paper suitcases from t-shirt boxes

June 27, 2012 § 18 Comments

Hours and hours flew by as I made our wedding favor boxes: paper luggage.

At first I thought: it’s just a t-shirt box and I only need to repeat the process a dozen times, it’ll be a cinch.   I didn’t consider the hours alone on painting each side of the t-shirt box into our wedding colors.  Nor the time to contemplate and execute the paper details like the corners, straps, handles, and Velcro enclosures.

What was most important is these need to be compact.  These suitcases will be traveling from Toronto to New York to Las Vegas afterall and, well, they have to fit in our big suitcase before they are given away to our guests and vendors the morning of the wedding.  So I made sure to maintain the ability to fold and unfold these in the same way they came when they were t-shirt boxes, but also have the ability to attach and detach items that easily convert them into luggage.

We’ve called them our “Keep Cool” kits, as they will contain relief from the Vegas and Grand Canyon heat.

Tutorial to follow after the wedding!  Keep posted!

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!

macaron moment at ladurée in nyc

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.

D-I-Y engagement photos: part 2 of 3 — napa valley, california

August 6, 2011 § 8 Comments

Here’s the second installment of our self-taken engagement photos, this time in the verdant vineyards of Napa Valley!

Just like the first set of photos, these were taken with a camera on a tripod and softened with a heavy dose of photo editing, all of which I will explain with more depth in the next and final post of this three-part series.

If you missed the first set, please have a lookie here for part 1.  I admit I am a lot partial to that previous set now that the pictures are up for comparison.  They express much more dramatic flair than this set, what with the tall brown grass on the knolls of Ed Levin Park, and the wind blowing through my curled hair and chiffon dress.  The sheer effort of hiking up hills in a dress as my curls fought for their survival is, in my mind, the clearer winner.  However, O.T. is not fond of days when I actually make an effort (a lot of it) to look made-up.  This seems to be true for most men.  They prefer women in jeans, hair undone, without the slightest trace of powder, and maybe just a smidge of lip gloss.  So, these here pictures — a version more plain and less panache — are for O.T.

Though both sets of pictures display props I’ve made to highlight our long distance love, I do favor these airplane props in this set over the red tin can telephones in the previous.  For one thing, as most of you have already read, our fateful love story began at an airport and in an airplane.  Secondly, I used the logo I designed for this blog (with a few changes in theme).  Third, I wanted to make use of paper, I am obsessed with paper afterall.

We went into Napa without a single plan of what to see.  Neither being wine drinkers (a cardinal sin in Napa), we knew we were visiting to take pictures.  From downtown Napa, we drove up and down the Silverado Trail searching for the perfect spot.  There are plenty of beautiful spots, though not what we were seeking.  Most vineyards are fenced in and close at four o’clock in the afternoon.

We diverted out of the Silverado Trail and headed southwest to Carneros and discovered a beautiful spot right at the entrance of Cuvaison Estates.  We had gotten there well past 6 pm.  Despite the gates being closed, we were able to walk through rows of unfenced vineyards to take our shots.  The gates were far from the main road, so we drove further in to discover a pond waiting to be photographed.

Other cars had driven in, one driver paused a while to watch us take our pictures as we made our poses in front of the camera and tripod.  He waited around after we finished one set (we were doing pictures in threes) and gave us the thumbs up from his seat.  He drove past us on his way out, rolled down the window, and asked if we needed his help taking the pictures.  We thanked him for his thoughtful offer but happily explained that we had undertaken the exercise to conduct our own engagement session.  He smiled, puzzled, and disappeared past the vines.

I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we enjoyed taking them!  Feel free to click on each set for a larger resolution.  Up next: D-I-Y engagement photos part 3 of 3: beyond the camera and tripod.  Stay tuned!

D-I-Y engagement photos: part 1 of 3 — ed levin park, california

August 4, 2011 § 9 Comments

I’m back from sunny California with sets of photos I couldn’t wait to show you — our very own engagement session!

For my pocket’s sake, I never considered engagement photos.  Not until my inner frugalista decided it would be a great DIY project to tackle on this blog.   Yes, believe it or not, all these quasi-pseudo-professional-ish photos shown here were taken by us, the way self-portraits are best taken: with a seemingly ordinary pocket-size digital camera on a tripod.  And, well, without denial, a lot of post-processing.

I admit, it was a wee bit of an exhaustive ordeal to acquire these shots.  First, the convincing.  When I broached the subject of taking our own engagement photos (and I had never once broached the subject of wanting any engagement photos to begin with), O.T. thought my DIY streak was out of control.  I understand, there are certain things left to professionals.  When I told him how much wedding photographers cost, he happily conceded.

As I talked (and talked) about all the DIY details, such as props and shots I planned for these DIY photos, he became more excited (he’s a fantastic listener, can you tell?).  I talk. He listens.  It’s perfect.  We are on the same page.

He, in fact, conjured up a lot of the frames and I gave no resistance (as much to his credit as mine).  He truly has a lot of creative input and, yes, I do my share of listening, too!

I will talk more about the inspiration to undertake this project and the behind-the-scenes details including a photo editing tutorial, but I will wait until part 3 of this three-part series (I did mention exhaustive ordeal, didn’t I?).

We took these shots on the magnificent hills of Ed Levin County Park in Milpitas, California.  We had visited this park two years ago, taken some beautiful shots during our hike, and were familiar with the scenery.  In fact, when I decided we would do our own engagement session, my first and only thought was Ed Levin.

We made sure to come in the late afternoon when the sun was low.  We arrived at 6:00 pm and fumbled along as we posed shot after shot.  After much fumbling and retakes, we had well over 200 shots, during which time the sun had waned in the distance.

There were brief moments of frustration (entirely due to our inadequate understanding of photography and light, and consequential thump of reality that this stuff isn’t as easy as we thought), but we had much more fun than we ever imagined.  So much so that we decided to take more pictures later that weekend, in a different scene — the vineyards — with different props.  Up next: DIY engagement photos part 2 of 3: Napa Valley, California.  Stay tuned!!

I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we enjoyed taking them!  Feel free to click on each set to zoom in for a larger resolution.  If you missed our fateful love story and the wonderful way he proposed, you can find that right here.

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.

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