw me creating quite a number of pieces for posting in my Etsy shop which should be up soon.  (Will I ever hit 300 items for sale?)  And yes, the button repairs were done quite successfully.  =)  For all the things I consider done over the last three days, I still feel I didn’t quite accomplish everything I wanted to.  I did inch forward slightly reading the latest installment I’m trying to catch up on.  You’d think that spending an afternoon lazing away under the sun in a vineyard would’ve given me time to read.  Nope.

It’s a Tuesday that feels like a Monday.  This is the downside of a long weekend… but there’s work and the rest of life to get on with.  Getting there, getting there…

Coming soon on GothamChick (ETSY)

Thank God I have sewing skills

Before I became Mrs. Gonzalez, my husband used to have my mother-in-law do all his garment repairs and mending. Mind you, my mother-in-law is an accomplished “mananahi“, having put together my (ex) sister-in-law’s  bridal wear back in the day when.. but that’s not what I’m writing about.

Despite her skills with the sewing machine and with plain needle and thread, her eyes had been gravely affected by her age.  I remember chastising the hubby once when he asked me to replace a loose button in one of his suits the first year of our marriage because the thread used on the right button was a totally different shade not at all coordinated with the thread used on the original buttons.   So it stuck out like a sore thumb, and dashing as my husband may be wearing his suits to work everyday, that was a fashion faux pas his fashion-conscious diva-like boss probably raised his eyebrows on.  (Yes, it was a “diva” HE.)  Needless to say, I searched for the appropriate thread and changed it accordingly.

I have two projects on my plate thanks to his daily dress code — and one was a little challenging given the fact that I had to replace a gold button for one of his blue blazers, and it was a choice between finding the right button or replacing all.  It was a two-button suit but there were four smaller buttons on each sleeve which would’ve been such a chore.  And one of his favorite Egyptian cotton shirts which I had earlier patched a hole through via satin stitch now had three of the white plastic buttons breaking due to abuse from the press at the cleaners.   The fact that he had me remedy that tiny hole on the arm, driving me to Michael’s to find the correct shade of DMC thread to work with should tell you how much he loves this shirt.  The white buttons, even if there will be three of them, are not a problem at all.. it’s just a matter of sitting down to do it.

The bigger challenge was actually finding the gold buttons with a crest for the blue blazer.  Since I work on the fashion district row (although I am with a financial services company), it was a matter of finding the time to browse and hunt down that button.  I had no “spare” button to carry around (hubby lost it), so I took a picture of the button with the blackberry.  I made sure to take a picture of the button next to a finger so that I could gauge the size.

My first stop, of course, was M&J Trimming which is just a buttons, beads and notions paradise.  I stare upon the wall-high shelves of buttons and trims and ribbons and all sorts of other beautiful stuff crafters like myself go gaga-for.  I like M&J because of the high-quality and very organized way they display their wares.  The staff is also very helpful in trying to help you find the supplies you need.  Alas, no luck with my gold crest button.

My next stop was Joyce Trimming (which has it’s online store at eJoyce) and although it was a much smaller store — lo and behold, I found my button!  (Happiness!)  Of course what was even more exciting was the discovery of what would be a smaller (and less overwhelming) selection which was of such a kind and variety that it made me drool.  (Tissue please!)

By the doorway they had a clearance stash of bags of buttons and trims.  The trims went for $2.99 and the buttons, $3.99.  I had actually started going through the different bags trying to make a selection and then I took a step back and reminded myself I had enough projects on my plate.  At least now I know where to go for buttons and trims besides my favorite on 6th Avenue, M&J.

Would you believe I still buy my “banig” of needles every time I go home?  Is it the variety, the foil or the fact that they’re just so cheap in Manila?  Of course I have as good if not a better selection at the dollar store where I’ve found tapestry needles which I can use for thicker threads like yarn.  Perhaps it’s good, too, not to buy too many of them which eventually turn rusty due to non-use. =(

So I have my stewing stash ready.. my thread’s on standby.  Someone’s going to be happy to know…

Sewing buttons tonight

I love to raid the clearance racks at upscale boutiques and jump up and down for joy when I find a literal steal at 80-90% off.  I don’t know if that’s more of being “cheap” (!) or just being practical.  As the lotto prize has continued to elude me, I have to be a reasonable shopper.  (Or at least I try.)

Do you ever find yourself wading through tons of gorgeous outfits on the clearance floor, only to find out that you are running out of time because the hubby and the son have called to say they’re waiting for you outside?   (Sounding patient, but trying very hard to be.)  I had grabbed this gorgeous cardigan (again.. I told you it was a favorite..) only to realize later at home that it was lacking a button.  * SIGH *  Alas, it was one of those sweaters which had a fancy button the same color as the fancy yarn the knit was spooled from.  So I had to go looking for a suitable button to replace ALL THE BUTTONS with.  (Makes me miss Carolina’s in MegaMall which was my favorite “go-to” place for those buttons before.)  Couldn’t find the teal, but you can never go wrong with gold.

I did find a fancy set in, of all places, one of my bead suppliers here on Sixth Avenue.  (It is, after all, the fashion center.. supposedly.)  Tonight’s the night I’m putting those buttons on.  Tomorrow, I wear the cardigan!

Buttons have always had an appeal to me like candy in a candy store.  I always seem to gravitate towards the notions section of most dollar stores I visit — looking for fancy colored plastic buttons of the regular type.  I put them in a tiny ziploc bag in my sewing case, ever ready for that all important different colored button I cannot find the spare button for.

Incidentally, I keep all my spare buttons and threads (from the sweaters) in a specific box to make it easier for me to find when the need arises.  One of these days I will make something different with those buttons I have — maybe a fancy headband or what not.  One of these days.

Re-embellishing a favorite cardigan

I love cardigans.. don’t you?  I must have over a dozen of them — acquired through the years from the tiangges (marketplace) of Greenhills to Landmark and the other Glorietta stores, to Tan Gan (of which I’ve been a fan for over 2 decades!), to GAP, Ann Taylor to name a few.  They don’t get too much wear because of the changing of the seasons, so I can have a cardigan that’s years old in my closet but still look like I had just bought it.

It was maybe three summers ago that I had picked up a nice Joseph A cardigan from the sale rack at Macy’s which was a quarter sleeve piece with a button pattern on the front in place of the regular buttons and buttonholes.  It was a good way to use otherwise plain black buttons and pretty up a black cardigan.  The problem was that around a year after I had it, one of the buttons came off in the middle of the pattern, and a few others got loose.  I put the cardigan away with a mental note to repair the buttons, but seasons have come and gone and I forgot about it.

I was going through our winter stuff to get ready for the colder days when I found it in a pile and finally decided what I wanted to do.  “Off with the buttons!”.  The cardigan was of a very good sweater material and I didn’t want to just put it away.  I have decided to make this a project.  I’m thinking now if I should bead the cardigan with pearls or perhaps embellish it with fabric flowers or both.  Hmmmm… I’m sure the idea will hit me soon enough.

For now, I’m letting the thread holes “heal” by letting the cardigan “rest”.  That’s a project for another day.