12 April 2021

Pop-Up Cards

Around the same time last year, the whole world was just in the thick of a Coronavirus pandemic. Everyone was required to stay home and practice social distancing to avoid getting or spreading the virus that had no vaccine nor cure yet.

Stay. At. Home. 

That was the most basic requirement from all of us. And while we had all the comforts of home and being able to work from home, I felt helpless. And anxious.  

So I made these cards:

I tuned-out the news and made time for crafting for an entire afternoon. Doing so lowered my anxiety levels and I felt very purposeful. Because these cards were for a good cause.  

Children Cheering Seniors
My neighbor Tara sent out a request on our neighborhood Facebook Group. She was thinking of all the seniors living alone or in senior homes who might feel afraid and isolated. Maybe the kids can make some drawings for these seniors to cheer them up? 

"Count me in, Tara!"

Even if I hardly qualified as a kid, this was a worthy endeavor. I made some cards and dropped them off at the designated collection site.

Can I show you what I made?

I used card stock so they're sturdy even without envelopes. I decided not to put any ribbon or tape to seal the cards. I wanted them to open easily, considering that some seniors may have arthritis.

When we open the card, there's a surprise.

It pops-up! Each one is decorated with cardboard cut-outs, coloring book pages, paint, and positive wishes written in brush lettering...TADA!

Here are the other designs that I created:

I hope I was able to bring smiles to some seniors. I also hope to continue making more cards that I can take to senior homes, turning their day (and mine) from blah to TADA!

While we already have vaccines and many have been vaccinated, let's not let our guard down. Let's be safe and continue to take care of each other.

05 April 2021

The Art of Ikebana

Hello and Happy Easter! I'm pretty sure you'll agree that flowers are one of life's greatest pick-me-ups, whether you buy them for yourself or given to you as a token of affection. 

Over the years, I've taken some lessons in flower arranging.

Here is a very ladylike arrangement with roses, tulips, wax flowers, hypericum berries, and lavender in a simple vase.

This one reminds me of a bouquet picked from a meadow. It's composed of sunflowers, dahlias, salvia (purple), solidago (yellow), gomphrena (small red bulbs), and celosia (cockscomb flower) carefully placed in a mason jar.

This one's a spring arrangement in a soothing pink palette. 


One of the most mind-opening classes for me was when we learned Ikebana.

Ikebana ("living flowers") is the Japanese art of arranging flowers. It's an ancient tradition where flower offerings were meant for altars. Ikebana eventually found a place in homes and interior spaces, encouraging spiritual reflection and nature appreciation.

The basic materials include an utsuwa (shallow container with water) and a kenzan (flower frog) that keeps the flowers securely in place.

Of course, flowers and stems are required but in a very small variety. We're aiming for minimalism, an awareness of shape and line, balance, and a lot of open spaces.

Ikebana follows very specific rules, the most important of which is that the arrangement should form an asymmetrical triangle. The three main stems of the triangle are called Shin (heaven), Soe (earth), and Tai (man). 

To determine the length of the stems, add the width and height of your utsuwa (container). The tallest item is the Shin (1.5 to 3 times the combined width and height of the utsuwa), followed by the Soe (2/3 the height of the Shin), and the shortest is the Tai (2/3 the height of the Soe).

Angles are an important element, too. This is the basic style diagram when positioning the stems: Shin (10 degrees), Soe (40 degrees), and Tai (70 degrees). The pin-like teeth of the kenzan keep the stems at the required angle.

This is my first try at Ikebana and it was initially stressful to remember all the rules, measurements, and really limiting the amount of flowers used (the arrangements I made up top follow a "more is more approach").

Creating the arrangement should be done in silence and the meditative process results to calm and inner peace -- the union of Shin (heaven), Soe (earth), and Tai (man).

After all is said and done, I did arrive at a calm state, especially when I look at the piece I made.

And this is how I turned some simple materials from blah to TADA!

04 April 2021

Happy Easter

Hello there and Happy Easter!

Happy Easter
I found these vintage greeting cards at a used bookstore. Aren't they sweet? While some people still exchange cards, very few still do. I miss the whole ceremony of picking out a card at the store, writing on it, taking it to the post office and in return, receiving something in the mail, too.

I wish you all the beauty of new beginnings!