Yep. Lotsa buzz going on around here. Starting to feel like a real bee (not a queen, though… that’s wishful thinking. I’m more like the worker type or the drone 😆 )

BUT! It’s all good, right? There is always so much to be thankful for! And on that note, before I forget, Happy Thanksgiving to one and all! Hope you had an awesome time celebrating all that’s warm and wonderful in your life (and hope you had a great Black Friday shopping spree, too! 😀 )

We’ve got a lot to catch up on, so I hope you’ve got your shopping for the day done (at least for today 😛 ). So get comfy, sit back, grab that cold drink (or warm, if the snow outside is starting to freeze you), and put your feet up… and here we go!

The Gift that Lasts Forever

Have you gone Christmas shopping yet? You have? No fair… you can do mine. 🙂

I haven’t done any Christmas shopping, but that’s okay… there’s time to freak. Let’s see… I have exactly 19 days to go on a wild race to the stores. (And believe me, given the Christmas traffic in my part of the world, that’s not a lot of days to shop in. It’s not surprising to spend a quarter of each day sitting in traffic–and that’s if you’re lucky. *sigh* Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating. It’s just that I like traffic–any kind of traffic, any length of traffic–as much as I like … hmmm… bitter gourd. 😛 Each holiday season, I tell myself I’m going to shop the entire year next year, so that by December I would have no one left to shop for–you know, that dream of sitting contentedly, all gifts wrapped and ready to be delivered way before the 20th day of December–and of course, every year December rolls around and I wonder where that shop-early resolution got shelved during the past 11 months. What can I say? It’s an elusive dream. 😆 )

But hey, guess what? There’s a gift you can give which doesn’t require you to lock arms with the rest of the country as they run around the malls, looking at their lists and checking them twice. Better yet, this gift is truly special, the kind that doesn’t make you fat, that doesn’t collect dust on a shelf, that doesn’t get broken if dropped. This is the gift that lives on, long after the wrapper has been turned into recycled paper… (the season allows me to be cheesy, right?). It’s  gift of learning, of discovery, of creating, of celebrating.

So yeah! Give the gift of digi-goodness to those you love this season! (Yes, that includes you! You can give yourself this gift too!)

There’s a huge, first-time-ever, crazy-generous gift over at our Spraground, and it’s called the Holiday Sale! Jessica has taken the best-selling digital courses and slapped on a huge discount on them, and there are even bundled offers (where you get a really, really great class 😉 for free if you take the bundle of 3 courses).


It’s so awesome that you can even divide the bundle gift between you and your friends! (You can give the entire bundle, lock stock and barrel, to your BFF 😀 or you can give one or two courses to your friend and keep the third and the free one for yourself. Oooor you can even give the four courses to yourself if you just joined us on our Spraground recently for our super-successful Stories In Hand free course and decided you like our Spraground enough to paint your name on a swing. 😉

The sale goes on till Christmas Day, so you can totally do your last-minute shopping on the web as well. You can send the gift either with a print-able card (we’ve got them on the Spraground–you just need to download them and type or write the coupon code before you give them to your loved ones), or you can send the gift via email.  See? Isn’t Jes awesome? She thought of everything to make life in the fast-season lane easy for you! 🙂

(Alright, you may run to the Spraground and grab those courses now… I’ll wait right here for you to come back. >heehee< )

(Oh and PS. the image is click-able… it’ll take you right over to our Spraground! 😉 )

PAD makes a Comeback

Remember the photo-a-day we had last May, where we took a photo each day of the month, and at the end we have an entire day-by-day account of the extraordinary found in the ordinary days? We have that going on again over at our Spraground, upon the suggestion of one of my dearest friends, Lindsan. We’re taking a photo a day for each day of December (especially tricky, if you’re wrapped up in a million things to do this month, or especially exciting, if you’re one of the more organized people who’ve got their decor up and the gifts all wrapped and are just waiting for the 25th to roll around. If you’re the latter, I wanna be you. 😀 )

It’s only Day 4 and over at the special December 2008 Photo-A-Day gallery that Jes put up for all those who want to join (yes, that would be you, too, if you haven’t yet joined… COME!), there are soooo many wonderful photos and layouts coming up! I wish I had the time to leave love on all of them (yep, that’s on my to-do list too)… one of these days, I’m going to be successful at catching up with this! (There were 24 pages of photos/layouts last time I checked. )

If you want to take a photo a day and collect warm fuzzies from the awesome folks over at our Spraground but just found out about it now, come and join us anyway! (You can always post the previous days, a few days late! 🙂 )

And in case you’re thinking twice… there’s another special treat that Jes has cooked up to make our Photo-A-Day adventures more fun! Go read about it on her blog HERE.

And just to show you what a win-win situation we have here, at the end of December not only will you have had the chance to win a great prize, not only will you have experienced the special brand of Spraground warmth in our community, not only will you have had something exciting to do with your camera for every single day of an entire month, but–best of all–you’ll have 31 photos worth of wonderful memories, preserved forever either in photographs or in layouts!

How awesome is that?

Totally! Here now are my first four days of December PAD (with stories interspersed):

Day 1: Bread for Breakfast


A few weeks ago, some close friends of dh and mine invited us to a joint-birthday celebration at this little deli where they sell the yummiest and freshest French bread ever! Since then, I’ve filled our table with all the different types of French bread (and yes, with the cheese and the sausages to go with it! Mmmmm!)

Warm bread and Christmas warmth… it’s a perfect fit!

Day2:  Igloo, Southeast-Asian Style

When I was a kid, I wanted to have my own playhouse. I had a nipa hut in our backyard, complete with ladder and windows that you kept open with sticks (authentic!), but I didn’t really like spending time in there because it was hot and it made me itchy (and between me and the teddy bear family I kept in it, there just wasn’t enough space). And to my little mind, it wasn’t cool. hehe. What was cool for me and my brother, 2 years older, was having our own treehouse. There was just one tiny problem: though our backyard was full of trees, they weren’t members of the treehouse-strong-branch family. The closest we ever got to making our treehouse back then was hanging a floral blanket over the branch of the aratilis* tree. It probably looked pathetic to the adults, but for us, it was treehouse-teepee heaven. 😀

(*aratilis – For those with green thumbs: I did a google search for aratilis, and found out that it belongs to the genus Muntingia, and is a close relative of the Jamaican cherry. It’s tinier than the first joint of your pinky finger; it’s green and hard when it isn’t ripe, and red and squishy when it’s ripe. Never enjoyed eating it, though my sister loved it. 😆 )

So… this yearning for a playhouse–is it genetic, you think? Is it something that all kids pass through? Because all my kids passed through a stage of trying to build their own playhouses (never mind that there are Little Tykes ready-built playhouses; there must be a primal urge to build a cave with one’s own hands).

My fifth son just built his a few days ago. Right in the comfort of our living room.


Yep. I knew those huge floor throw pillows had to be good for sumthin’. 😆

Day3: Oh Happy Day!

Oh happy day! Oh happy day! My package finally came in! My long-awaited Bind-It-All, accessories, space bar, acrylic and chipboard covers, and o-rings, finally in my home! Yabba-yabba-yeah-YEAH!


Okay, so maybe I kind of went overboard with all those o-rings… shhhhh. ( Wouldn’t you, if it took about a month for the supplies to get to you? 😆 Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m justifying it. heehee).

Of course, since I happen to be a gadget queen, it should come as no surprise that I totally love this tool?


A corner rounder that can cut through chipboard and other thick stuff! Mmmmm! It’s like a long-lost relative of my beloved Cropadile! 😆

Now, all I have to do is learn how to use these. Unlock the Power of the Tools! Indulge in the Gadget Love Affair! Let the hybrid games begin! bahahahaha!

Oh! Along with the BIA, I also got a bunch of books (to read during the Christmas break–yay!), ordered from both Amazon and ideabooks4u.


Love these two stores, amazon & ideabooks4u. The best part? Great customer service. I ran into a snag with Amazon (Ali’s book was listed as available, and then not), and they fixed it up as best as they could. Gotta love that. This was the first time I ordered from ideabooks4u (to get that Ali book which wasn’t available in Amazon), and they did an awesome job of delivering quickly and shipping the items wonderfully.

I am a sucker for great customer service. The product, whatever it is, has to be fabulous–of course, or else, why buy it, right? But even if I’ve got an excellent product staring me in my face, if it isn’t accompanied by excellent customer service, I can easily turn around and march right out, empty-handed and wallet-full, without an iota of regret.

Let me digress a bit and mention that (based on my experience) all digi shoppes are awesome and I have not yet met a designer who wasn’t a really, really nice, generous, sweet person. But I need to give a shout-out to my friend, Becky, who handles customer service at Each and every time I have run to her for help, whether it’s a tiny issue or a huge concern, she has always treated my pleas for help with much gentleness, concern, kindness, and immediate action. If there was an award given for excellent customer service in a digi shoppe, I’d vote for Becky any day. She’s definitely one of the reasons why SBG is among my favorite digi-shoppes! 🙂

I think it’s totally great to take an ordinary day and make it special by celebrating people who do their jobs with much heart and dedication. Just appreciating them is enough to put a smile of gratitude and quiet contentment on my face! (Among these people would be the three security guards who serve at my sons’ school. They are such a joy to meet every morning! Everyday when I take my kids to school, I’m greeted with big smiles and warm “Good morning!” greetings… every. single. day. Rain or shine. No fail. I love that, you know? That cheerfulness in the morning that lasts all the way till later on in the day when I come over to pick up my kids–it’s so precious! They’re definitely one of the best things I love about my sons’ school! 🙂 What about you–whom would you like to celebrate today? 😉

Day4: Belen on a Deadline

Ever tried crafting on a deadline?

Last Wednesday afternoon, my son R came home with news:

“Mom, my teacher wants me to submit a belen for extra credit.”

Belen is the Filipino term for the nativity scene, which can be found at Christmastime in every Filipino home (that, and the ubiquitous parol, or Christmas star). 😀

I noted the information and… promptly forgot about it, thinking there’d be the weekend to deal with it.

Well. Yesterday afternoon, R came home with news again: “The belen is due tomorrow.”

And: “It has to be artistic.”

Whaaaaa? You need this is less than 24 hours?

Zoom. Off we rushed to the malls to look for a nativity scene that could be bought off the shelves. Shouldn’t be a problem, right? After all, this is standard Christmas decor fare.

Wrong. Six stores and two pairs of tired legs after, I decided to buy a nativity scene figure and some raw materials and c.r.e.a.t.e. the nativity scene. I had absolutely no idea how it would come out; I only knew that it was our only option, since the bookstores we went to had absolutely no books with a nativity scene of the paper-doll kind; and none of the toy stores had any toy nativity scenes.

Here’s what the preliminary stages of the nativity-scene-creative process looked like:

The bare naked facts:


The backside:
(jumble of rice lights peeping on the right side)

The front:

And let’s not forget the recipe:


extra thick chipboard, leftover unused chopsticks from Japanese-food takeout, some strapping tape, glue sticks, PVC glue, brown crepe paper, glittery fronds, a set of tiny rice lights, leftover animal toys borrowed from children’s toy box, and one store-bought Holy Family figure

Tools Needed:

glue gun, cutter, cutting mat, and yer good old trusty Cropadile 😉


Mix together, pulling cobwebby strands of glue from the glue gun (which manage to find their way all over the stuff). Cut some, measure some, laugh a lot. Plug in the lights when done, and voila!

The finished product, and my Day 4 Photo-a-Day accomplished as well! 😆


Freebie Mini

And since you made it this far, I thought it would be really nice if I could reward you with a little freebie, right?

This is just a tiny one… I have found that if I wait till I’ve got a fuller set to give away, I end up not blogging for days while working away on my designs. Then I end up torturing you with these long, long, looooong posts! 😆

So I decided to try a different route and give off little freebies now and then… that way I get to see you more often, and you get to download more (albeit smaller) freebies! Does that work for you? 🙂

So here’s what we have for today:


This is a 6×6 chipboard journaling block… just type (or write, if you’re doing hybrid 😉 ) your journaling on the lines, and voila!

Click on the image to download the journaling block (or should I say journaling circle?) 😀

PS. 4shared no longer allows comments on the download page unless you have an account with them and are logged in… so I would totally embrace you if you took the time to leave love on my blog as you download. 🙂

And before I go (it’s mid-dawn once again!), I have a little riddle for you:

Question: What could a 14-year-old teenage girl and her middle-aged aunt possibly have in common?

Answer: A love for Jason Mraz! Well… more specifically, absolute adoration for the boy by the teenage girl, and absolute love for the music (not the boy, LOL) by the aunt.

And because my niece is in Paris, this one is especially for her, in hopes that she manages to bump into the boy of her dreams while he walks along the streets again, someday in the future. 🙂

Enjoy, and I’ll see you soon, my sweeties!

PS. I can’t believe the guy just chased those pigeons down! Ooogy! I remember the first time I was in Paris, and dh wanted to take a photo with all the pigeons on the street… and I love birds. NOT. I think you can tell from my hunched up shoulders and the body-tilt (away from the birds, far far away) in the photo below. bwahahaha! 😆



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

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

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

LOAD is Done!

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

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

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

Here are the LOADs I was busy with:

Hiding Place

Journaling reads:

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


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

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

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


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

The Message of the Manger

Journaling reads:

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

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


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

12 Year Old Christmas Gift

Journaling reads:

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


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

First-Class Mail

Journaling reads:

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


Michelle Coleman – paper and glitters, Miriam Lima – papers

Lyrical Laughter

Journaling reads:

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


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


Journaling reads:

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

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

Good Food & Home

Quote by Edith Sitwell:

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

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

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

Must Not Forget…

… this funny tonight.

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

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

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

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

And you thought there was no freebie…

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

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

Here’s what it looks like:

{ Click on image for larger view }

LivEdesigns BearHug Preview

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s all for today, folks! 😀

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

Oh. My. Goodness!!!

You will never believe what came in the mail today.

I got a package, I got a package, I got a package, woohoo!!! :mrgreen:

I received a notice from the post office this morning, telling me that I had a package waiting for me. I hoped against hope that it would be from my dear friend, Kari (I just received a couple of weeks back a beautiful Christmas card from our mutual friend, Laurie, that totally made my day too!!!).  So I immediately had the package picked up, and while I was chatting with some friends over at our playground, the package came.

I know I was probably a blabbering fool at the chat–I was so excited!!! I don’t even remember what I said; I just know it involved a lot of woohoo’s and jumping up and down and running around in circles and dancing like crazy. 😆

A little aside: when I got the box, it had been opened. And hastily put back together again. See, that’s the thing I don’t get about the post office in this country. Why do they do that? Doesn’t that constitute some deprivation of one’s right to privacy? (Not that there was anything private in there, but it IS nice to be the one who tears open the tape of your own package instead of having someone get there and do it before you.  And my friend Kari did such a great job of putting the box and the gift inside together so nicely… 😦 ) I suspect they open it because they want to check if there are $$ inside the package. After all, if it were to check the safety of what’s inside, there are Xray machines to do that, right? hmmmm. Very strange, Watson, very strange.

Here’s what it looked like when I got it:

The Best Surprise of the Year

BUTTTT!!! Even so, that didn’t dampen my excitement!

And here’s where it gets even MORE exciting!!! I opened the box and discovered a Christmas card from Kari 8) , and another card with a note, a long note, on it! WOOHOO BIG TIME!!! 😀

I love receiving letters!!! 😀

And wait. It gets even better. As I was happily freaking about the package with my girlfriends on the chat, it dawned on me that they knew about the package and its contents! Apparently they were all in on it, they all had something to do with getting the package to me… now how TERRIFICALLY COOL is that???? I looooooove my girlfriends at the playground, they are soooo sweet! Now THAT is what totally touched my heart!!! I have seen this book through the making but to have the real thing in my hands: wow. And to know that it got to me flying over the oceans on the wings of my sweet girlfriends’ love… that’s an infinitely bigger WOW!!!

I guess here is where I have to explain why this book is so special: this is a book that we, rockers at Jessica’s playground, came up with as a surprise for Jes (if you look at her blog and scroll to the end of December, you’ll find photos there of the same book). It was a collaborative effort of all the wonderful girls on our playground. Laurie came up with the idea seed, Kari pushed and pulled and took over the reigns (Kari’s da boss! 😆 ), Tori came up with the mosaic cover, and I came up with the dedication page and the two final pages at the end of the book. Every wonderful girlfriend on the book contributed her own masterpiece (without their pages, the book would be nothing) AND contributed time, effort, even finances, to get this book off the Shutterfly site and into Jessica’s hands! WOW! This is working together at its very best!

I guess I also have to explain that I could not, for one reason or another, upload any of my page files to Shutterfly (thank you Veevs and Project Posse for doing the uploading for me; where would I be without you?) So that meant that I also would not be able to order my own copy of the book! So that is why I am just sooooo awed by the book in my hands today. I can stare at it all day long, know what I mean? Rub my eyes, stare. Shake my head in quiet pleasure. Repeat: rub my eyes, stare…


Kari, you are amazing. Thank you, my dear friend, for organizing this whole thing!!! (Even if you did it behind my back. hahaha!!!) Tori and Laurie, you too! PP rocks! And everyone on my playground, THANK YOU!

I feel totally privileged, honored, and blessed to count ALL MY GIRLFRIENDS on our playground among my dearest, dearest friends. Actually, no, they’re more than just girlfriends and best friends. They’re SISTAHS in every sense of the word and more! (My ties of affection to you are so strong that they can build a bridge across the oceans and we won’t even need visas to visit each other! Ha!)

There are no words that can accurately express or even come close to my gratitude and overflowing affection for you, my sweeties, so here’s a “card” I made (they say a picture paints a thousand words… so here are my thousand words, and more–uh… keep your eyes on my message more than on my funny face, okay? 😆 )

Me and the Surprise

Thank you. Seriously. For making this the best day of the year ever. I can’t say it enough.

Oh and PS? My son will attest to the fact that since I got the book and the card, I have not let it out of my sight and reach for a single minute. WOOHOO!!! 😀

Oh, and of course, I had to take photos of the masterpiece that Jessica’s rockin’ girls put together for her, right? 😀 (And kari’s lovely handmade card too!)

Jes’ Book

And here’s my friend who put it all together:

Kari’s Page

I wish I could put the photos of all the pages of my darling friends’ pages over here… but that would mean that I would be putting the ENTIRE book on my blog! 🙂

Girls… I love ya! You know I do!

Almost Caught Up

Almost. Not quite, but I’m getting there.

Did three layouts yesterday in an attempt to get caught up with the LOAD requirements I had failed to post on time. I’m not giving up the goal though… I’m still working towards finishing 31 layouts by the 31st of January.

Here are the three I did:

10 More

Journaling reads:

wheeeee! only ten more days till christmas!!!


Jessica’s fab DD template, Michelle Coleman’s topper, Katie Pertiet’s grid brush AND Papers by Leora Sanford, Lisa Warren, and Heidi Larsen(slightly recolored); Emily Merritt’s button; Christina Renee’s doodled circles overlay

Journaling reads:

brrrr… ….break out the blankets and the jackets! we may live by the equator but that doesn’t stop jack frost from nipping at our noses and toesies!


Jessica’s fab Daily December template; Michelle Coleman’s Topper; Katie Pertiet’s Grid Brush AND Angela Shetzer’s papers &, holly stamp from her Downhome Christmas kit; John’s Photoblast EZActions

Little Santa

Journaling reads:

more than the games, more than the chance to have your photo taken with santa, more than the yummy food laid out on the tables, what you loved most of all was giving your classmates christmas gifts. so wonderfully generous. so typically you.


Jessica’s fab Daily December template; Michelle Coleman’s Topper; Katie Pertiet’s Grid Brush & doodled Christmas title AND Michelle Coleman’s MerryLittleXmas papers; MiriamLima’s flower; EvaKipler’s Artistic-Flourish sequins; Anna Aspnes’ quote; ScrappyPony’s Holiday Grunge Overlay

Balancing in White

Our lesson at 2peas for this week had to do with White Balance. Which is a big word for just making sure that your photos’ colors are “calibrated” according to the light source that you’re shooting in. So if you’re shooting indoors with incandescent lighting, you can get a better-looking photo by tinkering around with your camera’s WB, instead of coming up with a photo that looks like everyone ate much too much mangoes and papayas and therefore turned orange. 😆

Our challenge for this week was to take 3 or more indoor photos: one using the automatic white balance setting of the camera, one with the “tungsten” setting (or its equivalent), and another with White Balance set manually.

There were bonus points for trying out the different settings for white balance. WB settings vary from camera to camera. On my D40 I have an entire list: Auto, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Direct Sunlight, Cloudy, Shade, and Manuel. I tried them all with exactly the same item and without fiddling around with the fine-tuning knob (According to ken rockwell, this is something unique to Nikon, which Canon doesn’t have: the white balance settings on Nikon allow us to further refine the white balance settings, even if they’re “set,” so that we can come up with the best possible color calibration when we take a photo).

Here are the results of the experiment:

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WB Auto Incandescent

Incandescent WB setting looks a little greenish, don’t you think?

WB Shade & Direct Sunlight

I think the Shade setting looks too orange… Ken Rockwell says that this setting is best for shooting in the shade, which produces colors which are normally bluish (hence the orange balances the blue). It also works, he says, for shooting on cloudy days when light from the clouds casts a bluish tint, or when you have a subject that’s backlit. Nice to know, right? 😉

WB Cloudy & Fluorescent

Cloudy WB casts a warm tone and is better, Ken says, for outdoor shots in direct sunlight. The fluorescent WB setting I know I do not like. 😛

Manual White Balance

CREDITS: Jason Gaylor’s brushes, Papers by Petit Moineux

I find that when I set white balance manually, it was closest to the auto setting, which brings me to something that I learned:

Nikon’s Auto White Balance totally rocks. 😀 I think I’ll keep my white balance setting on Auto, though it’s terrific knowing how to manipulate the different manual settings, just in case I find myself in a situation that requires it.

Alright! All for now! Must get working on the next freebie for you, my sweeties!

Catch you later! 😉

In Love with Cameran

For those who are wondering who Cameran is, that would be my camera (camera + Nikon = Cameran 😆 )

I am totally loving the manual mode now (though I think I’ll shift back to the aperture priority mode for regular daily shots. Just nice to know that I can tweak the way my camera works according to the effect I want to get). Am totally loving the tripod that hubby so generously bequeathed to me, too! (Am I blessed having him or am I blessed having him? 😀 )

So I played around with Part 2 of Week 2’s lesson of the 2peas Photography course. If you’ve been reading the past posts, the 1st week had to do with aperture (lens opening) priority, and this week had to do with shutter speed. Part 2 (you get to advance if you’re a diligent student, 😆 ) is setting the camera to Manual mode (why is this such a dreaded setting, I wonder?) and applying what you know about ISO, aperture, and shutter speed to tweak your shooting according to what you want to come up with.

We were actually supposed to choose one priority to tweak in the manual mode: either aperture or shutter speed (because once you set your ISO and one of the two other items, then the camera will adjust the 3rd item for you. Nice, right? 😉 )

I decided I wanted to try both! So I played.

Here are my shots in manual mode with the following settings: f/4.5 ~ focal length: 52mm ~ ISO: 800

{Click on images for larger views}

Manual Mode with Aperture set at f/4.5, focused on book in front:

Manual with Aperture Priority, Front Focus

Manual Mode with Aperture set at f/4.5, focused on books at the back:

Manual Mode with Aperture at f/4.5, Back Focused

Note: I’ve recently begun my goodreads (didn’t really get much up, unless you count my setting up an account and one book review, hahaha!) so I wanted a shot that I could use for my profile photo over there. I took 2 shots: in the first, I focused on the front part; in the second I focused on the back part. (In the second photo you can catch a sneak preview of the books that will appear on my to-read list. Come to think of it, these same ones will be featured in my to-cover-with-plastic-first list. 😆 )

Here is my one and only shot taken in manual mode, prioritizing shutter speed.

Shutter Speed at 6 seconds.

Shutter Speed Set at 6sec

I set the shutter speed at 6 seconds with the same ISO of 800 and a 32mm focal length. I used a tripod because of the ultra-low speed I wanted. (Had I held it in my hands, simply breathing out of my nose would have blurred everything in my photo. hahaha!) I placed it at a very slow speed because I wanted to blur the lights coming from Buzz Lightyear.

Considering that it took soooo long to set up and just a few seconds to take the shot, I was pretty pleased with the results (if I may say so ever so humbly). It was so funny because I had to tie Buzz Lightyear’s legs together with rubber band to keep the on-button activated. Then I had to figure out how to make Buzz stand on his legs at an angle (had to tie him with gold cords, which you’ll see in the background behind him) so that I could get the full effect of the lights. Of course all the other Buzzes and Woody and Zorb had to lean or sit at varying angles just so Buzz the LIGHTyear guy could really light up the place.

This is soooo fun! Play along with me, why don’t you? Then link me up to your photos so I can ooh and aah at them too! 😉

LOAD Day 17

Okay, I missed upload cutoff time by 2 seconds again. I’ve got to stop playing long enough to upload way before the last minute, don’t you think? 😆

So here’s my 17th layout for January and my 12th Daily December layout. Woohoo!!! In 14 days I’ll have a theme album completed, all thanks to LOAD’s kick in my butt! Thank you, Laine!!!

Gingerbread Gone

Journaling reads:

five minutes tops. and then they were gone. those gingerbread boys never stood a chance with you, my dear hungry boys.


Jessica’s fab Daily December template, Katie Pertiet’s grid frame, Michelle Coleman’s topper, Emily Merritt’s and Heidi Larsen’s papers, Karel’s gingerbread bowl, Anna Aspnes’ ribbon (recolored), and Bren Taylor-Boone’s alpha.

Reality TV, anyone?

Did any one of you catch American Idol yesterday?

We had a ball of a time watching Reynaldo Lapuz. What a guy! He happens to be Filipino. Actually, from the very first moment when dh, my kids and I caught the teaser of the show on TV, we KNEW that this guy happened to be Filipino. We were rolling on the floor with laughter. What a great guy. How can anyone help not liking him, simple as he is?

Paula, too, cracked us up with her interpretative hand signals and her bopping along. Amazing.

Dh checked Youtube minutes after the show ended and, true enough, there he was! on Youtube. Within minutes! So funny.

Here, in case you missed it. (And if you didn’t, watch it again. It gets better each time).

What were your favorite parts? These were mine:

“Simon, you are a great person. (sniffle, sniffle, voice breaking, tears threatening to fall) You give chance to everyone to sing to the whole world. I’m thank you.”

“You are heaven’s chosen to give chance to any talent for free of charge!”

“Even they throw you negative words but there are many people who really like you, who really admire you. One of them is meeeeh. You are a great person, Sssssaaaahmon.”

“You’re my glory, Ssssssssaaaahmon.”

Seriously, though, laughter aside, you know what I really, really like about this guy? (Aside from the fact that he’s sooo Pinoy!) He is just so guileless, so good-natured, so happy. So Filipino, actually.

You know that part where Simon tells him no? He just goes and hugs Simon. I mean, how gooooood can a person’s heart be? Whereas 90-95% would walk out and say bad words and curse, here’s this guy, just so thankful and so appreciative of the chance to sing. Amazing.

On a deeper level, I guess it teaches us how to be grateful. In a world where we often forget that it’s the simplest things that matter.

Like I said, what a guy, huh?

(And mark my words, this guy is going to be a greater hit than William Hung ever was. 😆 )

Here’s another Pinay (slang for Filipina… for men the equivalent is Pinoy) who made it big on Ellen Degeneres’ show. What’s funny about it is that it shocks people that she has a good voice. Wasn’t shocked that she could sing well, actually, because there are tons of people in my homeland who can sing well (and there are tons who can’t either. But Filipinos in general love entertainment and performing). People on the street sing well. The man in the bus can break out in song and he’ll be in tune. Let a band play on the streets, and passersby will bob their heads and move their bodies in perfect rhythm. I guess what shocked me more was that she was actually discovered on youtube, and Ellen was able to give to her an opportunity that Charice Pempengco probably never even dared to dream of.

Me? I am in awe of her, simply because she can do what I can’t. 🙂

You absolutely hafta, gotta take this GREAT TEST!!!

for photographers, Photoshoppers, and generally anyone addicted to digital stuff (that would be you, and me, and you, and you too, and you … 😆 )

The objective of the test, called Fake or Foto, is for you to determine which of the photos in a set of 10 is computer generated and which is an actual photograph. Try it. You’ll be amazed.

And what’s great about the test is you can be very visual about it if you’re feeling tired and just need some entertainment. Or, if you’re intense, you may want to summon everything you know about photography, lighting, shadows, effects, and Photoshop to help you get a higher score. Either way, it’s fun.

Find the Fake or Foto test here.

Click on the link, take the test, then come back and post in the comments what your score was. I’d love to know!!!

Alrighty. Need to have dinner and then I’ll be back in a bit to post the link for Set 3 of Pasteleria.

Catch you later, alligator! 😉

Yawning away…

but just wanted to share with you the second set (out of four) of Pasteleria!

{Click on image for larger view}

LivEdesigns Pasteleria Set 2

Here’s what you’ll be downloading (if you wish to!  😉 ) Soft Sun is a patterned orange paper; Caress is a solid lavender paper; and Teal Garden is the teal patterned paper you see on the right of the preview. (Credits for some commercial use items I used to make these freebies are in the TOU.) You’ll also be getting the stitched felt oval frame with embroidered flowers (not the adorable little puppy, which is a free stock photo taken by bjearwicke. My friend Jackie would approve of the preview photo… 😉 ).

I thought it would be much easier to put a photo in the frame if I included a layer mask for it, so what you’ll be getting is a psd layered file . Just put your photo in a layer between the frame and the mask, and do a CTRL-G (CTRL-ALT-G for full version Photoshop), resize to fit the frame,  and voila! (I’m assuming everyone who downloads is using a psd-compatible software program. If there’s anyone who needs a simple PNG file, drop me a line in the comments and I’ll send you the png file  (the frame alone, without the photo mask).

Here’s where you go to get the freebie.

Missed LOAD cut-off! C’est la vie!

I missed the LOAD cut-off for Day 16 by 6 measly minutes, but that’s okay. That doesn’t stop me from attempting to create 31 layouts by the end of this month.

Here’s my LOAD Day 16 layout, (Don’t) Say a Single Word.

Daily December 11, LOAD Day 16

If you think your eyes are getting blurry when you try to read the tag on the right side, you can be assured that you don’t need glasses. Sorry… I had to blur the personal information over there.  😕


Jessica Sprague’s fab Daily December template; Katie Pertiet’s grid frame; Michelle Coleman’s topper and sparkle flake; and Misty Mareda’s staples. Papers are by Michelle Coleman, Jackie Eckles, and Lori Barnhurst. Used an atomic cupcake action.

Wee Willie Winkie

is calling me to bed! Gotta go. I need to be up in exactly 3 hours as I’ve got a meeting to attend. Can’t be late, can’t be late, can’t be late (as the Mad Hatter would say).

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

PS. The next set of Pasteleria should be up tomorrow (or today… since tomorrow is today 😆 ) so do come visit soon!

Missed the train…

by about 3 seconds. THREE. seconds.

So my LOAD layout didn’t quite make it to Day 12. 😳

But that’s okay. Today is a Sunday in my part of the world. And Sundays have always been family days. I normally work on my LOAD submissions in the last 6 hours before submission deadline (hehe… procrastination habits die hard), but this morning I couldn’t, because there was Mass to attend and then we had lunch out, and then a couple of other must-do stuff that we postponed (like getting photos taken for our passports and visas… ya hear me, GFs??? This is for you-know-what happening on you-know-where in June!!! 😛 )

Bottom-line is… Sundays are family days. And so I had to make a choice between uploading my LO for the contest or putting family first. That was a no-brainer. (Not that I didn’t wince and kick myself for not working on the LOAD Day 12 sooner, but there were no second-thoughts as to which I would give up today).

So anyway, here’s my LOAD for Day 12. And another one should be coming up soon for Day 13. ha. Two LOADS in one day. That should be a good way to repair my not meeting the Day 12 deadline.

Christmas in our Home

Journaling reads:

(Subheading in white): our home is decked with boughs of holly, falalalala lalala la

(Text): i love the extra warmth and coziness our home exudes at christmastime


Jessica Sprague’s Daily December template, Katie Pertiet’s Grid Brush, Michelle Coleman’s Topper plus Miriam Lima’s papers, Lisa Warren’s cardinal (recolored and applied atomic cupcake actions on this one), Leora Sanford’s star border, Emily Merritt’s buttons (some recolored), Atomic Cupcake actions

More Playing Around with Photos

Okay, I was tickled pink by the feeling of doing “assignments”for the 2Peas 12-Week Photography Effect (throwback to my grade school days when I loved homework… didn’t I say I was an alien? 😆 ), so I did another take on the Aperture challenge.

Some things I did differently this time:

1.  I didn’t attach my SB800 external flash (if you’re playing around with aperture settings and you want to create the bokeh effect, the flash really minimizes the effect a lot. Which just means that you’ll see a lot less difference when playing around with your aperture settings in a flash-lit setup). Ergo, best to shoot in a setup that uses available light.

2. I also greatly decreased the distance between my lens and the subject I was taking (in this case a small vase of flowers): again, the bokeh effect is greatly enhanced by this simple act of moving closer. You also end up with a much wider range of f/stop values (but of course, you’re limited to the end-limits that your particular lens allows).

3. Knowing that I would not print out these photos, I changed my ISO setting to 800 (normally I set mine at 200 or, in darker conditions where I want to use available light, at 400). What this simply means is that there is much less blurring that can occur with a higher ISO setting because it allows you to get the same exposure setting with a much faster shutter speed. (Shooting at low aperture values slows down shutter speed; that is why there is a greater chance for blurring to occur… unless you prop your camera on a tripod, which I –of course– failed to use this time. 😛 ) Higher ISO’s, though, also mean more chance of your photos showing up as grainy if you’re printing them out. For viewing on the web, thankfully, the graininess is practically nil.

Things I kept the same:

Simple: My Nikon D40x and my Nikkor 18-200mm AF-S lens.

Here are the shots I took today (if you look at the wooden slats and the trees, you’ll see a more pronounced difference, compared to my shots of the bikers yesterday):

1. At f/4.6

Flowers in a Vase f/4.6

2. At f/8

Flowers in a Vase f/8

3. At f/32

Flowers in a Vase f/32

Cool, right? Aperture setting is a wonderful thing! (It’s the setting that I keep my camera on all the time, actually. That’s how much I love it!)

Okay, that’s enough playing around on my blog for today! I really need to get to work on my freebs for you, or I’ll be breaking one of my New Year’s resolutions too early in the game. 🙂

Freebs coming soon! (Give me 24 hours). Hang tight! 😀

Loading up on fun…

Got my LOAD for Day 11 done, so that I can work uninterruptedly on a freeb for you, my sweeties!

But first, while I get my creative muse all warmed up, let’s sit and chat a while, why don’t we?

LOAD Day 11 & Daily December Day 7

Little Boys in the Big School

Journaling reads:

you were so excited to visit your big brother’s school. you proudly declared to everyone you met: “we’re the little brothers of A!”


Jessica’s fab Daily December template, Michelle Coleman’s Topper, Katie Pertiet’s Grid Brush PLUS Mindy Terasawa’s Groovy Boy Paper, Ribbon (recolored), Tab (recolored); Amber Clegg’s Postmarked Stamp (Explore); Sara Carling’s Aero Leather Tag & Pog

I now have 7 pages in my Daily December album (and to me, that’s an accomplishment, because note that it is now January… if not for the push that joining LOAD gave me, I would probably have completed my Daily December… uhhh… perhaps this coming December 2008. 😆 ) I’m hoping by the end of January I would’ve completed my Daily December album too! (Hey, dreaming is free! 😀 )

Playing Around with Photos

Remember a few posts ago (See Adventure: Word for the Month), I was talking about going for dinner at a restaurant with my hubby and our good friends Jun and Abby?

This was actually a delayed get-together for New Year’s, and a celebration of the completion of the article I wrote for a feature on Jun and Abby for a glossy magazine which features the who’s who in Asian society. It was the first time that Jun agreed to be featured at length in a magazine, and he had a whole set of conditions, one of which was that I do his write-up! Now how cool was that! 😉

On the other hand, it was extremely pressuring too–I mean, when someone believes in you that much, it’s scarier to slip on the tightrope, right? Even if you happened to slip because your foot was itchy, know what I mean? So anyway, the other thing that made it really difficult for me to complete the article (aside from my frustrating habit of self-editing) was the fact that the story of Jun and Abby is soooo rich, so wonderful to tell, so I had a really hard time trying to meet the 5000 character limit (and that was already increased from the original 4000).

But I was happy when I clicked SEND (roughly 24 hours after I had my eye surgery) and my article made its way to the mag editor’s inbox. I furnished a copy to Jun too. The very next morning, I received a basket of the most delicious rice cakes with coconut cream sauce, and a gold box filled with homemade polvoron (the best way I can describe this is milk-sugar powdery “cookies”)… and this note:


I have known Jun since I was 13 years old, and this is the first time I actually got a handwritten note from him. 😆

I must also qualify that I could never have written the article on my own: it was actually the product of a lot of prayer and divine grace. 🙂

So where does the subheading of this post “Playing Around with Photos” come in?

Well… I mentioned that hubby and I were a bit early for the dinner we were having with Jun & Abby, so we walked around, checking out the new mall… I wanted to take photos, but I had to settle for using my cellphone camera because I (kick self, kick self) foolishly resisted the urge to take Cameran along.

When I downloaded the photos, I was pretty shocked. Wait a minute, these aren’t too bad, considering I took them with a cellphone and with pure available light (which was actually not that available, as the skies were dark! 😆 )

Chateau 1771

This is the restaurant where we had dinner. The man on the right was using his cellphone for the right intention, while I was using mine to take photos. Crazy.

Chateau Take 2

We just opened this restaurant last December in the new mall (5th phase of a larger mall). One of the reasons Chateau is totally dear to our hearts is because when my hubby and I got married, we held our reception in the same restaurant (although it was in a different location then).

Since I already embarrassed my husband enough by taking photos >teeheehee< I decided to go all the way! I totally could not resist the play of lines and lights in the entire place!  Here’s more proof:

Don’t these lines remind you of the outline of a house?

I am totally tickled that this shot has been taken by a cellphone camera. C.E.L.L.P.H.O.N.E. camera. Amazing. I had no idea it would come out looking like this (so obvious that I haven’t been using the camera function on my cellphone, huh? 😆 )

The walkway that leads from the driveway and into the rest of the amazing complex (restaurant is on the left side of the photo) reminded me of the Getty Museum walkway with fountains. The long blocks in the middle are the beginnings of fountains (did I mention that the mall is new? So there’s still a lot that’s being done but it’s already looking awesome, even at this early stage).

The Walkway

More Photo Play

Over at 2peasinabucket, there’s a great photography course (free! couldn’t get better than that! 😀 ) given by Joanna Bolick, which promises 12 weeks to better photos. I thought it might be fun to try out their challenges. The one for this week involves using your camera in the Aperture priority mode (I loooove aperture priority mode: that’s the mode that I shoot in about 98% of the time. I only change when I need to do macros… so far). 🙂

The exercise involved shooting something, anything, using the lowest aperture setting that your lens has, then somewhere midway, then at the highest setting. Comparing the photos would reveal the change in the bokeh (that blurry look behind the subject that you’ve focused on).

I know that it would’ve been better if I used a lens more adapted to portrait photography (and therefore with a higher range of f/stop values–or aperture size, or quite simply, how wide the lens opens), but I was too lazy to change lenses. I use a Nikkor 18-200mm AF-S lens and love the range it affords me, so actually, I’ve never taken it off to change to another lens since I put it on. 😆

The downside of my laziness to change lenses is this: the lowest aperture setting I could get was a 4.5, and the highest was a 16. I should maybe try with a different lens to get a more dramatic look, but for now, I’m okay with what I got (Geez. Lazy!)

Here’s what I took (the change is most obvious if you look at the sofa and the pillows behind the bikers in each photo)

At f/ 4.5 :

Bikers f/4.5

At f/8 :

Bikers f/8

At f/16:

Bikers at f/16

I would have preferred to shoot outside in daylight, but it’s been raining (strange, for this time of the year), so the skies have been dark and cloudy (not nicely overcast, which would have been more preferable, really). Oh well.

Alrighty then, can you believe playing around has cost me almost all the daylight today? Gotta get working on those freebies for you!

Catch you later! (((((hugs))))))

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:; 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)))