terracotta, suede, apricot, champagne, honeydew, moss, straw, capiz, onyx, and gold

June 2, 2012 § 3 Comments

They have something in common!  They will all belong in our wedding ceremony and “desserts in the desert” picnic reception on the bluffs of the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  Hooray, it’s all coming together!

We didn’t just want a color scheme.  We wanted items that are beautiful in their natural color, tactile in their form, and above all, significant in their purpose.  Alas, we found a theme that meaningfully bridges our two unique cultures and our spectacular venue.

Given the earthy surroundings, there will be plenty of terracotta.  These items were first to be purchased, as they are the focal point of our picnic.   Conveniently, minimal crafting is required with our plans for these ready-made pots and saucers.  However, I also picked up 5 pounds of self-hardening terracotta clay and have been busy sculpting away.  More on my terracotta sculpting in another post!

The culture of the Grand Canyon considered (we are getting married in the lands owned by the Hualapai Indians), suede is a must!  O.T. is a fan of camel suede (and not afraid to wear it in blazer form).  I love camel suede just the same (and also wasn’t afraid to wear, with great frequency, a pair of camel suede pants in my college years).  I struck luck when I found camel micro-suede on sale for $12/m.  With even more amazing luck, I found a beautiful apricot sorbet shade of micro-suede on clearance for $4.75/m (I could not love it enough!).  Lots of items will be made with these.  Some are already done, which I will be showing soon!

What’s a picnic without straw mats?  Equally important, straw is such a significant part of Philippine craft and export.  But to bridge our cultures, these mats will don a Turkish persona!  Big things (Turkish things) are about to happen to these modest dollar store mats.

The pride of Philippine craft, the capiz will make some appearances, too (thanks, Mom!!!).  These flat, thin, opalescent shells will give a sparkling contrast to the terracotta, suede, and straw.

Of course, apricot, honeydew, and champagne are beautiful colors, but they’re meant to be eaten and drunk.  This will be, afterall, a desserts-in-the-desert picnic!  I have planned my best to use the apricot and honeydew in creative and edible ways (among a list of desserts I plan to develop and make, because I’m crazy like that).  And to swallow it down?  Champagne.  O.T. and I are actually not much of drinkers, but our helicopter service happens to come with champagne — so who would refuse?  I’m sure someone in our small party would be happy to drink it all down (namely, my brother)!

grand wedding plans

May 15, 2012 § 14 Comments

Finally.  PLANS.  Plans as small and grand as small and grand can be.  Plans that absolutely make me the happiest bride-to-be!
It took a while to get here, as you’ve known.  A lot of options, opinions, and operatics (that, mostly from me).  Now all is clear (dare I throw the word, opacified?).  O.T. and Iwill be getting married at the bottom of the Grand Canyon on the 3rd of July!  It will be small — our parents and my brother only.  And it will be kept that way — the only way to the bottom is by helicopter and O.T. and I have arranged for two private helicopters to take us and our small party there, along with a minister and photographer.
It’s miles away from the San Francisco City Hall wedding I initially wanted, isn’t it?  I’m glad we got here.  The process was worthwhile though prolonged.  Nothing was making anyone happy.  The prospect of City Hall dampened most of everyone’s celebratory mood.  But the grand plans expected of us were not catered to us, and definitely not to me.  I don’t care, never cared, for the big party and will not be throwing one.  One day in March, O.T. suggested we get hitched in Las Vegas, where we met for the second time after our serendipitous meeting in San Francisco.   Then it hit me — we can get married in the Grand Canyon!  Afterall, our first road trip together was to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas back in 2008.  It all makes sense.  And this is so much more exciting than City Hall!
For the first time in our year-long engagement, EVERYTHING makes sense.  The past month has been one big happy DIY brainstorm.  And what’s great is O.T. is letting me do my thing (which, to a chronic crafter like me, is a relief!).   I’ve started to make all the little items that will make our wedding the best the Grand Canyon did see!
Over the next 7 weeks, I will be posting all the tutorials of our wedding DIY, in unfinished pieces, of course — you will see the big picture when it is all put together in July!
It’s crafting time!

bad blogger. bad.

April 13, 2012 § 2 Comments

Slap on the wrist.  Make that two.  I have two hands for typing afterall.  Apparently, I’ve been blogging since the early 1980’s at the age of 2… Image

Updates are to follow!  I want to share the verdict about the wedding once it’s written in stone — hoping to have it booked by next week.  I have my fingers crossed! There better be no blotches in the fine print, otherwise my super fantastic wedding of a lifetime will have to be put back to the drawing table.

Thank you SO much for all of your support and thoughtful replies and wonderful emails since my last post.  I have started to reply to comments from the previous post, but my eyes are now drooping.  1:00 am here and I am driving a whopping 750 km to New York tomorrow afternoon directly from the office (not the first time I’m doing this crazy solo drive since I last blogged).  I will continue with my replies when I’m back from New York.

Have a great weekend and enjoy my catch-up crafts coming right up!

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!


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!

thank you, instructables!

December 19, 2011 § 1 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!

bt tv clips + canadian living

November 20, 2011 § 8 Comments

Ok, so a month later, finally a recap of my first TV appearance!

I had the most wonderful experience at Canadian Living Magazine headquarters and Citytv Breakfast Television here in Toronto on October 25th!  It was a very early morning, which started at 3:45 when my alarm sounded, after which I immediately threw hot rollers in my hair, and loaded my car with carved pumpkins.  Arrival and set-up was 5:30.  Make-up 6:00.  And my super short three minutes of fame slated at 7:53 am.

This may sound odd to you — in the spring months I had actually visualized being on Breakfast Television and carving my butternut squashes.  A premonition?  “The Secret” come to life?  Ok, I’m not here to prove nor disprove the law of attraction.  However, back in the spring, I had a moment of reflection after a couple of friends urged me to pitch my crafts to the show.  I supposed if I would pitch anything in the spring, it would have to be for something six months ahead, in the fall.  I thought, if I were to make my first crafting appearance on live local TV, I’ll carve squashes.

As it goes, I didn’t bother with the pitch.  Who cares about a random blogger carving anything on live television?  The end to a reverie.

Then the bizarre twist of fate.  While I was in California last month, I received an email.  The short of it:  Breakfast Television.  Me.  Carving Pumpkins.  Here’s to you, universe — in my hands are the fate of pumpkins, not squashes!  Seriously, though, what are the chances that my first television appearance would be to carve some autumnal gourd as I had earlier prophesized?

More importantly, you’re probably wondering — how do I get a random email request such as this?

I could not be more thankful to Canadian Living Magazine.  I guess I have been silent here and not been revealing much about the work I do outside of this blog, until the work manifests itself in public.  This year, I have had the greatest creative opportunity to work on crafts projects with Canadian Living Magazine.  You’ve read the posts I wrote for The Craft Blog earlier this year.  But, I have also been busy designing some fun crafts for the magazine’s print issues in 2012.  The process is lengthy for print publication, and crafts ideas and articles go through a gestation period of sorts for about ten months before they are born into the world.  In fact, this month of November, I was busily crafting for the April and May 2012 issues.  Yep, despite my lull online, I’m not totally a slacker (not entirely, though I should totally pick up the pace on this blog)!

So, on with the show!  We had four segments filmed live inside the Test Kitchen (where the magazine prepares all recipes in-house).  I joined the three amazingly talented women: Austen Gilliland (Senior Editor and Craft Editor), Adell Shneer (Test Kitchen Manager), and Rheanna Kish (Food Specialist), and we each did a segment on creative Halloween ideas.

Of course, seeing that this is a month late, I just went to Breakfast Television’s site and wasn’t able to find the full episode that day.  However, I found our individual video clips.  I have no idea how to embed non-Youtube videos, so please click on each image to link to the video:

Click on image to link to video.

Adell had the first segment and concocted a cauliflower “brain” with dip.  You totally have to try this recipe out.  It is packed with cheese and absolutely delicious!

Click on image to link to video.

Me and my hair and, oh right, my pumpkins went for the second segment.  I really did not anticipate a third of the segment would become about my hair!  I wish there was time to explain the “convertible pumpkins” which let your children design and paint the features of the pumpkin.  The features can then be placed on the pumpkins for funny faces during the day and removed to make jack-o-lanterns at night

Click on image to link to video.

Rheanna had the third segment and she made some yummy sweet-salty-spicy zombie popcorn.  I could not have enough!  Sweet.  Salty.  Spicy.  You would be remiss not to try this recipe out!

Click on image to link to video.

The fourth clip of Austen doing creepy crafts is not available.  Boo.  It’s really too bad, she made awesome paper packaging for the popcorn!   On a good note, I did a search and found this clip from last winter when she shared cool crafts ideas from the book, “Create, Update, Remake”.  How timely — these are fantastic projects and gifts for winter and Christmas!  Enjoy!

bits & bobs: breakfast television, birthdays, and bullies

November 10, 2011 § 10 Comments

I know I’ve been very quiet lately for a number of reasons, both amazing and not-so-amazing.

I haven’t had the chance to share with you the wonderful experience I had being on Breakfast Television here in Toronto with Canadian Living, and the hours that followed at the Canadian Living Magazine headquarters, two weeks ago.  Amazing!!

I also celebrated my birthday on Halloween and O.T. came up for a surprise visit for five days.  Perhaps I should write a post one day about how we survive our east coast-west coast relationship.  Oh, correction — survived!  O.T. was just last week scooped up by IBM to design their computer chips in their offices outside of New York.  Well, okay, a far suburb, but nonetheless a reasonable hour and a half driving distance to Manhattan (and a seven and a half hour driving distance from T.O. — still miles better than a seven and half hour flight including transfer).  He is moving east next month!  Exciting!!

But it hasn’t been a perfect picture for me.  I have had some struggles over several months which I haven’t been able to openly share with you due to its personal nature.  However after a lot of contemplation, I believe it is a significant subject that deserves recognition and discussion.  I have experienced bullying by an individual at the workplace.  It took time to recognize and identify what was happening.  It took a good friend to point out flatly “You’re being bullied at your work”, to which I replied “Who?  Me?  Bullied?  No.  Really?  Oh.  Really.”  It took strength and courage to acknowledge, report, and overcome.  Everyday is another day to grow positively and move forward.  Let me say this: bullying among children is no different than bullying among adults.  Adults may be presumed to have stronger emotional ability to cope as victims (or that adults have solid emotional maturity not to be bullies in the first place).  However, take away the playground and replace it with cubicles, take your bully and age him by several decades, take the accomplices, the bystanders, and the targets and put a few years on them too, and it’s still the same scenario.  I would like to offer my experiences to shed another speck of light on the topic of workplace bullying to help those who are targets and encourage bystanders to have a voice. Workplace bullying should not be taken lightly and should receive more public recognition.

So I will share my thoughts on Breakfast Television, birthdays, and bullies in my upcoming posts…

happy birthday, paper, plate, and plane! and announcing our giveaway winner…

October 3, 2011 § 2 Comments

Yay, today marks the first year of this blog!  Looking back, I don’t know whatever propelled me get it started.  Perhaps because my wedding stationery business at the time wasn’t allowing me to explore my highest creative calling.  Perhaps because I always wanted to be a professional crafter, but so few and far between are the opportunities to become one.  Perhaps because wasting good ideas by keeping them to myself would become a lifelong regret.  So here I am today after having blogged 146 posts, welcomed nearly half a million page views from around the world, written guest posts and online articles, and contributed ideas and articles to Canadian and American print publications for the upcoming, even more exciting year of 2012 — all done in the past twelve months, along with the past seven months of juggling a full-time job working in a cubicle and a rewarding part-time job working with children.  Whew!  It’s been amazing because you are here — visiting, reading, recreating, passing the ideas along, and allowing me to have this creative outlet.

You motivate me to continue this journey.  THANK YOU for sticking around!  I hope you’ve been enjoying visiting, reading, recreating, and passing these ideas along, and that you continue to do so.  I hope I’ve given you a wee bit of inspiration through this blog, as you have reassured me that giving inspiration is exactly what I am meant to be doing in this lifetime.

Let’s look back at the 10 most visited ideas in paper, plate, and plane’s first year:










rolled paper chess set


My Personal Faves

The rolled paper chess set I designed for O.T.’s birthday is definitely my most personal favorite.  But here are another 5 creations that have personal meaning for me, or took a bit more thought to conceive/create, or a combination of both:


casa loma wedding invitationHALLOWEEN BALLOON BODY PARTS




I pray the muses stay by my side so that I may conceive and create a more prolific set of ideas on this blog in its second year.  Stay tuned.

Giveaway Winner

And…drumroll…who won the $32 giveaway pile of crafty materials?

Comment #22 is from Betty in Barcelona!  Congratulations, Betty!  I will be emailing you shortly.

Thank you all for participating in the giveaway!  And thank you for the fondest birthday wishes!  Turning another year older ain’t so bad!  Besides, it’s not til the end of the month.  I’ll relish being this young until then.  🙂

Happy creating!

♥ Jeromina

birthday giveaway!

October 1, 2011 § 40 Comments

It’s October!  In a couple of days, paper, plate, and plane will turn one year old.  At the end of the month, I, too, will turn one year older.  I wanted to celebrate this wonderful month by giving away some cool crafty items.

With thirty two dollars in my pocket, two weeks ago, this diva-on-a-dime ran amok at my most favorite crafty source, Dollarama.  What can I get possibly get my dear crafty friends for thirty two dollars?!  (I guess it goes without saying — I’m turning thirty two on Halloween!).  (And oh, as much as this has a tone of sponsorship, it is certainly just me raving about Dollarama, as I often do, and hauling things out of my own pocket, as I’ve done for the past year to keep this blog alive and kicking).

Well, here goes a long list!  Ok, let’s take a look at what you’ll get.  I tried to keep in mind a variety of your crafty needs.  Let’s start with paper.  It is my first passion, afterall.

Art Blanc Notebook

Art Blanc books sell for as much as $11 at gift shops and book stores.  I was happily surprised to see Dollarama carrying this famous Russian line of luxurious, textured notebooks in their stationery aisle for a whopping $2.  It was so difficult to choose which design to include in this list of giveaways.  Of course, I chose the one that most looks like Turkish tiles (as you may know, I have a weakness for anything Turkish).  I happen to carry a huge notebook (yes, the traditional paper kind) with me at all times so I can scribble and doodle all of my ideas that eventually materialize on this blog.  I’ve never found electronic gadgets that efficient for this purpose.  I actually bought a tablet way back in 2007 and fast forward to 2011, I still very much prefer my good old paper notebook.

Handmade Indian Scrapbook Paper

These sheets are 100% cotton paper, with beautiful gold foil details.  There are two packs, each with 2 sheets of gorgeous handmade Indian paper.  A total of 4 sheets.  Size: 12″ x 12″ (30 cm x 30 cm).

Vintage Handmade Dimensional Stickers

Pretty 3-dimensional stickers layered with buttons, ribbons, rhinestones, and pearls.  There are three packs, each with 8 stickers.  A total of 24 vintage handmade stickers.

Decorative Butterflies

I’m not exactly sure if these colorful butterflies are made of paper, but these are perfect for scrapbookers.  I’m sure I’ve seen similar at craft stores for quadruple Dollarama’s price.  There are two packs, each with 3 butterflies.  Each butterfly is 2-1/2″ x 1-1/2″ (6 cm x 4 cm).

Laptop Stickers

These are intended for laptops, but they can also be for cellphones, printers, windows, walls, wherever you want to stick stickers that won’t stick forever.  These are the removable decals you’ve probably seen being sold everywhere.  Dollarama happens to sell them for $1.50 for a pack of 5 designs.  There are 3 packs in 3 different glittery, blingy colors.

Bottles of Glitter and Decorative Beads

Dollarama has bottles and bottles of glitter in so many colors.  It was difficult to narrow down the choices.  I used shades of purple to make the juice bottle glitter vases back in July.  For this giveaway, I chose green, gold, and blue, considering that Christmas is around the corner.  I also bought a six-pack of adorably cute bottles of micro beads in Christmas colors.

Spools of Ribbon

Sheer organza polka-dot ribbons in yellow, apple green, and fuschia pink.  Size: 1-1/2″ wide x 77″ long (4 cm x 2 m).  Two stylish satin ribbons with illustrated flower prints in green and red.  Size: 5/8″ x 72″ (1.5 cm x 1.8 m).

Magic Clay

I didn’t forget you, clay makers!  Dollarama doesn’t sell polymer clay, however they do sell these soft, light weight, air drying modeling clay packs similar to Crayola Model Magic .  Each pack is 1.4 oz (40 g), in green, pink, and purple.

Decorative Push Pins

I thought these little lady bugs and busy bees would be a fun addition to your home office or your children’s boards.  Each pack has 12 push pins.  You know I love making me my push pins such as the light bulb and Kill Bill push pins.

Sushi Erasers

When I was a kid, I had an obsession with erasers.  My mom would avoid taking me to stationery shops because I always threw a tantrum over buying paper and erasers to add to my colossal collection.  When I saw these as I shopped for crafty items, I couldn’t put them down.  My childhood obsession with erasers is likely equivalent to my current obsession with sushi as an adult.  I hope you or someone you know has an obsession with erasers and sushi, too.

Of course, there has to be a little bit of Halloween in the mix!

Miniature Pumpkins

I adore these!  The package comes with 12 teeny tiny pumpkins, about 1-1/4″ (3.5 cm) in diameter.  There can be many creative uses for these little guys, but last year, I used them as place card stands.

Halloween Cupcake Liners

Who can resist Halloween cupcakes?  These orange and black cupcake/muffin cups have a spider web design, are standard size, and come in a pack of 50 pieces.

Skull and Pumpkin Molds

These rubber ice cube trays make for great candy molds, too.  I used them last year to shape my pumpkin butter.


So how can you grab all this stuff for yourself or for your kids/grandkids/friends?  Please comment below before Monday, October 3, 2011, 10:31 pm EST.  Say anything that comes to mind — what your favorite posts were in the past year or what other ideas you want me to explore or the types of crafts you most enjoy or simply share your blog link with the rest of us or anything else you want to say!  I will count the number of comments, place the count in a number generator, and announce the giveaway winner with the winning comment number on Monday, October 3, 2011 after 10:31 pm EST.  And wherever you are in the world, I’ll be happy to ship to you!  Stay tuned!

D-I-Y engagement photos: part 3 of 3 — beyond the camera and tripod

September 23, 2011 § 1 Comment

At last, Part 3!  It has been too long, here are reminders of the two D-I-Y engagement sessions that O.T. and I had back in the summer (is it really officially fall?!?).

Part 1: Ed Levin Park, Milpitas

Part 2: Napa Valley, California

As mentioned in the previous posts, we used a regular pocket-size digital camera, a tripod, and a heavy dose of post-processing.  In this part, I will discuss the challenges you’ll encounter as well as the techniques of achieving a “dreamy” soft focus to any of your regular pictures, even if you don’t have the most up-to-date equipment (as neither do I) and even if you don’t have Photoshop!

My modest little camera is an old Canon PowerShot SD870 IS purchased at the time of its release in 2007.  I really loved this camera when it came out; its performance outdoes most others in its category of compact digicams.  I am still quite happy with it after four functional years, however, lately I’ve become aware that it doesn’t successfully serve the purpose of this blog.  I do hope to retire it soon for a DSLR (*hint, hint, O.T* :p).  Regardless, this little gadget didn’t stop me from taking our own engagement photos or all the photos you’ve seen on this blog thus far.

I must forewarn: the set-up of shots takes the most time, more so than we anticipated.  We took turns setting up the shots.  While setting up the camera, one would tell where the other should stand, before bolting to take their place in the shot.  The timer was set to 20 seconds (which was sufficient time to bolt and freeze) with three consecutive shots at 5-second intervals.

The challenge of doing your own photography session is that no one will tell you that his hand is totally cropped out of the picture.  Or that your belt is not perfectly centered in the shot.  Or that your sweater is a bunched up hot mess. Or that your cupcake liner flower necklace (tutorial next!) has been turned over backwards by the wind.  You may be disappointed by the number of times you will have to run back and forth from the tripod (though exercise is good for us all).  But all in all, the efforts will be worth it!

We took 15 shots just for the scene with the “love at first flight” airplane props, until we both got annoyed and decided we’ll use whatever is “best”, even though there was none we were truly happy with.  Over the two days (a Friday at Ed Levin Park and a Sunday in Napa Valley), we took a combined 337 shots, out of which we were happy with about 60.  A more discerning photographer would likely be happy with about 6.  A professional photographer would likely be happy with none.  But we’re easy to please!

For post-processing, I found some helpful Photoshop tutorials online at: www.photoshopessentials.com.  I mainly used the techniques in the tutorials:



The technique for a soft focus effect is incredibly simple:

1. Duplicate the layer, then choose Overlay as a blend mode,

2. Apply a Gaussian Blur filter to the overlaid layer, then adjust opacity, and

3. In most cases, a mask is required to remove the soft focus on parts of the photo that should be sharp, such as the face.

The above Photoshop-edited version has 30 pixel Gaussian Blur with 50% Overlay.

This is the unedited version:

I realize that not everyone has the access to Photoshop, so if you require a free photo-editing program, GIMP is available online for free download.  GIMP is a really impressive imitation of Photoshop, for the fact that it is free.  It offers the same filters (such as the Gaussian Blur that you’ll need) and blend modes (such as the Overlay that you’ll need).

This is the GIMP-edited version:

Of course, cropping provides impact in the composition of shots, as in the final chosen edit for the scene above:

There is also a trick you can do by adding lens flares in the photo-editing process, such as in these shots.  The tutorial is found here: http://www.photoshopessentials.com/photo-effects/lens-flare/

Just to give you an idea of how post-processing can change the life of your photos, here are some raw shots and their corresponding Photoshop-edited shots.

Play around with the blur and overlay to adjust the softness as you’d like.

Remember: a bulk of what you pay photographers is to compensate for the enormous time they spend on editing photos.  Some refuse to believe this fact: most award-winning professional wedding photographers heavily edit their work.  Plenty of photographers, professional and amateur, invest in add-on actions and presets, such as those found in Totally Rad!, in order to jazz up Photoshop and Lightroom photos in a few clicks.  I am so impressed by the things you’d find in Totally Rad!

If you already have a great camera, you are already half way there (even more ahead of me in these pictures I’ve taken with my PowerShot).  I suggest taking the time to study the work of your favorite wedding photographers.  Look at style and composition, such as subject placement, angle, perspective, frame.  Especially look at wedding photography trends.  Did you realize the more current wedding photos are composed with a lot of room above the head?  And that often the subjects are cropped in ways that aren’t conventional, such as the cropping of feet or of bodies?  After you analyze your favorite works, with a bit of help from Photoshop or Gimp, you can mimic the styles and save a lot of money.  They are not going to be perfect, but you cannot beat the personal touch of D-I-Y!  How many people have said they took their own engagement pictures?  Now you can!

Click on any of the above to enlarge.


August 29, 2011 § 4 Comments

My brain went on intermission.  It did so amidst a 3-part post.  You’ll have to give it pardon.  It’s a mind of its own.  Its carefree desires could not be abated by the warm weather and summer sun and by life’s unexpected turns.  From time to time, my brain hurtles at a pace I cannot always control and of subjects I oft wish to ignore (or, like, bury; as in topics that I command to “Go hang out with Id and make yourselves scarce” type of repression).  This is quite contrary to what I recently said here in my culling of creative ideas (I may have actually written that post to avert my mind from going on holiday).

Well, believing I have every trick to control my mind, I gave it a free pass to do whatever it wants.  My brain checked out, “Sucker!”.   It chose to think nothing of D-I-Y for the month of August.  Perhaps for good reasons.

ONE: My second attempt at MSLO

Back in May, I mentioned my bizarre fateful experience in New York wherein a dysfunctional GPS led me to an inexistent gas station, in which place was Martha Stewart Living.  I mused over my lofty dreams of being a Crafts Associate at MSLO and my first unanswered application in 2009.  Well, quite coincidentally, a crafts position opened in June, less than three weeks after my NYC experience.  I applied, having waited for this opportunity for two years, all along rejoicing “It’s fate, it’s fate, it’s faaaaaate!”.  Well, the anticlimax: nothing happened.  Other than I held my breath for a good 6 weeks (right about the time my brain checked out).  To no avail and a bit to my sorrow.



These images are my portfolio samples of how NOT TO get hired by Martha.  In hindsight, I can presume they are actually not looking for an obvious “crafts” portfolio.  Perhaps my submission was too transparent.  I will certainly try again with a much different approach.  This attempt is not my last.

TWO: My job

This is a subject that is out of bounds for this blog, though I mentioned my frustrations in one recent post.  For now, my job consumes a lot of mental effort, primarily because I am learning everything as I go and secondly because I worry about the direction of my career.  But I discovered you can’t really plan life (not entirely)…


I did craft something this month.  I made a small 22-page photo journal in memory of my dear friend’s father who passed very unexpectedly this month.  Designing and making a hand-bound photobook may be an uncomplicated task, but it was the most difficult thing I’ve crafted for anyone.  Even more difficult was the moment I handed the finished book to my dear friend, and the subsequent moments she wept at the turn of every page, laugh-crying at the funny memories he left us of his magnificent life.  Truly, it is the small things that make the bigger gestures in life.  We have every ability to give love and joy and to lift away sadness and pain (even if it’s in small doses).

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