canadian living february 2012 issue: valentine candy heart boxes

January 9, 2012 § 8 Comments

On Friday, as my co-workers and I spent our lunch hour wandering the aisles of a nearby Walmart, I spotted the February issue of Canadian Living Magazine already out on newsstands!

I did my rounds of grocery shopping on Saturday and, indeed, the issue is available everywhere magazines are sold in Canada.  So if you’re in Canada, please head over to your closest newsstands to pick up a copy and turn to pages 66-67.   For those of you beyond our Canadian borders, you can find the article at canadianliving.com. (I will update once the craft is available for viewing online).

Here it is!  Treat boxes in the likeness of candy hearts for you to make for your sweetheart this Valentine’s!

Am I giddy!  My first print publication.  Well, my “first”, unless considered are my monthly column for our local Parish newspaper at the age of 13 and my dreadful illustrations in the high school newspaper, but they simply won’t (shan’t) count.  So yes, this is my first print publication.  Ever.  And of the year.  I am so blessed.  I didn’t imagine when I started this blog not so long ago that my first print publication would be a two-page spread in a national magazine.

I cannot wait to share with you other publications to follow in 2012 (and, praying for a bit of luck, beyond).  I could not have more gratitude for the opportunities being given.  Thank you!

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NYE in NYC

January 8, 2012 § 3 Comments

After Christmas with the folks in quiet suburban Michigan, I was so eager to loudly ring in the new year last weekend at the world-famous countdown in Times Square, now that O.T. has officially moved to the Hudson Valley in New York.  Well, this is an experience only worth attempting once — and the operative word is “attempt”.

We made the clever choice of taking the subway into Manhattan and arrived in Columbus Circle by 8:00 pm.  From here, there isn’t glaring evidence of the mess that is Manhattan on New Year’s Eve, until we turned the corner and started walking south along 8th Avenue…

Nearly all streets were closed.  Crowds were being corralled like cattle.  Seriously.  Our walk along 8th, from Columbus Circle to 53rd (where we missed a dinner reservation because the street access had closed), and redirecting ourselves back to 59th to be able to cross to 7th — took an hour, including a ten-minute pizza break to calm my nerves (p.s. New York City has the best pizza in America…so sorry, Chicago).

At 9:00 pm, the time we made it to 7th, we found our line of sight on Times Square.  We were sandwiched between the Wellington and Park Central Hotels at 56th.  With a crowd this large, this was the absolute closest we could be to Times Square — a whopping thirteen blocks away from the festivities and with three more hours to spare,  standing still like grazing cows, except without the open green pastures or the elbow room.

Maybe, the 7-footer man standing directly in my line of sight was the deal-breaker.  The view of his head, though shiny, was not an ideal replacement of the New Year’s ball.  O.T. and I decided on a recourse…

Back to 8th Avenue.  9:30 pm.  It wasn’t so bad.  The crowded coral on 8th had a huge TV screen with semi-audible sounds.  remiding us to “Don’t Stop Believin'”.  When I looked up, we were at the foot of the beautiful blue Dream Hotel, under a clear message.

O.T. and I left long before the clock struck midnight.  We were in his car, driving north on the Taconic, when the ball dropped and he honked the horn and flickered the lights and we could not be happier.

NYE in NYC provided me with early lessons in 2012.   Always be prepared.  If things don’t go as planned, it’s okay — take alternatives.  Always find some fun out of the journey (at the least, find a pizza joint).  At the end of the day, no matter how rough, the most significant are those you love.  And, always look up higher and dream (big, like New York City).

christmas with the folks and holiday handcrafted decor

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!

“digital” magnets for your new year affirmations and resolutions

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)!

pleased to meet you, twenty-twelve!

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!

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