January 8, 2012 § 4 Comments
Here we are — me with mom, dad, and my older brother — posing inside the Compuware building before gorging on meat at Texas de Brazil in downtown Detroit. As you know, my parents are Michiganders and all holidays of the year are spent south of the Canadian border.
I also want to share with you pictures of the wonderful handcrafted treasures adorning my parents’ house during Christmas each year, and hope you will find some inspiration in these pieces for your own handmade decorations.
The craftiness of my culture is something I take much pride in. At your next décor jaunt to, say, Pier One for example, if you take a good look you will discover that many of the “earthy” products are crafted in the Philippines. Craft is a huge part of Philippine export and culture, specifically crafts made out of natural products such as wood and fibers. My mom has traveled many trips to Manila only to haul back luggage filled with holiday handcrafted décor.
My parents’ nine-foot tall tree is peppered with a number of unique handmade ornaments, out of molded pulp and embellished with rhinestones and large opalescent red beads. They remind me of fashion earrings, except about four times the size (I tried to wear them once for amusement, however, until oversize earrings reaching past the collarbone become fashionable, I will leave them on the tree).
My parents also have a spectacular Philippine-made crèche on their fireplace mantle. Each character is up to 10 inches tall and carefully crafted using native fibers. The material is similar to the decorative mesh bought at craft stores. However, these fibers have finer lattice and are more pliable. Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the three kings, and the angel all don garments sewn out of these fibers. I love the added details, such as the ropes and tassels, and especially the fluffy feathers on the angel’s wings.
The set is a gift from my aunt who bought it at a craft show in Manila ten years ago. The following year, my uncle found a near-identical Philippine-made crèche at a boutique at the tony Yorkville neighborhood here in Toronto. He laughed after his sticker-shock — each character was being sold at $100 a piece, putting the whole set in the $700 mark. My aunt paid only a fraction at the source in Manila. If you are inspired, perhaps you can make your own this year! Sew some decorative mesh for the garments and bake some polymer clay for the faces, hats, crowns, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and you have yourself a substantial project for 2012!
January 5, 2012 § 9 Comments
Have you got a list started? If not, now is the time to start. In fact, now is my affirmation and resolution for 2012.
No big lists for me this year. No other word best encapsulates energy, exigency, and urgency as now. No lofty goals. No unmet expectations. Now is critical. If we can muster every bit of effort on what we are doing now, then everything to follow is a whopping sum of our best efforts and therefore the best outcome. Work hard now, reap success to come. Workout now, ripped biceps to come. So make and do, and make do — now. It is so simple!
And just as simple is the effort to make these digital magnets for your new year affirmations and resolutions, should you want to expand your list now (apart from “now”).
I spent $5 on five rolls of 1/2″ adhesive magnet strips at the dollar store, each roll being 24″ long. With just $5 and a bit of glitter from my craft drawer, I was able to make fifty-five 2″ strips and ten 1″ strips to make a set of digital magnets that can make sufficient characters on the fridge or whiteboard.
Just cut the magnet strips into 2″ strips, then make a few 1″ strips. Cut each end into a point. Then peel the adhesive backing and dip into glitter for a glow.
Arrange on the fridge or whiteboard with words and phrases that will remind you of what’s most important this year! Make those resolutions stick (if not for the remainder of the year, then at least on your fridge)!
January 5, 2012 § 4 Comments
Happy New Year! And a belated Merry Christmas!
I hope your holidays have been filled love, cheer, and heaps of handcrafted effects, and that the coming year will continue to bless you with all of the good stuff!
Where have I been? Well, I skipped out of town to spend Christmas with the folks in Michigan from the 23rd to the 26th, then celebrated New Year with O.T. in New York from the 26th to the 1st. Consecutive days of eating, sleeping, repeating!
Is it good to start the new year a wee bit exhausted? I feel a little lethargic but eager to recover from my affliction (chocolate coma). Let us use the holiday calories to redeem unlimited energy in 2012!
To kick off the year, coming right up: DIY digital magnets for your new year affirmations and resolutions!
December 19, 2011 § 4 Comments
Despite all the fancy packaging choices at stores, giving away your holiday home-baked goods in plastic containers isn’t necessarily such a tacky thing (given the right accessory!).
With your favorite heavy stock cut and folded into a sleeve, your ordinary disposable plastic container is easily dressed as a pretty little package for giving away anytime, not just Christmas. Punch out a monogram and make it more personal!
I first designed sleeves like these for Christmas favors way back in 2003. That was the time I realized store-bought holiday tins and boxes (though printed and pretty) are three things: 1) lacking in personal touch; 2) pricey (if considering volume gift-giving); and 3) not exactly what I want. Since then, and every year, I looked forward to making treats packaged in my own custom (most importantly: cost-effective!) designs which I gave away to family and friends in lieu of a Christmas card. This style is most personal to me, out of all annual packages I’ve designed in the last 8 years because this is the project that inspired my need for custom Christmas packaging going forward. It also happens to be the simplest. Overtime on this blog, I would love to share with you each and every one of my past annual custom packages given to my family and friends and co-workers, however, I will start from the very beginning with this simple piece from 2003.
My “Kuya” (“Big Brother” in Filipino) thoughtfully kept and preserved the original package I gave him (down to the bits of brownie stuck on the inside lid of the container — eeew!). Seeing it after eight years is what inspired me to post this project on this blog. But for the blog, I wanted to change it up to show some patterns I currently love: plaid, cane, and herringbone.
Of course, it would be a long search to find the exact blue shades of plaid, cane, and herringbone cardstock to match the containers, so I opted out of that challenge. Instead, I quickly designed my own plaid, cane, and herringbone paper using none other than Microsoft Word (a hack job I often do…which leads me to the thought that perhaps one day in the coming year, I will have a little blog instruction on how to easily utilize MS Word as a design tool, if you do not want to spend the big bucks on Adobe’s sophisticated offerings).
You will need to measure your plastic container and cut and fold your stock accordingly. I suggest a container no larger than 4″ in diameter, such as the ones I used, otherwise you will encounter the impossibility of fitting 12″ cardstock around it.
To remedy any gaps (due to lack of length of paper), overlap a tiny strip with a greeting for an added touch.
December 19, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Lookie what came in the mail today! A package containing a Nikon Coolpix, an adorable T-shirt and matching patch. I have instructables.com to thank for the wonderful prize I was awarded for my entry into one of their Halloween Contests.
Remember the wearable gory brain I made with caulking and a fitted cap and wrote for Craft for Halloween? Well, I entered it into the Instructables Halloween Photos Challenge and won Second Place. Yay! Many, many thanks!
If you want to have your mind blown away, you ought to check out the projects over at Instructables. I get lost in a pool of creativity every time I poke around over there. Lots of superdupertalented crafters!
December 15, 2011 § 8 Comments
So I thought (we all thought) my paper clip Christmas crafts were done with. But I realized I hadn’t crafted a single Christmas card for the blog this season. Gasp! Is Christmas ten days away?
Given my recent posts, paper clips were right here within reach and this was just too easy. I happen to have a huge tub of colored paper clips with perfect shades for Christmas shapes.
These cards can be easily crafted by little hands. Just dab the paper clips on some glue and design away.
December 15, 2011 § 6 Comments
I haven’t been toParis. I could’ve been had I accepted my parents’ generous offer to have a family trip a decade ago, but I declined because I wanted to take summer courses on Late Baroque art and architecture here in Toronto. So off they went, mom, dad, and brother, to celebrate mom’s 50th in Europe and to see, in the flesh, the very places and art works I was studying in my books. Go figure. Sigh. Going to Paris on dad’s dime is an opportunity long gone. But I digress. Paris has come to us in 2011. Here it is, Ladurée‘s first and only North American branch opened in New York City late this summer.
I was in New York over the weekend to give O.T. emotional support as he signed a rental agreement on a new apartment in Hudson Valley, home to IBM’s headquarters and many campuses. As of Monday next week, he will be designing computer chips for IBM after several years of doing so for AMD. It is a very stressful time for him and a little sojourn was in order. A macaron moment! We spent a couple of hours in Manhattan for one purpose only: to indulge in macarons. Ok, fine, I admit. This was really more of my thing, but I was happy he conceded.
I love macarons, as I’ve recently attested through creating my own plaster macaron ornaments.
I was armed with $150 and managed to afford one box of 24 macarons and three boxes of 6 macarons as gifts, and a bag of 4 macarons for O.T. and I to snack on, leaving me $13 under budget. Yes, $137 gets you less than four dozen macarons at Ladurée, which may be hard to stomach, despite being able to scoff down a teeny macaron in two bites.
As for the taste of the macarons, I hate to say this, La Bamboche and Ruelo in Toronto are still my favorite, considering the exotic and innovative macarons they serve such as green tea-sesame, rose-lychee, mango-green tea, and yuzu, among other delightful flavors.
But isn’t Ladurée’s packaging so pretty? With less than four dozen macarons, perhaps I paid more for the packaging than I did the sweets. I love the details, down to the custom-cut wax paper that lines the boxes and the golden seal that secures said wax paper (in the box of 24) and the elegant slip of paper listing all the flavors available.
It’s an indulgence indeed and one I could only excuse now that it is Christmas.