Planning for Christmas in September

Funny how I ended my previous post… made me look like someone who is easily distracted, haha.

We are in the last days of September… and before we know it, it’s Christmas time. Well, at least this is how many Filipinos feel. As soon as September arrives in the Philippines, radios start playing Christmas songs and houses are getting decorated. And of course, we plan for Christmas. It is weird for most but, hey, this is uniquely Filipino! Friends I know have already made a gift list, including one who has a very specific wish for Santa, a shure super 55 for his music hobby. Imagine that.

Thinking about it, preparing this early makes sense. Preparing months ahead makes it easier (because you avoid the holiday rush) and Christmas a lot less stressful. Won’t it feel great to go into the Christmas season with most of the work already done and taken care of? I thought so, too.

On the other hand, living in Cambodia this long has been great because I am spared of the usual Christmas frenzy! Sure I miss the Christmas spirit every now and then but I relish the stress-free, laid-back December here. I can’t explain the sense of relief I have every time I see news reports on TV showing jampacked malls in November and especially December, and have that little voice in my head say I don’t have to go in there myself.

My husband and I are not truly big on celebrations and gift-giving. What we are, or what we do, rather, is buy each other (and other family members) little things that we see throughout the year. This way, to us, is really a surprise and usually something we (they) truly would enjoy. I hope we’re not the only ones who feel this way. Can anybody relate to this?

I’m back.

For someone who’s coming back after a very long blog hiatus, what would be the best comeback post? Lol.
I don’t know who’s still reading my blog posts here, but if anyone remembers this poor blog and this poor blogger, here’s something that partially sums up what I’ve been doing or where I’ve been during my blogging absence.


One day I had a lousy day or two, the next week there was so much to do at home, and the next, I lacked the energy to blog, and so on and so forth, that before I knew it, weeks and months had passed me by. I’ve fallen mightily behind with my posts and I don’t have any excuse for that. The past months have been spent on ‘adulting’. Very challenging, if you ask me, but since it’s part and parcel of life then I must keep on keeping on. Anybody here can relate, raise your hands, please!

My focus now is to get back into the blogging groove.
I’ve been reading blogs about how to successfully return to blogging after a long slump and I’m getting pretty useful tips from bloggers out there.


As I am typing this, I can hear the soft melodious sound coming from my neighbour’s house. Their back window is open and I can hear the daughter playing the keyboard. I was amazed at how fast she learned the theory and played the instrument – I didn’t even know there are different types of keyboards in the market. But I digress. Funny, I know. Till next post.

Can’t get it out of my head

I am not a fan of Adele but her song Hello is in stuck in loops in my head, for some reason.

This song’s been going on and on in my head and the kids in school weren’t help at all as they keep on singing the chorus. When I got home, I sat down and watched/listened to it properly (on YouTube) and it made me think that the song’s not bad actually. It’s pretty good. Her vocals are great. You know what… I don’t know much about pop music – or music in general – but I’ll surely take her over Taylor Swift anytime.

The story of Lucille

I’ve never heard of it before but when an expat-friend, who is a local band-member, mentioned about how he’d love to get a gibson lucille for Christmas caught my ears. It made me wonder who – or what – it is!

I’m not really a musically-inclined person so please excuse my ignorance. My friend – who considered it a sacrilege that I didn’t know Lucille – then lectured me about it. Turns out it’s not a name of a person but a guitar named “Lucille”. The legendary blues musician B.B. King had the original Lucille and together they made music history. But, oh, how they all laughed at my expense and every time this subject crops up, I cringe! At least I learned something new.

Seasons greetings

Merry Christmas!
Are you all ready for the festive celebration?

Not quite over here.  Christmas is not celebrated in Cambodia so naturally we are having a low-key affair at home. Nothing beats being (in your) home(land) for Christmas. *cries softly and runs away*

Anyhoo, even if we’re not feeling the Christmas mood here, it doesn’t stop me from spreading holiday love. I’ve been quiet for a long time (not blogging) and here’s what’s making me busy (and keep my thoughts off the festive celebrations elsewhere):

Calligraphy and hand-lettering
I’ve been practicing a lot and now I can see great improvements. I was very much displeased with my output in the beginning but through repetition, it gets me to satisfactory levels. I’ve wanted to do calligraphy and hand-lettering for the longest time but didn’t know where to begin with before. Thanks to generous artists who put up video and text tutorials on their sites for free, I can say that I am getting results that I am happy with.

Here’s some examples of my practice:

Practicing letters "R" and "V", as in, Red Velvet. Red watercolour in ordinary unlined, white paper.
Practicing letters “R” and “V”, as in, Red Velvet. Red watercolour in ordinary unlined, white paper.
Mail for my penpal. The envelope was designed with tribal pattern in gouache colours.
Mail for my penpal. The envelope was designed with tribal pattern in gouache colours.
Feathering. Pelikan royal blue ink on low quality paper-envelope.
Feathering. Pelikan royal blue ink on low quality paper-envelope.

Holiday cards
Yes, there are still people who send Christmas cards in this digital age and I’m proud to be one of them! And they’re not just any card, they’re handmade by me 🙂

Just one of the cards inspired by the designs found on Pinterest.
Just one of the cards inspired by the designs found on Pinterest.

I do not have the moolah to grant someone’s wish for a snare drum or a gadget or what-have-you but I do have the time to sit down and create a card. Sure it’s a major effort, as one of my friends pointed out, but I love to sit down and take time to make cards by hand for family and friends. Handmade cards are more special. Anyone can just get a card from any shops but these cards are sent out with all the love and care of the maker (me!). What do you think?

And I’m really happy that I was able to finish the cards on time and sent them by mail before the holiday rush swept in. My in-laws in the UK and my parents in the Philippines have already received their cards. I’m still waiting for word from my friends everywhere 🙂

Checking in, again

Hi, friends. It’s been a long while, isn’t it?
September just rolled in quietly and now we’re just 12 days away till we begin October. Time is just flying right before our eyes!

I took a temporary indefinite from blogging {again}. I guess I have this habit of dropping out of the blogging radar because… loss of blogging mojo, you know. Hah. There are just days that I cannot write anything on my blog even if I want to.

Modern calligraphy
Not Copperplate. This is an example of modern calligraphy. Just practicing my strokes.

Luckily, I have other activities that kept me busy-busy. As mentioned several posts ago, I’ve taken up calligraphy. I’ve been doing this since last year and I’m pretty pleased to tell you that my strokes are getting more polished. The two hours I spend every afternoon is getting results. Not only that I can now boast of decent writing in Copperplate (or English Roundhand), calligraphy is teaching me a lot of patience and I am loving it!

It amuses me to think that while calligraphy requires focus and concentration when practicing/writing, my choice of background music is rock – you know, fast, thumping, and screeching. Other calligraphers I know prefer the calm, soothing sounds of classical music or instrumentals from premier acoustic guitars. How is it that I can listen to this loud, fast music while still immersed with my writing? It boggles the mind.

Saturday 9: Bubbly


330px-Bubbly_(Colbie_Caillat)Welcome to Saturday: 9. What we’ve committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions every Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do “random questions,” so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don’t have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today’s meme!

Saturday 9: Bubbly (2007)

… because Jodi suggested Colbie Caillat

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) Singer Colbie Caillat says this song was inspired by a trip to “the beach and having a wonderful day with a person you like.” Have you been to the beach yet this summer?
Yes, we did. We went to Kep, down the southernmost part of Cambodia.

2) Are you careful about applying sunscreen?
I seldom apply sunscreen.

3) Colbie made her TV debut in a 2009 episode of Saturday Night Live. Are you a big SNL fan?
Not really.

4) “Bubbly” is often a synonym for champagne. When’s the last time you enjoyed a glass of bubbly?
Wow, that was a year ago, actually. For some reason, even a shallow goblet of champagne makes me tipsy and giggly and animated that, at one instance, I broke the strings on ukulele that I was holding.

5) Colbie sang the National Anthem at the third game of the Red Sox/Cardinals World Series in 2013. How is your favorite baseball team doing so far this season?
Because of time difference between the US and Asia, I am no longer able to watch baseball season games. 

6) In 2005, Ms. Caillat tried out for Season 4 of American Idol but was eliminated very early in the process, before she could even audition for Simon, Paula and Randy. The winner that year was Carrie Underwood. Are you a Carrie Underwood fan?
Yes! I think that was the only season I watched from the beginning to the end.

7) In 2007, when “Bubbly” was popular, actress Yvonne deCarlo died. She was best known as Lily on The Munsters. If you had to choose (and yes, this Saturday you have to), would you rather hang out with Lily Munster or Morticia Addams?
I think I’d choose Morticia Addams. She’s the originally goth girl and my, she has this incredible sensuality and grace in her. Plus, she occasionally spoke French so I would probably learn a word or two from her. She also has “great” gardening skills – cutting off the buds of her roses and leaving just the thorny stems. I can also learn techniques about growing and feeding Venus flytrap plants.

8) In 2007, MySpace was faced with a serious challenge from Facebook, and it’s obvious which social network won. Did you have a MySpace account? If so, do you still post to it?
No, I’ve never had a Myspace account.

9) Random question: Which have you had longer, your ironing board or your plunger?
My ironing board – nearly 6 years with me!

Blue Monday: Cheap clothings

Ahem. I am back.
I wasn’t planning on a long leave from blogging. In fact, I didn’t have any plans to have a blog leave at all. However, since it is already summer – notorious for the scorching heat and persistent daily power cuts – I just stopped blogging. No pre-written posts, no photos in the drafts. Nada. Then the Khmer New Year came (we went on a holiday) and gone (and I didn’t really made an effort to go back, le sigh). I just sat back and allowed this blog to go stagnant. Meh.

Glad that I’ve woken up from that funk! So now I’m slowly inching to go back into the blogging groove again. Let me start again with this photo for our Blue Monday meme:

Clothes everywhere. Cheap, too.
Clothes everywhere. Cheap, too.

There’s so much cheap RTW (ready-to-wear) goods in Cambodia. Most of them are factory overruns, from hundreds of factories operating in the country. So you can imagine the quantity and the variety. In the above photo,  the goods are displayed in stalls in and around Psah Thmey (or Central Market). They are of good quality, and cheap, too. If you don’t mind the heat and sweat from digging through the pile, you are guaranteed to go home with the best buys. If this is not your preference, there are also air-conditioned shops nearby selling similar goods but more expensive.


Saturday 9: Careless Whisper (1984)


Welcome to Saturday: 9. What we’ve committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions every Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do “random questions,” so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don’t have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today’s meme!

Saturday 9: Careless Whisper (1984)

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) You can’t miss George Michael’s gold hoops in the photo above or in the “Careless Whisper” video. Are you wearing any jewelry right now?
Yes, my wedding ring. I also like hoop earrings 🙂

2) Though the label says this hit is performed by “Wham!” featuring George Michael,” George Michael is the only member of the pop duo who appears in the video. Do you remember the name of the other guy who was in Wham?
I cannot remember the other half of “Wham!” but I do remember, back in grade school in the 80s, they were very popular! My older cousins could not stop playing and singing along Careless Whisper. There’s even a lovely version of this song by the PostModernJukebox which I really, really love.

3) Much of the video was filmed on Watson Island, a man-made island near South Beach. Have you ever been to Miami?
Nope, never.

4) Born Georgios Panayiotou, George Michael is of Greek descent, the son of the Greek restauranteur in East London. When you think of Greek cuisine, what comes to mind?
Gyros, moussakka, and of course, Greek salad! Yum.

5) Today he lives in a tony suburb called Highgate, and his neighbors are Kate Moss and Sting. Tell us about one of your neighbors.
My neighbour is a judge at the provincial trial court here in Cambodia. He and his family are lovely and are friendly with us. I realised we were living next to a court official the moment I heard him command “SILENCE” to my barking dogs, lol. Yes, he did say it in English as he knows my dogs respond to English commands.

6) George Michael fans can purchase officially licensed merchandise from his website, including an iPhone cover with his photo and signature. Tell us about your cell phone. Is it Apple or Android? Is it a smartphone?
My phone is not a smartphone. It’s an old Nokia N70 handphone. It has also a camera and is connected to the Internet via GPRS. I use it mainly for texting and calling and it serves the purpose so I don’t see the need for me to jump into the smartphone bandwagon yet. But if I do, I prefer an Android phone, a Samsung.

7) George Michael sang Stevie Wonder’s “You and I” for Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton. What’s your favorite love song?
“The Nearness of You”, by Jo Stafford. I love Jo Stafford’s version – simple, sublime, romantic and timeless. No fancy-schmanzy accompaniments, just the silky voice, lovely melody, and meaningful lyrics to carry on the song.

8) In 2014, George had a health scare. He was rushed to the hospital for tests and released the next day. Have you ever ridden in an ambulance?
No, not really. But back in my cub reporting years, we were tailing ambulances during night shifts as I was assigned in the police beat section. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, honestly, but in order for me to learn the ropes of reporting, I had to undergo this part of the internship.

9) Known for hard partying in his youth, George is now in his 50s and says he’s quite happy to spend his evenings eating takeout and watching DVDs. Are you doing any socializing this weekend?
Yes, we’re going to a viewing party – as you might have heard about it, the Pacquiao-Mayweather Fight of the Century will be broadcast live tomorrow, 9am Cambodia time. That would be tonight in Las Vegas. Expats and Cambodians alike will be glued to their tellies tomorrow as I know Cambodians and some expats are Pacquiao-fans. A friend is hosting the party and we are going. Should be fun, no matter what the result will be. Of course, I would love Manny Pacquiao to win!

Blue Monday: Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue ink

Hello, friends.
At the outset, sorry I was not able to visit your posts last week. So many things happened and, yesterday, I was informed that a cousin’s son died suddenly. We are all heartbroken – so young, at 17. The last time I saw my nephew was when he was only a six-year old boy, a shy but sweet one, always hiding behind his mum. It pains me to think that I will never see him again. May he rest in peace.

On a lighter note, I have been practicing more calligraphy at night time, when everyone is asleep. I devoted one hour each night since I could not go back to my regular daytime schedule. I find it hard to do with all the household chores, errands, and dogs to mind. I’m not complaining, though. When you want something, you have to work hard to achieve it. My husband also bought me some stuff – his Valentine present, if I may say so. He bought me a Pelikan ink 4001, in Royal Blue. Along with the ink, he also bought me these Japanese coloured cards for my craft projects. How sweet is that.

Grateful to my thoughtful husband. Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue ink (right) and coloured papers from a Japanese shop.
Grateful to my thoughtful husband. Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue ink (right) and coloured papers from a Japanese shop.

The Pelikan ink is designed for use on fountain pens but can also used in dip pens, as told by many season calligraphers. So, of course, I sprang to action right after we got home. I wanted to test the Pelikan ink with my Nikkon G nib.

blue  monday calligraphy quotes on blue
So much inconsistency in the shapes of the letters. Need to practice my strokes more.

The Pelikan ink has a beautiful, vibrant blue colour! Too bad my camera could not capture the vibrance of the colour. Although loading it on my nib was a bit challenging, it has a smooth flow and dries easily. However, the paper I used to write it on was not the proper one. As you can see, there was substantial bleeding on the paper. When I wrote in another paper, a printing paper I snitched from my husband’s printer, it wasn’t the case. So, I have to test more to find out which ink works best in what kind of paper.