Maraming salamat sa inyong pagtangkilik (Thank you for your patronage)

For the past couple of days, views from readers in the Philippines have exceeded views from this side of the world and elsewhere which I find heartening for many reasons.  However, I find it sad that I have yet to hear a peep from these kababayans who have honored my humble space here a visit.

Magsalita naman kayo at paunlakan ang aking paanyaya na kayo’y magparamdam sa pamamagitan ng pagsulat ng ilang kataga dito sa tahanan ni Pinay New Yorker.  (Please speak up and accept my invitation to have your presence known by writing a comment here in Pinay New Yorker’s home.)  And of course, the invitation is being extended to everyone else.. I’d love to hear from Saudia Arabia, Germany, Ireland (who is probably my fellow-Pinay, Mara)… I love all visitors, but fellow Filipinos — no matter wherever you may be — will always be special.  (Right, Lou and Mara?)

The new Michael's at Fresh MeadowsI’ve had a pretty productive weekend so far, but of course, I wish I could do more.    For starters, I visited the brand new Michael’s over at the corner of 187th Street and Horace Harding Expressway.  It is a rather huge store, but maybe because it’s newly opened, it didn’t feel quite as “fully stocked” as the bigger stores I go to in Long Island or in Manhattan.  Both were a trek for me (yes, even the one in Manhattan, considering it meant a commute from 42nd to 100th street!), and this is a welcome addition to the stores in the area where I live.

I’m hoping they eventually get fully stocked in the months to come, because I missed a lot of the usual items in the different departments.  (No ATC sleeves or cards, no Ranger DYC-33943 Dyan Reaveley’s Dylusions Collection Ink Spray, in Vibrant Turquoise that I was hoping to add to my set of ink sprays, very limited selection of rubber and acrylic stamps, etc.)  Let’s give the store a few more weeks to stock its shelves sufficiently.  All the same, I’m overjoyed!  I might finally get to take classes onsite like I had always hoped to,  but the Long Island branch was a 20-30 minute drive.  I did manage to grab some paper packs and polymer clay which were on sale for $1 each.  (Can’t beat THAT bargain.)

Happiness!  Can’t wait to get crafting again.  I’ve posted about the pressed flower experiment I did Friday which I can’t wait to “uncover” on Monday.  It’s not so much the actual pressing of the rose and hydrangea petals (which most crafters can do with their eyes closed), but rather the timing in the cut flower’s life that it is being done to produce a desired effect.  I pressed the rose petals while they were nowhere near dry to fully flatten them.  Do visit my craft blog, GOTHAM CHICK to read more about the craft projects in more detail.  (You can also keep track of new posts  there through the Gotham Chick widget on the right hand side of this space.)

I’ve just been sidetracked by a project / business my sister and I are getting into.  I’m helping her pull together a website to sell some items back home in Manila.  I hope to start work on a series of Mega (Big) Artist Trading Swaps that will be due end of the month.  I don’t want to be late, so I’m going to start on the backgrounds at least tomorrow.  I tend to do multi-process collage ATCs and the one I’m thinking of doing for this swap is something just like that.  It’s still a long ways away, but I don’t want to be late.

I had kept away from the ATC swaps because my two poor ratings on were a result of delays with ATC swaps.  That’s why I’m trying to get a headstart on the whole swap.  Click here to view some of the ATCs I’ve created.

I have two more posts here on draft mode so let me get going so I can get them published here eventually instead of languishing in draft mode.  I hope everyone’s having a good weekend… mine has been good so far. =)

Time out for me

The bus was crowded this morning so I already had a seatmate when I boarded.  That meant less wiggle room to paint my face so I settled down and decided I’d blog instead.

I’m trying to get into the habit of writing my blogpost during the commute to work so that I don’t end up scurrying to post at the end of the day.  It sure beats the urge to succumb to the urge to nap.  I know it gives me a chance to catch up on some shut-eye, but it doesn’t necessarily help at a time so close to when I just got out of bed.  Instead of being up and about when I step off the bus, there are times when I find myself yawning from the deep sleep that the rocking of the bus brings me to.

No rain today but still cold.  I’m lugging two umbrellas back to the office because I’ve managed to take all of them home the various days I came to the city unprepared for rain.  That’s the girl scout in me: “Laging handa” (or “always ready”) as they say.  (I try to be.)

My “me” time at night has shrunk considerably because my little guy is now on a later bedtime.  It means tucking him in later as well.  For my part, I’m trying not to go beyond the midnight hour if I can help it so that my body doesn’t end up protesting too much when the alarm rings.  Gone are the days when I’d slip under the sheets before 4am and get up at 6:30 to beat the traffic from San Juan to Makati.  Age has caught up with me.  I can still make do with 5 hours of sleep, but anything less than that and I stop operating at 100%.

Still, I try to make my evenings productive by zeroing in on a single task to complete, and if there is extra time (and I still have the energy), I add a thing or two.  I cook dinner most nights and do homework if not check what’s been done by the tyke on his own, and then I take charge of scrubbing him clean before bed time.  There are days when the Dad gives him a bath, but most days, it’s me and the kid.  By the time I’m done, it’s past 10pm. 

That’s when I try to check my mail, prepare swaps, gather art supplies, maybe paint a background or two, or when I can, write a letter longhand.  I owe some penfriends a reply which I will have to schedule now because the list is getting long.  I hate responding curtly because it negates the whole purpose of taking pen and paper to write.   Sometimes there are letters I’m raring to write but somehow the words just won’t come.  Unlike blogging which comes spontaneously, letter writing to me is a more deliberate effort but something I cherish because I know my words physically make it to the hands of the recipient.  (That thought made me smile.)

I was busy cutting up owl parts from paint chips while watching reruns of Criminal Minds.  Something I’m doing for some handmade cards I am assembling. 

Owls — they grow on you.  I had googled for templates because of a Partner Name ATC swap at (render the name of the participants in an ATC relevant to their profile), and one of the participants was into the Grateful Dead and owls.  I didn’t know how I would render the Grateful Dead in an ATC but I sure could try an owl collage.  And was I surprised to find a ton of resources and patterns to choose from, although most of them were meant for patchwork or appliques.  I picked two patterns and came up with these:  ATC: Partner Name ATC
One is rendered via software and another was clearly drawn.  I have a preference for the drawn template and have printed (and sometimes traced) the pieces on the back of paint chips – the kind you find at hardware stores displaying paint swatches, etc.  I love working with paint chips when I can because first of all, they’re FREE, and second, the paper quality is good cardstock although some surfaces don’t lend themselves well to laser printing. 

I just cut, I didn’t assemble any.  I tucked them away in a spare envelope and will work on a card later.  (I might even try using this template with polymer clay another time as a souvenir idea just hit me for the first birthday of my precious niece, Andreanna Lux, or “My Andeng” as I call her affectionately.)   And of course a tutorial will follow in the craft blog if and when that piece is done.

Please click HERE to see my Flickr album of ATCs by GothamChick (my handle over at

Spaghetti saves the day

It’s only Saturday evening and I’m already wishing it was another long weekend. I did get to sleep in this morning. I managed to finish some ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) that were due out and I finally cut my serendipity background for the megaswap, but I’m not quite ready to show the finished ATCs yet. It turns out that I could produce 14 ATCs out of the 12×12 spread, so that leaves me two to keep for my personal collection.

I like to keep one if I can and when I have the time to make them for my own album.

We did do errands today and ended up in the house early evening, but I was too tired to cook up any dinner and still quite full from lunch at Bobby’s Burger Palace. (We finally got our rewards card after all those visits! One point for every dollar spent and a free burger per 100 points.) Fortunately, I had made enough spaghetti sauce to get us through dinner the other night and tonight, so I finally found the time to sit and blog on a weekend.

24 hours to go and it’ll be the night before another work day for me. I have this picture of a dream of having my own craft cave — a room serving as my craft studio — much like the craft closet featured by Michael’s in Craft Wars. (I skipped my weekend Michael’s fix today — it was too late, and for some reason, the volume of people in the mall just sapped me of energy and left me wanting to sit and just chill. And why were some stores soooooo hot??? So anti-browsing!)

I have three things I want to do before I turn in tonight, and I want to finish them in at most two hours. (I do have to get the boy ready for bed the usual time because there’s Religious Ed tomorrow.)

1. Write some letters/postcards;
2. Sort my tags (I had printed digital designs directly onto some manila tags which came out rather beautifully);
3. Start/finish a set of Eiffel-tower themed ATCs due yesterday.

I’m keeping my list short and simple so that I don’t get distracted and I keep my focus, and so that I can hopefully accomplish something concrete instead of bits and pieces of a 10-item list.

Can you believe that Christmas is just around the corner? Wow.. I have to seriously put together my Christmas cards. Fortunately, I have a few dozens of previous cards I can send to those I’ve never sent to, and then there’s the two to three dozen cards I have to create for those who are on my holiday list. Alas, that’s not on my list tonight. Perhaps tomorrow? I am devoting my day to catching up with my “sorting”. There is a craft fair in December at the local Church I am seriously mulling about joining — but I need to find out the cost of logistics first. (Another post on that one coming.)

I just want to enjoy this “me” time, make my list of things I want to do, and try to do one or two things before I turn in. Three achievable and doable tasks, a time limit, and hopefully measurable results.

Dinner time for me. Spaghetti, it is!

A challenging week just passed

I thought my weekend had started when I stepped out of the office at 5:30, boarded the bus home, picked up dinner and some eclairs for dessert and I sat down to watch TV and work on my altered book.  I managed to do around 4 spreads of a multi page layout, and I’m just waiting for the latest two-page spread to dry before proceeding.  Then an e-mail came in on the blackberry on a work issue that I had made up my mind to postpone for Monday.  Apparently, only I felt it was the weekend, and others were too nervous to let the issue be.

E-mail came, and I had to answer.  In their nervousness, they failed to see that the  big boss wasn’t even aware there was an issue, and now that they wrote in their defense, he is.  This could’ve been solved and nothing would’ve been taken against them.  But no, some people just can’t keep quiet when they feel they need to put up a defense.

It’s 11pm.  I have promised not to look at the blackberry and just let it simmer.  There should be a work e-mail rule that things that can be resolved on a work week should NOT be dealt with on a weekend.  Like I didn’t mind receiving a nice hello from one of my VP Chiefs of Staff who was in Tokyo, reporting he got my Starbucks mug as I requested, but that he was in one day only next week so we might not see each other until the following week.  That wasn’t work and it was an e-mail that made me smile.  (The promise of an addition to my Starbucks mug collection is always reason to smile. =)

I shouldn’t be venting about work.  The boss himself was away 4 of the 5 days of this previous week.  And that is what’s eating me — I get paid to get aggravated by him.  I hate it when others below him who do not possess that same stature nor moral ascendancy over me do it and make my life miserable.  (Or at least my work life.)

I had been hoping not to have to write about this that’s why I had avoided writing a blogpost of substance all week.  My prayer sticky in the post preceding this is also in reference to all the negative energy that seems to be brewing around me.  During these challenging times, I am grateful for the support of colleagues like the friend I have discovered in my co-EA next to me.  And there are the old reliables like a former second assistant who is more a friend now than a subordinate.

I don’t mean to play the victim.  I can be a real diva with a capital B in the office, and I can stand my ground and not let things through.  I’m human.  Okay, I’m a “taray” human. LOL  But the past months have seen me mellowing down.  Where my fangs and horns would pop out when provoked much like Wolverine’s blades do when he is agitated in years passed, these days, I take a deep breath and I literally say a prayer.  Between the “Our Father, who art in heaven..” to the “..deliver us from evil. Amen.” I find my balance again.

I have taken to answering calls with a standard almost call center like tone saying “I’m here to please” that some people expecting me to bite are getting upset that they can’t make me.  (Thinking about that actually made me snicker…)  I have found validation when during a three-way call, a third party later felt sorry for me for the way my other colleague had treated me during our discussion.  So I knew I wasn’t being my usual bitchy self.  I told her not to worry, the other lady lopping my head off was actually a friend.  And that was the irony of it.

For a week when I should’ve been able to take things easy, I was kept busy working on so many things I feel so exhausted even as I’m writing this post.  Then I remind myself it’s the weekend.  Even if it’s not for them, it IS for me.

The weekend it is.  I look forward to working with polymer clay again as some Christmas tree ornaments I had experimented on last night came out so much better than I had hoped them to and I’m going to be making more over the weekend.  (I think I’ve found the medium for my holiday card this year.)  I’ve been trying to catch up with swap deadlines for Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) both at and
ATC: Zentangled P with watercolor backgroundATC: Zentangled Q with watercolor backgroundUntitled

ABOVE: Zentangled P-Q-R

I’m still learning and I check what mail has come in every day with much anticipation.  I have been learning from the different ATCs I’ve received, and I’ve been developing other techniques and trying to make it work with the resources I have.

I’ve been doing several sets involving elements referring to women.  Japanese women in traditional costume are a current favorite and I am still set on learning how to do kimono origami.

ATC: Beautiful Asian Lady 2 of 4 ATC: Beautiful Asian Lady 1 of 4

Most swaps are “themed” and I also finished quite a set of Vintage Dancers where I used a black and white real photo print of Ziegfeld dancers.

ATC: Vintage Dancer 2 of 4ATC: Vintage Dancer 1 of 4ATC: Vintage Dancer 4 of 4

Amidst this creative streak, the best news was Angelo was named (yet again), STUDENT OF THE MONTH.  (Of course, I’m a proud Mom..)

Again, let me dwell on the happy. =)  (Literal smile there.)

It was a challenging week — not a bad week.  Productive even if heavy on the heart at times.  It can only get better.  Next week will be a better week.  For now, it’s the weekend.  MY weekend is going to be great, and I’m going to try my hardest to make it so.

Bitten by the creative bug

I’ve been busy the last 48 hours just creating.  I wish the next phase could be for the store for a change.  (Need to make money on that investment!)

ATC: Collage backgrounds

I’m making more Artist Trading Card (ATC) collage backgrounds.  Been tearing up colorful layouts in the magazines and creating a linear collage, then painting the whole canvas a single pearlized color. (I’m going nuts about metallic paints and glazes!)  It’s been pretty enjoyable and not much effort.  I had the finished backgrounds sit beneath three reams of paper today at the office to “flatten” them out and “air out” any bubbles underneath.  Now I can continue to work on them.

Water color Paper Tags

I’ve also been painting paper tags with various shades of watercolor and trying to go for more sombre and darker tones.  The top one with the doodle art was a single attempt at drawing and scribbling on a tag.  I ended the day with around 40 tags.  (4 sets of 10 tags in 4 different color schemes.)

My Altered Book has also progressed nicely, with this cut out layout pictured below:
My Altered Book: Cut out Word Art: HAPPY MEMORIES

This is actually a multi-page layout I did the alpha for freehand, then I cut them out yesterday.  I will retouch the fuschia pink page which shows some “scratches” from the scissors I used, but I like the over-all effect pretty much.

I’ve had a pretty productive day work-wise, too, even if I’m tired and sleepy from staying up an extra hour last night to do the collage backgrounds on the ATCs.  It’s also been quiet.  (No negative energy or difficult conversations today.  I know it was prayer that did wonders!)

I’m wrapping this up because I want to get on the bus earlier tonight.  It’s one of those few nights when I can actually do it.  =)

On my way to the bus stop this morning

Random: Walking to the bus stop: FULL MOON

I stepped out of the house just minutes after 7am hoping to catch the 7:30ish bus to Manhattan.  The sun was still on its way up and this caught my eye not 100 paces away from my doorstep.  Breathtaking.

I tried to do photo correction before uploading but the best version was the original one.  I rarely see the moon as detailed as this..

And finally, a shot of the trees as I walk closer to the bus stop.  See the flecks of yellow?

Random: On the Way to Walk.. Fall is hereI will try and photograph the same tree again tomorrow and monitor how it changes from day to day.  Now you see bits of yellow and before long, they will turn to a lovely fiery orange and bits of red and then it will be closer to winter and the branches will be bare.

I feel a whole lot better now and have been photographing my altered book and I’ve really made progress in that department.  I’m trying to experiment with doing designs directly on the page and I’m almost down to halfway up the book.  My word art is progressing rather nicely, and if time permits, I might write a new post on the section dedicated to my altered book here.  Why do I even bother, right?

I don’t know if its the calming effect of repetitive brush strokes or any brush stroke for that matter, or just the act of seeing something “growing” — but my happiness journal is helping me keep myself grounded on the “happy”.  In the mornings as I sit on the bus on the way to work, I distract myself from any negative thoughts by focusing on the positive.

It’s not always that easy.  There are those negative feelings of anger and pain that are sometimes difficult to shut out of our minds, more so, our hearts.  Sometimes we succeed but only momentarily, then we slip back.  There are days when it’s a constant tug-of-war of emotions and wits.  But I try to dwell on the happy instead of the sad or the angry.

I keep seeing that one line: “For every minute you are angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness..” ( – Ralph Waldo Emerson. )  I’ll take “happiness” anytime.

Two Artist trading Cards (ATCs) are heading to Texas for a swap.

ATCs for Trade

I’m still learning but getting there.  Read more about how I made the cards above here.   (The link will take you to my other blog, Gotham Chick.)  Anyone interested to trade or swap, please e-mail me at

Artist Trading Cards, etc.

I’ve been cutting up extra freecards (of which I have quite a lot!) into the denominated size of 3.5 x 2.5 inches with my paper trimmer, and have been creating sets of backgrounds, much like I did with my mail art postcards.

I have a few that have been gessoed over, some have been pasted with used brown paper bags and book pages, and tonight, I tried to do watercolor and acrylic paint backgrounds straight on the matte side which is the side you are supposed to address and write your message on. Those pieces are currently drying. I did them in between cooking the rice, frying the petite fillet and heating the roasted potatoes on the stove. Ha! I’m just happy to have had the chance to put together a home-cooked meal for the family which even my usually picky mother-in-law liked.  It’s not that easy to serve her up savory dishes when she has her diabetes and heart condition. We try.  I’d have done more if I wasn’t feeling under the weather. I’m ready to do my first batch of Artist Trading Cards.

And I have my altered book resting on my lap right now. I just can’t stopp myself from going page to page even as I have yet to start with the dedication which I will work on tomorrow.

Except for photographing and sorting postcards in my collection, I did manage to keep away from trading or dealing with the trade like I had promised myself yesterday. I had dropped off quite a bunch of postcards at the post office Saturday with the majority of the cards heading for the Philippines.

I’ve found it very heartening that people are now into postcard trading even if it feels different because of the preference for cards being sent postmarked. Back in the day when I was actively collecting, I preferred to get my cards in an envelope.

With new online projects like Postcrossing where postcard trades are randomly assigned on a pay-it-forward basis (it is not an exchange but rather, participating means you will get a postcard from someone else you don’ t know), I see more and more people participating more for the experience of the exchange rather than seriously collecting postcards. As for me, I am happy to have received noteworthy additions to my maps, lighthouses and Philippine postcard collection. (I am still eagerly awaiting the postcards from the Philippines, which, given the literal snail’s pace that the postal office moves at, should be arriving in my mailbox any day now.)

I’m still trying to learn the basics and rudiments of ATC trading.  Unlike postcards which can be bought to add to your collection,  ATCs are traded.  Postcards are usually chosen, too, by the intended recipient and traded for something the sender prefers.  ATCs may be traded blind, meaning with no agreement as to which piece or pieces will be exchanged.  Swaps can also be of multiples and are sent to and then sent out by the swap host.

Well, I’m still a long way away from trading — give me a couple of days more.  For now, it’s cutting and creating…cutting and creating.

We never stop learning

Minutes to midnight and I’m back.  I thought the steak fajita would help, along with some Magnum afterwards, but nope, I didn’t quite get any help with the pain and discomfort beyond this feeling of happiness that filled my stomach.  Well, one part happy and feeling okay is better than all the parts of Dinna feeling all crappy. =)

And I got a very nice surprise from the boys after they left me at Michael’s to troll the aisles and get my pick for the week while they played at Dave & Buster’s.  I actually finished quicker than usual knowing what product I would get for my 40% off coupon for the week along with the acrylic paint colors I wanted to add to my supplies.  The lines were not inordinately longer than the usual “long”, and while I tried to sit and wait by the park bench inside the store (presumably there for the other waiting husbands or kids while Mom does her craft shopping) —  they were taking forever.  I ended up standing up again and grabbing  something else (using the smart coupon on my blackberry instead of the printed coupon I used the first time around), plus additional acrylic paints which were 40% off this week (you can’t beat that!), and still there was no sign of them.   Finally they pulled up by the entrance and I got in the car, and Angelo excitedly handed me a surprise present (and there was no occasion) — a new Michael Kors leather wallet… Speechless.

After that, it was Target.  I had no more energy to go anywhere else, and I would have even skipped Target, but I needed to get Angelo’s supplies for the coming week.  The growing boy eats a boatload of cereal and the current snack of choice: Rice Krispies.  Of course by the time we got home I realized I forgot to buy one important grocery item for the coming week: burger patties.  (The carnivore my son is has forsaken bacon for all beef burgers.)  The truth of the matter is that he prefers the ones from Pat LaFrieda of FreshDirect so I am not totally without recourse.

I tried to do some newspaper collage postcards to add to my Flickr album as I put Angelo to sleep, but all I managed to do was to finish one and I couldn’t quite get moving with the next.  I just wasn’t into it.  I gave it up and opted instead to browse the internet for images and videos about Artist Trading Cards and Mixed Media Art.  (No more postcards for me at least until Monday, I promised myself.)  When I went to pick up my album URL and I visited my Flickr Photostream, I was so amazed that the link I had submitted to the Art Journal Every Day linky list on Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s blog had brought so many views to the graphic of my latest Art journal entry I wrote about below.  But what totally bowled me over where the words of artists — real artists — who hopped into my Flickr set based on that link and left a comment.  It totally made my day.  These are the people who teach me and inspire me to continue to aspire to create.

I always try to find something new that I learn from day to day.  The moment we stop trying to learn is the day we wilt away and die.  Even in the little things that don’t seem to matter, we learn.

Two nice surprises for the day — how can you beat that?  I know I should be so lucky.. sometimes I wonder why they keep coming when I am not deserving.  Then I remind myself to just take it as it comes — enjoy the moment before it passes — and move on.