18 January 2021

Book Club

Are you a part of a book club? It's usually a small group organized by a neighborhood library or bookstore and members meet regularly (ex. once a month).  Of course due to COVID-19 restrictions, most book clubs have turned virtual.

A book is chosen beforehand and members are given a few weeks to read it. During the meeting, the host/moderator asks some guide questions to initiate the discussion. 

There's usually some light snacks like coffee and pastries, or wine and cheese.    
I think it's a good excuse to throw a small gathering and talk about books! But I wouldn't be surprised if the conversation moved to topics not related at all to the book.

If I were to host a book club, I would give out party favors at the end of the evening. Here's what I would put inside:

What book lover wouldn't appreciate a bookmark? These are made using brush lettering on cardboard.

I found this pencil at the New York Public Library gift shop. There's inspiration on the pencil itself and it's very useful for making notes.

A set of book plates. These are letterpress cards from Etsy but you can make your own with sticker paper or card stock and double-sided tape.

Write your name at the bottom of the book plate and attach this on the first page of your favorite book.

I'll also provide snacks while reading: tea and cookies!

I'll wrap everything up in a goodie bag ready to be distributed to my friends at book club...TADA!

One day, when we can all gather again, I hope to be able to do this. If you belong to a book club, what other fun things do you like to do?

11 January 2021

Do-It-Yourself Fragrance Diffuser

Fresh flowers at home are one of life's pleasures!

But the reality is I can't have them all the time. When I saw these arrangements at a shop, I thought, "These are a good alternative."

They are made from dried buds and stems, and the flowers are made from wood...TADA!

Here is another version made with diffuser sticks. Fragrance oils can be added inside the bottle. The flowers absorb the oil and give off sweet scents to a room...TADA!  

I was so inspired by these, I've decided to make my own.

Let's start with an empty bottle. 

I found these dry stalks at the park.

I took some home and put them in my bottle.

I just love the curly ends!

diffuser reed sticks, Pier One Imports
I got these diffuser reeds from a closeout sale. You can find them at the candle section of a home store.

I included some diffuser reeds to my arrangement, too.

On another trip to the park, I found these.

Let's put some of that in the vase.

I'm really digging the monotone shade and the simplicity of the arrangement! 

Uplift Sweet Orange essential oil, essential oil
Now it's time to add some fragrance. I combined essential oil and a carrier oil using this recipe as my guide.

Here is my scent-sational arrangement...TADA!

My spending was very minimal because most of the materials were recycled, found or stuff that I already had on hand. And I think that deserves another TADA!

04 January 2021


It's a New Year and while it's exciting to jump into new adventures, there's something comforting about going back to routines and rituals especially after all the rush of the holidays.

Routines provide order and rituals promise calm. Can I share with you a few of my favorite rituals?

Number 1: Starting a Bullet Journal Every Year 
This is my calendar, To Do List, litany of reminders, and gratitude journal all rolled into one. It's an analog method that works for me. I use a blank notebook that I customize with rubber stamps and pens, and all my notes are handwritten. I refer to it often and it helps me feel I am in control even if surprises pop-up during the course of the day. If you're curious, I've written about the bullet journal here, here and here.

Number 2: Going to Church 
I was raised Catholic and I'm pretty attuned to my faith. It has helped me weather difficult times and challenges. Going to church is like a date with God, helping me strengthen my relationship with Him. I go at the start of each year, weekly, and even when I'm traveling, I make sure to stop by a church to give thanks. During the pandemic, I go to on-line masses. After, I am always filled with peace.  

Number 3: Breakfast
No matter how early my day starts, I have to eat my breakfast. It wakes me up, energizes me, and allows me to focus. I'll usually have overnight oats, toast or a pastry, and a hot beverage like English Breakfast Tea. A little planning beforehand makes prep time quick and turning on the kettle is part of my morning routine. 

Number 4: Lighting a Candle
Some people like lighting a candle during their bath or when they do their meditation practice. I like to light a candle before I write (ex. blog posts or articles). It helps set the mood and gets me into "the zone". Plus the fragrance energizes the room.

Number 5: A Pre-Dinner Snack
Often times, I am hungry after work and right before dinner. I used to haphazardly snack on whatever I could find -- chips or a sugary doughnut. They usually left me unsatisfied. I wanted to be more mindful of my eating so when I can, I turn it into a ritual. I'll set up a nice cheese plate or afternoon tea with simple grocery staples. It's a fun "party for one" or two when my husband can join me.

These are just some ways I turn blah into TADA! How about you, what are some of your favorite rituals?

01 January 2021

Happy New Year

After all that has transpired in 2020, I can only wish you and your family:

Good Health
A job and an income
Unwavering faith
Finding kindness in small places
Opportunities to pay it forward

May this re-start be better for all of us even if we have to do it in baby steps. 
Here's to a hopeful New Year!

28 December 2020

Fabric Face Masks

The year is finally coming to a close. This 2020 was difficult for all of us because of COVID. But I am extra grateful for all that I have NOW and what I've taken for granted before the pandemic. I am still hopeful and look forward to new opportunities to turn blahs to TADAs.  

GSV crafters
via Lancaster Online

One of the things that defined this year was the face mask. When there was a shortage of PPE in March, crafters from all over the world sewed face masks from their stash of fabric and patterns they found on-line. Then sent these to hospitals and nursing homes to protect frontliners and patients. Doing what you can to help, I think that's TADA!

Hedley and Bennett, Ellen Marie Bennett, Wake up and fight mask, face masks, cloth masks, Covid crafts, Rifle Paper Co. fabric, handmade, face coverings, fabric crafts

Even I have started a small collection of face masks. I prefer these cloth ones because they can be washed and used over and over again. I add a coffee filter in the filter slot for added protection. These ones are from Hedley and Bennett. They're in the business of aprons but they quickly converted their factory to make face masks to fill the need. Their buy one, give one model (buy one for yourself and a mask will be sent to an essential worker) encouraged me even more to support them. 

face mask, cloth face mask, handmade face mask, epicycle old t-shirt into face mask, fabric remnants, fabric crafts, elastic, embroidery, embroidered flowers, COVID crafts

I also sewed some myself using remnant fabrics and old t-shirts...TADA!

And I received this package for Christmas -- masks and hand sanitizer. So cute and useful!

When walking around New York City, landmarks remind you that you must wear a mask to protect yourself and others:

New York City Landmarks, Atlas, Atlas by Lee Lawrie
The sculpture of Atlas across St. Patrick's Cathedral

New York City Landmarks, Atlas, Atlas by Lee Lawrie, Atlas sculpture wearing a mask, Covid, pandemic
Atlas wearing a mask 

New York City Landmarks, New York Public Library lions, Patience and Fortitude, Covid, pandemic in New York City
One of the lions outside the New York Public Library

It's a good thing many locals and visitors are compliant:

New York City, Fifth Avenue, Covid, pandemic, wear a mask

A new year is just around the corner but these masks aren't going anywhere.

ace mask, fabric face mask, cloth face mask, COVID crafts, handmade, fabric crafts, necklace, beads, lobster clasps, jewelry making, elastic, embroidery
That's why I made a lanyard for my mask, so it's still on me for the occasions I need to take it off (in the car or while eating).

ace mask, fabric face mask, cloth face mask, COVID crafts, handmade, crafts, necklace, beads, lobster clasps, jewelry making,
It's fashioned out of an old necklace.

face mask, fabric face mask, cloth face mask, COVID crafts, handmade, fabric crafts, necklace, beads, lobster clasps, jewelry making, elastic, embroidery
And the two ends have lobster clasps to easily attach to any mask I own...TADA!

To end this post, here is a photo of one of my plants:

My dear friends gave this to me when my Dad passed away in 2018. While I don't know how to care for orchids, it's still alive to this day with regular watering and sunshine. The buds developed and bloomed in late December. This orchid is always a reminder of a painful season in my life. But every time it blooms, it tells me that life must go on and that there is still beauty on the other side.  

21 December 2020

Hand-painted Ornaments

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is to admire the shop windows along New York City's 5th Avenue. They are always decked out and you don't need to purchase a thing to feel the holiday spirit. I'm not sure if I'll be able to see them this year because of Covid precautions but maybe we can take a look back.

A few years ago, the Dolce and Gabbana flagship store had these huge trees with larger-than-life bows.  

Hanging on the branches were these colorful ornaments. 

I made sure to take these photos as a reference for a future craft project:

Aren't they lovely? I thought these hand-painted ornaments brought a very homey touch to a commercial space. 

Well, I thought I'd try my hand making them.

I found these clear plastic balls from the craft store. I re-purposed an empty egg carton to hold them steady while I painted them. 

I used acrylic paint and a small brush.

via State Symbols USA
I love painting flowers and I couldn't help choosing flowers to paint on my ornament. The rose is the National Flower of the USA where I currently live. Aren't roses so regal?

Here is my interpretation of a rose. 

And I added a few rose buds.

I likewise added some details like leaves...TADA! 

via Choose Philippines
I also chose this flower, the Sampaguita, the National Flower of the Philippines where I was born. They are delicate and very fragrant. 

My version of the Sampaguita.

With a few buds painted, too.

With the addition of some leaves, a plain plastic ornament has been transformed from blah to TADA!  

I've always been drawn to ornaments with personal meanings. 

Hand-painted ornaments
And I'm excited to add these to my collection...TADA!