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.

minion

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.

Wait.

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.

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.

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.

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Blue Monday: Me, Max and the blue swing

Hello, friends.

We have a fantastic weather here in Phnom Penh and we are all loving it. We are approaching summer and hoping that it won’t be as hot as the previous years.

So what to do with a lovely weather? Outdoors, of course, and play with the doggies.

The blue swing was made by my landlord for his grandchildren. And while they're in school, I love sitting here and basking in the sun.
The blue swing was made by my landlord for his grandchildren. And while they’re in school, I love sitting here and basking in the sun.

This photo was actually taken two years ago and I remember we had the same fine weather then. It reminded me of that old place where we used to live – across Chhba Ampov bridge. In the compound is my landlord’s charming wooden house and one of his married children next door to us. I love it there because there were lots of plants, we get a lot of fresh breeze, and most of all, we have a big yard for our dogs (we had two then) to run around.

Speaking of dogs, I was surprised that Max didn’t mind the camera when my husband took this photo. Normally, she would just walk away as she is not comfortable with the camera pointing at her, and hasn’t warmed up to it up to now.

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Blue Monday: Tools of the trade

Hah, last week, I posted about my current “obsession”. Today I’m posting some of the tools that I use because they are – wait for it – in blue 🙂

A. Paint brushes

Cheap watercolour brushes.
Cheap watercolour brushes.

First of all, I’m not a painter but I use a fair bit of watercolours in my drawings and calligraphy. Also, I use brushes not only for colouring purposes but also for loading my nibs with ink. Before starting calligraphy, I read blogs of expert calligraphers and they have really helpful tips for newbies like me. Dunking the nib to the ink-well or bottle can be done but it makes a mess and, more often in my case, loading copious amount of ink to the nib causing the dreaded blobs and blots.

Also, I wanted to buy brushes of different sizes. The smaller it is, the better since I like to be able to do small details. These are cheap brushes that I bought from a Chinese shop close to where I live and so far, I’m happy with the results.

2. Pens, pencils, and erasers

Pens, pencils and erasers.
Pens, pencils and erasers.

There is nothing more important to an artist than a pencil. It is the very foundation of many great masterpieces. I use a pencil to sketch my idea. Again, any pencil will do. An eraser is equally important to me, too.

Gel pens are very useful when I do faux calligraphy on black (or any other coloured) papers. I love them – especially metallic colours. They’re so pretty in black paper and/or card stock.  I’m also looking for the white gel pen but, as most art stuff, it is hard to find them here in Cambodia. The black pen (Pilot G2) is also a must-have for me and I use it for usual writing (postcards, letters, etc.) and also some special hand-lettering projects, too.

So there you have it, these are but some of the tools in my long list.
Have a great week ahead, my friends. Thank you for dropping by.

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Blue Monday: Gouache and water ink

In case anyone noticed, I was away from blogging for a good two weeks.
Nothing really happening from my side of the planet. Been busy with home-life and some creative hobbies on the side.

Marie's Gouache Paint Set
Getting ready to make some mess.

I love my blue and white dipping bowl. It’s small and hand-painted and costs me next-to-nothing. As mentioned previously, I’ve picked up calligraphy again and been experimenting on inks. Since calligraphy inks here are rare, much more coloured inks, I tried mixing gouache and water and voila! Problem solved. Here’s a scanned result – I mixed vermillion red and viridian green:

Love the henna-ish effect!
Love the henna-ish effect!

I am excited about the thousand and one possibilities of mixing colours!
Do you have any creative hobbies, too? Do tell 🙂

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Mrs. Geek I Am!

Oookay, so I’m back to blogging again. Hhhhhnnnngggfff! I can’t even!

Since quitting my job a few months ago I thought I would have more time to do things, like regular blogging, crafting, and so on… But no, nothing like that happened. True, I’ve never been busier, but over something else. For example, taking care of the house and those in it. Which, I am not complaining. We are all healthy and happy – that’s all I could ask in return.

Pls. click the cartoon for source.
Pls. click the cartoon for source.

This year has been steeped on geekery, mine mostly! I’ve been geeking out on pretty much everything – TV series and movies very recently. I never knew how huge of a geek I am UNTIL I stayed at home and got hooked on the above mentioned. Like, how seriously addicted, you ask? Well, the kind of addiction that got me into scouring the whole world wide web for hours on end for streaming sites (I live in Asia so not all TV series are broadcast here) cast interviews, spoilers, and fan sites. One time, a visiting-friend of mine, who’s a music geek, and I met up at this newly-opened mall in the city and got into discussing her current crush – an up-and-coming musician back in our hometown. She was so passionate about this person and how she (as a blogger) a is hoping to cover his developments in the tinsel world. She knows everything about this guy and she even goaded me to purchase a record and to “Mail your order today!“. Ahh, geeks.

Enough of the babbling. It’s been a nice Saturday here in Phnom Penh. I hope your weekend will be great as well.

Till next.

Kids back home

Alert, alert.

I just had to post this:

the borloloysThese are my nieces and nephew. I haven’t seen them in Y-E-A-R-S it feels like forever. The last time I saw them was the girls were 2 years old and 6mths old and the boy was barely 4 years old. Aren’t they cute? I just want to hug them all in one scoop, if only I can. I miss them all terribly.

Now they’re like any other boys and girls – playful, naughty, stubborn, little mister and misses know it all! They’re a source of joy and amusement in the house and they’re good companions to my parents when they visit. And there is another addition – a baby boy named Ryder who was born in July last year. He’s the chubbiest baby ever and when I get to finally see him I want to squeeze his bottom and plant little kisses on his cheeks 🙂 I know, I’m like this with my nephews and nieces!

Chappi, who’s the naughtiest of them all, asked for a big tent for her Christmas present. She said she wanted to live in a tent and invite Grandma and Grandpa (my parents) to live with her. You see, my parents house was destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda and they are slowly re-building the house. But that’s another story.

Back to Chappi. Before Christmas, she kept on telling me that she would like musical instruments such as woodwinds at guitar center for Christmas. I told her we could not promise as it’s difficult to find in Cambodia. When I called them last New Year’s eve, she told me that she changed her mind. She wants a tent. She said she wants a big, pink tent with a big, pink Zipper and Hello, Kitty pictures all around. Tall order, huh. that his Tito Crab could make one for her, much to her delight. Good luck to husband. Let’s see what he can come up with 🙂