Monday, February 27, 2012

back from hong kong : five days of magic and mayhem

I have been in such a hurry when I left last week for Hong Kong that I did not even get to leave a note!

But I am home again now and will be sharing stories as soon as possible. Just let me get a few things together, a lot of things unpacked, emotions sorted, and my head and feet and heart screwed on in the proper places.

For the meantime, here is a snapshot from the trip:
Riding the Light Rail, first step on the way from New Territories to Kowloon.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

dinner from an almost empty kitchen

It's one of those days again! Almost out of many things and I make do with what's available. I am putting off going to the supermarket because I will be out of the country by next week and it would not do to have too many things stocked in the refrigerator.

Tonight I was wanting some soup because the day has been gray and rainy.

Mushroom Noodle Soup

I found:

Dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in water to soften and then sliced - I kept a few tablespoons of the water for flavoring later on
2 small poor-looking carrots forgotten in the corner of the veggie bin
3 small bundles of egg noodles
1 medium onion, chopped
2 big cloves of garlic, chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs for serving with later
A little canola oil
A splash of sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Then I:

Stir-fried the garlic and onion in the combined oils until translucent.
Added the carrots and stirred until coated.
Added the sliced mushrooms and mixed them all up until the mushrooms are glistening.
Seasoned with salt and pepper.
Added 3 cups of water. Added the mushroom juice I had set aside. Brought to a simmer.
Tasted the soup and adjusted by adding salt, pepper, or mushroom juice.
Just before it got to a boil I dropped the egg noodles.
Waited for 3-5 minutes while the noodles cooked.
Served myself a generous helping in a bowl topped with slices of hard-boiled eggs.

Lovely and filling!

What did you have for dinner tonight?

post-birthday post

That was probably the calmest birthday ever, filled with quiet happiness and serene joy. I celebrated it in the simplest way. I started the day with no expectations.

Instead I focused on gratitude --- for being alive, for being healthy, for having my family close by, for having kept a handful of friends who equal the worth of a thousand, for having a home of my own, for having enough to live by, for being continuously inspired, for being always helped at the exact moment of need, for all the clues and way-signs placed along the path of my creative journey, and for all the other beautiful things, both big and small, that make this life just a little bit easier and happier.

At around 1AM of February 14, before going to bed, I opened my grandma's gift which turned out to be a boxful of dolls for using in my creative crafts. She knew I've been wanting these ever since I saw her use the dolls for her own projects.

I woke up hours later with a light and cheerful heart. And for the first time I actually took time and care to dress up (in previous years I was fussy about being fussy about my birthday)-- and wore a heart-shaped ring and my heart-designed shoes, and a bright pink mini-dress.

There were a few snags, like my baking oven suddenly breaking down so I was not able to make my family-famous old-fashioned strawberry pie. After a moment I thought, maybe today what I am meant to do is to receive. I have been thinking so much of what I could give and share with others on my birthday that I was probably unconsciously fussing about it. Maybe I was supposed to just sit back and let things unfold without me always trying to have my input.

The plan was to visit my grandma so she could give her birthday blessing. She prepared a simple lunch of home-cooked adobo and my cousin Jennie also showed up with delicious spicy sausage pasta. Lunch was heartwarming and stomach-filling! And unlike a real party where I had to entertain and socialize, we all settled into our own little corners in my grandma's house to do our own thing. My sister, cousin Jennie, and I found our coffee corner in the kitchen while my Grandma crafted and my mom played with our niece and my aunt washed the dishes.

grandma with her great-granddaughter
my mom with my niece

mine are the ones with heart. the big and small matching pairs belong to my cousin Jennie and her daughter Jaine -- yes, she hand-designed them too. it runs in the family.
One of the things I have stopped expecting are surprise (especially wrapped) gifts -- and suddenly they were there!

these had two pairs of pretty shorts and a beautifully patterned shower curtain that perfectly matched my home
this is a brand-new LP from a friend who knew i had a stash of vintage ones that are all old and scratchy
and this may strike you as funny but i LOVE these shoes from our very own shop so my mom decided to buy it from the shop and give it to me so that i get to have it and also make money from it :D
We got home at around 4PM and I wanted a nap. My sister and I planned to step out during the evening to grab some dessert.

While relaxing at home, someone dropped by unexpectedly with:

Three Red Long-Stemmed Roses! Believe it or not, the first ever three red roses in my entire life. (No, I am not counting the roses I received from my high school students when I was a high school teacher.)
The roses came with a big scrapbook kit. Did you notice that my gifts are beginning to have a theme of being creativity-inspired?
I had dinner at my parents' home during which we shared leftovers from my kitchen and theirs, and then my sister and I stepped out for dessert and coffee. We ran into a lot of dating couples and women with huge bouquets in their arms but I was ever so happy to be finally beyond getting envious or jealous.

We stayed out until almost midnight, and then I was home. My birthday was filled with simple joys and surprises, and I didn't have to spend anything. No rushing, no fussing, no wishful thinking, no expectations.

Hello, New Year of My Life.

Monday, February 13, 2012





Born on the 14th of February.

Here's wishing for a lucky new year ahead.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


I wanted Japanese food, especially ramen. So my sister and I hopped over to the neighborhood's fairly new Japanese restaurant called Ramen Cool.
the delicious red and orange sushi -- red for tuna and orange for salmon
the miso ramen
the beef ramen 
the wonderfully refreshing orange iced tea

Thursday, February 9, 2012

a happy day and i think i know why

I have declared today a no-work day. No internet either. I only briefly connected to confirm a meeting schedule for tomorrow but that was it.

Last night I had dinner at my parents' house and stayed all the way until today. It was a rather spontaneous decision, and it also felt like something I needed to do. I needed to be away from my home which is currently in transition. I needed to be away from the distraction of too much familiarity and the lull of habits.

Kendo practice last night was surprisingly satisfying and I even surprised myself. I slept like a baby, for the first time since I can no longer remember when. With my breakthrough (I think that's what it was) in kendo, a lot of other things also gained clarity. Like something clicked into place and as a result other things started to slide towards their own proper spaces.

Or it could just be some form of pre-birthday thing. It will be my birthday next week.

I woke up this morning with a light heart and a positive energy. I cooked myself breakfast and wrote my morning pages while I ate. Then I mapped my creative journey on two pages of a sketchbook - it's the first time I did this and it was very helpful and inspiring. I identified what I could work on. The rest I left to faith. Then I spent a couple of hours reading quietly in the sunny backyard, making notes, opening myself up to the questions that come up in the book I was reading (Foolsgold by Susan G. Wooldridge).

Then a hearty home-cooked lunch with my family.

Then I went to help my sister design shoes for selling. We were at it the whole afternoon and our fingers ached but it was one of the most fulfilling and satisfying day ever. It was the first time I designed shoes because the previous times I took care of inventory lists and I also had Other Business work.

We were quiet sometimes and we were laughing out loud sometimes. But we kept on creating and crafting and thinking up pretty thoughts. I wished I didn't have that meeting tomorrow so I could have done another pair and maybe stayed over for another night. As I sewed, more ideas came to me and my heart leaped with excitement and oh, I could not wait to get to that point when I would just be creating and crafting all these pretty things and they will be selling like anything and we will be happily living on what we earned.

This is how it would feel everyday when I am living the creative life I have always dreamed of.

Soon, soon...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

learning to eat frogs

From Etsy's Cattitude Creations
My procrastination has gotten out of hand. It has pushed me to download the Kindle sample of that oft-quoted book Eat That Frog and try to see if it can actually help me.

The thing is, I procrastinate just like any other person but for certain activities the symptoms have gotten worse in the past couple of years. The frogs that have been plaguing me mostly had to do with the old life I want to leave. These frogs were responsible for my mild agitation for a brief period during the last Christmas season and these same frogs continue to croak at me now while my new life is taking its sweet time in unfolding. I know, I am being impatient and perhaps even slightly wavering in my faith.

For the meantime, however, I need to eat the frogs until they become mere options for the menu. And I need to eat them FIRST so they are out of the way and I can savor the rest of every day's meal with serenity and satisfaction. It's so difficult for me right now because the mere thought of the frog triggers a whole set of physical, mental, and emotional reactions in me that if people probably knew, they would tell me to just forget about the frog altogether. But I am not that brave yet. I am not yet ready to mess up the kitchen that way. The frog has its uses. Oh, how I wish the frog turned into a prince!


What's your daily frog?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

unexpected turns of the day

The plan was:

Go to the market to buy fabrics and plain shoes. Then go to my parents' house to do Other Business work and finish it by 5PM -- I wanted a no-distraction environment and not have to prepare my meals so I could finish everything early.

What actually happened:

I was not feeling too well when I woke up. I think my brain was trying to slowly get into work mode and so much of me was resisting it. We got to the market at least half an hour later than planned. Since I did not get to eat breakfast (because I was feeling sick-ish) I suggested brunch before the buying. So we got a very cheap but very delicious meal for two for only Php120.00. As we were polishing off our plates, a woman walked by selling freshly swirled ice cream in cups for Php10.00.
Then we got the plain shoes and the fabrics for the next batch of projects. On the way home we made a side trip to my grandma's (unplanned - we thought since we were passing by the same street we might as well drop by). 
As to be expected, my grandmother has transformed her home in time for Valentine's Day.
She has also handcrafted items for selling and gifting. Little dolls adorn recycled plastic bottles that have been redesigned to be container bowls.
She kept a few pieces for her own home. This is her favorite.
She was also excited to give me her birthday gift. Yay!
And she gave me my own dolled decor as an extra Valentine gift. :)
Then I had to rush home because the cable guy was in the lobby to check my cable box which has not been working for three days. I ended up going home, having the cable fixed, and then falling into a tired nap. It was mid-afternoon when I finally got back to my parents' house.
My sister and I had rice cakes and coffee for afternoon snack.
I tried getting started at work while my sister started on redesigning the shoes. Oh, how I envied her!

And then I found out that my dad had been to the post office and picked up a package for me -- my other Etsy order of knitting needles! Well, at least that's one bright spot as I struggled to concentrate on getting a report done.
My mom called us to dinner at around 7PM and as we ate the TV was on and we all ended up watching The Accidental Husband. 

I decided to head for home and try finishing the work before going to bed. It was already 9PM. My sister was stil working on another pair of shoes when I left.
And now I am blogging as I take a break from the work that has been pushed away in so many ways for so many times. *sigh* I must get this done then I can schedule some serious crafting time with my sister.

How did your day turn out?

Monday, February 6, 2012

creating a creative space

Late last year I have embarked on a redecorating project for my home to get myself and my space ready for the gifts of 2012. I have made significant progress and after the initial workload of January I now intend to move it forward a little bit more.

One important thing I realized that I need is a designated creative space. Right now there is none. So if I want to do any creative project I make do with whatever space is available -- on the floor, on the bed, on the dining table, or half my working desk. If I really need space I have to go over at my parents' house. It dawned on me then that my allocation of space is not according to where I want my life to go.

It means the home office for the Other Business will have to be redesigned and will have to be more of a creative studio. The Other Business will be given temporary space on the dining table whenever there is a project. Otherwise, all Other Business stuff will be put away, and in the process its role in the scheme of things will also be much clearer. Besides, all I really need for the Other Business is a laptop and an external hard drive, while my creative space requires lots of materials and tools.

So now I am excited to clear and re-arrange. I also foresee another wave of de-cluttering as I further narrow down my possessions to those that will contribute to my creative growth.

I've started drawing again, something that I used to do a LOT when I was a child. When I first put pencil on paper I wondered if my hand would still remember.
I've added a jar of drawing pencils and watercolor paintbrushes on my desk. One of the first little steps into turning my home office into a mini creative studio.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


An old collage I made sometime in early 2000. I can't even find the original file anymore.

I hope to revive this creative artform in my daily life again. :)

a series of fortunate events

Despite the seeming imperfection of my Artist Date yesterday, it still put me in a certain mood and state of mind. As such, my meandering into unplanned activities as I try to re-anchor myself into the day-to-day somehow led me to creative ideas, and much more significantly, to creative memories.

Sometime in 2000 or 2001 I actually purchased two domain names, taught myself basic HTML, and went on to create websites just as the whole idea of blogging and having websites has not yet fully caught on mainstream. One was called "" which housed all my creative efforts, histories, projects, and pursuits. It never got to full launch because I got busy with work and my self-taught HTML could only take me so far. My design skills and tastes then were also immature and inexperienced. The other was called "" which was a travel website since I traveled a lot those days with my ex-boyfriend and he was a photographer and I loved to write so we were a perfect match in that way. The travel website was semi-launched and it actually started to gain a following. Then it got de-prioritized as I got sucked more into work and things also started going downhill with my romantic relationship.

I'm thinking now, if I had pushed through with both sites, at that perfect time, I could have achieved some online stardom by this time, maybe even getting to work or collaborate with the likes of Holly Becker!

But regrets do not take us anywhere except to serve to push us forward and do better. Remembering and rediscovering these things told me that it is not too late. This is the Year of Rebirth after all. Perhaps now is the perfect time for me to revisit and pursue these old dreams. The fact that my attention has only been called to them now means that I am ready to actually do something about it.

I actually dug through my very old files and found this opening page for the travel website:

And this is the home page for the creative website (and my brain is churning up fresh ideas to relaunch!)

I am amazed at how much of what I have written then echoes my sentiments now. I already knew by then the answers to my questions now except I did not fully recognize them. But now I am in a much better position to see things and to make better decisions (hopefully). I am also clearer on how I want my creative journey to go. I barely travel now (because of financial considerations) but who says I can't pick up where I left off? Didn't someone, or many someones, say, that if we truly intend things according to our heart's desire, the Universe conspires to make it all happen?

Have a happy, creative, and fruitful weekend to all!

Friday, February 3, 2012

a bit of a splurge on my first date

I went out on an Artist Date (one of Julia Cameron's Artist's Tools) which I actually did not do very well because I tacked on a few errands along the way and ended up trying to squeeze everything in one afternoon without getting caught up in the Friday rush hour.

In any case, the first part of the date was not too bad. I spent more than an hour browsing and I ended up buying these out of the, oh, fifty, that I wanted to buy.
I loved this author's first book entitled poemcrazy. That book helped me a lot in my poetry writing and got me through quite a few unrequited loves. This book is about the creative process which is a very timely subject in my life right now.
I love felt though I have yet to create anything out of the colorful sheets I have purchased three months ago. This book should get me started on something. Like coasters.
I've seen this book in the store a number of times and each time I check if it has been bought. Every time I would tell myself that if it is still there then I am meant to have it. This time I finally bought it. It was the last copy.
I treated myself to a super yummy lunch/dessert of peanut butter waffle which came with banana slices, cream and a swirl of plain delicious yogurt. I wrote in my journal while I ate, sitting by myself near a window in a small yogurt shop filled with happy families.

After the bookstore, the errands began : First a trip to the organic market to load up on fresh vegetables. Next was mailing a little token for a friend abroad. Next was paying the electricity bill. Last couple of stops were supposed to be buying dragonfruit at the fresh fruit market and checking art supplies in another bookstore but it was a little past 5pm and I didn't want to get caught in the mad rush of working people going home so I went instead to the taxi station and caught myself just as a wave of would-be passengers started to crowd towards the station. Good timing for me!

Next time I'll plan my Artist Date better and be less harassed. But for now I'm quite pleased with my loot. :)