29 December 2014

A Year End Reflection

One of my favorite places in New York City is Main Street Park. It's a small patch of green right below the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn.

Here's the reason why I love it:

It has an expansive view of lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Jane's Carousel. There's this majestic view of the concrete jungle yet you are so close to the water and surrounded by many trees.  

I only go twice or thrice a year, always in the summer. It's a perfect spot during sunset when natural light makes the buildings glow. When darkness hits, lights from buildings, apartments, the surrounding bridges, and boats on the river reveal another side of the city.  

I always seek gratitude whenever I'm here. 

It's also the muse for a yearly tradition: watercolor practice.

It started in 2012. This was a random sketch in my visual journal. It was colorful, haphazard, full of detail.

In 2013, this is what my skyline looked like. I had just taken watercolor classes where I learned techniques to refine my style.

I liked how you can tell a story with different shades of a single color.

This year, I visited again. This was made quickly, with washes of color layered on top of each other.

And those tiny dots?

It's glitter built into the paint! NYC is a city that always sparkles, doesn't it?

I take comfort in the fact that this city, this bridge, this view will always be there. It will always welcome me back and allow me to stay as long as I want. 

It will be the same, but like my paintings, it will be different each year.  

As another year ends, I'm already looking forward to the summer and the next version of the same painting. 

In a few days, as we begin a new year, I wish to simplify. To pare down to the essentials. But also to make better versions of what already exists.

And I wish the same for you.

25 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

I wish that you are surrounded by family and friends, gratitude in your heart, and gifts that are most meaningful to you.

Here's to the holidays! Cheers everyone! 

22 December 2014

Packages Tied up with String

Hi there! I know you're busy with the rush that comes with the holidays, so I appreciate that you came over today.

I'm sharing a cute yet quick gift wrapping idea.

All we need are red paper bags (purchased at Target's food storage department), adhesive gift tags, and baker's twine or yarn.

Make holes at the top of the bag using a hole punch.

Attach the labels any which way you want.

Now, all you have to do is put in the gift and write a short message.

Tie on some twine and you're ready for some Christmas giving!

Wasn't that blah to TADA!?

15 December 2014

Fun Felt Ornaments

I enjoy making Christmas ornaments as you've seen the past two weeks. The holidays are always busy but crafting is a moment of "me time". Besides, new ornaments contribute to the personal history of our tree.

Today, I'm turning some felt sheets from blah to TADA!

I'm using these miniature cookie cutters as a pattern for the design. I just trace around them with a pencil, always making a pair.

With embroidery floss and a needle, I embellish the felt ornaments.

Then I fuse both sheets together with some hand stitching and finishing with a few knots.

I left an opening on one end so I could stuff it with fiber fill (or clean cotton balls).

Then I close the hole with a few more stitches and knots. Add a piece of thread as a hanging device.

Here is my little mitten. 

And here is my mini tree.

And a red Christmas ball.

More ornaments make it merry! TADA!

08 December 2014

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

Good day lovelies! This week, another idea for a tree ornament.

I'm transforming this from blah to TADA!

What is this, you ask? It was a container for a bite-size cheesecake from one of my favorite neighborhood bakeries. The cheesecake is all gone but I saved the packaging. 

Doesn't it look like a snow globe? I'm turning it into one!

First, I fashioned "snow balls" out of crafter's clay, glued each ball together making a snowman.

I drew on some body parts with a black pen.

Then I made him a scarf out of felt.

On the base of the snow globe, I put a generous amount of glue and a shower of glitter.

With more glue, I attached my snowman to the base.

Plus a little shout-out to snow.

On the plastic dome, I made a hole using a needle, inserted some string and made a few knots. This will be the handle for my ornament.

Attach both parts together, and here it is -- a handmade ornament. TADA!

It's ready for a place on the Christmas tree.

Wishing you all a terrific week ahead!

01 December 2014

Hand-Painted Ornaments

December is upon us and Christmas indeed is a few days away. 

Out in the shops, as early as September, holiday decorations were already up and ready for purchase. I'm not sure if that put people in a holiday mood or got them frustrated.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. But Christmas in December (not August or October).  I managed to put blinders on to avoid all the shiny trim and blinking lights to focus on what's important.  Today, I'll show you what Christmas means to me with a little blah to TADA! 

This is a page I ripped off from last year's Crate and Barrel catalog. I thought it was a cool craft to recreate.

I bought these birch rounds from my favorite craft store when they went on sale.

They're natural, rustic, and bring a bit of the outdoors inside. 

I sanded each one, wiped down any dust, and painted them white.

After letting the paint dry, I made some sketches. 

I thought a little whimsy was the way to go.

Then I added some color.

And here are what I love about Christmas:

It's Jesus' birthday. Really, he's the star of the show.

Going to church and reliving the story of Jesus. 

Coming home and being with family. 

Putting up decorations at home and admiring the lights around the neighborhood. 

 Listening to Christmas carols -- plus points if it's a real choir!

Writing, sending, and receiving Christmas cards.

An abundant feast, ideally with some bubbly and lots of dessert. It's a good excuse to indulge while exchanging stories with people I love.

Thoughtfulness and generosity through simple, yet beautifully wrapped, presents.

I finished these off by attaching picture hanging hooks and baker's twine. Now, they're ready for the tree. TADA!

How about you, what do you love about this season?