17 in 2017

And so we’re on year three!

I started something in 2015 which saw me going back and forth to a list I had written at the end of the year before (2014).  I didn’t want to just write the so-called New Year’s Resolutions that often get broken or forgotten at the very least.  It was a list of goals I wanted to accomplish — from the mundane and ordinary to first time things I wanted to do.  I did periodic updates and tried to be guided by that list, and while I didn’t quite get to successfully accomplish all of them, having the tasks served as a reminder of my focus for the year.  So here is this year’s list, partly taken from the previous year’s.

1.  Read six books. – Take two.  Just finished last year’s second book which, I guess, I’m counting as my first for 2017.  While I had promised myself I wouldn’t get any new books until I had sufficiently gone through my current stack of books, two colleagues had recommended one written by a former CEO of the company I work for.  So yes, I am into that now, and I am just so stoked by how the reading seems to be getting on at this point.  I might actually do better in 2017 if I keep up this pace.  (#6BooksIn2017)

2. Travel to one destination outside the tri-state area. – Last year, I had specified Boston as a destination, only to find myself flying all the way down under to Fiji to meet with my high school BFF, Donna, who also turned 50.  I met up with her and her family and we had a grand time just catching up and celebrating together.

Although I am planning a vacation with her again sometime end of the year, I’d like to make a simpler plan closer to home, but outside the immediate environs of New York.  So anywhere outside the tri-state area will do.  One trip, that’s all.  Keeping it simple and open ended like that is easier to aim for.

3. Learn something new via an actual class.  I already know that I want to learn how to properly knit, and I am just trying to find the time to actually do this over at the Lion Brand Yarn Studios here in Manhattan.  I would also like to learn another language, but not have to pay for it.  (Yes, I’m being a cheapskate, but these classes can be expensive!)  And there’s the Intermediate sewing class which I skipped as the third installment of classes last year at MoodU over at Mood Fabrics here in Manhattan.  As you can see, my learning calendar is in pretty good shape, so it’s all a matter of really getting down to it.

4.  Take better care of myself by exercising, losing more weight.  Exercising.  What’s that again?  LOL  No more excuses, and hoping to give it more effort.  I had better luck with the weight control last year compared to the year before that, except that the trip to Fiji and all those full breakfast buffets made me gain 10 lbs.  The good news is I have a better grip on the weight loss effort, so I’ve been able to lose the weight.  The downside is, I have failed to break my plateau (which is top secret!) and I am hoping that I finally get to do that in 2017.

5.  Visit Central Park all four seasons.  A New Yorker for almost 17 years now and yet I cannot boast of being a Central Park regular all year round.  And note that I have always worked within walking distance of the park, although it’s a good 20-25 minutes away from my Midtown perch.  I keep missing Spring when it’s supposed to be the second most colorful season of the year.  To some, it actually IS the most colorful, but I am a fan of fall.  I have done winter two years ago, and although it was at the tail end of the season, it actually snowed.  I am a regular in the fall, and one summer, I couldn’t go beyond the periphery because it was too hot, but I WAS there.  I have been wanting to do Spring all these years — maybe this year, finally.

6. Crafting reboot.  Crafting calendar.  This is one area where I am having quite the jumpstart with me sorting out my supplies and actually creating new designs.  

I have been crocheting winter accessories since late last year and have so far NOT bought a single piece.  All my hats and scarves and now fingerless gloves are my own handmade creations. The leather gloves and fabric scarves are all from last season.  I haven’t even used my blanket scarf yet.  

I have been rediscovering my beads and freshwater pearls and am having such a spike in creativity.  Hopefully, this will translate to items for posting in the shop.

7. Destash more systematically. It has always been difficult for me to throw things away, so last year, I came up with the idea of destashing by giving away things I no longer use.  

I’ve set aside a box where I will put away the things that I want to give away and label them accordingly.  To make it a conscious effort as well, I am going to record what I actually give away.  I’m going by the simple rule of thumb that if I  hadn’t used or touched something for a year, I will find someone who can make better use of it.

8. Finish the Gift of 50 and begin the Gift of 51.  Sometime before I turned 50 in April, I wrote about doing 50 good deeds.  I have to sit down and list what I have already done so far, and while most will be repetitions (like literal gifts in the name of #GiftOf50), I have certain tasks to complete which I hope I can help to complete it.  And of course, I turn 51 this April.  Hence, the next list.  

I want to be able to do more as. I get older and be more deliberate about it, rather than just keeping a rule of thumb of being kind to others.  Kindness is an abstract concept that we need to see more concretely.

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.) I know I might be giving people the impression that I write a lot, but I am often hit by the disappointment of finding too long a stretch between posts.  I am trying to approach this with more discipline, and at the same time weave it into my other social networking efforts to boost my internet presence.  No, it’s not a late blooming need to be a media celebrity — I just want to maximize my brand as a small business with the Etsy Shops (GothamChick and PaperKrafts), and hopefully get some revenues rolling in.

Work on my other social networking accounts by doing scheduled posts at least once a week.  Am I spreading myself too thin?  I think not.  I can write, and I have something to write about, and I’m trying to explore other avenues to grow as a writer and an entrepreneur.  I’ve found that online presence is integral to self-promotion, and I have passed up so many opportunities that might have been economically viable if I just went about it with my marketing savvy.  (Yes, once upon a time, I was into marketing and advertising.. public relations included.)

Resume my handwritten projects.   2016 came and went with nary a post in my art journal which caught me by surprise when I opened it to begin writing again.  It never even occurred to me that I had not written anything there at all.  I have to admit that I am one of those people who still prefer to write things long hand.  While typing things out allows me to keep pace with transcribing my thoughts as they race through my mind — there is a different creativity spurred by the literal written word.  One thing I hope to do is carry tiny notebooks made from scratch paper that I can pull out of my bag and write on wherever and whenever the inspiration hits me.  I tried it with post its and it didn’t quite work.

Bestie Dino also suggested that if I meant to write my book (an ambitious project that has been burning in my being for ages now..), I should keep my handwritten drafts.  So keep them, I will.  That’s why I’m trying to keep the scratch notebooks a decent size so I can eventually compile them into bound material that I can keep for posterity.

10. Keep snail mail alive by writing a letter or sending out a card at least once a month.  – That means 52 pieces for the year.. easily doable!  I might even start something here or on my Instagram account with #GothamChickOnSnailMail.

11. Finish my art journal, begin a new one. –  Like I said, I was surprised and saddened to see that I had NOT written anything in 2016.  So surprised because I had basically pulled that art journal together in 2013, but had written the bulk of its content in 2014 and 2015.  I have at least the first two months of the year to put into what’s left of the current journal and then I can begin the next.  I’m even thinking of actually doing a loose one and then “binding” the pages together later, creating a journal from scratch.  The first one was an altered book which was an experiment of sorts and a first for me, but it is now falling apart.  I will end up rebinding it anyway, so why go through that again if I can pull a journal to write on using recycled materials?  (#ArtJournal2017)

12. Sample something new or visit a new restaurant or place (i.e., museum, intallation, etc.) and write about it.  I have friends who constantly tell me about new places to try and visit… I keep hearing about things to do or goods to sample.  I have a separate account on Instagram under the banner of @GothamChickShopper which I had put up specifically to make product recommendations and all that.  A blog exists somewhere under a similar banner inmy main account, but I really haven’t done much.  (Writing here has been such an effort as it is, so I thought Instagram would be easier to maintain.). 

But we keep wanting to do all these things without even really trying and suddenly, we find ourselves losing time and we end up with the “want” being just an “afterthought”.   I want to have more of the “done that” instead.

13.  Publish a postcard set.  I am a postcard collector and I’d like to think I take good photographs.  Of course I’m biased.. but one thing I’ve always wanted to do was to actually be able to make my own postcards — as in printed and not handmade — as a means of taking my postcard collecting a step up.
14.  Visit at least one lighthouse.  I have always had a love affair with lighthouses, and not only in postcards as one of my collecting interests.  There was a time when I took vacations when we would seek out lighthouses in the area and actually visit them.  I don’t remember now when the last time was that I saw one or visited one, so I think it would be nice to actually aim to visit one this year. 

I have visited the famed Montauk lighthouse many times, but there are several near me I can actually aim to see in person soon.  This should be one of the simpler ones.

15.  Encode my poetry.  I started writing poetry at age 7, and I have surprisingly been able to keep the scraps of paper and assortment of notebooks and journals I had written them on.  I even brought them here to New York during one of my trips returning for a vacation in Manila.  They show the evolution of my penmanship, the maturing of my inner voice, and the change in writing style and depth.  From pencil scribblings to typewritten compilations, I have them tucked away.  

Encoding them into a private website or maybe even a public one will take time, but I want to start doing that this year.

16.  Visit more blogs / IG accounts.   A blog friend recently left a comment after visiting and was so surprised that I was still writing.  We have never met but used to be part of an unofficial community of Filipinos who blog at a personal level.  I enjoyed reading about their hobbies, life events, and day-to-day rants and raves.  It was all about the writer writing what he or she wanted.  I found out he’s reviving his blog which makes me happy– and I look forward to that and more.. but that’s another post.

As a blog reader, I try to steer clear of blogs which have a commercial slant, because then you find yourself reading advertorials and soft sell pitches which can be educational and entertaining, but aren’t my cup of tea.  

I like learning about and getting to know people in their writing.  Visiting a blog, to me, is like visiting a very intimate part of the writer that is usually not as obvious even when you are standing next to each other.  I should really browse more.  

I also enjoy the entertainment that Instagram brings and as I try to grow my own following, I’m trying to discover more Filipinos in that social media platform and go back home via their posts. 

I haven’t quite decided if I will revive my blog roll, but I am thinking of that.  (again, that’s another blog post!)

 17.  Do a fundraiser for Barangay San Vicente.  This is a very personal cause close to my heart, because it is a cause my mother has pursued time and again.  She hails from a small town in Bulan, Sorsogon in the beautiful southern province of Bicol.  She was born and raised there but had to leave early on to work and help support the education of her two younger brothers.  

I had the chance to visit several times in my youth, but I haven’t back in ages.  She now lives there and has built a modest home I hope to one day visit.  Every year, she would throw a simple party for the children and try and get them a new outfit for Christmas.  This can be a hundred or so children of different ages.  For many, it is the only time that they get to attend a party where they eat some spaghetti and a ham sandwich, and maybe some candy in a loot bag.  When she was still earning, these parties were funded from out of her own pocket.  These days, she solicits (mostly from us, her children) and still comes up with a simple celebration, although she has missed the last two Christmases.  Maybe this year, we can bring it back.

So there goes this year’s list.  A tad ambitious but hoping for at least half.. 

Here’s to an even brighter and better 2017!


Monday Musings: Is the long weekend really over?

Okay, we’ve been kind of wanting for a long weekend — and this is the last one until Thanksgiving, believe it or not.  At least for us of the non-Jewish faith here in New York.  I’m not complaining — just wish we had more of these ‘Is it time to go back to work?’ kind of weekends.  I’m actually looking forward to work this week — probably because it’s a short week for us.

Back to school!  I have heard fellow parents breathing out a collective sigh of relief on this one.  I just don’t get it.  Maybe it’s because I only have one, and my little guy has been on auto pilot whenever I was at work.  I’m excited more for him being in middle school now (yes, he is moving on to sixth grade!), while at the same time kind of dreading the waiting for the call to tell me he’s home, telling him to “take off your socks, do your homework, it’s dinnertime” and all that routine resuming.  (I might be part of the minority in this regard.)

In many ways, we’re expecting it to be a little different beginning this year for many reasons, but I’m looking forward to it as I see my little guy growing up.  We’re still in a mental tug of war about the cursive writing, but I’m so happy his cousin, Julia, had gotten him started on it.  “It’s sooooo hard..,” he complains.. and I know I just have to keep pushing, and push I will.

He received a reading assignment at the start of summer and has been reading in earnest but has been trying to charm me into reading the book to help him with it.  (Could this be number 2 in my “read 6 books” this year list?)  I haven’t given in, but I know it’s something I can easily do.  Maybe.

#SwirlsOfColor in #crochet using #doublechain #shellstitching for an #afghan I'm making. Love how #crochetting a #repetitivepattern can be #sorelaxing. #crochetprohect #hadmade #crafting #crafts #handmade #madebygothamchick #crafttherapyEarnestly trying to get ready to get crafting again.  I’ve been busy with the crochet hooks and have been momentarily sidetracked by an afghan project.  I like doing afghans when its a repetitive pattern and when you have a chunky yarn — and I am working with both.  I’m on my fourth ball and expect to be finished after another one plus the trim.  It’s supposed to be a surprise for a friend so other than show an itsy-bitsy swatch here, I’d rather talk about it when the project is done.

In the meantime, I’ve started organizing my materials and hope to start finishing up some of the pretty bows I have designed now that the French Barrette Style Hair Clips I ordered are here.  More on that later but can I just say I love Amazon Prime?  I had tried it a year ago and then cancelled my membership — and then recently signed up a couple of months ago and have been loving it since.  If you order from Amazon a lot, then you will appreciate the free two-day shipping for Prime eligible products (caveat: not all products on Amazon are covered!) — and there’s the Amazon free streaming of all these fab original material plus classics to new releases.

But back to trying to get back into crafting.. so I have tried to start getting organized again but have barely made progress because I have quite a stash to go through.  The shop has been dormant for a bit but I’m hoping to get it ready for the holidays — and I will be around this time.  In my cleaning up, I managed to find a box full of items previously listed, so it’s a matter of relisting those first few pieces.  I am excited to try out some new techniques, though, and will try to carve out regular time to post and create again.

I invested in a dozen Sterilite 16428012 6-Quart Storage Box, White Lid with See-Through Base just to be able to sort the items that have just been thrown together.  I am planning on creating a crafting corner from now to the end of the year to help me get everything together in one space, hidden from view except when I want to do crafting.  So in the meantime, I need to sort through what I have.

And as I sort, I have made a decision on which items to find a new home for.  During my last trip home, I promised my friend, Raine, that I will send her my Artist Trading Card collection to keep or dispose off as she would wish.  I had a fun time creating and receiving some outstanding pieces, but I think my current collection of postcards, Starbucks mugs and pencils are more than enough to keep me happy.  I am trying to find other things I can find a new home for as I try to get myself organized.

The “BER” months are here..  which means thinking of the holidays, holiday cards and holiday presents.  I want to make this year special for my little guy and me because we have so many new things to look forward to.  I want to make the house very festive — and I want to make a special holiday card to send out to friends.  I am already updating my address book — and trying to think up of something nice to do.

The holiday season has officially started in Manila — and I think it would be nice to keep in step with “home” this year.

Just a few more hours of the weekend left — so let me get on with some last minute errands and chores, like a 20-minute walk around I’m supposed to start making a habit of from here on.

Happy Monday, everyone!!

Work in Progress: Wire Wrapped Earrings

Work in progress: wire wrapped agate earringsI’ve been trying to stir up the creative juices again.  It hasn’t been easy even if I’ve made it a point to sit at my craft corner a few minutes each night.  And then there are nights when I’m just too tired to do even just that. 

I’ve been trying to create polymer clay canes which have proven to be quite the learning experience for me, which I guess, translates to it being a hit or miss kind of thing right now.  Fortunately, it’s a very cheap medium and I have stocked up on it the last 12 months. 

The past two nights, I turned my attention to some wires I had bought before the weekend (which remained untouched because other things preoccupied me), and I started trying to manipulate the gauge 18, 22 and 24 wires just to get a feel for it with respect to what I wanted to do.

The picture you see is one of my more successful attempts at creating a wire-wrapped dangle for an earring which I am trying to get the hang of, and which I want to “execute” as a tighter and cleaner wrapping eventually.  (Like most things, this takes practice.)

You might think the earring above which is the size of a nickel (roughly) is heavy, but it was surprisingly light, using a 10mm round agate bead.  I made the earring hook from the same wire I used to wrap the gemstone. It’s pretty rough but I liked the way it felt as I wore it today. I always make it a point to “test run” my wares, more so if it’s not your ordinary beadwork piece.  My ears are rather sensitive these days but this was comfy and light and didn’t even irritate my skin one bit.  I’m looking forward to doing more of this over the weekend, while at the same time trying to continue to organize my jewelry crafting supplies.

New York is cold again.  I think Mother Nature didn’t get the memo about the forecast for temps up to 51 today so it’s a gloomy Friday that holds no promise for warmer temps.  We’re going up to 39 which is just 7 degrees above freezing so it’s not very promising.  Still, it’s Friday, so I’m going to stop the whining with that.

I have my work cut out for me over the weekend with test prep for the state tests on Angelo’s calendar and mine.  I have the organizing and cleaning up to do over the weekend and maybe I’ll try and get some serious reading done.

Day 3 into Lent and I’ve kept myself clear of red meat.  It was  a bit of a challenge last night as I cooked some spicy skirt steak for Alan, but I stuck to my grilled cheese.  By the way, did you ever try grilled cheese with an ever so thin swipe of mayo (light mayo for me) on the outside in lieu of butter?  I read about this in one of my older mags and boy, did it taste more delicious, indeed!  I’m now a convert.  Don’t overdo the mayo, though — do it as you would butter, but maybe just a smidge less.

Hope everyone is having a good start of the weekend.  Happy Friday!






Staying put this Sunday

By late last night, I had decided NOT to go to Springfield, MA for Heirloom’s West Springfield Rubber Stamp and Paper Arts Festival this Sunday — this, despite the fact that I had been “dreaming” of being in craft heaven today.  I just hated the fact that I’d have to wake up earlier than I even do during the work week.  Saturdays and Sundays are precious for the extra hour or so to just vegetate and catch up on sleep.

There is always a next time, and there’s Amazon.com.  I received three products I ordered in the mail yesterday, and seeing my new dies convinced me I had enough to keep me busy over the weekend.   I got the Spellbinders S5-154 Shapeabilities Expandable Patterns Botanical Swirls Die Templates (on the left below) and the Spellbinders S5-148 Nestabilities Decorative Labels Eight Die Templates (picture on the right).

In addition, I got another one of my Ranger DYC-33882 Dyan Reaveley’s Dylusions Collection Ink Spray, Lemon Zest which should make for a good addition to my current stash of spray inks.

I figured I could always order online and just wait for it to arrive at my doorstep.  That way, I control the expense better and I don’t get carried away with all the fantastic demos I see in the craft fair!

I am going to color some plain white envelopes for a zentangle envelope swap over at Swap-bot.  I am just postponing “staining” my nails which is a natural consequence of using these inks.  I also want to do more of my Philippine Map postcards to make room for spoilage.  (My most recent attempt in writing the lyrics of the Philippine National Anthem as background cost me two prepped backgrounds.) 

Sometimes we really just have to take the time to slow down and recharge.  Yesterday was a good day to do that because of the scorching heat in New York. (And summer isn’t even here yet!)  Plus, I had to help the little tyke do a project for school which, I’m happy to say, turned out quite well.

I’m looking forward to the week ahead.  So you might actually see samples of projects done with my new “tools” — and I might even get to post in the shop again over at Gotham Chick (on Etsy).  I’m inspired because of a recent sale.  Time to get crafting again!

Coasting by

I’m breathing with a little heaviness which bodes of an asthma attack, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t get to that.  It really hasn’t been as bad as previous episodes, but my body is obviously fighting something as my back is beginning to feel some strain.

I’m trying to catch up with all the time I lost over the weekend.  I’m waiting for the gesso on my blue pressboard folder cover for the DECORATE A JOURNAL book to dry on one side so I can paint the backside.  I’m going to cover this with a fancy paper napkin later.  I just need to “blot out’ the blue.  I tried doing it straight and the semi-opaque paper napkin in beige didn’t quite look as I wanted it to look on the blue board.  Do over: I gessoed the blue and now have a white base for the paper napkin to cling to.

I also had the chance to play with some stencils and acrylic paint on printed paper which came out rather nicely. 

Stencil Experiment: Acrylic on printed paper (1)

I used less paint on a foam brush this time around, trying to control the direction that I swiped the brush down on the stencil, and I think I’m getting the hang of it.

Stencil Experiment: Acrylic on printed paper (2)

I like the effect it had on the paper and now that I’ve figured out that taping the stencil onto the paper is indeed necessary to keep it in place, I think I’ve gotten around my previous problem of having the stencils move when they should been stationary.

Stencil Experiment: Acrylic on printed paper (3)

I plan to use these stenciled backgrounds in some cards I’m sending off to P.

I put my hand on the “drying” gesso and it felt cold.  I don’t feel chilly but I know it’s cold.  I’ll give it a few minutes more and put on the napkin cover.  That way, if it doesn’t work, I have time tomorrow to redo it.  (Keeping my fingers crossed it will so I can just concentrate on taking the video reveal.)

I’ll try other methods of applying color to the stencil in future projects.  For now, I’m just happy they turned out great. 

I had looked forward to doing a lot of creating and organizing and doing more cutting with my Spellbinders Grand Calibur Die Cutting Machine more so since some Heartfelt Creations Exclusive Dies had arrived Friday.  I kept coming back to their booth for their demos at the Allentown crafts fair, but I didn’t have any die cutter to use any dies for, so I had to wait.  They have a unique stamp and die set that you buy separately that produces such gorgeous paper flowers.  Because I’ve been feeling under the weather, I’ve been unable to take my machine out of the box this weekend.  When I finally get this swap out, I intend to try and make some paper flowers of my own.

One more layer of glossy mod podge to seal my book cover.  I’ll leave it overnight to dry and I will trim it tomorrow.  Time to call it a night..

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 Swap-bot.com (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 swap-bot.com).

And life goes on.. on a rainy Sunday in NY

It’s almost half past 1pm and I’m finally sitting down to “write”. Not that I’ve been crazy busy this muggy Sunday but I’ve been taking things easy and trying to enjoy Sunday indoors.

My Christmas tree lights are up and half my Christmas ornaments are hanging on one side of the tree. I let Angelo take a stab at hanging them, so they sort of got all bunched up on one side of the tree most accessible to an almost 4-ft tall eight-year-old. The Dad noticed, and I immediately said I will “fix it” when I get the chance to bring the rest of the ornaments down later.

ATC: Mega Christmas ATC Swap - Ang Parol (The Lantern)I have my Christmas card to assemble which was inspired by a Mega Christmas Artist Trading Card swap I did a parol-inspired ATC for (shown on the left). I know most people would ask why I even bother, but the truth is it’s been part of a holiday routine for me for years and years now and I like being able to put out something unique that truly comes from us. We’ve started receiving Christmas cards from the usual friends and I will fix them up on the upper staircase landing in the shape of a Christmas tree as I have done in previous years.

The eggs for my leche flan have arrived, and I’m mulling about doing a sans rival cake to put the egg whites to good use. I had attempted this once before and while baking sans rival can really be quite tedious, the results are well worth the effort. (Plus it saves me from wasting half the egg whites because we can only eat so much “diluted” scrambled eggs at a ratio of one egg to three egg whites.) That would be the easier alternative to macarrons which I can do if I could fetch some almond flour from Whole Foods, perhaps.

One week to Christmas and while I’m keeping things simple, I want to make it no less special since this is the first Christmas we’re spending here in the last three years, having spent Christmas 2010 and 2011 in Manila.  I miss Manila, of course — but it’s time for another New York Christmas.

Angelo is more “aware” of the holidays and is all excited about wrapping the gifts (and I did promise I’d let him help over the weekend), and he’s been bugging me about what I want.  Make up.

We’re thinking of doing new things this Christmas from previous years like maybe doing a Christmas dinner in the city as a family.  Perhaps the start of a new tradition  between the three of us.

My asthma is finally subsiding… and just in the nick of time before I get into the thick of the preparations for Christmas day itself.

The Bryant Park Christmas tree -- the view from 41 storeys up high

Painting away

Using my Second Grader's leftover watercolor

Crossposted from Gotham Chick

If you’re a mom to a gradeschooler like I am, you would have received the leftover school supplies from the previous school year the past week.  And I’m sure the thought had occurred to you — “What do I do with these school supplies?”

Some of them, like the pencils, can be saved for use next year.  Others, like the broken crayons and the used watercolor set are “barely there.”

Watercolor painting is something I’m trying to learn, and since I have no time for lessons, I do a lot of experimenting.  I find myself oooohing and ahhhhing over the fabulous works of the people who participate in Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s Art Journal Every Day challenge that I have been trying to get creative to make up for the lack in artistic talent that all of them ooze.

I got myself a set of hardware brushes from the dollar store and picked one of the smaller one (around an inch wide).  How do you create those seamless overlaps of color?  My guess was it was the water.  Sunday evening saw me cooking arroz a la cubana for dinner, and between letting the viand cook on the stove and preparing the rice cooker, I whipped out my art journal pages and started painting away.

Watercolor experiments: Backgrounds Watercolor experiments: Backgrounds Watercolor experiments: Backgrounds

Watercolor experiments: Backgrounds Watercolor experiments: Backgrounds Watercolor experiments: Backgrounds

I have to say I was quite happy with the way it came out for a first attempt.  I experimented with just pouring watercolor on the sheet and letting is flow this way and that, and even splashing paint drops onto the paper.  If it weren’t for the fact that I had to serve dinner, I would’ve painted on and on.  Thanks to the summer heat, the watercolor dried rather quickly, and I pressed the crinkly sheets between the mattresses overnight.  This morning, they were quite flat and should be easier to work with.

I intend to use some for the art journal and some for cards and scrapbook layouts.  I might even experiment with stamping and handprints with Angelo over the weekend.

Lace and Feathers


It was  a beautiful day in New York today.  I decided to tak e a walk outside during my lunch hour for a change.  The park seemed too crowded,  so I headed to M&J Trimming, one of my favorite notions stores in the city.   I can spend the whole day in there just browsing.  I just wanted to unwind and be amongst things I’d love to run my fingers through and texture I can touch.  I was hoping to browse their shelves and shelves of lace to find something to experiment with as far as “imprinting” on polymer clay is concerned.  I browsed, I touched, and picked two patterns.

On the way out, I stopped by their wall of feathers and a lightbulb lit up in my head that made me pick up one.  (Projects will be in the GothamChick blog.)

Pheasant Feather

Sometimes, all it takes is a quiet moment to help me get myself out of a rut.  Sometimes, it works, sometimes it doesn’t —sometimes it just doesn’t go.  A momentary distraction, I guess.  It helps.

People seem to be busy today, or tonight in Manila.  I didn’t hear from BFF Fe.  She has a funny habit of waking up at 2am which is now past, so I guess she’s fast asleep.  (She finally did say hello when she woke up Friday morning.)  I did catch my youngest brother, Nikki.

By evening, my allergies hit me hard.  My eyes are puffy and teary, and the allergy meds are taking time to kick in.  I”m trying to just “quiet” down before I turn in.  The boy’s homework’s all done, bathed and he’s headed to lala land.

I’m still struggling through the allergies.  I just logged on because I had to print something out.  I guess my lace and feather will have to wait until tomorrow when the allergies will hopefully be gone.

Shifting Gears and Friday

I’ve been trying to pick up with my “me” stuff again, from my art journaling, snail mail writing, reading, to my crafts.  (I can’t believe I haven’t touched my tools since I got back from Manila, and I need to seriously get moving with the hybrid scrapbooking to make more cards. )

So I’ve been busy working on my first Art Journal entry for the year — teaser provided to my left — and I think with this 50% done, I can proceed to my next pieces before the weekend is out.  This is actually a background piece I had done long ago  (sometime third quarter 2011) which got tucked away with two other spreads.  One, I had actually decided to totally discard (topic/subject matter was no longer relevant to me), and the other, I’ll work with one of these days.  I might scale back yet again to smaller pieces, or maybe work on sections.  The thing with sections is the flow of the work is not consistent.  Or maybe I’ll just see where it goes.  I’m thinking words. Or I might yet do something ambitious and attempt a scroll (!) one of these days.  (Ambitious!)

I was looking out the window 41 storeys above Bryant Park the other day and I vowed to myself I will make regular trips to Central Park this year to document the changing of the seasons.  I haven’t been there in ages!  Winter has been rather fickle-minded this year — with spring seeming to rear it’s head in for a peek one moment, and then winter coming back with a vengeance the next.

Why do I take on so many projects when there are only so many hours in a day?  I don’t pretend to do them all at the same time.  I find pockets of vacant periods in my day and do something I like for a change.  It helps me get back in touch with “me”, and in turn helps me to tune in to my world as I know it now with better clarity.  (Like it helps me decide what’s for dinner faster than when I find myself torn between this and that dish.)

I love weekends because I look forward to Friday nights.  It’s a special time for me to just be me and do things that mean something to me.  I don’t go anywhere special — I stay home.  I pick the things that I fancy at that particular Friday night and zoom in on that for the rest of the evening.  I am able to savor watching my favorite shows on TV without anyone hijacking the remote and then stay up to the wee hours of the morning just relaxing.  If I’m lucky, I even catch my bestfriend, Fe, online.  (Such a treat!)

My Friday started a little late today — midnight.  Here I am returning to this unfinished blogpost trying to pick up from where I left off.

My heart, though, is somewhere in mid-air.  I haven’t quite decided what I’m doing tonight, and my “night” is halfway through.

Do you ever have one of those conversations about a subject matter that drifts off to another totally unrelated topic which somehow gets injected into the flow of words — you say something — the person you’re talking to reacts, and while the reaction was innocent, you catch something that makes you stop and think, “hmmmm.”  There was a pause somewhere there, then a change of topics and it makes you wonder what caused the sudden shift in gears.  You try not to think about it because it was off topic — but the unease lingers.  “Hmmmmm…” you say again.

I’m just trying to intellectualize things too much like my friend, perhaps.  Then it occurs to me that my innocent remark, said half jokingly, might have awakened a panic reaction that I had not anticipated.  (“Hmmmmmm” again..and now I feel silly.)

Fridays are supposed to be simple.  Fridays are supposed to be fun.  I’ve had some fun tonight.  Time to get the weekend going.  Let me get back to zentangling and my “hmmmm” moment might disappear into the darkness.

My weekend has begun officially with the midnight hour tolling here in the big apple.  I’m listening to this rare rendition of “Can We Still Be Friends” by the great Todd Rundgren and Darryl Hall which I recently discovered where else — on YouTube.  Been listening to it over and over again for the last half hour.  Used to be my song for a long-time ago ex boyfriend who, I  believe, to this day, can’t quite seem to get this song’s message and why it was my song for him.  Alas, we’re no longer friends.

It’s worth a listen to, so let me leave you with this find: