Saturday, January 30, 2010

Further Proof That I'm Crazy About Lighthouses (Why I Must Stay at the Lighthouse Marina Resort)

I don’t think I’ve stressed enough how in love I am with lighthouses, so here’s another post about them. I don’t know exactly when I developed this fascination for lighthouses, but it must have been when I was still very young. Remember that old Australian TV show called “Round the Twist”? It was a fun show, something kids would love, but my enthusiasm for the show came with just a little bit extra because of the fact that the Twist family lived in a lighthouse (in that gorgeous, gorgeous coastal setting). I spent some time thinking about this. I had the age old chicken and egg debate thing going on my mind. Did I love the show because I loved lighthouses or did I come to love lighthouses because of the show? And then I remembered (okay, this is kind of a confession, given my grunge-loving past/present) how much I loved that Fra Lippo Lippi song “Beauty and Madness” and that Stephen Bishop song “On and On” when I was a tween. The songs didn’t specifically mention “lighthouse”, but as I imagined the scenes painted by the lyrics of the songs, I always saw a lighthouse there. I could go on and on (just like the song, hee) about my love for lighthouses - how I used to buy books, no matter the genre or quality, with a lighthouse in the story, how I used to force my paintings of lighthouses on friends (see one of the comments here), how I take pictures upon pictures of lighthouses in vacations (although I’ve never been in one, except for that one in Corregidor), how I want to adopt a lighthouse just like Akiko Thompson, and how I prattle endlessly about them on my blog like an obsessive dork. One of my dream vacations is to go on a road trip, stopping and checking out various lighthouses (picture-taking galore and learning about their history) along the way and culminating with the ultimate lighthouse experience of staying in a lighthouse hotel.
The hotel I have in mind is the Lighthouse Marina Resort in Subic. I’ve been meaning to go since I first heard of the hotel. For starters, it’s in a gorgeous setting. Subic Bay is one of the most beautiful places in the country. I’ve been reading reviews and everybody agrees that the hotel offers a splendid vacation experience. It has all the standard features and amenities of a luxury hotel and so much more, thanks to the natural beauty its location offers (honestly, the sparkling blue sea on one side and an authentic rainforest on the other - it doesn’t get any better than that) and the whimsy that comes with the theme (it’s a lighthouse - the developers could have easily gone overboard and made things cheesy, but from what I heard and see from pictures, it’s romantic and imaginative in a very classy way). It absolutely passes muster when it comes to comfort, elegance and style, but goes without the chutzpah and ostentation of most five-star accommodations. Instead it has the quaint charm and cozy ambience boutique hotels pride themselves with. The Lighthouse Marina Resort has all the winning elements - attractive, hygienic, and up-to-date facilities as well as a myriad of offerings that cater to all types of clients - night entertainment, water sports, shopping, cruise, island adventure, etc. To somebody like me who’s totally enamored of lighthouses, staying at the Lighthouse Marina Resort is a singular experience that will make any vacation absolute heaven.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Of Watercolors, Children's Books, and JD Salinger

First, I want to remind you that I'm hosting a giveaway. 250 stickers from UPrinting for the lucky winner. See here.

Marguerite and I have been working with watercolors, colored pencils and pens, and clay lately (probably because they're the ones that are already out). Anyway, I just let her go crazy with the art materials, sometimes showing her tricks that I think will fascinate her (but will probably be pronounced lame by anybody older than 3), while I work on something on my own. Through this process, I discovered a different approach to something that has been frustrating me. I'd been wanting to write and illustrate books for Marguerite, but while the story part is usually not a problem, I have a hard time accompanying it with illustrations. A day or two ago, while Marguerite and I painted, I started concocting a story for the picture I was painting. Realizing what I was doing, the idea that the reverse of my usual process might just be the way to go (for me anyway) came like an epiphany, lol. I know it's not anything like a groundbreaking discovery, but I'm the kind of person who's so set in my ways that I find it hard most of the time to adjust or to shake things up. I'm pretty sure that I've missed so many things because of this reluctance to be flexible and I'm glad that the chaos (pardon the choice of word) of having a child has forced me to get better at it. I actually find that these qualities I used to shun - flexibility, spontaneity... you know, those attributes that make a person fun - allow more creativity in my life. There's a need for balance, of course. I mentioned this in an article I wrote about sparking one's creativity. Anyway, here are just some of the pictures I painted that evolved into actual stories.

Also, I cannot end this post without mentioning JD Salinger, a writer who had such a profound influence (not necessarily good, but at that time, I only let things influence me negatively, lol) on me during my teenage years. Almost twenty years later, I continue to love his stories although the impressions left on me are different now. Mostly, they inspire me to write good stories (not that I've actually been able to deliver - gah, enough with the asides!). To date, my fascination and curiosity for the man have not diminished. In the words of Holden Caulfield, he was the kind of author that you wished "was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it." Although, of course, given JD Salinger's reclusive nature, that really wouldn't have worked out. The point of this is that he died yesterday (or the day before, depending on your time zone) at the age of 91 and I want to acknowledge the part he played in my life. As I'm hardly qualified to (or even capable of) writing a tribute, I'll just say "thanks".

Thursday, January 28, 2010

UPrinting 250 Stickers/Labels Giveaway

Hello, readers. I'm doing my first giveaway ever, so be nice to me and participate. Here I go.:)

UPrinting, a leading online printing company that provides high quality printing at the most affordable prices, is allowing me to give away 250 stickers or labels to one lucky winner. You can count on UPrinting's custom stickers and label printing to be of excellent quality. Stickers are a great way to promote your blog or your business. You can use them as address labels, event stickers, campaign giveaways, etc. Here are the specifics of the giveaway prize:

250 Stickers/Labels for One (1) winner
Sizes: 2” x 3.5”, 2” x 4”, or 3” x 3”
Paper: 70lb Label Matte
Specifications: Full color front, blank back; 4 Business Day printing
Shipping: FREE UPS Ground Shipping
Eligibility: Limited to US Residents only

To enter:
Leave a comment on this post explaining how you intend to use the prize. Include your email address in the comment.

For extra entries:
1. Post about this giveaway on your own blog linking back to this post and Leave a separate comment with a link to where you blogged about the giveaway
2. Follow me on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway. Please make sure you leave the link where you tweeted in a separate comment.

A winner will be chosen at random via This contest ends on February 11, 2010 at 11:59pm eastern.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Package for the New Me

Marguerite and I were eating bananas and building a village made of blocks when came a strident knock at the door. I peeked out the window and saw somebody from a local courier service. I inquired as to what he wanted and he boomed out my name in response. If my neighbors had no idea what my name was before, well now they've heard it announced with the voice of thunder. I'm always excited to receive anything by courier or snail mail (unless it's bills, of course), so Marguerite and I enthusiastically tore at the envelope and beheld a bubble-wrapped package. It was a gift pack from GlutaMAX and Nuffnang. I remember they sent out an email informing those who joined the "New Me" contest that it has been extended, but they were already sending out the gift packs to those who already submitted their entries. Thanks, GlutaMAX and Nuffnang. Gift packs and other freebies are always a delight and Marguerite has finally discovered the joy of popping bubble wraps, lol. :)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Values We Share

Marguerite is three years old. We have to start being more conscious of the values we are exposing her to. I have very little confidence in lectures when it comes to matters of principles and values. What gets inculcated in little children's hearts and minds is what they observe or live out somehow. Some of the things I hope we'll be able to show her are compassion and empathy. Now, I tell her about Haiti. I'm a Fox News junkie (with frequent visits to CNN for glimpses of Anderson Cooper, hee!) and unless the Haiti news images get too graphic, I keep the TV on while Marguerite is in the room. I try to explain about what we see in the simplest possible way I can. She has seen me many times crying over the news. She has learned to pray for Haiti by repeating the quick utterances she has heard from me ("Lord, please help Haiti." or "More miracles please, Lord."). I don't really know how much sinks in. She doesn't seem scared by any of it, so perhaps she's still too young to process what she sees on TV although she does say "poor little kids" or "poor babies". Anyway, I do know things register and when her mind is ready she'll know what to do with the information. For instance, like the too excited dork that I am, I started signing to her when she was but a newborn and when she was 7-8 months old, she just surprised us by signing milk to say she was hungry. Or like potty training. After spending a seeming eternity cleaning up after accidents, things just clicked. At least, that's how things happen here. Enough of this digression. Most of the time kids surprise us with their capacity for understanding anyway. The point of all this is that the other night as I was leading us in a bedtime prayer, when I got to the point of praying for Haiti, Marguerite interrupted and started asking for water (that was surprising since she knows now how prayer time goes - she even gets upset with me when I pray with my eyes open, lol). Anyway, I told her I'd get her some water after praying and the little one became the picture of frustration. She cried, "No, no! They're firsty (thirsty). Pray for water." She does understand and retain the things I tell her! I found that pretty amazing. And gratifying actually.
And when I get too full of the idea that I'm doing things right, something like the following happens. As I've not been able to fully eradicate my enfant terrible tendencies, I still have moments of juvenile humor. For instance, every time I send Husband off to work with a packed lunch including beans, I chant the infamous "Beans, Beans" song. Sometime this week, I started teasing Husband about his bean-rich lunch. I said, "Beans, beans, the musical fruit," and stopped, satisfied that I had already made my point. Suddenly we heard this little voice continuing the chant. We thought Marguerite was busy with her toys on the floor and wasn't paying attention.Obviously, we were wrong.
Sigh. Little pitchers, sponges, and all that. We should be on our guard more, more conscious of the things we are exposing her too. Like I'm not convinced that it's entirely a good things that Marguerite knows everybody in New Directions - and I mean EVERYBODY, including Mike Ching and Matt Rutherford. And if you're wondering, no, I didn't add that because I'm on Glee withdrawal. That's so obviously part of the point. ;-p

Friday, January 22, 2010

Journey with Wheat

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Wheat Food Council. All opinions are 100% mine.

I cannot begin to tell you how much we love wheat. We buy whole wheat products as much as possible. We have a little girl and we are really trying to keep her away from unwholesome food. Incidentally, that is really just the healthier route for everybody. Not many of us stop to think about from what entity our food originated and if we did we would find out how in demand wheat is. We should all learn more about wheat, its nutritional value, its growth process, its harvest and its transformation to the food product we are more familiar with. To do so, we should check out How Wheat Works and try out the interactive multimedia program that explains how wheat is grown and ends up on our tables. This very enlightening activity is suitable for all ages. It’s actually very interesting. It allows you to virtually plant and harvest wheat after which you can produce the wheat food product of your choice. The program has four phases of wheat production that you can virtually experience - the planting and growth, harvest, milling/baking, and the sale. There’s a phase per day, so it lasts four days although it only takes a few minutes for each day. It doesn’t stop there though. There are recommended activities for you after each stage to go further in your wheat education. These are activities like preparing wheat dishes, learning about your local wheat, and watching videos about wheat. This program is not only about educating the public though. The Wheat Foods Council has actually made a commitment to donate two pounds of flour (reaching up to 90,000 pounds) for each participant in the program. The donation will go to Operation Homefront, a non-profit organization that provides assistance to needy US troops and their families. This generosity is made possible by two of the world’s largest millers, ConAgra and ADM, both members of the Wheat Foods Council. The Council believes that consumers will make more informed food choices if they were better aware of how wheat food is produced and what nutritional benefits it can provide. Through, this program is extended to the youth.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Duh Origami Frame

In our old house up in the mountains, the inner walls were made of plaster, so yeah I went a little crazy hanging pictures on the walls. I just needed screws and a little manual screwdriver and I was all set. There were pictures from the kitchen to the bathroom. Most of them were just prints I cut out from calendars (I had a Van Gogh collection one, so see above...) or books (I had a Victorian planner as a child, which I didn't appreciate then of course - from there I cut out whole page illustrations of tea time scenes and seaside vacations...) or postcards (these actually didn't need cutting). I also hung mardi gras masks, tassels, and other trinkets. In our apartment now, the walls are made of cement (or concrete - I don't really know about these things) so it's not as easy to drill holes. Naturally, my pictures have been gathering dust in storage boxes and my walls have remained bare save for a poster here and there (enough for some people, but not for me). Anyway, I thought maybe I could take the prints out of their frames and just put them in paper ones I can tape to the wall. I'm not about to go out and buy paper frames because I'm a true cheapskate, so I've been googling instructions to make paper picture frames and found this and this. The first one was square and didn't suit most of my prints. The second one had a stand so it didn't suit either. I saw rectangle frames here, but I couldn't find instructions. Anyway, after days of experimenting, I finally came up with this. It's so simple; it must be a kindergarten project, lol. I really feel silly about the twisting and cutting and gnashing of teeth I had done to adjust the square pattern into a rectangle, sheesh. I tried it with one print and it seemed to work.

I added a plastic cover, but obviously I need to iron the plastic (under cloth of course) or get a stiffer (but thinner) kind of plastic. Here's a step-by-step demonstration of how to do it. I used scrap newsprint for this, but used stiffer paper for the actual print above.

Fold longer sides about an inch or so (depends on how big your picture is).

 Flip it over and fold top and bottom.

   Fold corners inwards to make triangles.
Decorate corners (yes, those swirls are supposed to be decorative - somebody thinks she's chaneling Gustav Klimt, hee).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Just Some Thoughts from a Homeschooling Mom

I've pretty much decided on eclectic homeschooling, but that's not to say that unschooling no longer interests me. I still think it's a great concept, but I'm not sure I have the courage or personality to pursue it. You see, structure works for me. If I don't pause and plan, I do not make the most and best use of my time. I also believe in dawdling and lounging, but only for certain periods, and then guilt - lots of it - takes over. I'm a list maker. I love picking out which notebook to write in and then sitting down with a pen already mulling over the heading of my list. To accomplish as much as I can in a day, I have to enumerate my goals. If I didn't do that, I'll probably end up ensconced in the couch, reading, crafting or (worse) watching TV. Marguerite's homeschooling is all fun. I believe in letting her play as much as she wants to and just incorporating anything I feel she should learn in the games. You'd think there was no structure, but there is. It's not discernible to anyone but me, but I have to have it or I'll be lost - just a result of years and years of training. I have to seriously deschool to get over the need. So, I plan for activities, but if she's not ready to fall in with the plan, I've already learned to be flexible enough and just go with something else. Fact is, I may do some steering, but most of the time Marguerite does the leading. Where am I going with this? So my list-making self got down and wrote my 365 Things to Do list and decades of conditioning (hehe, I won't accept the blame) made me write down "Teach Marguerite to read" and "Teach Marguerite to write". Sometimes I just get so tired of myself and these compulsions. Why should I feel proud about learning to talk at 7 months when here I am with my contemporaries and we're all talking? Most of them probably talk better than I do too. So what if I learned to read and write early? Bottom line is, at 10, my classmates and I were all reading and writing just fine. Anyway, the truth also is that Marguerite learned the usual preschool stuff (ABCs, 123s, shapes, colors...) not from any formal lesson. She just picked them up from things we do and say. We have flashcards that she lines up and does other fun things with. She probably learns from them just from exposure, but I have never drilled her (not for lack of trying) or taught her anything using them. Going back to those two resolutions, I came across this article a long time ago, but forgot about it after frequently reading accounts of 3-yr-old children learning to read and write in a regular preschool. The writer, a behavioral and developmental pediatrician, states that children can learn to recognize words by sight at 4-7 (and it doesn't mean that they won't read LOEV as "love") and to read phonetically at 7-9 (even later for boys, in fact). She warned that forcing children to learn things which they aren't physically ready for just yet could create learning problems for them in the future. She says a good marker to see if a child's brain is ready to learn to read phonetically is if they can do the cross-lateral skip. When I read this, I went to Marguerite, raised my left leg and my right arm forward, and said, "Can you do this?" She laughed and raised her right leg and right arm. I discussed this with my sister who studied Early Childhood Care and Development in college and she echoed what the article said. Chip said Marguerite's eyes weren't ready for reading yet. She advised me to focus on cognitive development activities (here's another helpful site), which I'm already doing anyway both deliberately and unintentionally. She says it's also okay to continue Marguerite's exposure to Spanish (I have not been consistent about this at all). Sigh. That's why it's probably better if I focus on my learning and not worry so much about Marguerite's so long as she's not picking up "bad" things. I mean, she's a sponge. In my case though, there are so many things to learn and un-learn. That's it for today. See what happens when I don't plan or create an outline? Digressions, lack of cohesion, half-made points... I'm not going to review what I wrote. I might just disagree with everything I said and just delete this, lol.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Support Kiva in Alleviating Global Poverty

Living in the third world, I do not have to go very far to witness poverty. Heck, for all I know, people in developed nations may just consider me impoverished although here in my country I belong to the middle class. Contrary to what some may assume, poor people are everywhere; they're not at all unique to developing nations although we sadly do get more than our share. I think it is safe to state that poverty is a global problem and it is one that needs to be addressed. Thankfully , there are organizations that aim to help alleviate poverty and Kiva is one of them. What I like about Kiva is that while charity works as a principle in its setup, it is not like other charity organizations that simply donate. Donations are good, but they sometimes breed parasitism and other bad habits. What Kiva aims to do is to provide a temporary prop for those who are attempting to make their way in this world and once they have gotten their start, they can return the prop, which can then be extended to others who need it. I'm not sure if that was a good metaphor for the system, but essentially Kiva is a lending institution. It is "the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend to unique entrepreneurs around the globe." It encourages independence and self-sufficiency by fostering the entrepreneurial spirit. Hopefully, these small entrepreneurs will then be channels from which blessings will flow toward the people in their area. By getting involved with Kiva, you can touch so many lives. You can find a step-by-step explanation of how Kiva works here.
I’m writing this post as an entry to UPrinting’s Kiva Blogathan Contest. Winners will receive a $100 gift in the form of Kiva Credit so that they can start lending to help others. Should I win, I’d love to lend to somebody from the Philippines, of course. One wishes to be able to help out, but one’s resources are usually very limited. Filipinos are very entrepreneurial. I’ve personally witnessed so many rags-to-riches stories elicited by entrepreneurial ventures. These tales of success are so inspiring and heartwarming. In my church alone, we have simple SAHMs who turned their crafting hobbies to profitable businesses and entrepreneurs who grew their small sari-sari stores into minimarts. Most of the time, all they needed was an amount (relatively small though it might have been) that they could devote to their entrepreneurial endeavor. I know so many out there have great ideas and just need a little capital to realize them. It would truly be a privilege to have a hand in other people’s journey to their dreams. It would definitely be a pleasure to know that Filipinos are somehow moving towards a higher standard of living and a better way of life. Then again, after what happened in Haiti, I would also be glad to lend to somebody from there. So many of them would be rebuilding their lives that they need all the boost that they can get.

I fully disclose that this post is an entry in the UPrinting Kiva Blogathan. is a leading online printing company that provides high quality printing at the most affordable prices. It has a blog sponsorship program which you can learn more about here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Something Like a Study of Marguerite

I was going to post about the canes I'd been making using modeling clay (thought I'd practice on my daughter's clay first before I try my hand at actual polymer), but I used my phone to take pictures, which all turned out as blurry as they come. And then I deleted all of them before I could post a sample picture here just to prove my point. So, instead, I'll be posting some pictures taken during the holidays.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Faux Vintage

I think I've already pretentiously professed to be a history buff here before (there are four previous posts, look - this would be the fifth, lol). I love vintage stuff, even the faux vintage. I'm planning to learn more about dating things, develop an eye for distinguishing styles and periods. Right now, I just go by "ooh that looks vintage". For instance, I found the following in one of those stalls alongside the Seine when I was in Paris.

I'm pretty sure they're just recent reproductions, but they still look vintage hanging on my walls.;-) Same thing with these postcards.

The French one I got from either the Museum Shop or Old Manila and the movie was released in the early '90s, not even a postcard reproduction of a real vintage film affiche, lol, but it still looks vintage; the Wizard of Oz one I got in one of those quaint little shops in Seaport Village in San Diego.

This corrida poster, on the other hand, is really old, although, of course, it's not a poster of a real corrida (something I've never seen or plan to see, even just for a cultural experience - I don't mind the Sanfermines, but opted not to go anyway - my classmates slept in an ATM vestibule and one of them was one of the casualties that year - okay, I have to share this anecdote: This classmate who shall remain nameless, ran toward where the bulls were kept, essentially running to meet the bulls instead of running away from them - the details really aren't clear. Anyway, as he saw the bulls charging toward him, somebody grabbed him and threw him to the wall to get him out of the bulls' way. In effect, he obtained his injuries from that person and not from the bulls. However, if that person hadn't slammed him to the wall, those bulls would have killed him. He ended up in the hospital and was mentioned on CNN... end of anecdote). Anyway, I have a flamenco dancer one too, but it needs to be framed. I tried taping it, but it refused to stay up. So yeah, I forgot the point of this post. I guess, I'm just talking about some of my favorite things. Bags, shoes, makeup, etc. don't do it for me. Give me a vintage book, print, knick knack, etc. instead any day.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Take a Granny Square Break

I'm currently writing keyword articles again. I find my topic interesting, so I'm enjoying it. However, I take regular breaks to recharge. Sometimes, I do my Adgitize/Entrecard/CMF Spikes clicks, but I find that doing so can be very distracting as I catch myself reading posts and commenting. Most of the time, I just work a row or two in a granny square before going back to work. I might just get an afghan out of this, lol.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Salvaged Birthday Poems

Some time ago, Marguerite got hold of one of my notebooks and just started ripping away. Something like this. Anyway, I didn't throw away the shredded mess since I had jotted down some important things there. It mostly contained recipes, but I didn't mind losing those. There were also lists and epiphanies (now, that just sounds pompous) and little poems... I was mostly concerned about the poems. I had written them for Marguerite on her first two birthdays. That was another motherhood pledge I had made - to not give store-bought greeting cards to my child/ren opting for something more personal. Anyway, I had this plan of turning the things into actual books, but procrastination bit me in the butt and the ripping happened before I got down to doing it. So, I was attempting to clean up sometime before New Year's Day and I came across the torn pages. I found the poems and copied them to another notebook (still procrastinating about those books). I'll be more careful about storing this notebook this time and, besides, I do believe Marguerite is over her fascination for tearing paper (I blame my papier mâché episodes for her inspiration). *crosses fingers*

Monday, January 4, 2010

Two Plastic Cups and a Long String

Most of the people my age and older were able to play with this homemade contraption we called "telephone". I don't know if kids still know about this. Anyway, with the technology we have today, kids today might just be hard put to enjoy shallow little thrills like this. My sister made this toy for Marguerite (we have a handmade tradition going on, but we also give store-bought stuff as well) and it is such a hit, not only with Marguerite but with our teenage cousins as well. It really does remind me of my own childhood, of films I saw and books I read that focused on friendships. Kristy Thomas and Mary Ann Spier had it when they were still next-door neighbors (they graduated to flashlight signals later on). Sigh. Longing again for simpler times, lol.