Happy Day!

Some days just turn out to be serendipitously happy ones, for no particular reason except that … it’s a happy day! 😀

Am celebrating it with this song!

And this!

And this!

And this!

Dance with me? 😆

Today’s Funny

As my son J and I were riding home from school today, he was (as usual) telling me about his day in school. Our discussion revolved around a classmate who probably had a bad day and ended up dealing a few punches and a kick to my son. (Ah, boys!)

So naturally, mama took the opportunity to talk about the importance of using words, not hands or feet, to express oneself.

Me: Maybe you can tell your friend to use words next time he’s upset. Only babies use their hands and feet because they don’t have words to express themselves. Grown-ups use words.

J: I know, Mama! I used words today! (said proudly)

Me: Really?

J: Yes. Someone told me “Hey, you, poopy-head!” So I said, “Hey… you! Back at you… poopies!”

ROFL. I think this kind of boy-talk I can tolerate. 😆

Today’s Freebie!

And because it’s a happy day for me, and happiness is meant to be shared, here’s a freebie for you! 😀

This large (approximately 6×8 inches) grungy frame brush can easily be resized if you need a smaller frame. It comes in .abr format and .png format (so if you use a program other than Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, you can still use the frame! Yay!)


Preview Stock Photo Credit: Ayla87 at stock.xchng

{ Click on image to download. Please see Terms of Use included in zip file. 🙂 }

Here’s how I used my frame on one of our class projects done for my dear friend Jessica’s awesome Photo-Editing 2 course at jessicasprague.com!


Spraground Shoppe: My Newest Baby

I’ve got a new product up in our shoppe! YAY! 😀

LivEdesigns Storyboard Album Template Pack

(Image is linked to the Spraground Shoppe. Click on it and find yourself in our awesome Spraground candy store! :D)

My Storyboard Album Template Pack will help you create your own album with a graphic, storyboard look in a jiffy! It comes with twenty-one 12×12 layered templates (in .psd format), including a title page (with optional text path included), filler template pages which work well if you use them side by side in order (or you can also jumble them up and mix and match them), and a special template page for the last page of your album. I’ve included text boxes and text paths which you can use as is, or you can also opt to replace these with your own.

Because the Storyboard Album Template Pack is done in graphic style, you can use it for virtually any album theme you want! Use clipping masks in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements to clip your own papers and photos of choice. You can choose to use all the masks for photos, or if you’d rather clip patterned paper on some of the masks, that’s totally fine too! Add a bunch of your embellishments if that’s the look you want, or use just a few if you prefer the clean and simple, minimalist look. Don’t you just love all the freedom you have at your fingertips? 😉

Best of all, you can use it again and again for as many albums as you wish to make! 😀

And… that’s it for today, folks! It’s back to the drawing board to create more stuff for you!

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

Hello 2009!

Happy New Year to one and all!

And forgive me for being absent for such a long time! In my part of the world, the Christmas season is the biggest feast/festival/fiesta (as the Christmas carols playing on the airwaves as early as September would prove), and the number of parties and reunions and out-of-town trips increase tenfold! So yeah, I was pretty much buried under piles of Christmas lists, then Christmas wrappers and tape, then Christmas parties and reunions–and along with that, Christmas food (which is now safely tucked away in my stomach, thank you very much, BURP!)… and whatever time left over that I’ve been able to grab,  I’ve spent working on a “couple” of things that have to remain a secret right now but which I’ll definitely share with you come mid-January 😉

So… for the meantime, I thought I’d share with you some photographic evidence that I have not been lying around doing nothing but filling my mouth with holiday goodies (uh… more like moving around doing a lot while filling my mouth with holiday goodies, heehee!) 😆

Wrapping Fury

Quick, answer this question: How many Christmas gifts did you wrap? You know? Well, I salute you! I bow to you! Because I can never count the total number of gifts I wrap each year; all I know is that if I seem to disappear for a few weeks during the holiday season, all anyone needs to do is wade through mounds of wrapper and tape and boxes and voila! You’ll find me buried under them, trying to work my way up. 😛

This year, I *did* attempt to count the gifts I wrapped…  at least the ones for my sons’ teachers. I have to confess, though, that I lost count somewhere between 25 and 40. Multiply 4 kids in 4 different levels in 3 different schools, with a different teacher for each subject, then add the teacher aides and security guards, and you have… how many? See what I mean? 😆

So here’s the photo of this year’s bunch of teachers’ gifts:


And because gifts need a home… in comes the tree! 😀

The Tree Boys

One of the really great things about having five boys is that you eventually get to the point where you can assign certain duties to them, such as putting up the tree! 😀 Every year, we put up the tree on the weekend of December 8th (Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which also means that most schools give the kids the day off… so in our home, that means the kids have the entire day to hang out and put up the Christmas decorations!)

This year we deliberately kept the home decor simple, since we had men working on the annex that we’re attaching to our home (read: breaking down the wall to connect another unit and completely remodeling said unit). The work isn’t done yet, and I think it’s safe to say it’ll take us about 3-6 months to really fix up the unit (we’re changing all the bathrooms, installing blinds in all the rooms, putting in new furniture, etc. etc. etc.–you get the picture. 🙂 ).

So anyway, that explains why the Main Thing this year was our tree!


There are few things that beat the joy of watching one’s kids help each other trim a tree, don’t you think?



My eldest helping my youngest… mmmmm! What a lovely thing to watch! 🙂



S gets a helping hand from R:


And my little J gets help from his nanny 😀


We have a tradition of getting each child something of his own to hang on the tree each year. Then when they are old enough to have homes of their own, they’ll have a “starter kit” of their very own decorations to hang on their own Christmas tree, gathered from their very first Christmas from the time they were born.

But there’s one item hanging on the tree that has my name on it: this one! (Gotta love my Starbucks coffee! 😀 )


So it’s a 16 year old tree, and it’s not 10 feet tall, but it’s been with us from the birth of our eldest son and we love it. 🙂


The View from the 41st

On my side of the world, the holiday season gives everyone the best excuse to party. It’s a wonderful time because you get to meet up with people you hardly see the rest of the year. Relatives from around the world fly back home to be with family. Office people turn into party animals in a 180º transformation that puts the pumpkin-coach metamorphosis in Cinderella to shame. 🙂

My hubby’s office party was held in the 41st floor of a hotel, and as always, I brought along my Nikon D90 with me. His office Christmas parties are always themed, and the different divisions come up with a program of sorts where they compete against each other to win the prize for the best presentation. ‘Course I’d never pass up the chance to take advantage of the photo-ops! 😀

A couple of photos of that evening:

The theme this year was Asia; this was the winning team’s presentation:


Awards were given for best costume of the night… these ladies were the nominees:


(I think Asian costumes are so exotic! 😀 )

So anyway, when the party was over, I looked out of the floor to ceiling windows down at the city below and decided the view would make a GREAT shot! DH saw me fiddling with my camera (no tripod in tow), and teased me: “There is no way you’re going to get a clear photo of the street from this distance without a tripod and with the complete lack of lights.”

Well. Have I said that deep down inside, I have this little rebellious streak that surfaces when one presents me with a challenge that sounds more like a dare? 😆 So of course, I took a photo of the street from above. Here it is:


Don’t you just love those Christmas trees made of lights? 🙂

Project 365?

Are you doing this? Project 365, as I understand it (correctly, I hope? 😛 ) involves taking a photo every single day of the year (hence the 365). This was started some years back–the first time I heard about it was on the photojojo blog, with photos being uploaded to flickr. As all good things go, the interest in this project spread, and now some of my Spraground sistas have decided to join this project (boy, do I envy their energy and their ability to do this! I so wish I could, except that I’m also absolutely sure that I’d fail by the first week!)

I love taking photos and I joke that my Nikon is surgically attached to my body, but I’m not sure about whether I’d be able to keep up taking a photo every single day. Now if it were a weekly thing…

So I’m wondering: am I the only one who isn’t brave enough to take on this challenge? 😆 All this wondering led me to more thinking: what other options are there for people like me, who may not be able to keep up with the daily photo-vitamin requirement?

If I am fearful of my ability to tackle a daily thing, what about a weekly thing instead? Documenting a few days a week for 52 weeks in the year… that’s 52 layouts… hmmm! Tempting! *eyebrows going up and down*

What if weekly is still too daunting? What about a monthly thing? Documenting the highlights of each month for 12 months in a year… that’s 12 layouts… certainly do-able! *eyebrows going up and down faster*

Heehee. So you know where all of this is leading to, right? What can I create to share with everyone who wants to play with their cameras, whether on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis?

Yep! Here it comes! A freebie, finally! (A small one, but one that comes with a lot of affection anyway!)

Here’s a photo tag which you can use to write down the date when the photo was taken and a few notes to record the special moment captured. I’ve included two versions of the tag: one flat and one curled.


Click on the image above to download. Thank you for the love you leave on my blog as you download 🙂

I’ll be back soon, but for now I need to jump into bed because the sun is about to rise!

Happy New Year (((((hugs))))) to you, my sweeties!

Two and Three

Two. Two seconds of “fame” 😆

I got a text message from my dear bro-in-law Jun this morning:

And because I’m basically an obedient person (hehe), I did. Well, guess what I found?

My first (and only) two minutes of  Youtube “fame.” ROFL!

Two Unpaid Extras (bwahahaha!)

The Master with the Extras (bwahahaha!)

What can I say?

Nothing. Except bwahahahaha. 😆

(Well, I have nothing to say about me. But lots of good things to say about Jun! But… that’s for another post on another day. 😉 )

This is Three.

Set 3 of my friend Lynne’s and my collab freebie, Fall Into Fall.

This set contains ALL the hard work of Lynne. The last download was my work; this download today is Lynne’s. Wooohooo!

Here’s what Lynne came up with for you:

Lynnea - Fall Into Fall Collab Freebie - Set 3

Lynnea - Fall Into Fall Collab Freebie - Set 3

What this set contains: three 12×12 papers made by Lynne, one leaf stamp in .abr and .png format made by Lynne, and eight real nature elements also made by Lynne. Yep, my friends, this is all Lynne’s goodness and hard work! I’m so proud of her!

As usual, we’ve divided the set into two downloads to make it easier for you.

Click on the image above to download the eight real nature elements.

Click here to download Lynne’s papers and the leaf brush/stamp.

On Lynne’s behalf, thank you so much for the love you leave for her at my 4shared account and on my blog as you download! 🙂

PS. There should be one more set coming up before the Fall Into Fall kit officially closes. 😉


Oh, and a friendly reminder, for those who may not scroll down to my post a few days ago 😉

Come join us! The course has all of the Spraground goodness for FREE!

Come join us! The course has all of the Spraground goodness for FREE!

Sign-up day is October 20th (that’s barely a week away, yay!). Come and join us! We’d love to have you on our Spraground!

Looking for my DID circle template?

Got a message asking me to fix the download link for the circle template that I released some time ago…

I have no idea why sometimes the links at 4shared go awry and say “link is no longer valid” (Does anyone know what causes this? Is it connected to number of downloads? All I know is that I’ve experienced this same strange thing sometimes when I try to download freebs from other blogs… so if you know why, I’d love to hear it! 🙂 .

Anyway, just letting you know that I’ve re-uploaded and changed the link in the original post. It’s working now, Deanna! Do let me know if you’ve managed to snag it! 🙂

Oh and one last thing… I have a new freebie coming up soon… (it’s not related to Fall Into Fall, but you can use it with the kit–how’s that for a clue? heehee). Here’s a sneak preview of what I have in store for you…

Alrighty! With that, I now go back to playing with Photoshop! Have a happy day, my sweeties! 😀

The Secret Is Out!

It’s October 10th, friends, and you know what that means! Sneak peeks have been unveiled, the story has been handed over 😉 , and now it can be told to all the world!

Over at our Spraground, we’re having a huge, big, major course party, and you’re all invited! (Yes, that’s you, you, you, you, and you! And you too!)



I have a feeling you’re going to be seeing this wonderful reminder quite often on my blog! (hehe) Don’t you just love how the words form a heart in the hands? That’s how awesome our stories are… the stories of our lives are the stories of our hearts… and we can do nothing less than make sure they get told, somehow. And that’s exactly what Jes is going to do with this course! She’s going to take us by the hand and give us some fab, fab ways of making sure that our stories get told… by us!

Find out more about it on the Spraground! (The image above is a link… Click on it and it will take you to our Spraground homepage where you’ll find the awesome Why’s, When’s, and How’s of this latest super-goodie!)

Oh, and don’t forget to grab the course updates via Jessica’s blog too!

And oh (again), did I mention that this is FREE? And that there’s no limit on registration? And that registration will begin on October 20th? And that it’s open to ALL! Photographers, scrappers, non-scrappers, young and old, with children and grandchildren and without, as Jes says: as long as you have stories to tell (and who doesn’t?) this is for YOU.

So please join us as we party on for a week! We’ve polished the swings and slides and we’ve put up extra lemonade and cookie stands just for you! I hope to see you and your friends over there! (Yeah, in the spirit of “the more, the merrier”…let’s spread the word, folks!) 😆

Latest Scrapped

Over at Oscraps, Shaui of Feistuff Designs is featured as the designer in the spotlight. The challenge she gave (as well as the awesome freebies she shared with us so we have all we need to complete the challenge) grabbed me by my collar and didn’t let me go till I produced a layout! hehe

So here’s my latest scrappy thing:

I wanted to keep it really simple and make it look like an artist’s palette. So major restraint used with supplies. LOL. This was absolutely fun! I loved creating the little paint-daubs on the left. (For once, it felt great to be “mixing” paint without having to go through the clean-up after and the washing of my brushes–I think that might have been the part I least liked about oil painting, which I really should start up again one of these days… but I digress 😀 ).

If you want to join the challenge, head on over to Oscraps and get your layout uploaded! You have till October 12th to join.

CREDITS: Everything by FeiStuff, plus Nancie Rowe Janitz’s Inked Overlay. Font is AvantGarde.

Speaking of free…

Here’s the next set of our Fall into Fall freebie collab kit! Everything in Set 2 was made by me… keep looking out for Set 3 which will carry more of Lynne’s great stuff!

What you’ll be getting here is five more of the highly-textured 12×12 papers (you might have noticed by now that my favorite thing to create is papers! At least for now, haha!) plus a complete alphabet (with uppercase and lowercase letters) along with numbers and some of the symbols we use most often when we create pages. Since the items are highly textured, the downloading may take a wee bit more time.  So I’ve taken the liberty of separating the paper set from the chipboard alpha set. That way, hopefully, it’s not going to take as long downloading them in two separate sets as it would’ve in one single zip.

Oh, and if you can take the time, please do leave me a note and a link in the comments section of my blog (right here. Press that button, you know you want to! 😆 ) in case you’ve used the goodies on a layout or project! It totally thrills me to see your great work! (And if you give me permission, I’ll hang your creations on the walls of my little blog too! 🙂 )

Thank you also for the warm fuzzies you leave on my blog as you download 😉

Set 2 of Fall into Fall Friendship Freebie Collab:

LivEdesigns - Fall into Fall Freebie - Set 2

LivEdesigns - Fall into Fall Freebie - Set 2

Click on the preview above to download the papers.

Then click HERE to download the alpha.

Okay, now I really must go to bed… I’ve been nodding off here and there for the past hour or so.

Have a very happy day today, my friends! 😀

DST September Newsletter Out!

Zooming right onto my blog porch to deliver the news!

The September edition of the Digishoptalk newsletter is out! My friend Kel, who is the newest editor-in-chief of the newsletter, came out with a super-fabulous issue of Firsts! I love the look of the newsletter, love the editorial piece of Kel, love the theme, love the inside look at designers’ first kits redone… in fact, I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a DST newsletter as much as I have this one! AWESOME job, kel!

Oh, and here’s a little whispered tidbit: I have a little article there too, if you’re interested in reading it. 😆 The newsletter is free, but you have to be registered at DST (also free)… if you are one of the few who aren’t yet registered, go run and get yourself counted among the minions! 😆
Here’s a screenshot of the first page of my … uh, rather lengthy but (I hope 😛 ) inspiration-filled… article on Recording Firsts:

First Love Article

DigiShopTalk September Newsletter: First Love Article

And with great apologies for putting this up here a bit late (was totally consumed by working on the Type+Writer course, so my memory bank went pffft for a little while), here’s the freebie with items I created especially for layout that I made for the DST article:

LivEdesigns First Love - DST September Newsletter Freebie

LivEdesigns First Love - DST September Newsletter Freebie

Click on the image to download.

Thank you for the love you leave in my blog as you download! I love reading your comments, and am always grateful that you take the time to leave some warm fuzzies.

One little thing I wanted to point out: please note that the papers in the preview are not included in the freebie download (because in the article I had written that I would release as freebies some of the stuff that I created in making my layout that appeared in the newsletter, and I did not use these papers on my layout). BUT I will be putting these papers–and MORE– as free downloads within the next day or two, so if you want them, be sure to come back and grab them! 😀
All right, my workload is calling my name once again, so it’s back to the saltmines for me! I hope to see you soon again!

Huge hugs to you, my sweeties!

Back with a Vengeance!

Well, hello there! Man, have I missed sitting here with you on this blog porch, just swinging leisurely and sipping contentedly on iced tea, watching the birds hop on the steps and listening to the faint tick tock of the clock…

The past weeks have been more like roaring waves of the ocean rushing forward and falling on top of each other with one deafening crash after another. Major WORK stuff, in other words. P

There still major work stuff to be done, to be sure, but I’m giving myself a break before diving into the salt mines once again. After all, I just finished the article (and met the deadline, woohoo!!!) that I was asked to write for the August issue of DigishopTalk’s newsletter. My friend and fellow Spragsistah Kelleigh is the new editor-in-chief, and she asked me to do an article on Recording Firsts. I think it turned out way longer than it should’ve (lol… not that that’s surprising now, is it? bwahahaha). But, as is the case with all writing projects I delve into, I find myself totally caught up in the moment and am practically oblivious to the outside world, till I’m done with the writing and can come out of my cave like a bear stretching after months of hibernation. Aaaaaaaah. It’s a lovely feeling. )

So… let’s play catch up. So much has happened since I entered the mouth of that cave. 😆

May Photo A Day Album – Done!

Woohoo!!! I actually got my May Photo A Day album all done and printed out and placed nicely in the pages of my 8×8 album! (Don’t you just love the sense of accomplishment that comes from seeing your layouts actually printed out and resting in those page protectors? I love it!)

Here’s what my album looks like:

the happy 8x8 album!

the happy 8x8 album!

the title page

the title page

Day 1 and Day 2 pages

Day 1 and Day 2 pages

Day 3 and Day 4 pages

Day 3 and Day 4 pages

Day 9 and Day 10 pages

Day 9 and Day 10 pages

Day 15 and Day 16

Day 15 and Day 16

I used my Extraordinary Days Album templates, along with Meredith Fenwicks lovely luscious papers from her Day Dreams Collection Wildest and Afternoon Serenade kits. The staple is from Meredith’s Everyday Inspiration collection and the overlay is from Kim Christensen. I was amazed at how fast putting this album came together… I was able to do all the 31 layouts *and* print them out, cut them, and insert them into the album page protectors within 24 hours! Gotta love templates, huh? (PS. If you want to snag the templates, just scroll down to the earlier posts and I have the links over there! ;) )

First-Ever On-the-Spot Photo Shoot!

On the first weekend of August, a group of us, led by the country’s top pro photographer (and my very dear brother-in-law) Jun de Leon, went to the mountains to take part in a special project put together by Jun. The assignment: Take photos for an entire day to document the first-ever ITC-approved-triathlon-to-be-held-in-Asia (phew! how else do I explain that! ), and it was held in the Philippines! How lucky could we get!

Jun gathered a group of us and gave us specific assignments. We were to take only the photos assigned to us so that we could come up collectively with an extensive coverage of the triathlon from all angles. I found out about this only a couple of weeks before D-day, when we attended the wedding of one of our friends.

Intermission: it was a lovely wedding, where we were requested to come all in black (so that only the bride would be in white).

Here are some of the foolish shots of us: I only put them here because I promised my Spraground friends that I’d show them the one and most probably the only time this year that I would be wearing a dress.


So anyway, back to the triathlon event. There were 7 of us in the group, which now has been dubbed by Jun as The Crew. ) (I provide the only estrogen on the team as I’m surrounded by men all around! The best thing about it? My hubby is part of The Crew, which means we get to enjoy our photography addiction and play together! Love that!)

The triathlon event was held on just one day, from 6AM to 6PM. There were two events, the regular triathlon, and the 03, which is basically the same as the regular triathlon but with the distance multiplied by three.

The evening before the event, we met with Leo, one of the best Philippine documentary photographers, who gave us a little seminar on documentary photography. My assignment was to take the Emotions photographs, but the person who was assigned to take the Details photographs didn’t show up, so Jun gave me the Details assignment as well (much to my delight! heehee).

After the seminar and dinner, we went to the event area to conduct an occular inspection of the site and to plan out how and where we would position ourselves the next day. Since we got back to our hotels at almost 11pm and we knew that the athletes would start coming tp the venue at 5am the next day, I decided to forego sleep (terrorized by the prospect of not waking up on time and missing the entire kickoff!)

It was also raining crazily, and so DH and I spent a good part of the night fitting raincoats over our cameras and lenses and trying to figure out a way to maneuver our lenses with the blasted raincoats on them. (Not easy!)

Good thing our kids were with us, because I had fallen asleep at 3AM and woke up only at 5AM when my 4-year-old S asked for his “milky.” I woke up DH and we practically ran out of the hotel to get to the kickoff point of the triathlon (our kids were left with their nannies and our older son). 

It was dark and dreary, and the rain just kept pouring down, and after a while you forget about the rain-repellent hoodie you’re wearing and you think “oh heck, so let’s all have rainwashed hair, why don’t we?” The sun never shone that day, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise since the lighting was awesome (no direct sunlight and glare to deal with), and the cool winds meant that the athletes didn’t get wiped out with heat and fatigue too easily, which in turn meant that they didn’t take forever to complete the course. )

So there we were, 7 of us, with our cameras and our lenses. I called us the Guerillas, since that’s what I felt we were… charging on ahead, taking the photos from whatever angle and position we could, and because we had media permits, we were able to get to places that the rest of the public couldn’t get access to (since they had closed off areas for the triathlon event alone).

The hardest part of it all? Going straight from 5AM to 6PM without a drop of coffee, no breakfast, no lunch, no snacks except a single banana and a power drink that tasted a lot like my kids’ vitamins. Yuck. The best part of it all? The Crew, the collective energy we had, the adventure of shooting on the spot, playing with our cameras, cheering on the athletes, and taking on this photographic project with DH! Would I do it all over again? You BET!

We had to submit our photos to Jun a week after so that he could choose from them and submit them to one of the two biggest national dailies for publication.

I used my Nikon D80 and my 18-200mm lens. I had my 17-55mm and 85mm lenses as well, but after briefly using them, decided I wanted the flexibility and zoom ability of my 18-200, so I kept that on the entire day. DH used his 200-400mm, and oh boy, does that bazooka lens rock!!! — but hubby rocks more, hehe!

Here are the photos that Jun chose from my collection:

And here’s a glimpse of The Crew at work (and at play):

Ooooh!!! The sun is coming up! More tomorrow! For now I have to jump into bed! See you with more catching up tomorrow, my sweeties!


Five Firsts!

What is it about first times that make them so special and memorable?

The first steps a baby takes has parents stumbling in their rush to reach for the camera to record the monumental event. The first grandchild. The first day of school (shiny shoes, new pencils, new bag… whee! nirvana for me and my siblings when we were kids!). The first visit from the tooth fairy. The first Christmas.

Then there’s the unforgettable first love (in nursery? mine was… uh, must I incriminate myself and let the world know that I was a late bloomer? heehee! I had my first crush in  Grade 2–and I think I was mesmerized by the thick beard around his face more than anything else. 😆 )

If you stopped right now and asked yourself, what are the latest first’s you’ve experienced lately, would you be able to list them down and answer right away? Or would you have to pause as you traipse down memory lane, brows knotted in deep thought, as you try to recall the events of the last five months?

I was fascinated by the thought of First Anything today… and here are my five of my latest first’s!!! (Okay, you can accuse me of shameless–or shameful?–tooting, but hey, as we chanted in Chicago: we are worth it, right? 😉 )

First Time to Be Featured in a Graphic Design Blog!

What a thrill! What a pleasant surprise! What a COOL thing to discover! This little humble blog porch of mine was featured in two graphic design blogs last June 14th! The post that was featured was Photo Phun!

I almost fell off my chair in utter delight when I saw this:

Graphic Identity Blog Link

Graphic Identity Blog Link

And this!
Estetica Design Forum Blog Link

Estetica Design Forum Blog Link

A huge, happy THANK YOU to Estetica Design Forum and Graphic Identity!

First Time to Visit Chicago & New York

Totally awesome places! Loved The Bean at Chicago, eating deep dish pizza at Giordanos, walking and walking and walking around The Loop, dinner at Fultons by the River, and taking the Riverboat tour!

Chicago - Walking Along The Loop

Chicago - Walking Along The Loop

Chicago Buildings from the Riverboat

Chicago Buildings from the Riverboat

View from the Riverboat

View from the Riverboat

New York Times Square - the view from our hotel room window

New York Times Square - the view from our hotel room window

The Ubiquitous NYC Taxis

The Ubiquitous NYC Taxis

More photos coming in the future… there are just thousands and thousands of them! 😀

First Time to Hug My Dearest Spraground Sistahs!

In person! What a thrill! This has got to be one of the most memorable and special experiences in my entire life! What a connection!
One of my favorite photos of Jes and me - taken by Susan

One of my favorite photos of Jes and me - taken by Susan

Love this photo taken by Jes!

Love this photo taken by Jes!

Some of my absolute favorite people in the world! - Photo taken by Lisa

Some of my absolute favorite people in the world! - Photo taken by Lisa

The Spraground Sistahs Take Over Windy City!

The Spraground Sistahs Take Over Windy City!

The only downside to this is that I end up missing them so much more now, and wish that the oceans were less wide and the lands were more spread out so that we could literally walk over to each other’s houses and give each other hugs in person anyday!

First Time to Do an Actual Hybrid Project

Ah… this one I was totally not sure about… but with a little modge podge, a little advice from my dear friend Lisa J (who won’t admit to being a creative crafter, but she is!), a little help from a carpenter friend who made the wooden box for me according to my specs, and a little help from my two sons who fixed the goodies/doggies inside it when it was done, I was able to play around with hybrid (yeah, so it was an adventure I’d been longing to do!) *and* use my heretofore unused-but-hoarded paper scrapping materials (and thus feel less guilty about the hoarding, haha) *and* come up with a birthday gift for my MIL who loves doggies!
This is what I started out with: a wooden shelf with partitions, made according to my specs, with 4 rows of 6 little box-houses. The entire thing was about 12in x 24in.
D )

Step 1 - Begin with a wooden shelf painted in colors you love (I didn't love the color on this one, hence the decision to decoupage the entire thing! 😀 )

Step 2 - Modge-podge (yes, I've turned it into a verb!) patterned paper onto the sides of the shelf.

Step 2 - Modge-podge (yes, I've turned it into a verb!) patterned paper onto the sides of the shelf.

Step 3 - Cut patterned paper into vertical strips and modge-podge them onto vertical divisions of the shelf.

Step 3 - Cut patterned paper into vertical strips and modge-podge them onto vertical divisions of the shelf.

Step 4 - Do the same for the horizontal divisions of the shelf.

Step 4 - Do the same for the horizontal divisions of the shelf.

Step 5 - Cover top of shelf with patterned paper. Wash modge-podge off your hands in between applications in case you happen to be munching on chips. ;)

Step 5 - Cover top of shelf with patterned paper. Wash modge-podge off your hands in between applications in case you happen to be munching on chips. 😉


Step 6 - Cover the back of the shelf with patterned paper to complete the shelf's clothing. 🙂

Step 7 - Attach eyelets to chipboard flowers using the ever-reliable, handy-dandy Cropadile!

Step 7 - Attach eyelets to chipboard flowers using the ever-reliable, handy-dandy Cropadile!

Step 8 - Attach other embellishments to the top of the shelf to complete the look.

Step 8 - Attach other embellishments to the top of the shelf to complete the look.

Step 9 - Make it a family project (and allow yourself to take a break!) - Let kids take care of arranging the doggies on the shelf.

Step 9 - Make it a family project (and allow yourself to take a break!) - Let kids take care of arranging the doggies on the shelf.

Step 10 - Voila! Stand back and clap your hands as you survey your first hybrid project... because you've finally put some of your paperscrappin' hoard of goodies to use!

Step 10 - Voila! Stand back and clap your hands as you survey your first hybrid project... because you've finally put some of your paperscrappin' hoard of goodies to use!

Hee! This was fun while I did it… I’ve always loved crafts, and nothing beats the doubled fun of working on projects with kids… but… what can I say? I love digi first and always. 😆

And now… to continue the alliteration started with the Five First’s… let’s talk about First FREEBIES!

And yes, I know, I’ve been giving out freebies for almost as long as this blog porch came into existence, but  it’s my…

First Time to Come Up with an Album Template Mini Freebie!

Woohoo! I am so happy about this, and even happier to share these with you!

Here’s how this all ties in with my first First up there and my fifth First down here. Remember the Photo Phun post (the one featured in the graphic design blogs up there)? Well, that all came about because we at the Spraground were having the most fun adventure, led by the awesome Jessica, of coming up with a photo a day for the month of May! And since I’d been wanting to print out those photos and put them in an album instead of keeping them hidden inside a folder in my compy, I decided to create an album for them.

When I make layouts, more often than not, I sketch in my trusty little graph notebook (Moleskine graph notebooks ROCK!) how I want the layout to look. And then I translate that pencil sketch onto my computer with Photoshop! So I made a cover page sketch for the album and a few inside page sketches.

While I was working on moving that sketch onto my compy via Photoshop, I decided… hey, since I’m making a multi-photo page for the month of May (which has 31 days and therefore 31 places for photos), why don’t I make a similar template for 30 days? That way, if any of us decides to resume the Photo A Day adventure on any other month, we’d have a ready template for those months with less than 31 days?

And then, since my brain is known to dive into this sort of territorial waters–haha, I decided to go full-speed ahead and include February as well (both 29 and 28 days), to complete the entire range of possibilities!

So here are the different cover pages I made for my Photo A Day Album… and I’m sharing them with you, as always!

LivEdesigns Extraordinary Days Cover Page Templates
LivEdesigns Extraordinary Days Cover Page Templates

When you use these templates, just type in the month that applies to your album where the ellipses are (I’ve left the text editable; feel free to change it!). I’ve also included a phrase to show where the journaling can fit in… and below there is an area for you to include a quote if you wish.

These templates come to you in .psd format. Use clipping masks to get your photos and digi paper onto the mats and photo masks. 🙂

Note: If you’re into making regular layout pages that feature months-in-review, I figure these should come in real handy as well!

Click here to get the mini album cover page templates.

ETA: Link removed. See post of September 24 for new link.

Now, I can’t just give you the cover and not give you the inside pages as well, right? 😉

Sooo… I created 3 inside page templates, each one of which is a single-photo template. There are two different portrait-oriented / vertical  photo templates for the left and the right side of the album, depending on how your pages turn out; and there’s a single-photo template as well for landscape-oriented / horizontal photos.

I only made three templates because that’s all that I needed… and by using each one of them within the album, you can get an album that’s both pulled-together and unified!

Oh, and there’s a bonus inside as well! I created two black glass accents for use on the album pages… one is a black glass swirl and the other is a black glass circle cluster. I’m including them inside the .psd template files, but they are created on transparent backgrounds, so if you wish to use them in your other layouts as separate elements, feel absolutely free to do so (just read my TOU and don’t forget the credits! 😉 ).

I’m presently working on zipping up the inside page templates, but since it feels like forever since I last released a freebie (and I’m uber-excited to share these with you 😀 ) I decided to release these cover pages now and come back and post the inside page templates in a separate download, once I’m done zipping them up! So don’t forget to check back for them!

I’m going to be working on my Photo A Day album in the next 24 hours (after I get the inside pages zipped up and on their way to you!), and when I’ve got my layouts done, I’ll upload them to share with you. If you use these and create pages or even an album of your own, do link me up! I’d looove to see how you use these and I would love even more the chance to marvel at the marvelous creations you come up with!

Alrighty then! Back to the worktable! 🙂


868882_jump.jpgIf you will allow me this one little toot…

I made it! 😀

I made it to the first round of the LDD apprentice program!!! WOOHOO!!! So so so happy!

In the acceptance email that I received from The Dream Team, they informed us that there accepted 40 out of the  “over 130 applicants”… so I am truly glad that I was lucky enough to make it through the first round!

I need to give a huge SHOUT OUT to all my sistahs at the Spraground –and all of YOU who left such kind words of support… I can’t even begin to describe how MUCH you mean to me. You inspire me, my dear friends. Truly. THANK YOU.

The freebies are exclusively available for download at Little Dreamer Designs… so if you’re interested (and I hope you are, fingers crossed!), you can hop on over to Little Dreamer Designs; click on Freebies in the top menu. Scroll down and at the bottom right you’ll see the Quick Jump dropdown menu. Click on the triangle beside it and choose the category Apprentice Round 1 Freebies and click Go. The submitted kits are arranged alphabetically, so if you’re interested in mine, please scroll to the 3rd page and you’ll find it there. 😉

Also, Michelle left a note on the forum that they would love to have you upload any layouts that you’ve created with the apprentice freebies on their gallery, with the added sugar cube of being able to qualify for a $10 coupon to their shoppe, which they will raffle off to those who’ve uploaded their layouts. (They will be giving two $10 coupons for each week that the apprentice program is running).  I would LOVE to see what you create with my kit, if you use it!

To upload your layouts, choose the Apprentice Layout Gallery.

To those of you, my sweet, sweet friends, who have been asking me how the program goes, here’s the way I understand it:

There will be four weeks of challenges, with the first one beginning this week. At the end of the 4-week program, 5 finalists will be chosen by the Dream Team to submit a full-size kit to sell in the shoppe. Each kit sold is equivalent to one vote for the designer. The sales generated by the kits will count for a little over half of the final score of each applicant. The person with the highest score wins the coveted option of selling kits in the LDD shoppe.

Or something like that. 😆

Wish me luck, my sweeties! It’s your support that carries me through!!! 🙂

CREDITS: stock photo from stock.xchng

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!

{Click on image for larger view}

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)))

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:

{ Click on image for larger view }

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!