Tuesday, January 31, 2012

last day of toil

Today is the last day of work for the current Other Business project. By tomorrow morning I will be presenting results to Client and then I could take a bit of a breather before facing what's next on my very full calendar. At the very least I will have some time to recuperate and recharge and rethink some things through.

As I worked and half-hallucinated through the past few nights I also came into a few significant realizations about where this life journey is going, or should be going. I got a lot of insights from my sister (she helped keep me awake through Yahoo messenger) and I will work on those insights after I have slept off the exhaustion of today's project. Maybe by Thursday. Those insights should further fine-tune the map I am charting for myself.

Meanwhile here are random snapshots as I spent the past few days imprisoned in my home office.
This morning's hot chocolate. A break from the endless cups of coffee I consumed through the night.
Mogget takes my seat everytime I get up to stretch and walk around the room. The Harmony App (from the Apple App Store)  reminds and forces me to take 2-3 minute breaks every hour.
Once in a while I will work on the bed for a change of scene and Mogget would join me to sleep on the documents I am working on. 
Lists help keep my sanity intact as I write and tick off every detail I need to get done each day. Sometimes it can feel like nothing is moving at all and no progress is being made. Those are the toughest times.
I re-arranged my home to change the feel of my work-space. I was starting to have negative work associations within my own home and I needed to shake it off. This time I pushed the dining table to one side and used it as a working desk instead of using my usual computer desk by the window.
When I am on extremely stressful situations like now, I also somehow gain a certain clarity on what I want and what is important to me. Some things repeat themselves because I have not resolved them. Some things are new as I evolve from previous resolutions. If I am to focus on the things that do go right in every moment, then I will focus on how the past nights have made my life goals sharper. So sharp that if I make a careless move I could cut myself quite deep.

I have watched myself do and not do things, and every small decision is a sign pointing to what I should fix about myself, and also what I should accept about my realities. Then I should pay more attention to what will move me forward in a continuous motion, and what intentions I should declare to myself every chance I can.

Following a path like mine, unhinged from the mainstream track that everyone else is moving on, is a daily challenge and also a daily reward. I just really have to be clear and to be steadfast and to remain faithful in every sense.

How do you get yourself from the start of every day through to the end and still be fully alive, fearless, and hopeful?

Friday, January 27, 2012


I am still trapped with work so to keep this blog alive I am posting stolen snapshots throughout the super busy days. My sister has been staying over at my place to help me out with data transcriptions.
My sister has been taking charge of breakfast to help me out with the daily tasks and chores. This one is scrambled egg with toast and butter.
Lots of caffeine keep us awake at least until midnight. Then we start nodding off no matter how much coffee we take.
My sister's version of Omurice for breakfast : first she fried rice in onions, a bit of soy sauce, and a bit of tomato catsup.
Then scrambled egg cooked into a pancake shape is put on top.
And then it's ready to eat! I would like to try this with fresh tomatoes instead of tomato catsup.
The occasional treat -- caramel sundae especially after an intense kendo practice.
Kendo practice has to fit into the schedule somehow because of the exam in February. It's pretty tough pushing myself physically after days of incomplete sleep hours and full days of mental fatigue.
Fruits to help refresh and revive the mind. Dragonfruit is soooooo delicious!
Pasta with salmon and cream which I invented for lunch yesterday.
Mogget caught sniffing at the onions... 
Mogget : What the heck is that smell?
Mogget : Seriously, what is that smell?
A special thank you to Chrystina who has been visiting and commenting frequently -- I'm definitely appreciating the online company especially through the wee hours! :)

Also happy to see Hana back to posting about her happy adventures and dropping by to visit this blog a few days ago. :)

Am loving all the visits from happy creative people!

Have a great Friday everyone!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

a tiny break

Just finished five long data-gathering sessions in the past three days and tonight is my tiny break before I begin the data analysis and report-writing by early tomorrow.

For now I share some snapshots from the past few days when I managed to snatch a few minutes to myself from all the work.

my sister and i wore our happy shoes to add bright spots to grueling days
my friend dropped off fresh stock for the store. we hope to open shop sometime in the first half of February
last night i was able to cook for dinner and i adapted from my cousin's recipe of pork tenderloin with vegetables
How has the week been treating you? I'm dying for a full night of sleep!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

bread before bed

I got a bit carried away. I was updating and fixing and clearing and then I found a to-do list that said "Bake bread" plus the recipe of an easy no-knead homemade bread. So before I could make excuses and think too much about it I was taking the flour jar out of the shelf and opening up a sealed bag of yeast and thirty minutes later I have a dough wrapped up in a big bowl left to rise for the next three hours.

I started putting the dough into the oven at around 10:30PM and before that I got caught up in a movie on cable (Switch starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman) which I haven't seen before and I realized I haven't seen any movie for quite a long while.

Before the movie I was doing some work and in between during breaks I would put stuff together for my vision board.

My home smelled like a bread shop as I cooked three batches of bread (because my oven is small). The bread came out crusty with a soft center and was great with butter. I could be biased but I think it actually tastes good. ^__^  So tonight is kind of a special night because it is the first I have ever tried baking bread and it turned out quite well.

What new thing did you do today? :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

fired up on fridays

I don't know what causes it exactly but on Fridays I get more ideas popping in my head and I feel more motivated to complete a lot of things that have been pending for the whole week. It's a kind of mood that I should be having on a Monday morning except that I have it on Fridays. It could be a desire to tie up all loose ends before a new week begins, or it could be an unacknowledged excitement for the weekend. It is a good feeling because I do get a lot done but on the other hand I also feel a twinge of frustration as the day feels lacking in hours for all that I want to do.

I also seem to learn and catch on quickly on Fridays. Maybe it's like a positive kind of panic. That I have to squeeze in as much as I can because when Saturday rolls in then I would suddenly switch off to shift into weekend mode. Like one final mad rush.

Well, today I have to do work because --- I have work on Sunday! The work I need to do today is preparatory for the Sunday thing. And I just got a text message from a business partner that more data will be delivered tomorrow so I guess tonight and tomorrow night will be long ones again.

But --- just this morning I told myself to focus on the things that do go right. Like the fact that all the work data will come in on time, even if it is last-minute. That my sister had the extra keys to my home when I accidentally locked myself out this morning because I was so distracted by worry that I forgot to pick them up. That the downpayment check was ready on schedule even when I had to give in to the higher percentage tax. That I have an accountant who will help me sort out the tax deductions. Most importantly, that whatever was left after the taxes would at least cover the biggest bills for the month.

There had been a series of little frustrating things for the whole of the week and they got me soooooo close to considering just being employed again (with a lot of negotiated freedoms for lesser but stable pay). But my sister is right and even my accountant (who was innocently sharing a story that somehow emphasized on the same exact message) is right in saying that no big decision should ever be made in an emotional moment (except perhaps when the love of your life suddenly gets down on his knees and asks you to marry him - then you can say yes immediately, but then you knew you would do that all along so I guess it doesn't really count).

On that note I end with shared photos from my future business space, Etsy, by a favorite seller theloveshop.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

breaking four days of silence

That's four days without blogging! That's how busy this week has been. I had to focus a lot of my time on work (the serious, money-making kind). I miss crafting and handmaking so bad!

I should be tucked in bed by now to be able to get up early tomorrow for more...work. But I have to do something non-work-y or I will just simply start getting unhappy. Hence I will do a quick post before calling it a night.

Last Sunday I had to run a few errands at the mall (mostly replenishing supplies for the Other Business) and my sister wanted to check out the hair accessories section which led to us buying a few pieces for ourselves. I am so vulnerable to impulse shopping when I am bracing myself for days of hard work with no creative time but fortunately, what I bought are actually very useful. Check these out...

I am also happy to report that my little indoor garden (grown from seeds) seems to be growing well. I added a pot of basil and it seems to be surviving.

Oh, and I finally was able to go to the supermarket tonight and I got an extra bag of flour because I just might force some free time into my very tight schedule to bake something, or two somethings. But I forgot to get some cream so the panna cotta will have to wait.

I dream of becoming a housewife (to a financially stable husband) and own an Etsy shop. I think I just might make a vision board for that.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

struggling sunday

I'm having a bit of a hard time getting myself to work on a Sunday. I did make a list though, and just included the absolutely necessary items to do so my Other Business projects will be up-to-date and moving along smoothly.

I actually want to go to the mall and have a proper leisurely round of window-shopping and maybe a few actual shopping (specifically in the notions store).

I want to hang out in a cafe and do some reading and writing and not have to worry for a while about the to-do work list that is expanding even as I write. My sister will tell me that I can actually do that but then she will also say that I am too stubborn to actually let go of the worry. She always says I have a mental "hoarding" habit which basically sums up to being a sort of control freak.

bruised and being in some kind of weird but happy mood

Wednesday, fresh from practice 
Saturday, bruise still visible and the rest of it has also come out like a map of tender pain
I'm the 90's mood tonight. Playing a long list of my favorite 90's alternative music.

Kendo was exhausting although we only had an hour of practice (the first hour was spent with demonstrations and a lecture). I have been feeling like I'm coming down with something but I'm doing my best to ignore it.

My glass paints arrived today and I can't wait to use them on the empty glass bottles I have been hoarding for the past month. (Do you know I sometimes pick my extra virgin olive oil based on how nice the bottle is for repurposing later on? heehee) But there's a bit of work to be done for a project with a rather tight schedule so the glass bottles and the glass paints will have to wait a while. *sniff*

I am in that lovely stage of not being in love because it lets me be in love with life itself. I like feeling the whole potential of so many things all at the same time. I am in one huge endless fairy tale where the witches are actually wise women and the princesses look out at me from their towers wishing they could run and jump as freely I could. I, with my rough feet and bruised knees and chore-callused hands, pass by white-horsed handsome princes without a second glance. Instead, I run across the fields of gold, and I throw myself nto the glittering sky.

What do stars do? (quoted from Stardust, movie adaptation of a graphic novel by Neil Gaiman)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

paprika and paper

Yes! I am finally seriously fixing my meal plan so I will eat well and on time for the rest of the year.

I was derailed for the past four or five days because of projects (from the Other Business) that came and needed to be attended to. Meetings alone ate up a lot of time and I had to postpone the grocery shopping many times. On the other hand, it also made me think even more seriously about having a meal plan that can withstand work loads and lazy modes.

Last night I found myself organizing my digital files (trying to find old work files) and realized that my digital clutter is more horrible than my physical clutter (which, I am rather proud to say, has been managed not too badly since the start of the new year).

So I made a craft file-book where I collated important articles, e-courses, references -- everything I will need and use over and over again as I move forward with my creative pursuits. I (re)discovered articles I had saved for reading at a later date. I un-bookmarked old articles that are no longer relevant. Basically I cleaned up and organized. And no matter what app or software comes out there, nothing yet can match the tangible order and versatility and flexibility of folders and paper. Yes I printed on paper but I was selective and the file-book itself is promising to grow into a beautiful collage and collection. I  have blank pages where I can write and draw as my notes and comments to the articles.

This led me to the idea of doing the same for my meal plan and recipe collection. I have lots of cookbooks and food magazines and I subscribe to a lot of online food blogs and websites yet it is such an effort to find something to cook for dinner. It really is time to have a system so I also get to cook or bake something new at least every week. I also want to keep vegetables as regular mainstays in every meal.

Paprika is an iPad app that I am finding to be very useful in collating all my online recipes from across all the blogs and websites. It is accessible offline and it has a wonderful amazing system for capturing recipes. From my physical cookbooks I intend to put together a recipe file-book (or file-box!) just like what I did with the crafts and re-write the recipes in my own kitchen shorthand so it is also easier to use and refer to. Then I will also turn it into a kitchen diary of sorts and paste photos of what I have cooked or baked. This way I can also easily check ingredients.

I am now wondering if there are printing papers out there that are made of recycled materials? I think I will be using a bit as I do more organizing. Perhaps I should check the bookstores thoroughly. I am sure something is bound to turn up.


Friday, January 13, 2012

a quick-cook lunch

I should have completed my meal plan and gone to the supermarket about, oh, four days ago. But I got busy (and distracted) and then also beaten up at kendo so I am almost out of food.

Brunch today was a result of digging through an almost empty pantry.

I found:
1 can of whole tomatoes
bacon (sliced in small pieces, about 4 strips equivalent I think because I got the kilo of bits and ends which comes out cheaper)
garlic (I used about 4 cloves, sliced thinly and in small pieces)
dried shiitake mushrooms (the last straggling pieces which barely filled half a cup, soaked in water
olive oil
fresh basil picked from the plant that I bought last night 

Saute the garlic briefly in olive oil then add the bacon and let it fry a bit until the edges are crispy.
Add the mushrooms (excess water squeezed out). Stir them around a bit.
Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper.
When it's simmering, throw in the fresh basil leaves.

And it's done! Don't forget to cook your pasta ahead and have it ready to be topped with sauce!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

knitting, step one

I bought these from Etsy:

And I might get these:

There is actually a knitting lesson offered in one of the malls in the city but when I visited, the store personnel were not helpful, friendly, nor warm. It was pretty disappointing. And when I checked the prices for the knitting products they were pretty high.

So I went to Etsy and found even better looking knitting needles at competitive prices, sold by people who are passionate about knitting and who ooze warmth even through their store pages. I really just can't feel comfortable paying my money to a store that does not seem to care. I'd rather wait for my purchase but feel good about it.

And for learning, I just might get this book:

I should be knitting by February. :)

Monday, January 9, 2012


It's the Full Moon today.

So I don't know if it's the pull of the moon or if it's Mercury Retrograde or something. My iPhone just started going wonky. My sister's phone too. My dad's phone. My sister's computer. And Yahoo messenger.

But after many attempts to sync and update I finally just restored it to factory settings. Then re-updated and now it's working fine.

Today has been a rather strange, disorienting day. It was like I have been floating and just being an observer. I did the things I needed to do but there always seemed a part of me that was sitting back and watching impassively. Really weird.

I had a moment of temptation during a meeting this afternoon. I wrote about it in my Other Business blog. But basically I got asked if I would be willing to be employed again. A parade of happy paychecks marched before my mind's eye.

Then on my way home I passed by a lot of shops on the way to the taxi station and I saw a lot of new things and beautiful things and I remembered how I used to be able to just walk into a store and get whatever I wanted.

It was a moment of vulnerability. And it didn't help that I was feeling tired and hungry. It was a good thing I was wearing a happy dress and pretty shoes and I was comfortable with my outfit because that helped balance the feelings of want and stirrings of inadequacy. I also had a list in my bag of what I wanted exactly in terms of items (stuff I plan to have within the year) so everything else was just really an impulse call to indulgence.

But as I was sitting in the cab, enduring through almost an hour of rush hour traffic, I asked myself, you okay to do this rush hour thing again five days a week? And remember that today you didn't leave the house until 2:20pm for the meeting. If you were employed, you would have been on your way at least seven hours before that.

I told the person who asked me that I am not 100% closed to the idea because, after all, it IS my plan B just in case. But right now, I am still fired up and optimistic in making this entrepreneur thing work.

Surprisingly, I got inspired tonight to do some Other Business work and I updated the blog and I felt good about the new project. Maybe I just needed that bit of validation. Or more important, to have that bit of assurance that there are great clients out there and I don't have to sell myself short in a compromise. The person who asked is a great client and I love working with her. I am reminded that I could always work towards just attracting and having great clients. Win-win for all.

Good night for now. I have another full day tomorrow. :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

the last day of Christmas

Today is the last day (or week?) of Advent. Christmas decors will really have to come down starting tomorrow. I've put mine away even before the new year. But some families like to keep the spirit lingering until the Three Kings have visited the baby Jesus.

My grandma is one such person. We visited her today and she was so happy and surprised to see us. She was already planning her Valentine's home decor and showed us a box of dolls she will be using for her handmade displays. I can't wait to see what she will do with them!

Then she insisted that we stay for lunch and she shooed us away from her kitchen as she whipped something up. We all had a full happy lunch of soup and her homemade embotido and she also added some chicken luncheon meat. She went to the trouble of arranging the food on a bed of greens and sliced onions and tomatoes. Then we had fruit salad for dessert.

It was raining and her home was so cozy and warm and filled with grandma loving energies.

In the afternoon we went to a friend's house because he has been wanting us to see their Christmas decor especially the themed Christmas Tree - another family who likes to squeeze the most of the Christmas season. The trip was well worth it because the tree was truly lovely (I would guess it was about 12 feet tall or more) and then we got to listen to some nice music and we got fed a bowlful of super delicious pasta carbonara.

It was a rather unusual Sunday for me and my sister but very refreshing and relaxing and heartwarming. This new year is really proving to be a great one!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

still alive after all

I survived the year's first kendo practice! Even when warm-up was more like sizzling with one hundred counts of the jumping strike (the usual is thirty, and this is on top of all the other regular warm up routines). And even when the first hour of practice was just this one set of long strikes repeated over and over and over again. Then sparring for fifteen minutes straight.

My legs and arms ached and were close to the burning sensation of over-fatigue. But I survived. And I was breathing okay -- which was a major miracle in itself. No hard gasping for breath. No side stitch. Thank you yoga!

We filled out the application form today for the exam in February. No turning back now.

I am still nervous and worried but it helps a lot that I have done practice already.

I was supposed to stay home for dinner and do some writing and reading and watching TV but Allan really wanted to spend an evening out with the group so he somehow managed to have everyone agree to a dinner at my McNeighbor (and of course I had to have a sundae). Then everyone went to my place for coffee.

Everyone got to see my decors.

All in all it was quite a good night. :)