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?


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!

Full speed ahead!

Alright, this has been a very busy couple of days lately! But fun!!!

The very first course-for-the-year-2008, Now We’re Rockin’ with Photoshop, has just started its second run over at our playground, and I’m so excited to be part of the journey of the new (and not so new) students! I inevitably end up spending most of my time skipping around the class forum and the gallery, and of course there’s the regular main forum where we all hang out and the main PSF gallery where we hang our layouts 😆 Love the buzz and natural high that Jessica’s courses always create! 🙂

I completed my layout for the Oscraps Designer Spotlight Challenge featuring Annie Manning / Paint the Moon. It was a lot of fun, even if I did spend an entire day working on my layout (one day before the deadline for uploading, so it was a do-or-die situation again for me! 😆 ). It was totally an experiment and a wild thing I just thought of in my mind (with a bit of a prompt from my son, who suggested that I use a shadow for the multiple-photo requirement). And because I had never done any layout like this before, never dreamed I’d ever make a layout like this, it was totally playtime for me! I ended up with more than 140 layers (i kid you not! Though I did merge them in the end, when I was done), and just as many layers of smiles on my face when dh told me it was his favorite layout.

Here’s what I made (this counts as my LOAD for Day 19!)

Backside - Oscraps challenge Jan08

Journaling reads:

any which way i look at it… BACKSIDE, front end, sideways, right side up, or upside down,,, i see one and the same thing: a boy i will love forever and always, heaven’s gift, my precious son.


All items from Annie Manning’s Nature’s Glow kit, plus Michelle Coleman’s Glow overlay & paper, Sara Carling’s treelove paper, Jason Gaylor’s brush, and atomic cupcake.

Thank you to all my darling friends on the playground (and on Oscraps too!) who left such kind comments. And Annie, thank you!, your comments totally made my day too! 😀


I missed posting my latest Daily December layouts (which were my LOAD for Days 18 and 20). I have yet to make my LOAD #21 and 22. Phew! Gotta be working fast now! 😉

Here was LOAD Day 18 (which was also Daily December No. 13)

Singin’ the Blues

Journaling reads:

it’s inevitable. the weather changes a bit and soon the sniffles, the viruses, and the asthma come marching in.

you’re so used to it by now, though, that you can watch TV and play without giving a second thought to that mask covering half your precious faces. hey, we may be singing the blues, but at least we’re singing, right?

CREDITS: Jessica’s fab Daily December template, Katie Pertiet’s grid frame, Michelle Coleman’s topper  and Winter Wonderland papers, beaded and jeweled snowflakes, and charm jewels. Also: Emily Merritt’s paper, my own gemstone, and John’s Photoblast EZaction used on the photos.

And now here is the LOAD I made for Day 20:

Santa’s Secret Message

Journaling reads:

many tomorrows from now, the letters you write to santa will come to an end… but i hope, no matter how old you get, you will always carry within your heart santa’s little secret: when you give love wholeheartedly, you receive much, much more than you could ever dream of.


Jessica’s fab DD template, Michelle Coleman’s topper & paper, Katie Pertiet’s grid frame and quotes, Papers by Lisa Warren and Misty Mareda, atomic cupcake, and elisabethmey for the super-cute christmas hero freebies.

I’m running out of Daily December ideas! 😆

Delayed but not Delinquent! 😉

So I took longer to put up the last set in the Pasteleria series. Parting is such sweet sorrow… I hate to see this kit end, but am excited to explore making the next freebie kit for you, my sweeties!

{ Click on image for larger view }

Pasteleria Set 4 Preview

Here’s what comes with this set: Teal Garden is a textured solid paper; Baby’s Breath-Love is a pastel blue paper with lavender heart doodles that I made; and SoftSun-Torn Edge is a 12×12 textured orange paper with a torn edge (if you want to use it as a photo mat or a journaling space, feel free to resize it 😉 )

The jumbo brad that I promised would come is now here! (Preview shows its “actual” size in relation to the layout size above). You can easily resize it to make it a smaller brad too.

There’s a heart doodle that you can use as a frame, as an accent, as a journaling block… And then, at the last minute, I decided to create WordArt to go with the kit as well. The quote is by ralph waldo emerson.

Hope you like this last set too!

Here’s where you click to get the last set of Pasteleria!

Alrighty then… I would want to sit a while longer with you, my sweeties, but it is almost 4AM again in my part of the world, and I need to get some rest so that I can catch up with 2 LOADS by tomorrow!

As the ever-playful, bouncy Tigger says: Tata for now!!!

PS. Angela, I’ll post tomorrow or the next day about the Lasik experience 😉 I hope your son’s surgery was a huge success!

Running After Time

There’s so much I want to do, and not enough time in a day to do it all! How many of you have felt this way? How do you handle it? Is there some secret you can share with me?

LOAD Day 10 & Daily December No. 6

Got this done this morning.

One of the lovely advantages of having 5 sons is that as they grow older, they eventually take over the task of getting the Christmas decor up, so that I am free to sit and watch them with a smile on my face, wondering how I got so lucky to have such great guys (and related to me, too! 😆 )

Tree Trimmers

Journaling reads:

last year there were three; now there are four of you working together to put up the tree and trim it. next year j will be old enough to join the fun as well. each christmas, year after year, i can just sit and watch you for hours, filled with quiet pride and gratitude. i am so lucky to have such great tree trimmers!


Jessica Sprague’s Daily December template (altered); Michelle Coleman’s Topper & rivet (recolored); Katie Pertiet’s Grid Brush, HolidayOrnaments Brush, PostmarkedHolidays Brush, Emily Merritt’s Jolly Jingle Sparkles (recolored), Miriam Lima’s HolidayMagic paper, Atomic Cupcake actions

Word for the Month

Over at her blog, my dear friend Jessica mentioned Ali Edwards’ Word for the Year (another amazing lady there!)… with a twist: Jess has decided she wanted a Word for a Month instead. Given my own love for words, I totally agree with her! (Also, nice to have 12 words to live by instead of just one for the year! 🙂 )

I decided my word for January would be ADVENTURE.

noun: an undertaking; an unusual or exciting experience

verb, tr.: to venture upon; undertake or try

verb, intr.: to take a risk in the hope of a favorable outcome; dare

synonyms: (n)risky venture, escapade; (v) take a risk, take a chance / related words: (n) project, task, undertaking, labor; (v) chance, attempt, try, seek

I think this is a great word to start the year off with: I’ve always loved adventures, whether of the real kind (the kind that took me to places as a kid) or the vicarious kind (the kind that I take now that I’m older, which normally I gather from museum trips, reading books and magazines, surfing the net, and playing around).

I also like that the related words (project, task, undertaking, labor) are so closely related to WORK. I have such a great respect for the dignity of work. I think working to your best capacities and abilities, in the simplest thing (sure, even in tasks as simple as cleaning your bathroom or picking up that piece of tissue lying on the floor) and offering it up to our Lord, is one of the best prayers and one of the best ways to give back glory to Him who has given us all we have.

Who knows what adventures lay ahead this year? Just thinking about it is so exciting! Here are a few that come to mind:

Adventures in Design: I love learning. I love the adventure of discovery, of finding out new things, of learning something new everyday. I guess that’s why I love designing so much: every kit is an adventure into the unknown! I see something in my mind and I try to create it digitally. When the vision and what I see on my monitor match each other, it’s such a WOW moment for me that I can’t wait to share it with all my friends! (hence the freebies 😀 ) I want to learn a lot more and experiment a lot more with Photoshop and designing. I need to open those new/old software CDs that have sat in my drawer (was once too terrified to attempt them, am more adventurous now), among them: CS3 and Xarax.

Every class with Jess is an adventure: I am so looking forward to our next adventure in March, which is when our Digi: In Deep course will begin its maiden journey.

Doing something I would not normally do: take a risk = adventure. I am normally what my people would call segurista. One who does not like taking wild chances; one who finds much sense in the saying, “better safe than sorry.” But nothing big has been accomplished by staying on safe ground when you could be sailing the high seas (with WISDOM, of course). So I think it’s a good time to attempt to go back to those days of abandoning fears and just jumping in with both eyes closed and fingers crossed (uhhh. I really think my Lasik adventure last Monday is a good case in point). 😆

Another case in point:

I am normally a shy person (I kid you not; even if it may seem unlikely. 😆 ) When I see friends I haven’t seen in ages, I vacillate between saying hello and re-introducing myself and staying away so that I don’t subject that person to a blast from the past that they may or may not welcome.

Last night, as hubby and I were walking (killing time while waiting for our dear friends Jun and Abby to arrive–we were having dinner together), I happened to see a guy who was very good friend of mine back when we were in university… but we happened to lose touch over the years (I distinctly remember the exact time we last spoke: it was when he invited me to his wedding to this sweet girl, who just happened to be a Philippine actress… and I do get really shy [almost reticent] around showbiz personalities, so I stayed away. And we lost touch after). Anyway, hubby said to me, “Well, why don’t you go over there and say hi?” So, very uncharacteristically, I walked up to A., said hello using the petname we in our group of friends used to call him back then, briefly saw a look of non-recognition pass in his eyes, and right after I gave my name. My maiden name, of course (we lost touch even before I got married). And with the mention of my name, there was recognition. It was quite funny, actually: watching his eyes was like watching the aperture opening of a camera, first small then becoming larger and larger. He said “Hiiiiiiii!!!!” and turned to the lady friend he was with, introduced me, and said “We’ve known each other since she was like ten years old!” I said “Yeah, we go waaaay back.” We exchanged cellphone numbers, and voila!

Fun. Always good to reconnect.

And as if that wasn’t enough: after dinner, on the way to our cars, Jun, Abby, hubby and I were walking and we chanced upon J.M., who was overseeing the opening of the Paul Smith store at this new mall. He said hello to Jun and Abby, and when Jun turned to introduce me and hubby, he looked at me and said “Hey, I know you!” to which I answered, “yup, we were at the beach together years back, with C., T. and L.”

Another blast from the past. That makes two in one night!

And then… not five minutes after… as we were standing by the driveway of the center of the mall, the car in front of us drove up, and who was about to get into it? Another friend from college days, now married to another showbiz personality. I had briefly spoken with him at the launch of the Our Father book, and reintroduced myself then… (one of those rare bold moments I had, but I was extraordinarily courageous then… after all, that was OUR launch. haha!). Anyway, he and his sweet wife were about to get into the car, and I said hello. And this time, I didn’t have to reintroduce myself!

And that, folks, completes Round Three. Three amazing blasts from the pasts. Hey, I should’ve been in Vegas. Maybe the slot machines would’ve made me rich tonight, given the three hits at adventure I got in just one night! 😆

Connections. We are all connected to each other in various ways. I think it’s amazing when events like this happen one after the other; makes you really consider what a small, small world this is.

Capturing images is an adventure: I want to play a lot with my camera and learn a lot more about what I can do with it. I drive my hubby crazy when I attempt to lug my Lowepro slingback wherever I go. The few times I am successful at resisting the urge to pick it up before I go out the front door, I end up regretting it (“Oh wow, do you see the lines that those eaves make? Geez! Wish I had my camera with me! See the pattern of the leaves’ shadows on the pavement! Geez! Wish I could take that, if I had my camera with me!” ). Yesterday, of course, was one of the few times I left Cameran at home (and regretted it), and so I was demoted to taking photos of lines and lights that amazed me with my cellular phone. Oh, the humiliation! 😆 But, it was the best I could do at the moment!

Speaking of Photography…

Have you seen this take of Annie Leibovitz’ shoot with the Queen of England? I found it very interesting, mostly because it IS the famed Annie Leibovitz, amazing woman photographer, best known for her photo of a very pregnant Demi Moore in her birthday suit on the cover of Vanity Fair way back. Another reason for my interest: it took me back to the time when I was in the fifth grade and knew all the trivia there was to know about the Royal Family (this coincided with the engagement of then-Lady Diana to Prince Charles, and with my first attempt at a short hairstyle a la Diana… eeeeuw! how embarrassing! 😆 )

Oh… have I introduced you to the royal fam? That’s Anne, Charles, The Queen, Prince Philip, Andrew, and the Queen Mum… and me, in front, with my very proper, English, royal smile. (Long hair tied at the back will tell you this was way back in ’97)

Meet the Royal Family

Okay… so maybe the photo was taken at Madame Tussaud’s. Makes for some great laughs though, doesn’t it? 😆

Hey, you think my friend Veevs, royal relation to this family, would approve?


Enough playing around for now… I’m off to attempt some freebies! woohoo!

See you in a bit, my sweeties! (((hugs)))

Finally, here it is!

the original version of the shutters page plopper using Jason Gaylor’s awesome brushes!!! For those who downloaded the version I released earlier, this one has different brushwork AND it also has a slightly different, more sunshiny hue to it.

Again, many thanks to Adam Lambert-Gorwyn for his windows photo, and Jason Gaylor for giving me the go-signal to release the plopper using his brushes!

Here’s the preview (I’ve updated the photo of my dear friends, the mother-and-daughter team who were the inspiration behind this creation). Hey, Jackie, does this photo now beat the other preview in terms of cuteness? 😆

{Click on image for larger view}

LivEdesigns Shutters Plopper JGVersion Preview

Download this plopper version here.

Of DDs and LOADs

Don’t you love acronyms? teeheehee.

I missed out on posting my latest LOADs and DDs, so here they are.

Daily December No. 3 & LOAD Day 5:

I wanted to do a page that shows the culture of my country, because Christmas is such a huge event in this part of the world. (Christmas carols begin playing in September–can you imagine the pressure? 😆 –and the food! the glorious food that abounds! Every home, big and small, mansion and hut, has happy lights. We are a happy people, what can I say? 🙂

The Parol’s Light {Christmas Star - Philippine-Style}

Journaling reads:

i love it when the parols begin to hang from trees and eaves. to me, nothing more warmly signals the advent of this season of joy and peace as the light shining from this truly filipino symbol of the star that shone above the manger on that first christmas night.


Jessica Sprague’s lovely Daily December template PLUS Katie Pertiet’s Grid Brush, Michelle Coleman’s Topper, Monika69 – Christmas paper1, pillowgirl/E.Blust – RichXmas paper (both blended); photo of nativity scene: www.seasite.niu.edu; Flickr: Large Lit parol photo; nbk – grungy paper

LOAD Day 6:

Lately I’ve been getting into wanting to do full-photo-bleed layouts. This is what I came up with. This is my MIL. Pretty gorgeous for one who is beyond 70 years, eh?


Journaling (Quote) reads:

Beauty… when you look into a woman’s eyes and see what’s in her heart. ~ Nate Dircks

CREDITS: Jason Gaylor’s Brushes

Daily December Day 4 & LOAD Day 7:

Cool Weather = Cool Dude

Journaling Reads:

you said:

mom, can you gel my hair? i’m going to wear my jacket and my shades, and when my classmates see me, they’re going to say, wow, you’re sooo cool!

i said:

sure, honey, let’s do that. but you know what? it’s not your hair nor your jacket nor your shades that make you cool.

you’re cool because you’re a good boy. that’s what makes you cool, my little dude.


Jessica Sprague’s fab DailyDecember Template PLUS Katie Pertiet’s Grid Brush & Stitched Chip Strip; Michelle Coleman’s Topper; the Little Dreamer Designs Jolly Jingle Collaborative Kit, from which I used Michelle’s and Misty Mareda’s papers, Jackie Eckles’ star, Emily Merritt’s sparkles (recolored), Lori Barnhurst’s brad fibers

Daily December Day 5 & LOAD Day 8:

Rudolph Minus the Nose

Journaling reads:

checking out the decor in our neighborhood:

hey, mom, where’s rudolph’s red nose?


Jessica Sprague’s wonderful Daily December template, Katie Pertiet’s Grid Brush, Michelle Coleman’s Topper PLUS Michelle Coleman’s Merry Little Christmas Kit items (papers & flower) and Reindeer Brush by me! 🙂

Whew! All caught up with posting my layouts this January so far! 🙂

Lookie! What a surprise!

I am so delighted! There have been 469 downloads of the Shutters Plopper (the one I released a few days ago) from the last time I checked. Will those who have used it allow me to post their layouts on my blog? Do leave me a note if you don’t allow me… silence means YES! 😆 (But if you leave me a line and say, yes, please do, I’d be even more delighted!)

Also, look what I just found on the web today? SLKozul used part of my Jolly Hollydays kit to make a birth announcement for her friends!

SLKozul uses Jolly Hollydays

She did a great job, didn’t she?

So many stories, so wish to share!

There are so many stories that I wish to share, but I have to stop myself before my post runs page after page after page! I’ll be back soon, though!

Thank you so much, my dearest friends, all of you who offered prayers, well wishes, and words of advice for my Lasik operation. More stories about that soon!

In the meantime, need to work on my LOAD for Day 9 … it gets difficult as I have to put my alien act to rest for a few days (meaning, I can’t stay up till 4AM as the eyes give up and force me to lie down. Those of you who’ve worn contacts: you know how it is when you’ve kept them on for too long, and your eyes feel dry and they sting a bit? That’s how my eyes feel after a while, except this time, I can’t remove the lenses and go aaaaahhhhh! The only recourse is to sleep.

But I figure… that’s fine. Give or take a month, and I’ll be back to burning the midnight oil! 😆

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

Just couldn’t help myself…

I just had to scrap.

Yes, my bedroom floor resembles a war zone with wrappers and gifts (not yet wrapped) crammed into every nook and cranny. Yes. my husband has to go through an entire obstacle course to get from one end of our room to the other.  Yes, I have yet to check my holiday gift list and see whether it is 20 (or 30) more people I need to shop for. And yes, yes, yes: I do know that I have 2 days left till Christmas Eve, when the gifts that are still in their unwrapped state are supposed to be sitting under other people’s trees.

But! When the going gets tough, the tough go scrapping.


So here’s what I came up with today. I was going through the forum in my playground at Jessica’s and, after reading this ongoing thread about how our famous mom-and-daughter team are playing tug-of-war over some great shutters that daughter bought and that mom wants to buy from her, with the rest of us jumping in on the playful fray, on a total whim (crazy I know), I was inspired to create a layout that involved shutters.

It took daughter (that would be my friend, Noel) some time to search for a photo of her and mom (that would be my friend, Jackie) together. Jackie, if you’re reading this, run over to Noel’s house and get some photos taken asap! 😛 It took countless tries (and a really long, really fun chat session) for Noel to get this photo scanned in and sent to me. She is so NICE. Right, Noel? 😉

So anyway, here’s what’s waiting for them in their inbox when they get up in the morning:

Noel and Jackie

{ Click on image for larger view }


photo by stoneraven at stock.xchnge (altered) ~ flower brushes by jason gaylor at designfruit ~ photoblast action used on jackie’s and noel’s photo ~ word art by me! 😛 ~ grungy overlays (used 4 in all) by me! 😛

And since the scanning of the photo took a long time to accomplish, here’s what I came up with while waiting: my own version. hehe.


You think this could pass for one of my Daily December pages (of which I have just ONE to my name?) 😆

I wanted to give out the page as a plopper freebie, but I still have to check with stoneraven and jason gaylor if they’ll agree to that. 😉 If they say yes, the plopper is so yours, my sweeties!

Okay, now I really must get back to the holiday to-do’s. I’ve played the entire day and I need to make up for that this entire night.

Catch you again soon, my sweeties! ((((hugs))))