Sunday, December 30, 2012

Simple Joys

We are back from our 5 day pre-Christmas vacay in Camiguin. Things have been a little hectic and our body clocks still have not yet gone back to its old rhythm.
We have been mostly "on the go" during our vacation, travelling for most of the day on our last day -- from Camiguin to Cagayan by boat, back and forth from Cagayan to Bukidnon by land and then to Manila. In Manila, after a quick stop-over to my parents' place we went to my in-laws' for an early Christmas dinner. Needless to say, we were dead tired for noche buena!
Had it not been for the Christmas day family reunion that we were hosting we would have slept the whole day!

Don't get me wrong. It's been a lot of fun. Both our vacation and the family reunion. It may have been crazy hectic but nonetheless still a lot of fun. However, although it has been a couple of days after our body clocks still have not adjusted. Its like having jet lag. Apparently, it can occur without travelling through time zones.

And although I always look forward to the feverish frenzy that usually afflicts everyone (at least those whom I know) during this time of the year it is during the week between Christmas and the new year that I often find myself longing for a little quiet time.

I have been promising myself to make time to enjoy a couple of good reads. It hasn't been easy. Work (and whole lot more!) tends to get in the way and instead of reading for leisure it becomes work-related. Most of the time it annoys me that the side table in our room holds my textbooks and notes! That reminds me. I have a couple of modifications to make on my handouts and power point lectures...ugh! Well, I guess, those will have to wait. At least for a while.

Obviously, I won't be able to finish this book within a few minutes (that's all the time that I have) but at least that's all I need to enjoy it with a good cup of tea.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Repurpose a Box into a Bookshelf

I used a lot of these cardboard storage boxes to hold my old notes, journals, reports during grad school.
I am was pretty OC about keeping my school stuff in order and organized (alright, I admit, i was a bit of a nerd).
Anyway,I recently purchased a couple of storage boxes for a little project I did for our living room. I only used the box covers and I didn't know what to use the actual boxes for. A light bulb moment came and hit me as I was starring at some of Alonzo's books.
Just a little side note: early this year we planned to "convert" SIL's room into a playroom and mini library for Alonzo. SIL  has migrated to Australia five years ago, by the way.
We have succeeded in our plan about the playroom but most of Alonzo's books still have been kept in our room. 
I wanted to keep all of his toys and a few of his books out of the room where we co-sleep. His favorite bedtime books, however, will remain in our bedside table.
And although SIL's room/ Alonzo's playroom/ mini library has an entire wall space of shelves it still holds most of SIL's books and other stuff (it is still her room, after all!). The open shelves on the lower half can only display some of Alonzo's toys (the rest are stored in baskets we bought at Dapitan about a year ago). Most of his books lie on the middle shelving area (still a little too high for his height), making it hard for him to see and take them out whenever he wants.    
And this is where my DIY bookshelf comes in.
Simply put one box over the other and you could already call it a "book shelf". What could be easier?
Obviously, it can't be used to hold a volume of encyclopedia!
You may place a piece of plywood between the two boxes for support and secure them together with pretty duct tape (yes, they are out there! I found plain colored ones at National Bookstore but the printed ones are available online). I plan to do this soon and will be posting how they turn out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hand Sewn Bear Applique Pillow Case

Our toddler has been using his dad's old pillow case. This pillow case had not been used for quite some time and was pleasantly rediscovered about 7 months ago under a pile of beddings. It is actually an eleven-year old Ralph Lauren polo bear pillow case which I gave hubby (then boyfriend) as a pasalubong. I showed it to Alonzo and he instantly asked me to let him use it. The thing is our little guy has become so attached to it that he tends to get melt downs whenever it has to get washed! 
 And because I couldn't think of what to get our little guy for Christmas (too many toys and clothes already!) I thought of making him a bear pillow case so that he could use it alternately with the one that he's using.
I scoured fabric stores in Glorrietta and Greenbelt for any cotton fabric with a bear print (I wouldn't dream of going to Divi this time of the year). To my dismay I couldn't find any that I liked. I almost considered getting the Christmas-sy bear printed fabric at Fanbi's until I remembered that we have several un-used, white pillow cases at home. I decided to just use that and create a bear applique over it. 
would you believe I almost got this for P350 per yard??!!!
While I was still pregnant we took a trip to Ilocos and bought several Abel beddings and pillow cases for Alonzo. The blankets are used often but the pillow cases have never been used because both ends of the pillow case are left open, causing our pillows to flatten out.
I also have a lot of felt fabric left over from my previous projects so this really didn't cost me a thing. Working with felt fabric surely saved me a lot of time. It doesn't fray and therefore it doesn't require hemming. If you are working on a tight schedule and running out of time you'll surely consider it a Godsend. 
 This project was finished just in time (only just a few minutes ago, actually!). I have been working on an impossible schedule at work lately and the family is set to be away for a pre-Christmas vacation at the beach (yipee!!!) in a few hours. So I really had to get it all done before leaving.
       Hope the little guy likes his new pillow case just as much as his old one. 

Cheap Gift Wrapping Ideas

In case you haven't finished wrapping all your Christmas presents this year here are a few quick and inexpensive ideas.
You probably know by now how I love using pattern paper (as seen here and here, too!). Come on, they sell for P19.00 for a pack of 5 sheeets! How can I not love that??? What I also love is the countless ways you could decorate with it.
If you are into the neon trend attach brightly colored label stickers (available at office supply stores) all over and tie with neon colored yarn.
Another material that I love to wrap with is papel de hapon.
Although I often like to add accents or additional frills such as mini paper parasols, twigs and even balloons, with its bold and bright colors a simple jute string bow could be enough to make your present stand out. 
Now, what could be easier than using a brown paper bag?
I remember how I painted several dozens of these years ago when my sister asked me to decorate them for a project their school organization was putting together. If I had the time I probably would consider doing that again but as of the moment a simple string made of straw and a Post-it note does the job perfectly. 
How can I not include newspapers, old magazines and phone directory sheets? They're free and it also wouldn't hurt to be a little green this season.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gift Giving Project

One of our ninangs sponsored a Christmas gift-giving and feeding program for 200 indigent children and hubby and I were delegated to do all the shopping and packing.
We knew it wouldn't be easy. Although we've had years of experience doing something like this when my in-laws had a similar project the number of kids, this time, were doubled.
We took advantage of the Bonifacio Day holiday and started shopping for toys at Uniwide. Hubby and I impressed ourselves by having to spend only 50% of the budget! Wohoo!
The next two Sundays were spent for grocery shopping. Now, shopping is one thing but packing everything into individual bags is entirely a different matter!
The living room, dining room and kitchen were used as "stations" for the goodies (canned goods on top of the coffee table, milk and juice products beside the altar, etc.. ).
We would repeatedly go through all the stations carrying at least 5 plastic bags and pick an item for each bag.
Things would have been easier had there been not just hubby and me doing all the packing and a conveyor belt would have been great, too!  

Another issue to deal with (aside from our aching backs) was how to arrange and store everything. The completed bags had to be kept separate from the rest and they occupied part of the hallway up to our rooms.
The bags also had to be organized per gender. We intended to color-code the bags but only white ones were available in extra large so in addition, to distinguish the bags containing toys for girls, boys and also gender neutral ones, we had to tie differently colored ribbons around them.
By 8 PM we were only a little more than halfway done. Hubby and I were hungry and exhausted. So we just ordered pizza and also called for reinforcement.
We finally finished around 10PM but had to clean up and move the bags to make the house more "passable" and also to make them easier to load and transfer in the truck.
We weren't there when the toys and bags were distributed to all the kids but the photos showed how happy they were.
 Their smiles made it all worth it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

DIY Mini Parol Ornament

 Is it just me or does time really go faster around this time of the year? I knew I had a lot of time to get ready for the holidays (Christmas decorating, shopping, gift wrapping, baking, etc..)and had actually set a time frame for all of these activities.
But what wasn't part of my schedule was having to shop and pack gifts and groceries for 200 children. I'll blog about that some other day.
In the mean time, let me share a little Christmas project. Last year I made miniature candy cane ornaments out of drinking straws and because we have a lot of straws around I used them again!
All you'll need are:
Drinking straws
Washi tape or any colored tape

Step 1: Cut 5 straws in similar length
Step 2: Attach 2 ends of straw at an angle with tape
Step 3: Continue doing step 2 on all ends until a "star" is formed
Note: Make sure to overlap the straws alternately to make your star more stable.
Step 4: Attach a piece of ribbon or string and hang