Spraground Fun!

Before anything else, I’d like to give the most HUMONGOUS hugs to all my friends who’ve left love and prayer wishes for my son here on my blog and on our playground… I wish I could put into words how infinitely grateful I am for the time you took to send a little note to heaven for my little one. He’s still doing the meds and the nebulization rounds,  but as of yesterday his coughing fits have significantly lessened and I attribute the improvement TOTALLY to all the prayers of my dearest friends — that’s right, YOU — all over the world.

Hand on my heart: I love you all. Thank you soooo much.

(These words don’t come an iota close to expressing the extreme gratitude and affection I have in my heart for you… but it’s all I have now, unless I can clone my body and come to you one by one to give you the greatest, warmest hugs).

Please continue to keep him in mind till he gets over this health hump. Thank you again!

And now… for the fun part:

Next week our Weekly Spraground Challenges begin officially… in the meantime, we’ve been continuing the excitement and fun of playing on our playground! For this week, we will have a template challenge (read all about it on our Spraground!).

Here’s what the template that we’ll be playing with looks like:

LivEdesigns Spraground Challenge Feb25 Template

Download the template here. (Thanks for joining the game, and thanks for the love you leave!)

Been quite busy…

taking care of a million and one things. Not really different from the rest of my friends on the playground, who seem to be quite swamped with the demands of real life as well (funny how 2008 really just shot off like a race car wanting to set a huge lead ahead of the rest, huh?)

So I won’t stay long today… have yet to continue work on my LDD application kit (yesterday I played around and came up with around 20 papers and I was happy with… ONE. 😆 So I really need to play some more. Isn’t it funny how self-imposed pressure can make everything seem not good enough? 😆 )

Also need to care for my little sick duckie. So I’ll catch you around again soon, okay?


Of Heads and Hair

I’ve got a splitting headache. I think it might be because I spent the entire day yesterday sorting and fixing my paper file notes (in a sorry attempt to put off working on my LDD application kit, hehe)… and now I know I have no more excuse to procrastinate. 😆

Or it may be because these past two days I’ve been quite worried about my five-year-old son who has a terrible cough (I’ve taken him to the doctor who says that he’s most probably got a really bad viral infection, possibly a relapse from his cold virus that he had a week and a half ago). I really think it’s the shift between warm weather and rain these days. So he’s on antibiotics again, a whole bunch of medications, nebulizing around the clock, and antitussive lozenges thrown in for good measure when the coughing fits get really bad. Each time he coughs, I get really stressed with all the worrying that floods through every cell of my being. Makes me totally want to reach into his throat, pull out the cough germ, and stick it into mine; just so that he wouldn’t have to cough anymore. The other day, after a particularly drawn-out coughing fit, he said “Somebody please take me to heaven!” I think my heart dropped on the floor and broke into a million little pieces. My poor boy. So please, take a minute and say a prayer for him please? That he gets well real soon? Thanks, honeys.

So… yesterday I was looking at myself in the mirror and I saw FIVE strands of white hair staring back at me. Mind you, I didn’t even run my fingers through my hair to search for more. I’d seen enough. Adding to the possible headache culprits: I saw in the mirror not just the five offending white strands of hair, but even worse, looking back at me was a really groovy-looking girl with hair that was threatening to turn into a real 80s mullet. Ugh, ugh, ugh!

So I called my hairdresser and made an impassioned plea for a haircut appointment.

I’m happy to report that after 3 hours spent at my hairdresser this morning, I now look human again. Almost. 😆

Perfect Moment Take Two

So… given that my headache is threatening to take over my entire body, this post won’t be lengthy. I just wanted to share with you this long overdue Part 2 of the Perfect Moment Plopper Parts that I promised I’d give you a few days back.

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LivEdesigns Perfect Moment Plopper Parts (Set3)

What you’re getting today is a grungy textured background paper, a .psd file of the trame with stapled tag (there are just 2 layers in the file: the frame and the photo mask), and a grungy lined journal tag with distressed edges. I decided to give the frame as a .psd file so that it would be easy for you to put the photo behind the frame. Just target the photo mask in your layers palette, pull in your photo (it should come up under the frame layer in your palette), and then do a CTRL-G if you’re using Photoshop Elements, or for any version of PSE or Photoshop CS, hover your mouse on the line that divides the photo and the mask, hold down ALT and when your cursor turns into a snowman-looking icon, click. Voila!

You can download the Perfect Moment Plopper Parts Set 2 here. Thank you to mexikids of stock.xchng for the stock photo of the adorable baby I used for this preview. Thank you’s for the CU-OK items I used can also be found in my TOU! I hope you can find some use for these plopper parts, and thank you in advance for the love you leave in my blog!

Orton Effect

Over at our Spraground playground, my girlfriends and I have been keeping ourselves busy by indulging in weekly challenges (Our official Spraground weekly challenges will begin in March, barely a week from now! WOOHOO!!! If you have ever lurked over at our playground, now is the time to come out and play! 😉 )

This week, we played with the Orton Effect which we took from our playground-mate kimi’s blog (Thank you, kimi!). The Orton Effect was first used by Michael Orton, and it’s a technique of sandwiching two images where one is in focus and the other is out of focus. Originally this was done with actual slide film, where the original (sharp) image was overexposed by two camera stops, and the second (out of focus) image was overexposed by one camera stop. What results from this technique is a wonderful glowing photo. With the amazing Photoshop, we can now do the same thing right on our computers!

I had a pretty difficult time with this challenge, not because the technique is hard to do: on the contrary, it’s unbelievably easy. The difficult part for me was finding the perfect photo to do the technique on (because I found that it fits some photos much better than others… ). Here’s what I finally ended up with:

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LivE The Ungiving Tree


Jesse Edwards’ FallingAllOver paper (recolored) and Michelle Coleman’s GrungyBoy paper & Grungy Edges Overlay; Mindy Terasawa’s Little Explorer Notepaper (altered); Graphics-Illustrations brushes FONTS: Susie’s Hand (background text); RomanSerif

This is a photo I snapped around a month ago while we were on an out-of-town trip. Dh and I were sitting outside on the verandah of our unit when I looked out into the sea of green trees and saw this tree. I immediately thought of Shel Silverstein’s book The Giving Tree… except what popped in my mind was the opposite: The Ungiving Tree. 🙂

Did I ever share…

with you what I excitedly gathered (like one gleefully picks wildflowers in a huge field of flowers) from Annie Manning’s store? Remember the Oscraps Designer Spotlight Challenge that I joined and uhm, had the great luck of winning? Well, here’s what my prize was! (A coupon which allowed me to choose anything from the fabulous designwork of Annie Manning aka Paint the Moon)!  (Oh and did I already say how fabulous Annie is as a person? Totally sweet and adorable! The icing on the cake of my winning this challenge is getting to know her as a friend! Wonderful!!!)

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This is Annie’s Charmes d’Antan Mega Kit:

AM PTM Charmes

Her Chloe’s Treasures Kit:


One of her Funky Flowers sets:


Her Smooth as Silk Ribbons In a Knot:


Her Really Random Ribbons:


and her Vintage Frames and Corners:


If I could buy her whole store, I would’ve (except I wanted to leave some for another shopping trip! Gotta space these things out, ya know? 😉 ) In fact, she has a new kit that I am sooooo lusting after: it’s called Boxed In Set One, and if I really want to push back what I need to be working on right now, I think I might just hop on over there and snag it! 😆 I am so hooked on Annie’s stuff (all that wonderful, delicious texture!) that I can’t stop wanting to make layouts with them! Go check her out at the Oscraps shoppe (link is also under Shop Till I Drop over there on the right side >>>)

Time’s Up!

Well, okay, I know, I’ve dilly-dallied too long. There’s just no more delaying what I really should be doing now; I really must get my mouse pointed in the direction of my design work! 😆

Speaking of my mouse (what’s the plural of a computer mouse: computer mouses? computer mice? And while we’re on that topic, if the plural of mouse is mice, why isn’t the plural of house, hice? Or spouse, spice? Hmmmm. Wait a minute. That could work too. 😆 )

Anyway, speaking of my mouse, mine is driving me crazy! It’s so sticky! Every now and then, I have to keep lifting it from the mousepad for it to move; otherwise the cursor just sits there, unmoving, daring me to shove it into place. What could be the reason for this, would you know? Is it time to replace my dear old mousie? (I love the scroll button, waaaaah!!)

Well then. Enough of my delaying tactics. I really must be off to work. 😆 Thanks for passing by, and do come around again soon! (Sssshhh… I’m working on an alpha freebie for you which I hope to finish soon! 😉  )

(((((hugs))))) , my sweeties!

Doobie Doobie Doodle

I’ve been busy… doodling. 😆

For some reason I’ve been hooked for the past few days on doodling… of course, this is my way of further procrastinating on getting my application kit for the LDD program completed (uh… actually, not completed… started is what I should say. I haven’t done a single thing and the deadline is 10 days away. hahaha!)

Not that doodling has been the only thing that’s been keeping me busy… there’s so much more under wraps, stuff to attend to, real life to live, layouts to complete, yadda yadda yadda…

So instead of me boring you with all that, let me give you the freebie for today! ( I realize I made a resolution to give out at least one freebie a week, and I know last week kind of passed me by without my accomplishing that goal… so here’s the second freebie for this week to make up for that missing one 🙂 ).

These are the parts of the Perfect Moment Plopper Kit… I figured you might want to use the individual elements on other layouts, so why not throw it all into a folder and give it to you with a huge ribbon and an even bigger hug? 😉

Here’s what you’ll be downloading today:

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LivEdesigns PerfectMoment Parts-1 Preview

The glitter border is actually 12×12, but I resized it for the preview so you could get a fuller view of the paper without the border blocking it. Also in this set you’ll find the pinned bow with heart charm and the torn paper mat… none of these have drop shadows so that you can apply the layer styles according to your wishes.

You can download the Perfect Moment Plopper Parts – Set1 here.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the second and last set of the Perfect Moment mini kit: more of the items I used plus a surprise item included. 😉

Hope you can find some use for this, and thank you in advance for the love you leave right here on my blog! 😀

Have a happy day, my sweeties! (And it’s back to the drawing board for me!) (((((hugs))))

Oh, WOW!!!

I’ve been waiting for February to roll around because I’ve been waiting for this particular magazine to come out…

PeopleAsia FebCover

If you’re wondering why, and if you’ll allow me to shamelessly toot just this once 😉 … here’s why: because it has the very first magazine article that I’ve written on it! 😀

Remember my friends Jun and Abby de Leon? Well, in all the decades that Jun has been top photographer in the country, this is the first time (to my knowledge) that he has ever agreed to come out in a feature article in a mag… and he had some requirements, hehe. One of those requirements, to my huge surprise, was that I write his article for him. 🙂 (He didn’t tell me… I only found out when the mag people called me to ask me to write the article… 😀 Have I said that I truly like this guy? :D)

So… here it is (another one on my “Things To Do in My Lifetime” List checked!):


Here are the pages, one by one, for my dear friend Noel who requested to be able to read it. 🙂

(PS. If you click on each image, you can get the enlarged view. If you have a mouse with a scroll wheel, hold down the control key as you scroll and you’ll get an even larger view 😉 …. oh, and I blocked out my last name… hope you don’t mind)

Love…Cameras page1

Love…Cameras page2

Love…Cameras page3

I joined Jun and Abby during their pictorial which was held early December (you can imagine how long I’ve been waiting for this to come out! :D). Seeing the lights and the perfect set-up just sitting there, waiting for the taking, I couldn’t resist and shamelessly snapped a few of my own photos while I was at the studio. Here’s one of the photos that I took, spruced up on a layout which I gave this lovely couple for Christmas:

Love in the Time of Cameras


Michelle Coleman – WinterFrost Paper; Jason Gaylor – Japanese Foliage brushes; Fonts: BeoSans & Jane Austen / Photo by LivE

What Makes My Heart Smile

Speaking of layouts and artwork… I love love letters, don’t you? I especially love them when they’re accompanied by scribbles that are hardly legible… 😆

My 5-year-old son J is at that stage when he goes through paper with as much mercy as a shredding machine… but I don’t mind his using up all our paper when what he comes up with totally makes my heart burst with tender affection:

i luv papa, i luv mama

He’s into mixed media, haha! He received a bunch of Pooh stickers in his goody bag from Family Day which we celebrated at his school yesterday. He combined those stickers with his crayonwork and dotted all the pages (there were more than 6, but I didn’t add them all here, considering that just one of this would put a smile on my face that could reach all around the world and back). Each of the papers had “I luv mama” or “I luv papa” … awwww!!! Gotta love kids!

I scanned them for prosperity… and so that one day, when he’s a teenager, I can bring these out and tell him, “See? You loved us once!” 😆


is what I’m doing…

Little Dreamer Designs has come up with an apprenticeship program, which is something that I’m sure has long been awaited by many who have wanted to get into the design world. A few of us from the Spraground ( you read that right: our playground has been christened Spraground (couldn’t resist the play with words!), with permission from Jes and Jared too! 😀 ) have decided to try our luck… I know I’m going to be up against a ton of great and seasoned designers, but no guts, no glory! (Hear me pushing myself? Trying to convince myself? 😆 ) Actually: it’s as simple as this–I promised myself at the start of the year that I would get into lots of adventures, so here I am, merely fulfilling my resolutions! hehehe.

So I’ve been doodling and drawing and brainstorming and imagining and doing everything else that it takes to come up with the required mini kit for application–everything but the actual doing. Uhmmm… so far, I’ve come up with nothing. Lots in my mind and nothing on my compy. 😆 Except for something for you, which I couldn’t help making…

Here’s the layout I made with it:

Perfect Moment

Here’s what I came up with while playing for the past week: 2 papers, some embellishments, and this plopper. Initially I planned on making a template for all you sweeties… that template developed into a plopper… and then, while I was making the plopper, I thought to myself… why not give all the individual elements that I used to come up with this plopper as well? 😉

So today you get the plopper, and tomorrow I’ll upload other parts of this mini kit…

I hope you like today’s freeb, and that you can find some use for it! Here’s the preview of the plopper (I used a stock photo on it). Credits for CU items I used can be found, as usual, in the TOU!

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LivEdesigns PerfectMoment Plopper Preview

This plopper comes as a .psd file… I’ve included a clipping mask to make it really easy to use. All you have to do is insert your photo layer between the plopper and the mask, hover your mouse on the line that divides your photo and the photo mask till you see the little snowman-like icon, and Alt-Click to clip the photo to the mask. You can add journaling or a title or you can leave it as it is… all up to you! 😉

Download the Perfect Moment plopper here. Thank you in advance for the love you leave on my blog! 😉

Well, I’ve got to get back to the other things that are swirling around in my mind (lots to think of and plan for)… so hope to see you around again tomorrow for the rest of the Perfect Moment mini kit!

May today be filled with perfect moments for you, my sweeties! (((hugs)))

Masterpieces Created by Friends Using LivEdesigns!!!

I just totally love it when I see my friends using the designs I’ve made… it is such an HONOR, my sweeties!!! Thank you!!!

And so everyone can marvel at these wonderful masterpieces, here:

PS. Thanks to my darling friend Veevs, who showed me how incredibly easy it is to get an account at slide.com!!! Thanks amiga! 😀

How to Journal? 14 Tips

There was a thread I came upon on our playground yesterday which made me both incredibly happy and just a little bit nervous. 😆 Some of my darling girlfriends asked for tips for journaling… I love to be able to help out in any way I can, but the thread kind of made my heart pound (took me back to my schooldays when right before taking a final exam, you’d think “hmmm, am I really prepared to answer this, even if I’ve studied all night?” 😆 )… mostly because I’ve never really scrutinized my writing process. I just know that I’ve been writing since I was a little kid (Writing was both an extension of my love for reading and the result of having 5 older siblings who had more important things to do than listen to the ramblings of the youngest, hahaha!!!) So anyway, because I’d do anything for my playground sistahs, I’m writing what I do know just from my totally-not-an-expert experience of writing, and I hope it helps in one way or another.

Disclaimer: These are just my opinions and so do not take them as gospel truths, okay? And don’t shoot me down if you don’t agree! 😆

1. To W or Not to W?

letter w wikimedia commonsI know that many scrapbook-journaling how-to books will say we need to get the 5W’s in on the journaling. In a way that makes sense, because future generations will want to know these facts when they look at a layout, and it’s a wonderful way to preserve history. Personally, though, I don’t pay attention to this when I write, because I feel it stunts my expression. I figure the fact-details can always be added on a tag or through other ways that are separate from the journaling text itself. It may be because my journaling is usually very personal and from-the-heart, so throwing in the facts could be like having a harsh fluorescent light shining on an otherwise soft-lit corner of the sofa, kwim? 🙂 So maybe, for those who have a difficult time going beyond the 5w’s, just maybe, the “cold, hard facts” might be the root of the difficulty in going beyond the 5w’s… try to journal without paying attention to the “w-facts” first and go with the flow. It might help?

2. Love Words 

Scrabble by GiniMiniGi stockxnchgLove affairs are great, especially when they go on and on. Words are no exception. Seriously.

When I was a kid with long summers and nothing to do, I used to devour all the books that my parents filled the shelves of our library with: Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Medical Encyclopedias, the Webster’s Dictionary (70s edition, the kind that filled two huge books that you had to heave and suck in your breath before you attempted to lift one up), Roget’s Thesaurus, the Great Books (Aenid, Oedipus & Rex, Shakespeare’s countless classics, etc)… I drank it all in. (Can you spell n-e-r-d? 😆 ) I am thankful for those boring summers though, because they are what began my love affair with words that hasn’t ended till this very minute.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, read. Read a lot. Words have a way of sticking in the corners of our brain. Sometimes, even on the tongue (I love the way serendipity rolls on the tongue: go ahead, try saying it aloud). And if you find a word you don’t immediately understand, look up its meaning. The discovery is worth the extra trip to the bookshelf to take down the dictionary. Which brings me to…

3. Make Friends with Mr. D and Mr. T

Mr. DMr. Dictionary and Mr. Thesaurus: great friends of mine. To me, both are indispensable tools that really help put more color when I write. Case in point: 

“Our dog ran out and we chased him around the block. Bingo ran really fast, but there we were, running right behind him. Running after this old dog really tired us out…” I would think there would be more words to use than just run in all its tenses, right?

Consider this: “Our dog bounded out the door and we chased him around the block. Bingo galloped really fast, but there we were, racing right behind him. Sprinting after this old dog really tired us out…”

Oh, and this is really just an aside, but you know what word really gets me? Nice. I don’t like the word nice. I think it’s really rather bland. When I hear “nice” I think of that Charlie Brown strip where Linus says his chocolate drink tastes like hot water with brown crayon in it. I guess “nice” is just so over-used. “She’s nice… the movie was nice… the food was nice… the party turned out nice…”

There are so many ways to say something is nice in much clearer terms: pleasant, delicious, wonderful, great, awesome, amazing, fabulous, pretty, sweet, kind, charming… the list goes on and on. To me, all are far more preferable than just “nice.”

4. Sense-Appeal

Stop and Smell by smojellojo stockxnchgI guess what makes the second set of sentences above work much better than the first is that it appeals to the senses. This is where I make the case for descriptive words. When I used to teach teachers how to teach kids, I used to tell them “The whole concept of a subject must be tangible to a 3-year-old child. If you’re going to teach a child about an apple, don’t just show him a picture of the apple. Let him touch its skin, let him see its shiny red color, let him smell it, let him taste its juice, let him hear how it crunches when he bites into it…”

It’s the same with writing. Your words have to be able to draw the reader into your own experience.

How to do this? 2 foolproof ways:

Appeal to the senses: Use words that describe sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste. Use similes and metaphors: You are our shining star (you can actually see the star shining). His words fell on my ears like the soft petals of a newly-awakened rosebud (suddenly you can see and feel what his words were like).

So… for example, instead of writing “The whole place smelled bad,”  you could choose from a whole array of words that would most closely replicate the experience you had: aromatic, fetid, fresh, heady, nasty, pungent, sweet, rancid, rank, funky (this last one always cracks me up when my kids use it to describe a smell)… you get what I mean. 😀

5. Action! 

clapboard by bartgroe stockxnchgAnother foolproof way to let your writing be experiential for the reader?

 Imagine this: which movie would appeal to kids more (and I say kids because I would like to think there’s a kid in us that never dies 😀 ) –one with lots of action or one which requires them to sit back and listen to a lecture go on and on?

Yeah. I thought so.

Action is definitely more exciting, even in writing. So… we could actually do better by using active verbs. What this simply means is that we need to get rid of the primary-school textbook “There is – There are” sort of language and let the action happen. So instead of saying “The cake fell on the floor when you took your first bite…” you might want to say “You toppled over the cake as you excitedly took your first bite…” (You is active, the cake is not). The person becomes the doer of the sentence, and so there’s more action involved.

Here’s an easy way of thinking about it: Show and Tell. When you think of showing an experience, you become more aware of all the little details that sum up the experience, so it becomes much easier to tell someone about it.

6. Know Basic Grammar Rules

No Way by beriliu stockxnchgYou don’t have to be a grammar-fiend, no. This is just important insofar as it helps the reader go with the flow, instead of getting interrupted by words that stick out.

I don’t mean spelling stuff (hail, spell-check!!! 😀 ). I guess for me the thing that interrupts flow of thought most is when the voice of the text changes. For example:

“Finding Danny was the greatest thing that could ever happen in my life. When we met, he was sitting on a park bench and I was running across the grass, chasing after my niece. I tripped. You looked at me, and it was love at first sight.”

Notice the shift? First I was talking about Danny, and then I was talking to Danny. It seems like a small thing, but it does make the readers stop and say “huh? say that again?” and then they have to go back and re-read the whole thing, and you know what they say about a joke always being funnier the first time around…

Don’t worry, knowing grammar rules isn’t a big thing. It just helps. Believe me… just read the next:

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Break Some Rules

Against Sun by asifthebes stockxnchgSee? Told you it didn’t matter that much. 😀

If you try typing Every. Single. Time. on Word, you’re going to get all those warning green squiggly lines that tell you you’re making a huge grammatical mistake. The same thing happens if you type You make me so happy. Because you say hilarious things. Because you make crazy faces in front of the mirror.

I do these things all the time. And I ignore the green squiggly lines. I have no idea if an English professor will slam me for saying this, but heck, I excuse myself by crying “poetic license!” 😀  I’m a firm believer in: if it works for you, then go for it (as long as it’s not illegal, immoral, etc. etc. 😆 ) In fact, when I’ve written for others and editors change what I write because they put in all these grammatically-correct things, I ask them to reinstate my original text. Sometimes the experience just isn’t the same when you go by all the rules strictly, kwim?

8. Write Conversationally

talk bubble by spekulator stockxnchgEver read scientific journals? Last time I read one, it was because I had to, not because I wanted to. Jargon is appreciated by those who speak that particular language, and often it’s not the rest of humanity. 🙂

When I write, I like to write as I speak. (I wouldn’t say “I utilize these” in everyday conversation; I would say “I use these” so that’s what you would see in my journaling).

Journaling is wonderful on layouts, because you can write as you would speak to the person you’re making the layout for. It makes it more realistic and touches the heart more. Think about how you would speak if you were having coffee with your best friend… the informal tone, the heartfelt, honest conversation: that’s what we should try to bring out in our journaling.

So go ahead, don’t be shy: Put yourself in your journaling. Use the word “I” more often: I think, I love it when, I wonder… It’s a wonderful way to add your own perspective to the entire page, and it gives the generations to come a glimpse of you and how your mind and heart work.

9. Focus on One…

target by woodsy stockxnchg…event, feeling, idea… I think journaling about one particular event, one particular feeling, one particular insight, can bring about a much richer message than trying to fill in a text box with many factual details.

Focusing on one thing to journal about–an experience, something your child or loved one said, an item that means a lot to you, your nerdy little secret 😉 –allows us to explore that thing deeply. Deep is always a good thing, because you can draw a lot more from a deep well than from a shallow puddle, kwim?  🙂

10. Think Outside the Box

outside the box by eliteds3 stockxnchgThink of different ways of saying the same thing. There are many interesting ways to journal; here are just some:

* use phrases or words (this is really great when we’re not feeling very confident, or when we’re just too lazy to write an entire paragraph 😀 )

* use quotes / he said-she said

* use definitions, dictionary entries, and other ways of presenting thoughts that are out of the norm. I think this is the reason I actually read magazines cover to cover: I spend just as much time admiring ads and when I find one I particularly love, it normally leads to a spinoff on a layout (I take the inspiration and use it to create something of my own)

 * Q & A style of journaling, step-by-step procedures, recipe styles, etc. etc. etc.

You get the idea… there are many ways of presenting our thoughts, and sometimes the particular medium through which we communicate our journaling helps get the message across even more effectively

11. Resist the Urge to Self-Edit

!? by Dhiegaum stockxchngWrite without thinking about how big a space you have on your layout for your journaling.

Write without thinking about words or style or punctuation (that can all come later). I think in journaling class they call this the “free-write.” The idea is to free yourself of inhibitions and self-regulation, and to just keep writing until you’re not aware that you’re writing at all. For those who freeze up at the thought of writing, this is a really effective way to get rid of those fears (and who of us has not known that fear?).

So forget all the rules, all the do’s and don’t’s and just write your heart out. 

Then once you’ve gotten everything down on paper, go back and read what you’ve written. Sometimes you’ll want to keep the entire thing, and sometimes there’ll be just one line that stands out, that you want to develop into a whole different text to journal with.

(PS. But do edit, once you’ve gotten all your thoughts on paper. I rarely ever write and stay with the first version of what I have written; I’ve always found something that needed some editing).

12. Write What You Know aka Write from the Heart

Heart by MaciusWe do our best when we are confident. The same goes for writing. And who would be better experts of what lies inside our hearts than we ourselves? So go ahead and write without fear, write what’s in your heart. Because you know what? No one can say it better than you. Really.

PS. If you’re gripped by writer’s block, forget about who’s going to read what you’re writing. Write as though you would be the only one ever to read what you’ve written. It’s always a great surprise to find the words flowing out so much more easily when we’re liberated from our silly fears. 😉

13. Carry Pen and Paper aka Freeze the Moment

writing in the agenda by jan-willem stockxchngIf you open any bag I have at any given moment, there are just four things there that you will always find, no fail: one of those would most definitely be my pen-and-paper (yeah, that counts as one, because to me they’re inseparable partners, hehe).

This to me is my no-fail go-to solution to journaling. Why? Well, I get struck by thoughts every now and then, and I know that if I don’t write it down somewhere, I’ll forget everything about it by the time I need to summon up that perfect moment to journal about. Writing it down, even in the most general, most rushed outline form, will ensure that I will have something to jog my memory later on.

Also, my kids say the most amazing things, ranging from funny all the way to awww-precious!, and those statements are all too easily forgotten if I don’t write them down. So I do. On my trusty little notebook, as Blue’s friend Steve would say.

14. Just keep writing

e-sign by erkinsahin stockxchngWrite. Write. Write. Write even if you have nothing in particular to write. Pretty soon it’s going to be such a habit, you’d have gotten so comfortable with it, that it would be like second nature to you.

I read somewhere that a sure way to become a better writer is to write more. So, do! 🙂

A little extra tip: Journaling with Text

qwerty by groenmen stockxnchgAll the effort to write loses some of its value if it isn’t read, even if the reader is just you. Make reading your text easy. I’m not sure if many would agree with me, but I’d strongly suggest staying away from decorative fonts for journaling (more apt for titles or accent words, IMHO). My personal favorite for journaling are sans serif fonts because they’re more “now.” Serif fonts are fine too, and are actually said to be more readable in a block of text.

I also learned from the typography books I’ve read that left-aligned text is most readable. If you plan to justify your text, make sure there aren’t those large blank areas, because those cause the brain to stop mid-thought, and those interruptions distract the reader from taking in the whole message of the text. Right-aligning only works if each line is more or less of the same length. (Otherwise, it’s just plain discomforting to keep shifting from end to middle to end to read.) Practical things that have nothing to do with how to journal, but which I think wouldn’t hurt to know.

My Writing Process

Just thought I’d share the usual way I go about journaling for my layouts, just in case you might want to try it out. 😉

99% of the time, I begin with a photo that speaks to me. Once I have the photo, I think of the reason why it called out to me, and I start to write down what it is that I’m thinking, feeling, imagining, etc. So always, always I begin with a general idea: sometimes it’s a word, sometimes it’s a quote from one of my kids, sometimes it’s an emotion, sometimes it’s a thought. Then from that one main thing, I go into the specifics. That’s what becomes the text.

I always write my journaling on my computer. (So I guess I should say I type 😛 ). I think it’s because one, I’m not very fond of my chicken-scratch penmanship, and two, my fingers are never as fast with a pen as they are with a keyboard. I also like the ability to cut and paste (and save), hehe.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I type my journaling, but never, ever directly on my layout. For some reason unknown to me, writing directly with my text tool on my layout stunts me. (Go figure). So I’ll type in Word, then when I’ve gotten my heart out on the paper, I’ll read through it and do the editing (but only after I’ve gotten out everything I’ve wanted to say). When I’m satisfied, I copy/paste my journaling onto my layout.

Sometimes a photo will be so powerful that I will write immediately, and the words flow easily.

Sometimes I will need to go back into my little trusty notebook, because I know there’s something that I jotted down before that’s related to the photo I’m looking at, and I’ll develop that little note into the text of my journaling.

And sometimes, not very often but a few lucky sometimes, there’s an emotion so powerful that the words take center stage and the photos come after.

Illustrations of the “Sometimes” Writing Moments:

The last layout I made developed from a quote that my friend Lisa gave us on the playground to play with in a challenge. (The quote is by Mary Ann Wise from Designer Digitals–love that site!) I admit, it was quite difficult to decide which of my five sons I would use the quote for. Eventually, I asked myself “Which of the five would I want, right now, to be in my place so he could know exactly how I felt?” This helped me zone in on my eldest; I then looked for the photos, and the journaling came after.


NOTE: I know I said sans serif / serif fonts were most readable, and this just proves the point, right? 😀 I chose to break that rule this once, because I wanted this layout to exude the aura of a private diary entry or letter… So really, at the end of the day, do what feels right to you, even if it means breaking some rules! 😉 (I speak of journaling, okay? 😛 )

Journaling reads:

It seems like it was just yesterday when hugs were abundant as were declarations of love. But time stops for no one, and all too soon the little boy is replaced by a young man, eager to strike out on his own and establish his independence. Today, the hugs are a rare commodity and saying I love you is bound to cause embarrassment and shy shuffling of feet. I respect that; am even amused by it. So, understanding, I stifle the urge to embrace you and swallow those three little words. But, though unspoken and undeclared, you know that I do. And for now, at this stage of your life, that will do  just fine, my dear, first-born, teenaged son.   


Mary Ann Wise – Wish Quote; Gunhilde Storeide – Folded Frame; Cafe-digi – Life’s Journey Bk frame; Petit Moineux – L’airdutemps paper sheaf, papers, rusty brad; Annie Manning / Paint-the-Moon – CharmesdAntan Kit: distressed bird stamp, pressed orchids, velvet leaves, paper (clipped on photoframe) | The Naturals Kit – leaves wrap; Anneli Andersson – pocketwatch

This next layout, done when I was just beginning to learn digital scrapbooking, was a result of one of Jessica’s first challenges in the beta Up & Running course. This is a perfect example of how journaling came first, before the photos. On the day of the challenge, I had just picked up my 5-year-old son from school where he had just had his first “fight.” The exchange between us flooded my heart so much so that I knew I needed to get the emotions out on paper in order to give my heavy heart some sense of relief. This layout was what resulted from that (and the photos came after… these were actually cheat-photos, since I had taken them not on that day but sometime before, when my son was in one of his pensive moods right after waking up one morning).

Oh Honey

Journaling reads:

You had a funny look on your face when I picked you up from school today. I knew something was wrong. You were heartbroken because your friend at school had fought with you. True to form, you didn’t fight back: “I only gave him my angry eyes.” As always, you held your tears back with great effort. You whispered to me, “I don’t want to cry. I don’t want to be called a baby.” When I embraced you and told you it was okay to cry, you put your head in the curve of my neck and sobbed your heart out. It was all I could do to keep my own tears from falling. Oh, honey, go ahead and sob your heart out. Real boys cry. And when you do, I’ll always be here to hold you, my little five-year-old man.


Papers-Amy Teets & Chris Beasley; Stamp-Katie Pertiet; Ribbon-Anita Spaberg; Date dial-designing-on-the-edge; Bubble wrap tag-Lindsay Jane Designs

And that’s it!

I apologize for the extreme length of this post and hope that you don’t regret asking me for input. 😀 I think it’s safe to say I kind of got carried away. 😆 In any case, if this has helped just one of my girlfriends, then it would’ve been worth the whole day spent on getting this down here. 🙂 Thank you, di and the rest, for asking: I thoroughly enjoyed the inspection of the process (even if you may have wanted something less thorough, hahaha!)

Have a happy day!

I Caved…

DH came home last Saturday with the most sumptuous feast from the Italian resto by the corner… totally no consideration for wide-eyed, famished, spaced-out women. 😆 I could not resist.

My dear friend Joan doesn’t like talk about diets 😉 but I will say this: there are a lot of things that I’ve learned in the past few days from this attempt to diet: Two, to wit:

1. Three hours of sleep and an empty stomach do not mix well. Nope. I was feeling quite spacey and ditzy, and had trouble focusing. At one point, dh said “do you realize you’ve been sitting there staring at your compy for the past X hours?”… I was “working” on a layout and here I use the term working very loosely because I have a sneaky suspicion that what I was really doing was sleeping with my eyes wide-open. 😆

2. Maybe I need to spoil myself less and deprive myself more. I mean, really, how bad is it to limit your intake? A very dear wise friend of mine, who was also my confessor for a good part of my life (and he baptized the last 3 of my children), once told me: “If you feel completely satiated and stuffed after a meal, then you know you’ve eaten like a pig.” Ouch. I need to learn to eat like a bird.

Thing is, I realize, this applies to a whole lot of other things in life also. We don’t really have to have everything to the maximum limit. In most cases, it must be good for the soul to restrain oneself for greater strength in the things that really matter. Balance is a good thing. A very good thing.

Now, Joanie, I will quit this talk and move on. 😀

Tagged! Again!

I’ve been meaning to do this tag from my dear friend Jackie, and while I was thinking of what to put in my tag, my friend Jeanne tagged me as well! So there I go: tag times two! Sorry, my dear friends who may not be fond of tags but are about to be tagged anyway by me 😆

Jackie’s Tag

These are the rules: You must post the rules before you give your answers.You must list one fact about yourself for each letter of your middle name. Each fact must begin with that letter. If you don’t have a middle name, just use your maiden name. After you’ve been tagged, you need to up-date your blog with your middle name and answers. At the end of your post, you need to tag one person for each letter of your middle name. Be sure to leave them a comment telling them they’ve been tagged and need to read your blog for details.

(Jackie is lucky: she has 2 letters to her middle name. I have SEVEN. But one letter repeats so I’m going to count that as one. There’s nothing in the rules that doesn’t allow that, right? hehe)

M – Mom. This is half of a huge part of what defines me (the other is Wife). For me there is no greater gift than being able to be mother five times over to the most adorable sons (even when they’re not being that adorable, I am ever thankful for them). Of course I can’t be mom without being wife, so that kind of works itself out pretty well in the gratitude department, doesn’t it? 🙂

A – Addict. I am addicted to digital design, digital scrapbooking, photography. I can sit for hours and play, play, play. Can’t help it. I’ve been pulled over to the Dark Side and have absolutely no regrets! Thank you Jes! 🙂

R – Rebel. The good kind though (I think). This must be the after-effect of being the youngest kid of 6 for 15 years (the only weapon of the designated siblings’ slave is rebellion). I know for a fact that if you want me to do something, you need to let me feel that it’s my choice; otherwise, I rebel. (Okay, so maybe I should have said Brat instead, but there’s no B in my middle name). Maybe R should also refer to Relent–yeah, yeah, after I rebel, I relent. hohoho. Does that make me a fake rebel? 😆

L – Lover of Life. Oh yeah. Love life and all there is to it, peaks and valleys (though I prefer peaks, thank you very much). I will always be grateful for my life and the lives that have touched mine, and grateful to have been granted the grace to see, and therefore be grateful for, all the bountiful blessings that have been given me and the people I love. I really don’t get it when some people complain about having a rotten life: I think there are always two sides to the coin, and one can choose to see the dark side of things and be frustrated, or seek the lighter side of things (no matter how difficult this may be at times) and be happier.

E – Explorer. I love learning. I love dissecting things, trying to understand what makes things work, trying to find a better way of doing something so that it’s more efficient and makes better sense. I love discovering the world. I think I would just die if a day passed where I didn’t learn something new. This is the reason I totally adore books, and why I can spend hours playing with Adobe. There is just such a wealth of information to be bitten, chewed, mashed, swished around, and digested. Mmmmm. Burp!

N – Night Owl. I can function on 3 to 4 hours of sleep (well, as long as I don’t have an empty stomach). I love the quiet time and the darkness around; so conducive to thinking and creating art. Maybe this has something to do with having a buzzing household with five rambunctious boys when it’s daylight… or maybe I just like burning the midnight oil. Or maybe I just love my playground friends so much that I make it a point to be awake when they’re awake on their side of the world. 😆

E – (okay fine, I’ll be fair and do the other E as well 😆 ) Everything-that-happens-is-good Believer. (Is this really pushing it? 😆 ) Did you ever notice my blog header? Take a look above: Right over there, at the top right side, you’ll see my mantra: “It’s all good.” It really is! Sure there are some really yucky things in life, can’t avoid that. (After all, will one know the sweet joy of laughter without having tasted the saltiness of tears?). But I really believe that behind every cloud there is a silver lining. I guess it all stems from faith, that precious gift: I truly believe that my father God loves me with a personal love (just as He loves you with a personal love), and that He will allow unfortunate events to happen to His beloved ONLY if there is a greater, better good that can come out of it. It is our task, therefore, to find what that greater, better good is.

Alright! Jackie, you would be proud of me! Got all seven facts done! Now I tag my dear friends (who I hope will still love me after I’ve tagged them 😆 ) Veevs, Linda, Laurie, Heather, Ann, Dawn, and Kelleigh (welcome to the playground tag game, kel!!! 😛 )

Jeanne’s Tag

Jeanne’s tag is a different kind, a very heart-warming one:

The idea behind this tag game is different from other tag games. Rather than look inwardly, we look outside ourselves and bless, praise and pray for three blog friends. By participating in this endeavour we not only make the recipient of the blessing feel valued and appreciated, but we are having some fun too. We’re going to see how far the bloggin’ blessings can travel around the world and how many people can be blessed! Recipients of a bloggin’ blessing may upload the above image to their sidebar if they choose to do so. In addition, be sure to go to the blog of those you are blessing and leave a comment on their blog to be sure they check yours!

Okay, this is really hard to do, limiting the number of people to three, because there are truly just too many people who need to be counted on this list (and a good number of them don’t even have a blog). Maybe the tag limits us to three so that we can remain in the blessings of those whom we haven’t tagged? 😆 just kidding. Couldn’t resist that. >heehee<

Seriously though, Jeanne, thank you for your oh, so kind comments on your blog. It is always a GREAT thing to receive warm fuzzies unexpectedly, and you gave me warm fuzzies enough to last an entire year and then some. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart too.

Alright, my three people (and those whom I’ve left out… you’re in my heart, you know that).

Lisa. Lisa is a darling friend, whose latest venture has been taking up the cudgels of providing the playground challenges. Lisa is my personal hero, because despite her battle with trying to keep from losing weight (what I would give to be able to donate my excess to her), she is nonchalant about her health battles, never drawing attention to herself, and manages to maintain a great sense of humor and a matching concern for others. Where others would’ve withdrawn and buried themselves in concern and worry that could be justified, Lisa is amazingly brave and continues to live life to the fullest. She is awesome.

Deb. Deb is just a fountain of never-ending warm fuzzies and is my most constant blog-bench visitor, there from the very start when there were just a handful who would come sit on my blog-bench. She is so generous with her kind thoughts and her kind comments, and she never has a negative thing to say. I love positive people! Deb, like me, has a houseful of children (well, okay, she has more than me), and counts them all as blessings. I love that about her. She has had more than her fair share of trials and tribulations, and has just been through so much these past months… yet she continues to struggle against the raging winds. This aint no weak woman here. She’s a wonderful girlfriend, and she knows she’s going to get humongous hugs from me the moment we meet. She is awesome.

Kari. Kari is The Boss. Man, can this woman get things done! (Okay, actually by tagging Kari I need to tag Laurie and Tori as well, because they complete our PP group, but I’m so generous, I’m going to leave Laurie and Tori for Kari to tag, hehe). She is way organized (OCAR Queens, unite!) and takes it upon herself to make things happen. I love that. Way back when she took the U&R course and I was moderating, I already knew she had The Boss in her. She’d also most likely win Mom of the Year award, the way she takes on 15 children in her home at one time (and not for a birthday party of her child, noooo, just a regular generous thing to do, you know?), the way she bakes cookies for everyone, and continues to do her one million and one motherly things to do. Seeing her photos of her Christmas tree up on her blog inspired me to get my butt into action putting ours up as well. 😆 Kari is amazingly thoughtful, and she’s quiet when she does her generous acts: love that too! She is terrific.

Note now that I would tag everyone on my playground if I could, including my two dear friends who flat-out refuse to have blogs except the virtual ones (Joan and Jana, you know who you are) and darling Veevs (except I already tagged her above, so it would be cruel to do it again, hahaha!). I would tag every single one of you who have taken the time and effort to leave such kind words on my blog and on my 4shared site. I would tag every single one who has deemed my freebies worth working with; it is a true honor that you choose to download them. I would tag every single person who has crossed the path of my life, because I truly believe there are no accidental meetings, that everyone you meet even for a split second changes your life and adds to it in ways you cannot even dare to dream of. But because we are limited to three, I hope the rest of you realize that you are dear, dear, dear to me and I love you to little pieces.

The Latest

Here are the latest layouts I’ve come up with. Not very productive compared to my LOAD January days, hahaha! But you don’t want me to go on and on with why… so without further ado, here they are:

J’s School Page

NOTE: My son’s school required mom-and-child collaboration to do a page of his Artwork for their school yearbook (he graduates this year from Senior Kinder… man, does time fly!!!). It was easy scanning in his artwork, but extracting each letter of his penmanship was not. (And yes, Kari, send me your kids’ penmanship and I’ll extract them for you… in exchange for Jessica’s new book. LOL!!! just kidding. I’d do it in a blink for a song, you know that).


Kim Christensen’s Spelling101 Papers, Overlay, Stitching; Katie Pertiet’s Folder Frame, Special Tag, On the Edge Flourish; Andrea Victoria’s LoveFrame freebie (heart extracted); Amber Clegg’s Postage Date Stamp; Lisa Warren’s Staple; Sara Carling’s Aero Leather Tags

DD Scraplift Challenge

Journaling reads:

high five, n. slang … 1. a gesture of greeting, elation, or victory, in which one person slaps an upraised palm against that of another person; 2. a group of five adorable boys with the uncanny ability to make their mother’s heart soar high up in the sky every single moment of every single day


Amy Teets’  Whity Tighties paper; Katie Pertiet’s Ledger Grid; SnapFrameEdgers; StampedMoments (Loved); JenniferAdams Donelly’s accessories (recorder buttons) – recolored; Deanna Patterson’s Stitched Ribbon; Raechel Knight’s Black Friday Stitching (recolored); Michelle Coleman’s AntiquatedSwirl; Pattie Knox’s BasicFeltAlpha; Andrea Victoria’s Nutrition stamp; Atomic Cupcake

NOTE: This was done as Lisa’s first PSF challenge, which was a scraplift challenge from Designer Digitals (one of my top favorite sites and shoppes!)

No Place Like Home

{ You can click on the image for a larger view in case you want to read the journaling… }

CREDITS: Multi-photo Template, PerfectMoment Frame by me; Everything else from Paint-the-Moon aka Annie Manning’s Chloe’s Treasures kit. Many of the photos of my country are stock photos from various sites, including gettyimages, wayfarer, lonelyplanet and corbis.


This layout was my answer to Lisa’s other challenge to do a layout on our hometown (amazing layouts on our playground gallery!) Just wanted to put in a few details about the photos, for the benefit of all my playground friends who want to come visit (you’re welcome, and it’s an invitation that has no expiration date, remember!)

Top Row:

1st photo – cobbled streets of Vigan, Ilocos (northern part of the archipelago)

2nd photo – Banaue Rice Terraces, which has been called the 8th wonder of the world (sorta in the same league as the pyramids?)

3rd photo – the famous Manila sunset

4th photo – a wonderful expanse of beach in Palawan

Second Row:

1st photo – Tagaytay, southern getaway about 45 minutes from the city, with great mountain air and lots and lots of greenery; love this place!

2nd photo, top: Taal Volcano, in Batangas, known as the world’s smallest volcano (it also is a volcano in a lake with another lake in its crater, and yes, it is active)

2nd photo, below: Intramuros, once called the Walled City, which is like the fort used to defend Manila during the 300 years when we were a colony of Spain

3rd photo, top:  diver with a pawikan, or sea turtle (great, great marine life in our country!)

3rd photo, below: map

4th photo: Manila Cathedral at night (one of the biggest and oldest churches in the city, standing there since the time of the Spanish occupation)

5th photo, top: Bibingka, one of the most delicious Filipino delicacies (I could make a whole layout and then some on Filipino food!) – this is a sweet rice cake which you eat piping hot, with butter generously spread (and immediately melting around it), with lots of melted cheese, including kesong puti ( or “white cheese,” made from the milk of carabaos… extra special around here), and salted red eggs, and with ground fresh coconut meat on top to complete the gustatory experience. Mmmmm!!!

5th photo, below: “Dinagyang Festival” in Iloilo (I initially thought this was the Ati-Atihan festival… but with all the feasts and festivals around here, the constant is the beautiful colors and merry spirit that fills the town).

Third Row:

1st photo – Mayon Volcano, known for its perfect cone (well it used to be completely perfect; now some eruptions have made it not so perfect, but it’s still the closest to a perfect cone in the entire world)

2nd photo: Palawan huts by the sea

Fourth Row:

1st photo: city lights at night showing the Makati skyline

2nd photo: Boat on its way to Boracay, a famous tourist spot known for its talcum-powder-like grains of white sand and long stretches of calm blue waters… it’s not as private and unoccupied as it used to be more than 20years ago when I visited it as a newly-out-of-college kid, but it’s still awesome anyway

And because of this…

layout, I made a multi-photo template that I want to share with you! (Thank you to all those who have left comments on the items that they normally use; I hear ya!!! So here’s one for those who said they like templates! 😉 )

{ Click on image for larger view }

LivEdesigns Multi-photo Template No. 1

I tried to make it as versatile as possible, so it’s a really simple template: has the grid and the photo blocks which you can clip your photos to so that you can crop-without-cutting (hit CTRL-G to form a clipping mask if you’re using PSE; hover your mouse between the mask and the photo layer and ALT-click if you’re using full version).

I’ve also included the text path in the freebie… just double-click on the text, CTRL-A to highlight the entire text and type in your own text. You can change the font size, the font color, and the font type as you wish, using the usual way.

Oh, and of course it’s a layered template, so you can shift things around to make it work for you as you want it to. (Just remember to give credit! 😉 ) Don’t worry about the black background layer; just pull in your own paper and turn off the eyeball icon on my background layer so that it’s just your paper that shows through.

Hope you like it!!! Here’s where you can download the template. Thank you in advance for the love you leave on my blog.

Now… this has been another looooooong post, so I need to get back to doing the stuff of real life. 😉

Have a happy day, my sweeties! (((hugs)))

Die Yet? :D

That’s how I spell diet, which is the latest adventure I embarked on two days ago. 😀 I exchanged my See Food diet with the South Beach diet (which is yet the best diet for me so far, because it actually forces one to take on a healthier lifestyle!)

For one who loooooves eating, this is not an easy journey. Show me anything from entrees to main meals to desserts and snacks: you’ve got me in the palm of your hand. 😆 (It doesn’t help that people in my country will find every single possible excuse to celebrate with food, and that kind of culture is deeply ingrained in my psyche, hehe). But! It’s good to pull up my jeans and strut around without having to unbutton the top of my jeans by the end of the day just because it feels like total freedom to do so. 😆

Is it hard? Yeah. Does temptation abound? Heck, yeah!

But it’s amazing. Because I realized that if I can overcome the temptation to eat what I want to eat (given that eating is not bad at all), then I suppose that strengthens my spirit and trains my resolve, so that it becomes easier to stay on the good path in other aspects that may not be so good, should temptation arise in those, whatever they may be (hmmm, the temptation to be impatient, for instance, or the temptation to scream when the telemarketers make their calls one after another in the span of 5 minutes. 😆 ) It’s sort of a variation of that principle that if you have been faithful in little things, then you can be faithful in bigger things. 😉

Another realization: this is a great exercise in staying cheerful. I mean, it’s great to have a better, healthier, non-junk-filled body… but if you don’t have a smile and a cheery disposition to go with it, then what’s the point right?

And yet another realization: talk about diets is probably boring, so I should stop now. 😆

(Psst! One last: So far… I’ve lost 3 pounds! Woohoo!!)

In one of my first posts for this year, I made a list of resolutions that I was hoping to accomplish this year. With the first month of the year over and the second one beginning, I decided to revisit the list to do a little self-evaluation and see whether I’ve been living up to my… ahem… lofty goals. 😆

To my utter delight, I realized just a few minutes ago, while re-reading them, that I actually have not done a bad job so far! 8)

(When you bite your nails in nervous anticipation waiting for your report card to come, and you realize all the butterflies in your stomach can stop flying around in there cos you’re doing okay after all–isn’t that always a cool thing? 🙂 )

So let’s see:

1. Make a layout a day – did pretty okay with this the whole January, thanks a whole lot to LOAD. (I need to kick myself into scrapping mode this time, with LOAD over… before I fall into my bad scrapping-procrastinating habit again!)

2. Lose 10-20 pounds – ha! We shall see on this one, but at least I’m making some effort towards achieving this in the next few weeks.

3. Give out at least one freebie a week – hmmm. This needs some working on. I promise! 😉

4. Consider having Lasik surgery done – I get an A on this one! Jumped in with both feet, a wish, and a prayer, and now all that’s left to do is go religiously to the post-op appointments for the entire year, and make a layout on this! 😉

5. Clean and organize stuff in our home storage areas – okay, I get a total F on this one. 😳

6. Clean and organize my compy stuff – have been working on this (slaving is more like it). I’m a far way from “done” but baby steps are good, baby! 😆

7. Learn some more, play some more, pray some more – yep, some here and there… after all, I wouldn’t want this particular struggle ever to end (too much fun, learning, playing, and praying!)

8. Stop pushing things to the last minute – okay, if any of you have the secret pill to swallow that makes this achievable, send an entire bottle my way, please! 😆

Awww, shucks!!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you my sweet friends, for your warm, warm fuzzies that you left in your comments here, and on our playground message board, and on the 4shared site… THANK YOU!!!

Your sharing in my joy over the Oscraps challenge touches my heart in ways that words cannot express. Wish I could hire Aladdin to take me on a carpet ride to you all so that I could give you enormous hugs!!! But since I can’t do that, give yourselves a kajillion hugs for me, please? 🙂

Thank you. You know I love you, right? 😉

Oh, here’s a HUG!

A bear hug from me! 😀

Here’s the second set of the Bear Hug mini kit…

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LivEdesigns Bear Hug Set2 Preview

This comes with a humongous hug from me to you 🙂 … plus 3 textured papers (2 patterned, 1 solid), a felt-embroidered heart (with gratitude to hawksmont, whose designs and generosity inspire me, I have named this heart HawkHeart 😀 ), and a chipboard journaling tag… Hope you like this set and can find some use for it! You can download it here. Thank you in advance for the love you leave on my blog!!! Loooove having your warm fuzzies right here! 🙂

Funny, again

My 5-year-old J does it again! This guy cracks me up big time.

Yesterday, we were having our usual chats (we talk all the time, have you noticed? Must be the shared love for words, haha)

Suddenly, out of the blue, he says: “Mama, can you please, please, please get me a large meatball?”

Hmmmm. I’m thinking, okay, where did this thought come from? But I say, “Sure, honey, let’s get you that. But for what?”

He says: “We’ll get A (his eldest brother) to tie a string on it, because he’s really tall. Then he can hold it while I punch, punch, punch it, and then I’ll become really strong, and my friends are going to call me lean-mean-muscle-machine, and I can defeat all the bad guys!!!”

I swear, this is the very first time in my whole life that I have ever heard of a meatball being associated with a punching bag. 😆

This excites me!

I was just over at my dear friend Jessica’s blog the other day, where she placed a link to Shutterfly for her own little ABC book that she created for her son Elliott. I loved the ABC-book templates that she created (and that she’s giving away for free!!! FREE!!! Gotta loooove this woman!). Seeing what she did with it for her dear little son totally inspired me even more to create my own for my… wait a minute, I have 5 sons… omg, does this mean I need to create 5 ABC books??? 😆

Go ahead, hop on over to Jes’ blog, and see what a fantabulous book she has created! I’ll bet you all my little fingers and toes that you’ll want to create your own too! 🙂

And if you do (and you know you do 😉 ), here’s what can come in real handy when you start off on that exciting adventure!

Join me! Let’s do the ABC!!! 😆

EDIT: The templates come “free” on Shutterfly (which is where you go if you want to create the ABC book), and then you have the option to order the printed book from Shutterfly (it’s 20% off too for an 8×8 book)! Just wanted to clarify that in case my excited post was misleading… 😉

Word for the Month

Have you thought of yours yet? I’ve figured out mine for this month: JOY.

n. – intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness;  the source or object of such pleasure and satisfaction

v. – to enjoy; to take great pleasure; to fill with ecstatic happiness, pleasure or satisfaction

[ from the French joie, and Latin gaudium, which means to rejoice… which reminds me of a wonderful encyclical I read, called Gaudium et Spes, or Joy and Hope ]

related words: cheer up; gladden; jump for joy; walk on air; delight; pleasure; positive stimulus; excitement; jubilation; high spirits; exuberance

Wow! So much to be joyful about! And those related words make me want to use them as jumping points for lots of everyday ordinary things!

What’s your word for the month?

To my friends in Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee

Are you all okay? I just read in the papers this morning about the twisters that hit last Tuesday evening! Please know that I am praying for your safety and that you are all okay, and I would love it if you could leave a note in my comments here to let me know that you are well and doing fine! Hugs and prayers to you!!!

You Ask, You Get

is what my friend Veevs always tells me. 😆

So… let’s take her motto (which makes a whole lotta sense) and apply it to us, why don’t we?

I have so many ideas swirling in my head for freebies, but I do want to make sure that they’ll be items that you can actually use and will want to use. (Yeah, we have our hard drives filling up, don’t we?, so it’s always good to give what will deserve the space on those sleek and sexy hard drives 😆 )

Would you want…

1. More papers

2. More elements – which ones are your favorite and go-to items?

3. Themed kits – which themes?

4. Templates, Quickpages, Ploppers?

So help me out please: let me know what you want? Would love to hear… go ahead, click on that Comments button and let me know! Thank you in advance!

Okay then… Busy day today, gotta attend to some things related to a trip I’m making in June 😉 — so I must be off for now… but you know I’ll be back soon, right? Thanks for visiting! Have a happy day, my sweeties!

WOOHOO!!! Happy, happy day!!!

Remember the more-than-140-merged-layers layout I posted a while back, the one I had absolute fun working on, and was totally absorbed in for close to 24 hours? It was an adventure in thinking outside the box for me, and I really, really had the time of my life with it (felt very close to oil painting, which I haven’t done in more than a year… except with this layout, there were no brushes to clean after, no lingering smell of linseed oil or turpentine, no mess to clean up… perfect! Or… maybe it’s safe to say, I’m just hopelessly, digitally addicted. 😆 )

Anyway, did I say that that layout was the answer to a designer spotlight challenge featuring the Nature Glow kit of Annie Manning (aka Paint the Moon) at Oscraps?

The funny thing is, the only 2 challenges I have ever joined are ones that my girlfriends over at jessicasprague.com mention on the threads and rally about joining. I always welcome a chance to play with my friends; it’s like someone says “Come, let’s go on a trip to Disneyland and ride the scariest rides!” Who could resist grabbing the chance to have fun with friends, right? And Lisa–who normally handles our PSF challenges every Friday (except now she’s on multiple creative teams so the rest of us have taken over coming up with challenges… but I digress)–had included the Oscraps challenge as her PSF challenge for the week.

So anyway, I was checking the threads a week after to see who had won (always nice to know, so we can leave some love and congratulatory whoops), but there was no word on the discussion threads. After a while, I got totally caught up with the NWR course moderation, the LOAD challenges, and the 2peas photography course–not to mention real life (ha!)–that I stopped checking.

My friend Veevs would ask me periodically, “So who won?” Then I would remember to check, and I would tell her “no mention on the threads yet.” Finally, she got tired of waiting and told me she would email them to find out. Okay, so originally she pushed me to email them, but I am a shy guy (really! I am!  >heehee<  ), so my dear friend, total go-getter, sent an email.

This morning, as is my usual routine, I opened my inbox, and first thing I see is Veevs’ email to me telling me OMG OMG OMG YOU WON!!!!

I almost fell off my chair!

So I went to the link she had in her email, and realized that there was a private message for me waiting in my inbox at Oscraps from Annie herself (a totally sweet email!!!), and okay, here is where I confess to my duhhhh-ness that I never did think of checking in there. ( I was totally not expecting to win. There were MANY great great layouts submitted for the challenge on the Oscraps gallery, and among my favorites were those made by my girlfriends over at the playground!  Have I mentioned that I never dare to think I could win in any challenge that I join? Well, this was no exception.)

OScraps Email

But, dang, it feels good. Yeah, it does. 😀 😀 😀

And you know what’s even better? Knowing that all my friends over at our playground were so happy for me. Now THAT really matters big-time to me. I love my JS family, I really do!

A brief aside: I remember when I was 9 years old, I told my dad I wanted to join a drawing challenge for Sanrio (the Japanese company that makes Hello Kitty, Little Twinstars–which was my personal favorite back then, Melody, and those other cutesy totally-Japanese characters). What we had to do was imagine what kind of birthday party the Little Twinstars would have, draw it, and submit the drawing. The winner would receive a personalized certificate with a handwritten note from the Twinstars’ designer (big thing then), as well as a full year’s subscription to the English version of the Sanrio newsletter/magazine and some other stuff that I can’t remember.

My dad was iffy about my joining, and told me, “Fine, if you really want to join, go ahead. But please do not expect to win, because there are many joining that contest, and if you set up yourself wanting to win, and you lose, you just might be really disappointed.” I found that funny because even then, I never considered the possibility that I would win. I just wanted to draw! 😆

Long story made short: I did join. I submitted my drawing, which had a swimming pool (something I had always wanted to have in my backyard as a kid, but which we of course didn’t have) and everything else around it. Then I promptly forgot about it.

There was a party where we could buy Sanrio stuff while waiting for the announcement of the winners (great marketing ploy! haha!), and here’s the totally unexpected addition to my take-home goodie bag from the party!

Twinstars Certificate

And if you want to a general idea of the birthday pool (totally pixelly, hahaha!) here it is:

My Entry

I have no idea why I won. Till now. Maybe the passion that went into doing it pulled all the good vibes? 😆

Who knows, but I loooved getting the Strawberry Magazine in the mail with its Japanese postmark every month! 😛 Just as I loved getting the surprise email from Veevs and Annie this morning!

Funny Nights

My five year old son, J, is the funniest thing on earth. He cracks me up about 24 times each day. Maybe it’s because he talks a lot, and he verbalizes whatever’s on his mind; you know what they say: “kids say the darndest things”.

Well, yesterday evening, while we were chatting, he told me,

“Mom, you know, I really like my friends. We pretend we’re Zoids or Power Rangers.” (pause) “We play rough games, and it’s lots of fun!”

Me: “That sounds like fun, alright!”

He: (another pause) “We don’t play with girls. They don’t like playing rough games.” (and this, in a sing-songy voice): “All they want to do is study and study and study… and play with dolls. Ugh!”


Got me thinking: amazing how the difference between boys and girls is apparent even at such an early age?

And there’s more:

He: “But you know, my friend M (a girl classmate of his), she’s coooooool.”

Me: “Yeah? Why is that?”

He: “Cos she likes pretending she’s a Power Ranger too! She can play our games! She joins us!”

Aha. A typical boy’s buddy, she. Yup, those girls are precious. And in my limited experience, sometimes it’s precisely that total lack of self-consciousness and ability to relate with boys’ interests that gets them these girls the best boys. 😛

And yet another precious nugget:

Tonight, J tells me he wants to be a policeman when he grows up, “so I can fight the bad guys.”

He then launches into a whole description of what a bad guy is:

“He steals apples, Mom!!! Steals them! And he fools people! He says ‘Hey, paint this wall and I’ll give you candy.’ So the guy paints the wall, but after, the bad guy doesn’t ever give him the candy he promised. He lies! He lies, Mom!!!” (This description comes complete with wide-open eyes and look of disbelief and shock on his face).

Then he says “I’m going to need partners. Do you know who my partners are going to be?” and of course he gives the names of his two best buddies. He then goes into many details about how they’re going to punch and apply ninja moves on the bad guy (insert kapow, baboom, ching, and all other sound effects you can think of in place of the verbs… sample: “I’m going to kapow him, and then R’s going to kaching him…”)

He pauses long enough for me to say, “But honey, can you please consider another job, perhaps a safer one, where I don’t have to worry whether someone will hurt you while you’re fighting them?”

To which he replies, “Oh no, Mom, don’t worry, I’m not going to get hurt. My friends and I are gonna practice our moves.” (a thoughtful pause) “And we’re going to get M as a partner too!”

M is another girl classmate–not the “cool” one mentioned above–whom my son is less than fond of, because he says she’s a goody-goody. HAHAHA!!! So this girl classmate and my son are often at odds with each other; for some reason I can’t understand, they have a knack for getting on each other’s nerves.

So I am totally surprised when he tells me he’s getting her to join his posse.

I say, “Wow! How fun! You’re going to make M your partner too! Great!”

And he says without missing a beat, “Yeah, cos you know why? She’s really good at nagging! So she’s going to nag nag nag the bad guy and he’ll get defeated that way!”


(Trivia time: nagging is taboo in our house. My sons are so used to hearing me say, “I only say it once, okay?” And I don’t normally result to throwing threats when things don’t get done, but when I do, my threat is always, “Do you want me to turn into a nagger?” A very effective threat, too! 😉 Ah, boys! )

Freebie, Long Delayed

Now one thing that HAS been nagging at me is my long-delayed freeb!!! I am soo soo sorry for the delay in uploading the promised “companion kit” to the Valentine card plopper I gave a few days ago…

I wanted to upload it sooner, but I also wanted to add a few more items that were not part of the card plopper. Unfortunately, I was not happy with how they were coming out. So I tweaked and tweaked and played and played, and finally I came up with something that I felt you might be happy with. So… I hope you are! 😀

Here’s Set 1 (of 2 sets) of the Bear Hug mini-kit:

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LivEdesigns Bear Hug Mini-Kit Set 1

Doing this freeb had me venturing outside my “design” box once more. Probably fitting, as Adventure was my word of the month for January… (which reminds me, have you decided on our Word of the Month for February??? I need to think about mine!). So this mini-kit is totally a result of playing around with my usual design styles. 😕 I hope you like it, but do tell me (gently now, softly, kindly) if you don’t like it, okay? 😆

What you’ll be downloading HERE is 3 textured papers, one that’s tame, another one that’s a bit on the wild side (done especially with Veevs in mind), and another one that has a grungy flower print on it. (Gratitude for the designers whose commercial use items I used in coming up with some of the items overflows in my TOU 🙂 ). There’s also the bear sticker (pretty large, about 8″–feel free to resize it according to your needs!), and a stitched wordart…

Just a few notes about the stitched wordart: on the card plopper, and in the download, you’ll find the quote is one straight line. In case you want to break it up into phrases (as seen on the preview), you can just cut and paste it as you wish (CTRL-X and CTRL-V), depending on how you intend to use it on your layout. Also, I don’t recommend that you apply drop shadows to it, because it already comes with its own drop-shadow and bevelling so that it mimics being sewn right onto your paper. Having said that, you are absolutely free to apply drop shadows if that’s what rocks your boat! 😀

Alright, I still have TONS of stuff to attend to (won’t bore you with the details, haha!) but I really wanted to put up this long-delayed freebie.

Thanks for the love you leave here, and have a very happy day/noon/night!!! Catch you later!


I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I last sat on this little porch of mine…

Been very busy lately, trying to juggle real life with completing the last week of LOAD at bigpicturescrapbooking, playing with the challenges of the 2peas photography course, and moderating the January batch of Now We’re Rockin’ with Photoshop (NWR) at jessicasprague.com… so please, please forgive me for being absent, my sweeties! You know I’ve missed you!

I’m here now, and so elated to be, so come sit on the swing beside me and set your glass of iced tea on this table here… and let’s catch up on missed time.

LOAD is Done!

Together with the end of the first month of January, LOAD ended as well. 31 layouts in 31 days… well, almost 31 days (I uploaded my 31st layout at 12:02 of February 1st. But who wants to be technical, right?  😆   ) My only objective in doing the LOAD was to get kick my procrastinating butt in gear and get into the habit of scrapping at least once a week. I was scrapping a layout practically every single day this January (except for those few days when real life didn’t permit it), and that’s a huge accomplishment for me!

What an amazing and super fun ride… thank you, Lain, and thank you, Stacy. What a great start to the new year!

LOAD is also what gave me the push to get this far with my Daily December album! I loooove Jessica’s Daily December template, and I love playing around with it (The only templates I’ve ever used were from Jessica’s courses, and this was one which I simply could not resist!)

Here are the LOADs I was busy with:

Hiding Place

Journaling reads:

a stone’s throw away from my home, i find my other home, where i can run to You in times of joy, sorrow, confusion, elation. You are always there, waiting for me with open arms. You are my first love, who so generously gave me my greatest treasures in life–my husband, my children, my friends. i can never thank You enough; i can only offer to You this humble and contrite heart of mine, seeking to love You more and more each day.


Jessica Sprague Echoes of Asia Kit: paper (blended with Miriam Lima’s paper); Katie Pertiet’s Dirty Web frame; Web frame brush; JournalStamp-grunge; Michelle Coleman’s Grungy Rivet; Capris Flower Brush; LivEdesigns GrungyOverlay2

NOTE: This is one of the chapels that my brother, an architect, designed. I used Jessica’s double-photo effect with one photo Computer Tricks tutorial from CK January (you can find it here; it’s awesome. If you haven’t tried it out yet, do!)

And here are the rest of my Daily December pages that I did for LOAD:


For all the Daily December layouts, I used Jessica’s fabulous Daily December template, together with Katie Pertiet’s grid brush and Michelle Coleman’s topper. You’ll find the additional individual different items I used per layout in the credits under each layout.

The Message of the Manger

Journaling reads:

every christmas, we put up the nativity scene but leave the manger empty till the eve of the 24th, when the Christ Child is gently laid on His humble manger. i hope you always remember the deeper message behind this simple tradition of ours:

our own hearts can be the greatest thrones, but only when we fill them with Christ’s humility and gentle love for everyone around us.


Mindy Terasawa – papers; star patches; flower sticker; Atomic Cupcake; Photoblast EZ Actions

12 Year Old Christmas Gift

Journaling reads:

yo dude, i would really like to know what you did with the little boy i carried in my arms 12 years ago. if you ever meet him again, tell him that i loved him then, but that i love this bigger, sweeter, bolder, funnier version of him even way much more…


DigitalDivaDesigns, Jen Lessinger, MaryAnn Wise, Jessica Bolton, CanDee at CanDesigns – Papers; Sara Carling – leather tag; Amber Clegg – Postage Date Stamp; DanaZarling – Adchallenge Life Is Good Sign

First-Class Mail

Journaling reads:

look at you, honey, so intent on writing your own letter to santa. if doesn’t matter at all if you’re writing on toys; i’m sure santa would be absolutely delighted to receive such novel, first-class mail!


Michelle Coleman – paper and glitters, Miriam Lima – papers

Lyrical Laughter

Journaling reads:

there are few things more heartwarming than seeing the cousins gather around the piano, filling the christmas air with laughter more lyrical than the classical music emanating from their fingers deftly playing on black and white keys.


Leora Sanford’s NoteClips; Petit Moineux’s paper; Stacy Carlson’s heart tags; Heidi Larsen’s swirl; Anna Aspnes’ paper; Michelle Coleman’s ribbon wrap; Jason Gaylor’s brushes


Journaling reads:

twenty-eight years after graduating from high school and the friendships are still holding strong. what better time than christmas to celebrate the gift of solid connections?

ADDITIONAL CREDITS: Paper, doodles, and flowers from Maria Designs

Good Food & Home

Quote by Edith Sitwell:

winter is the time for comfort, for good food & warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand, and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.

ADDITIONAL CREDITS:   AnnaBen @ ScrapbookGraphics – paper, flowers; Miriam Lima – papers

This is my dinner table, all dressed up for Christmas. 🙂 The chair wraps are silk, held together with capiz shells. Love how the chairs look like ladies with shawls! 😆

Must Not Forget…

… this funny tonight.

My 2 older sons, A & R, were teasing me about how my camera has become my appendage. Of course dh could not resist joining in the fray. The downside of being the only female in the family is: when the boys decide to gang up against me, there usually is just me against all the testosterone. 😆

But my 2nd son, ahhh, this boy is such a funny, loving guy (actually they all are, but he’s the one quick to come to my defense all the time. ha! gotta love that! 😆 ). When dh and A were going on and on about how I’m forever whipping out my camera, he said “No, Mom doesn’t take photos when we’re eating…” then he turned to his older brother A and whispered just loud enough for us to catch, “Now who’s going to win the Offspring of the Year award, huh?” and the two boys burst out laughing.

Offspring of the Year award. That’s one for the scrap pages!

(It doesn’t sound so funny now, but trust me, it was hilarious when it happened). 😆

And you thought there was no freebie…

but there is! If you’ve made it this far, you’ll find it right here!

I decided to experiment with making a Valentine card as a freebie, so I hope it’ll come in useful for you and your kids…

Here’s what it looks like:

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LivEdesigns BearHug Preview

It’s a .png file, a plopper really–it’s going to be a really quick download 🙂 So in case you’re in a rush, you can just open the file in PSE or in CS3, hold down the CTRL key as you click on the new layer button in your layers palette (on a mac that would be the Command key) so that your new layer comes in under the plopper. Then pull in your photo file, resize it using the transform handles, and voila! Instant Valentine’s card! 😀

Note that I just placed my text on the journaling chipboard tag, but you can put your own journaling text on it in your plopper… I’ve left the tag empty of course 🙂

Oh, and the size of the card is 5″ x 7″ but you can always change the image size to make it smaller or bigger. 😉

You can download the BearHug valentine card plopper here. Thank you for the love you leave on my blog! 🙂

I’ve also decided to make a teeny tiny Bear Hug mini kit which will have the items that you see on the card plus 2 additional papers… just in case you want to make a layout instead of a card. 🙂 I’ll upload it tomorrow (because it’s 4AM now so that means it’s time for Lala Land!).

And that’s all for today, folks! 😀

Humongous hugs to you, my sweeties!!! 😉 And I hope to see you again tomorrow!