Sometimes colors just come together in an unexpected way at the moment you least expect it in the most unusual place.  #mynyc #mynewyork @onmywaytowork #manhattanskyline #ontheLIEWhen we were children, our parents always admonished us to say “Thank You” and “Please”.  Even now, I do the same to my 10-year-old.  And yet when you look at how we go about our day, there are many things that we don’t say “Thank you” for.  There are a lot of people we don’t get to say “Thank you” to. Sometimes, we crave to hear a simple word of appreciation and we get nary a thanks, when that would have made a world of difference.

This got me thinking the last couple of days and I’m deep into a “Thank You” project.  It’s still in the works so let me leave it at that.  I just find it to be one of those little acts of kindness that can literally mean so much and change the world.

Call it a means of paying forward the blessings I have and continue to be blessed with.  When the challenges seem to be piling up, the best remedy I have come to discover, is actually LITERALLY counting your blessings.  There is so much that we should be thankful for.  And yet as we go about our day, there is so much — and there are so many people — who go unappreciated.  More often than not, we do acknowledge the significance of whatever it is we ought to be thankful for, but we don’t always say it or express our appreciation outright.  How great would it be for someone to send us an unexpected “Thank you”!

I’m pulling together such a project, and I’ll write more about it when I have it in place.

My Thursday feels more like a Friday because of the Fourth of July weekend.  I am actually looking forward to recharging and getting things done — even if we’re not really going anywhere special.  I am also trying to do my Fourth of July weekend differently this year, because the past years have been non-events or days I would rather forget.  So between trying to make ‘new memories’ and trying to forget the bad, I’m trying to focus on other things.  (Like my “Thank You” project.)  Plus, Mother Nature has been pounding us with rain and pummelling us with nasty winds.

Last year was nice because my BFF Donna from Australia was in town.  And yet so many things happened, half of which I didn’t come to find out about until much later, which makes it one of the holidays I am not looking forward to.  So I try and count the positive — trying to keep my outlook bright and praying for the resolve not to give in to negativity.

If you ask me, I’d just like to be by some poolside or beach, sitting in the shade (I am not a sun lover), sipping a cocktail or two, and sleeping the day away.  It’s not even 11pm and I am already raring to hit the sack, so to speak.  Soon.

Still I wish you all a Happy Fourth of July — this great nation is celebrating it’s birthday and toasting the freedom we enjoy today.

Five things to be thankful for

It’s Sunday evening and like every Sunday in my daily readings from Kerygma Family, I look back at the blessings of the previous week.  I was sort of sidelined by a bad infection which threatened to take over my immune system but I made a strong come back after resting it away at home.  No fever, but my neck ached liked crazy due to swollen lymph nodes.  I’m okay now but still exhausted — so I’m trying to take it slow.

Tonight, I’m thankful and happy about…

1.  Finally some good temperatures that are not in the teens and which actually allowed us to go out with jackets but no scarves today.  (40s!)

2.  Getting Angelo’s science project going.  (We conducted the experiment but still have halfway to go with his partner, Ryan.)

3.  Finding a ring I had misplaced.  I wear three rings daily — and I take them off when I do my chores.  One, somehow, found its way to another bin away from the two, but they’re a happy threesome again.

4.  Family lunch at Waterzooi, a place we used to visit and went back to again.  Loved their Baked French Onion Soup (upper right picture in the collage below) and shared Alan’s Paella Moules Frites (bottom pictures).  Ended up eating Angelo’s burger, but I’m not complaining.  The promise of doing things differently.. keeps me hopeful.
Food trip: Waterzooi Belgian Bistro fir lunch and Banana Nutella Crepe for snacks on Super Bowl Sunday

5. Completing my “HOPE” multi-page layout for Art Journal Every Day in my altered book.

Art Journal Every Day: Hope Multi-page Layout (pre-journaling)This one was done quicker than I had thought it would be, although I’ve had to retake the layout graphics over and over again because of changes to the drawings. The journaling pretty much stayed as is, then I had to blur them out.  I’m happy to be able to work consistently on journaling no matter how short my window to work on the pages may be.

I’m now working on another multi-page layout, “BELIEVE”, but will write a feature on “HOPE” before I post anything on any other work in progress.

Another week and another month ahead… can you believe January has ended?  And yes, we’re officially into the Year of the Horse which is my year although my element is Fire…  That only means I’m turning 48 (because I’m certainly not turning 60 YET)… another year.

Thankful and happy, and feeling blessed I am.


Five things I’m thankful for

I know this is something I should be doing more of: thinking of the things I should be grateful for, but life happens.  (Another list I would do well to write about: Things I should be doing more of!)

1.  Friday… (That is why I greet everyone in the office a happy Friday!)

2.  Power — and by this I mean electricity.  (I have “REVOLUTION“, the TV series to thank for that newfound appreciation of something so commonplace in our 21st century lives.)

3.  Pan de sal — it brings me back “home”.

4.  Another pound lost… self explanatory. (HA!)

5.  Seeing my niece, Andreanna, wearing a pretty, pretty dress (or dresses) from Ninang.  Priceless.

Happy Friday, everyone!


My Gratitude JournalI’ve long meant to write in a Gratitude Journal, but as always, the “form” was always much too much of a hurdle. This time around, the process was somehow reversed and I fell in love with the paper and the journal then I decided this would be my gratitude journal.

It is always good to think of our blessings, in good times and during the bad — more so when we are emotionally challenged because it helps remind us that life is not always “against” us. We often neglect to take the everyday joys we come across forgranted, because they don’t move us to jump up and down for joy or to swoon or gush — yet these little joys help to bring us to a good place.  “Ordinary” blessings from day to day, no matter how small they may be, are never insignificant in the bigger scheme of things.

We often fail to give thanks because that same feeling of contentment leads us to a sense of entitlement. And yet sometimes, admittedly, I know I come across a lot of good I have not earned a right to — but which are thrown at me out of the natural goodness and generosity of a higher being.

We are constantly in search of happiness, yet we fail to recognize that little things like a sunny day, or a warm greeting from a stranger as we walk towards our place of work — things that help make our day a little brighter if not easier — are things that we should consider blessings or things we should be thankful for.  I realize that “blessings” tend to have a religious meaning, and for the many who don’t recognize the existence of God or a higher being in some shape or form, then these blessings are ordinary things or happenings that come into our lives plain and simple.

If only we recognized them for being what they were, then the challenges we face might yet turn out to be not as big a challenge as we thought them to be.

It’s not a novel idea.  Many people like Oprah have their gratitude journal.  This is the journal that only lists what you are thankful for — it’s a little book of treasures of what you consider good in your life.  A fellow Pinay Swiss I used to follow used to list Five Things to be Happy About in her journal.  (Where art though, Jayred?)  And who says we have to stick with five?  I had started doing that at random but have not done the list in while.  (It has been ages!)

Gratitude Journal 00

I wrote: “I’ve always had a love affair with paper, and everytime I looked at the shelves withe the journals over at Barnes, I can’t help but pause and browse.  I’ve always been so impressed by these handmade paper journals which always stood out.  I’d always make it a point to open the sample and leaf through the book just to feel its pages.  The rough texture of the handmade paper has an elegance to it which I can’t help but admire.

Made in Nepal.  I remember the holiday bazaars I’ve been to in the Philippines which shocased similar products.  Can we actually come up with something like this and find it ont he shelves of Barnes, too?  I wonder.

I haven’t even made up my mind about what kind of journal this will be.  A gratitude journal… I can certainly use that.

Thank you. — Dinna”

Journals in Barnes and Noble

It was on this shelf that I spied my journal.  Sometimes we feel a pair of shoes or a bag on the shelf beckoning us.  This one, I felt, had my name written inside it already.

The handmade paper seemed thick enough to take on ink and paint — but the thickness of the paper made for a few pages only.  Somehow that didn’t bother me.  Besides, at roughly $10.00, I can easily get another once this runs out.   This is the one that swept me off my feet.

Handmade paper journal from Nepal

I like that even if it’s a little bit chunky, it’s lightweight.  I wouldn’t mind getting exactly the same book next time.

After two posts I’ve come to realize that paper is paper and the ink will seep through.  I’ve decided to do some stencilling for the next entry to “cover” what little did bleed through to the next spread.  I have also decided there will be no collages in this book. The binding won’t be able to take it, and I’d hate for it to get ruined.

My first entry started like the picture below but has now progressed to being colored in some places and written on in some.  I am thankful for having found my journal.
Gratitude Journal 01
Time to start on the next layout.  No pressure.  In between cooking dinner for the boy and catching up on my favorite TV shows, I have plenty of time.  It comes when it comes.

What are YOU thankful for?

Daily Prompt: State of “Me” Post (SOMP – or My Year Thus Far)

Daily Prompt: Write up a mid-year “State of My Year” post.

First of all, this is NOT inspired nor related to P-Noy’s State of the Nation Address which has been front and center in Manila.  The Daily Post put this up as it’s latest and greatest daily prompt and I thought I’d give it a shot.


I’ve been too busy to write of late.  This is my third draft of a blog post (all three different topics) and I am  hoping it sees the light of day.  (Or of the blogsphere.). The current state of “Me” is “all over the place,” but in a good kind of way.

Today sees us officially halfway through the year, and although I don’t have any monumental news or milestones to report, I think I’ve done pretty good so far.  I can definitely say I’m in a better place today compared to the same time period last year.  But with the challenges that 2012 threw my way, anything past those very trying times qualifies as progress. 

Of course there are always things we wish we did more of, or things I wish I had accomplished by now — little milestones or goals I had hoped to chalk up in my to-do list, but one of the lessons of the last year year is that lowering one’s expectations or not having any expectations at all is a big help in managing one’s outlook in life.

I’m happy to report that I finally finished Inferno: A Novel (Robert Langdon) by Dan Brown, and while I am tempted to write a blog post about the infamous mention of Manila in this novel, I’d rather hold off.  I’m just happy to be able to list one book read at least although I wish I had the time and the energy to read more.  I’m trying to get back to Grisham’s The Associate which hasn’t been quite the page turner so I’ve been going in an out to read it for a couple of months now.  I still have a few e-books I really must get to soon, but I’m hoping to do that in the coming weeks.  To make it easier, I’ve gotten back to my good old Kindle which has been easier to lug around. 

Craft-wise, I’m taking things easy and trying to pace myself better.  I am doing a project at a time and no longer stress about projects that have not gotten off the ground.  They will when they will.  Much as I had enjoyed Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s Art Journal Every Day and my Altered Book project, I have put these on hold for now.  I am trying to get my own “Journal on a Journey” on it’s way and hope to send out these journals before the year is out.

I’m back to polymer clay and enjoying it.  I have been enjoying trying new things and researching and learning more about this medium and hope to come up with pieces to wear and sell soon.  It helped that I had committed to make my niece, Andreanna Lux’s first birthday souvenir.  (Read more about it here.)

On the business front, my attempts to revive my store, GothamChick on Etsy have been moving at a snail’s pace, and I’m trying to gear up for the holidays by focusing more on repopulating my listings and hopefully creating more.  (Emphasis on “HOPEFULLY”.)

As for the state of this space on the blogsphere, I’m happy that I’m posting more regularly but hope to post more often.  I wish I could get comfortable with just posting a picture with a blurb, but just as I am very outspoken, it’s  a little difficult to just leave it at that.

Phew.  That sounded like quite a list but the truth of the matter is, I’m just happy I’m here.  I’m happy that I have what I have.  I count my blessings just by looking at Angelo and hugging him, or by looking up at the sky as I walk out of the house to start yet another day of toil.   Every day is a blessing whether it’s scorching hot, gloomily grey, or just gorgeous.

My year so far, to my mind, has been good.  Nothing fantabulously great — nothing outstanding.  “Good” is a good place to be.  I’ve learned not to gripe or rant about the negative, because doing so would only magnify them and bring forth feelings not worth dwelling on.

It’s quieter.  It’s simpler.  The first 7 months of the year continue to be a time of growth and realization for me.  One thing I like is that it’s helped me to get to know myself better. 

Last year, I came to terms with many of my failings and shortcomings.  I realized and accepted the many things I couldn’t do, and I saw those parts of “me” that I wasn’t.  Some people walked out of my life — and I chose to make myself scarce from some.  I’ve learned that there is really no holding on to people — the choice to come and go is always theirs to make, not mine.  The only thing I really have control over is my own presence — so there were doors I walked out of, quietly.

I’m in a better place because these days, I can go back to a painful memory and push it into a far corner instead of allowing it to take me over.  I don’t torture myself as much anymore because I’ve learned to lump the good and the bad and just tuck them away.  I used to be deluded into thinking that you pick the good and keep it and discard the bad.  But the truth of the matter is, they are intertwined.  One eventually leads to the other.  I flip a switch in my brain and I pull a black screen — much like those transition screens or slides we see signalling an end.

I am slowly coming to terms with my mortality.  For the first time, a birthday hit me and I felt the years fall to the ground and the reality hit me that I am getting older.  Not that it’s a bad thing.  I just didn’t quite feel myself pegged to an age until I hit 47.  “Life is short” has taken on a new meaning which hasn’t pushed me one way or the other, but which now looms overhead when I think about the things I want and hope to do.  It hasn’t quite pushed me to do a bucket list — stepping back has meant going with the flow and just enjoying life as it comes.  Lists tend to grab me by the neck and instead of motivating me, gives me a source of frustration.  At my age, I can do with less of that.

I know that I will close the year an even better person than I started it.  Notwithstanding the fact that I started at rock bottom, I know I could’ve stayed there and wallowed, but I chose not to.

Things have fallen into place, and I know this is my place because “here” is where I’ve chosen to be.

Feeling blessed

We have come upon very difficult times in this part of the world.  First there was Hurricane Sandy, and now the Nor’easter that swooped down on us last night and left another swathe of devastation.  Trees that survived the hurricane force winds of the previous week finally gave in to the tremendous weight of snow.  Like all things, there is only so much abuse and torture a living creature can take.  Eventually, no matter how strong one’s fighting spirit may be, you bend and give in.

It was  a hazardous ride home last night as the bus I rode struggled to literally plow through the snow on the road.  It would’ve been normally easier if the snow plows had done their work sooner.  After almost three hours, I finally made it home as my bus zigzagged through fallen tree limbs on the roads we passed.  I waded into almost a foot of very soft fresh fallen wet snow.  It was a lovely sight to behold as snow tends to be luminous at night — truly awesome beyond words.  But I carefully trudged through slush and snow, hoping against hope that no limbs or branches would fall on me as I made my way through.

This morning, this is what greeted me.
Snow in Bayside - 07Nov2012

With the trees still heavy with leaves that had yet to “fall”, there was quite a lot of snow that would fall like a snow shower when the winds blew.  I had no choice but to walk in the middle of the street to make it to the bus stop.

A tree in the far right corner of this courtyard (shown on the lower righthand side of the picture) that had survived through many natural onslaughts through the last 10 years finally gave in.  It wasn’t uprooted, but many of its bigger branches fell and broke off.

Snow in Bayside - 07Nov2012

It is Mother Nature asserting her power and reminding us all who is in charge.

Through it all, I feel blessed.  We have been untouched by the wrath of nature, and if at all, have only suffered through the added trouble of commuting to work through the special circumstances brought on by damage caused elsewhere.  I feel for those whose homes are gone, or who are suffering through the ravages of no heat or no power.

It helps one to put things in perspective.

Sure, I am trying to get groceries for the next couple of days, but even without that extra trip to the grocery, I’m pretty well-stocked to the weekend.  (Just that the boy has run out of his favorite snack of the moment, but he has other choices.)

We are blessed indeed.

Art Journal Every Day: Blessed

Art Journal Every Day: BlessedI have two other hearts I need to finish, but I stayed up until almost 2am Monday morning working on this one.  I would normally just create the 8″ x 8″ frame on a piece of kraft paper and tape it onto a folder for me to work on later.  The heart itself was created over the weekend but I didn’t quite have the journaling conceptualized until I sat down to finish it last night between “On Demand” viewing of my favorite TV shows.

I have set the goal of creating 28 hearts for each day of the month of February as a way of participating in the Art Journal Every Day project.  I must say it can be intimidating because there are a lot of real artists in the group, but I am doing this not to show off or compete but more to put my thoughts and feelings on paper through my own drawings, collages, and attempts at art.

This is my sixth and it’s the 21st of February.  I am trying but it’s not exactly something I sit down to finish in but a few minutes.  I currently have 2 cut-out hearts where the heart itself is already finished, but I messed up the background or journaling so I need to paste it onto a clean sheet to start over.  I can’t believe I have run out of glue, though.. horrors!

I have at least 2 other heart collages so that makes 4 works in progress.  While I am not totally optimistic I will finish my 28 hearts by the end of the month, I know I will be able to make my 28 hearts.  Looking at the big picture, though, I have no intention of creating 365 layouts for the year.  That would be too ambitious!

Hearts are easier to work with.  I try to think of something related to love.  Maybe I’ll be able to use these zentangle attempts in future products to showcase in my other Etsy shop, Paperkrafts,  where I have paper products for sale.  I have stopped production while I concentrate on making more jewelry pieces for GothamChick to get things moving by converting the supplies I have in stock into saleable pieces.

For now I am  just enjoying the doodling and the relaxation it has afforded me.  I can pick up a work in progress between chores like I did yesterday while cooking.  (Which reminds me, my hour-long break between breakfast and lunch is almost over.)  I like staying home because it lets me catch up with “me” time, but it also means being on my feet taking care of everyone else half the time.  Can you believe we got some snow again???  When will it end?!

Well, have to finish my works in progress and post them here.

“Blessed.  When I count my blessings, I start with all the love so many others have showered my life with.”