cake chalkboard

May 31, 2011 § 18 Comments

Today, head right over to CRAFT to see my latest project contribution.  It’s a fun three-tier cake-shaped chalkboard for you and your little ones to make.  In fact, with little ones or without, anyone can indulge in this calorie-free craft.  Who doesn’t love decorating cake!?  Follow the easy steps in my tutorial.

a big thank you. a new york minute. and a sign?!?

May 28, 2011 § 13 Comments

May has been one mammoth month that had me out of routine.  It’s been a while since I’ve allowed myself the rare pleasure of social existence.  I — a homebody, who allocates the bulk of my free time to staying in and creating stuff and blogging here about said created stuff and being a telephone junkie —  socialized (in the flesh) through the month of May.  Mind you, I am no recluse at any degree.  I thoroughly enjoy company.  It just happens that most social outings leave me with remorse at the consequential lack of productivity.

This month was different.  My parents came to town for a few days.  I enjoyed the company of old friends and former co-workers by dinners-out and random congratulatory visits to my home.  It’s been a wonderful, welcome interruption to an otherwise methodical life.  Getting engaged has filled me with sooo much love from all the people in my life I’ve come to know — including you!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your warmest and fondest wishes!!!

O.T. came back to my side of the continent for the second time this May, this time for a possible job in the east coast.  He had an interview in Albany a week ago on a Friday.  I skidded out of my office parking lot that afternoon and found myself in Albany seven hours later.  We decided to drive the extra few miles to New York City for a brief weekend getaway.

Having taken the car and driven into Manhattan, we didn’t accomplish much at all.  We crawled through traffic nearly the entire afternoon on Saturday.  From my car window, the view was consistently as such: a stampede of pedestrians sifting through the streets amidst a sluggish stream of taxi cabs and cars.  I felt moments of deliriousness (architect Rem Koolhaas’ book “Delirious New York” is nooo misnomer).  We have 5 million people here in T.O..  The Big Apple has 8 million.  The difference is apparent.

One strange thing happened in New York that got me deep in thought. ..a sign??

I  already came to the conclusion over half a decade ago that I am a magnet for low-probability circumstances that beg the question — What are the chances?!?  As you’ve come to know the story of my fateful meeting with O.T.,  I cannot explain the non-coincidences to which I am often exposed.  However, I go with the flow.

My gas light turned on as we entered Manhattan and we consulted with the outdated five-year old GPS my brother lent me.  The old sage showed us several gasoline pump symbols on the screen and advised us of their locations in range of my car’s position.  We chose the closest.  And through the thick of pedestrians, cabs, and cars, we managed to go into the location suggested — where no gasoline station is actually in existence.  Instead, in its place was Martha Stewart Living.

In the compacted, colossal, complex city of New York, I was led by a dysfunctional navigation device to a place of crafty worship, that of my crafty deity!  What are the chances?

I once toiled over a job application for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.  It was back in 2009.   In July of that year, on a flight from Manila to Detroit, as I pondered the future of my already dying business, I had something of an apparition.  I realized that very moment, somewhere over the Pacific, that my real love is not the wedding invitations I was making, but the act of making.  The joy is in the process of conceiving ideas and bringing them to life, whatever those ideas may be.  I dreamed on that plane that I will craft the rest of my life under the guidance of Martha Stewart and I will have the platform to be able to produce things that people can use and enjoy, and in turn, I will fulfill my calling.  I broke the reverie to turn to my dad to my left, then brother to my right, and uttered the words “I will work for Martha Stewart.  It’s what I’m meant to do.” to which they replied with unspoken bemusement.

It wasn’t long until October 15, 2009 (a momentous day as it happened to be O.T.’s milestone 30th birthday, of all days), Martha Stewart was hiring a Crafts Associate!  I scrambled through the coffers, and submitted three of my favorite works that would summarize the diversity of my ideas.

Of course, we all know I didn’t get that job nor get close to getting that job.  I know somewhere buried in a drive of thousands of digital resumes and portfolio samples was mine.  But I didn’t let it hinder me from continuing to do what I’ve loved to do since I learned to hold a crayon.   A year later, in October of 2010, it occurred to me that I have all available platforms to share my crafty ideas with the world.  So I started this blog.

Last weekend, when my GPS unknowingly led me to Martha’s studio as opposed to a gas station and while being confounded by the improbability of that very circumstance, I was reminded of the very big dreams I had only two years ago.  Maybe 2009 wasn’t my time.  Maybe the heavens have given me this nudge to try that dream again.  Maybe this one brief, bizarre experience in New York is a harbinger to be heeded.

design-it-yourself umbrella

May 19, 2011 § 60 Comments

It’s been raining cats and dogs here in Toronto.  We have been swamped with seven consecutive days of rain.  I’ve been ogling the clear umbrellas at the dollar store for over a year now and with all this wet weather, finally found a good excuse to pick them up.  Doodling a custom umbrella is one rainy day project to soak in during this rainy season!

I have had a hard time finding that cute umbrella.  It didn’t occur to me until experiencing all the rain this week that I can design my own umbrella any way I want.  Oh, the torrent of possibilities!  Skyline?  Spring flowers?  Sunshine?  The list is endless and, luckily, the dollar store is fully stocked with these clear umbrellas this season.  I will have an illustrated umbrella collection by the time all this rain ceases.  For now, let it keep raining cats and dogs.

You will need: a clear umbrella and permanent markers.

1. This project has little margin for error, so I decided to sketch my cats and dogs on paper before tracing them ON THE INSIDE of the umbrella with my Sharpie.

2. Continue the design around the umbrella.

3. Color away!  I wanted a simplicity to this design considering it’s quite cheeky to begin with, so I used my Sakura Permapaque white paint marker.

Now get outside, step into a few puddles, and sing in the rain!

he said it was love at first flight

May 15, 2011 § 64 Comments

This is a story about my travels.  It is also a story about my love.

Last Sunday night, one week ago, was yet another of those recurring drives from the airport.  I watched O.T. disappear past the security gates of BUF Buffalo Niagara International Airport.  He flew home to California after eight elated days in Toronto.  This time, our parting was rife with optimism.  It was only eight days before when I picked him up at the arrival gate and the course of our lives became clear.

For every cheerful hello and tearful goodbye we’ve exchanged at various airports across North America, we were bound to arrive where we are today.  In over two and a half years of traveling between two coasts, we boarded many planes and parted through many clouds.  Our cloud has a silver lining.

The day we met. My aunt took a picture of me before checking in at SFO, moments before meeting O.T. Then on my way from Minneapolis to Toronto, a beautiful sight of lenticular clouds.

Back in 2008, I was half asleep at SFO San Francisco International Airport’s Gate 45A, awaiting my morning flight.  The guy beside me spoke.  A query: “Are you going to Michigan?”.  I was groggy and a little baffled, but the question didn’t register as anything unusual.  The fact is, my parents live in Michigan and this is a question I am often asked.  I replied, “No.  I’m going to Toronto, but I have a transfer in Minneapolis”, assuming he was not familiar with the airport code and meant to ask about Minneapolis.  Yes, he, too, was on his way somewhere with a transfer in Minneapolis.  A conversation ensued about our past travels.

Half an hour later, our boarding call.  He uttered, “Maybe I’ll see you on the plane.”  I mused, boarding pass in hand.  We were quick to notice the seats on our respective boarding passes.  He was assigned 46-A and I, 47-A.  “Well, what are the chances? We will see each other on the plane.”

And so, we boarded that flight together.  The lady at 47-B was happy to exchange her seat for his, a window seat.  He and I sat together through the duration of a three hour flight, absorbed in candid conversation without a minute of pause.  He, in show-and-tell fashion, kept me amused with pictures on his iPhone — his latest visit to a San Francisco art gallery, a recent hiking experience in the red woods, and an Anderson Silva fight.  I was fascinated.  His interests aren’t so random.  My minor in Fine Arts history and annual wilderness camping experiences and the occasional UFC Pay-Per-View viewings with friends just paved a sense of accord and appreciation in those three short hours.

We disembarked at MSP Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.   He asked if I would like to eat lunch.  We had our first meal together.  We shared sushi.  We exchanged contact information and parted amicably.  He shook my hand.

The following day, he called me when he landed.  He was visiting Istanbul.  I was at home in Toronto.  I was surprised he called, despite expecting him to.  I picked up the phone amidst a cleaning frenzy.  I told him I was selling my piano and a potential buyer was on the way.  He asked, “Can you play one last time on your piano before it is sold?”.  “What would you like to hear?” .  “Elton John.”  “I don’t know any Elton John off the top of my head.”  I played him my favorite, Sun and Moon from Miss Saigon.  The door bell rang.  I made a request, “Do you mind calling back in half an hour?  I’m home alone and the buyer is male.”  He agreed.

The buyer came in, a young electrical engineering student from the University of Toronto, my own alma mater.  He tested out the keys.  I asked him to give it all he’s got and play what comes to mind.  He played Elton John’s Can You Feel The Love Tonight and purchased my piano.  I was astonished.

What are the chances that Elton John’s Can You Feel The Love Tonight would be played by a random buyer in my home within minutes that I was asked to play Elton John by the random stranger living in California, calling me from Istanbul, and who I met at the airport whose plane seat was randomly one away from mine?

Well, things aren’t so random.

Back at SFO, moments before meeting O.T., the airport personnel responsible for checking me in was named Romulo — my father’s name and not a common name.  I had a short conversation with Romulo.  I noticed his nametag as he noticed my birthplace on my passport.  Butuan.  It turns out the hometown of Romulo at the check-in desk was Butuan — a not-too-significant city in one of the southern islands of the Philippines.  A city I haven’t seen since I was ten months old.  This man who hailed from the city of my birth, this man who has the same unique name as my father, was the man responsible for checking me into the flight where I would soon meet my husband-to-be.

Are things ever truly random?

The piano buyer, who unbeknownst played Elton John without request, was completing a degree in electrical engineering.  Why wasn’t the piano buyer pursuing a more common degree like business administration or psychology or biology?  Before pursuing his Masters and PhD in computer engineering, O.T. completed his undergraduate in electrical engineering.

What are the chances?

O.T. called me back within half an hour, as promised.  O.T. called every night ever since.  There was never a single day since we met that he didn’t call.

A few weeks later, O.T. and I found ourselves at LAS Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, this time not so randomly.  We met, planned.  We shared our first kiss, unplanned, by the baggage carousel.

Sometime later, we found ourselves at SFO once again, where I love you’s were exchanged for the first time.

Last summer, on our way to IST, we found ourselves at the same gate at SFO and decided to reenact the day we met two years prior in the very same seats at Gate45A.

In the past two and a half years, we have shared many blissful and tearful moments in airports across North America like YYZ Pearson International Airport in Toronto, JFK International Airport in New York, DTW Detroit Wayne International Airport, and as far away as FCO Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome and IST Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul.

Two weeks ago, he surprised me with a request to pick him up at BUF for a late night flight.  I drove in from Toronto listening to Buffalo’s Joy FM station.  As I approached the airport parking, the radio played Can You Feel The Love Tonight.  I cried.

At the airport, by the baggage carousel, an orange suitcase caught my attention.   I could use an orange suitcase.  We were waiting for his red suitcase which never made its way around the carousel.  He said, “Well, maybe we should check out the orange suitcase since you like it so much.”  He pulled it off the carousel and I thought he lost his mind.  “This suitcase is for you”.  It was tied with a bow.  The crafter that I am, I said gaily, “I love this ribbon, I saw it at Michaels”.  I laughed.  I opened the suitcase.  It was loosely packed with two heart-shaped Will You Marry Me balloons.  He dropped on bended knee.  My eyes were fogged.  He asked the question.  I said yes.  People clapped.  Two elderly ladies standing beside us started taking pictures.

One of the ladies said, “This man sat beside me on the plane and he told us what he was about to do tonight.  I’m so happy to share in this beautiful moment in your life.  I have been married to my husband for sixty years and wish you the same happiness I’ve had in my life.”

What a wonderful lady he sat beside on the plane on the night he proposed to a woman he met on a plane.  What are the chances?

The passport to our future is stamped.  I am soaring on cloud nine.  I know I am truly blessed.

Last Sunday before O.T. disappeared into the security gates at BUF.

no-fuss foam roses

May 7, 2011 § 26 Comments

Mother’s Day is hours away, but there’s still lots of time to make these beautiful foam roses in minutes.  They’re much more dainty than the no-fuss paper roses I made for Valentine’s, and perhaps far more versatile.  In a few simple steps, you can make these sweet rose magnets, rose pushpins, and rose jewelry.

You have probably made paper roses before by cutting and rolling spirals of paper.  This applies the very same technique, however, I’ve added the petal details by employing a simple tool that many of us have stowed in our crafting bins — scalloped scissors.

You will need: scallop-blade scissors, hot glue gun with glue sticks, and thin foam sheets.  I purchased a multi-colored package of 36 – 4″x6″ foam sheets from the dollar store.  They quality is much thinner than what you would find at the craft stores, however, they are the perfect thickness for this purpose.  The thinner the foam sheet, the smaller you can make your roses.

1. Cut your foam sheet into 2″x2″ squares.  A 4″x6″ foam sheet can yield six roses.

2. Using your scalloped scissors, cut each square into a spiral.  Two and a half revolutions around the spiral should be sufficient.

3. Starting from the outside of the spiral, roll the foam sheet inward.

4. Apply hot glue to the bottom of the rose.

While the glue is still hot, you can apply the rose immediately to a magnet, thumb tack, earring backing, or fashion ring.

Happy Mother’s Day!

calla lily tuile cookie with lemon ricotta

May 4, 2011 § 17 Comments

 The Iron Craft Challenge  is one of those things I wish I had time to accomplish since my recent life change.  I have set out ambitious plans for each of the weekly projects, but time has shuffled those ideas to the back burner.  However, this week, I had a couple of flower-making ideas slated for the blog in time for Mother’s Day and thought it was fitting for this week’s Iron Craft Challenge 18: April Showers.  The challenge is to bring May flowers, crafted any way you like.

As I have a penchant for crafting with food, I made bouquets of cally lily tuile cookies filled with lemon ricotta.  How?  Well, your simple fortune cookie batter just got reshaped into these spring flowers.

 

I had my first attempt at fortune cookies over ten years ago when my best friend shared her discovery of Martha Stewart’s recipe.  This was right when Martha catapulted fortune cookies into trend status.  Since then, I have made hundreds of fortune cookies for friends and family over the past decade.  I have also taken Martha’s trusted recipe to make my own creations from the batter.  The calla lily is one that I’ve been proud of creating, as well as a very simple and perfect food craft for this time of year.

 

To make your template, you will need: a 4″ x 4-1/2″ cut sheet of paper, a plastic cutting sheet (or similar flat plastic item), pencil, scissors, X-Acto knife, and cutting mat.

a. Fold your sheet of paper in half lengthwise.

b. Cut into a spade shape.

c. Trace on plastic cutting sheet.

d. Using an X-Acto knife, cut a hole through.  Insert your scissors through the hole, and cut on the marked line.

 

You are welcome to use your favorite tuile or fortune cookie recipe.  Here is the link to Martha Stewart’s fortune cookie recipe  that I’ve counted on for years.

Make the batter as instructed.  For this particular recipe, substitute with lemon extract and add a few drops of yellow food color. 

1. Spread a thin layer of batter over the stencil.  You can fit three in one cookie sheet, which is also the ideal number to get through the next step.

2. Bake until golden (with my oven, it takes three and a half minutes with a timer).  Quickly remove cookie from the pan with a spatula and roll up each side as shown.  Fold the sides with a slight curl.  You will need to work quickly while the cookie is hot, and quickly repeat for the remaining two cookies on the sheet.

3. Place on a cooling rack.

4. Pipe the lemon ricotta filling.

 For the lemon ricotta filling, you will need:

One package of stovetop lemon pie

2 cups of milk

1 cup of ricotta cheese

Yellow food color

Red food color.

Prepare the pie filling according to package instructions, however, substitute the water with milk.  Let cool.  Combine ricotta cheese.  Add a few drops of yellow food color and one drop of red food color for a light orange tint.

Once the lemon ricotta filling is piped, the cookie must be served immediately to maintain its crisp texture.

 This single recipe yields 4 dozen cookies — there’s enough cally lily tuile cookie bouquets to share with everyone!

Enjoy!

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