Blog Posts

How to: Remove Sticky Waybills

During this pandemic, I discovered and learned the wonders of online shopping. I’m an over-the-counter type of person and still prefer to do shopping in the mall (because I hate to be bothered by deliveries at home lol), but I do appreciate the convenience of online shopping. It’s also so tempting to BUY ALL THE THAAANGS when there’s an app that has everything you need.

And by need, I mean all the craft materials that I want. Label maker! Screw punch! Paper cutter (I bought this already)! Bookbinding needle (Also purchased already)!

One thing I don’t like about online shopping is the amount of plastic and bubble wrap that I receive. Every item delivered comes in a plastic bag which isn’t looking good for our environment. Gotta recycle or donate it to organizations that convert plastic to eco-bricks or plastic chairs.

But before reusing the packaging, I have to get rid of the personal details on the waybill. I can’t just send the plastic off into the world with my name and address stuck on it. We have to protect our personal information as much as possible because it can be used to scam people.

For months, I’ve been on the lookout for easy ways to take off the waybills. Thankfully the online shopping app released a newsletter on the different ways to properly dispose of waybills.

  1. Cut the waybill or use a puncher
    Those things aren’t easy to pick off with your fingernail because they are really STUCK on the plastic. Scraping it with your fingernail or a pair of scissors will just put holes in the plastic, then it’ll be unusable. This probably works if you’ll stuff the shredded plastic into plastic bottles to be made into eco bricks.
  2. Shade with a black marker
    I don’t trust this because you can still see the details when you shine a light on it. Also, this will make me buy black markers which will just add to the trash and expenses.
  3. Use a protection roller stamp
    Just like the black marker, do I really need another excuse to buy online? lol
  4. Soak in water
    This is the most effective and best option of all. I didn’t need to buy anything. I just had to use whatever was available at home.

All you need are two materials:

  • A spray bottle (or if you don’t have one, just use your hands) with water
  • A garden trowel, a spoon, a ruler, or something blunt that you can use to scrape

For blog and public post purposes, I covered the important details with a black marker. On the regular, I skip this step.

Spray water on the waybill. Wait for a couple of minutes for the waybill to be completely soaked.

Then scrape!! I don’t scrape everything. I just scrape on the addresses, order numbers, bar codes, and QR codes. Basically anything that would trace the plastic bag back to me.

It’s ready to be reused and recycled! For now, I reuse it as lining for my trash cans. As for the bubble wrap that comes with the packaging, I’m still looking for a nearby recycling center. Or a time to get out of the house. Yep, I’m still part of the working force that works from home.

If you’re looking for organizations to drop off your recyclables and plastic items, you can check this list.

Keep Forging Ahead in 2022

Hello, 2022. It is another day, another year, and another planner. Yes, this is your yearly tradition of starting the new year with a DIY planner post.

But before I welcome the new year, I want to look back at my 2021 and do a little reflection on how I DIY’d myself out of my comfort zones.

“Sometimes the world seems stuck in place, even if you’re ready to go. Sometimes it feels like you’ve lost your way.”

When 2021 started, I was ready to go. I made a significant change in my life by quitting my long-time job in the middle of the pandemic. It was a giant leap of faith because I left without a fallback, and without a concrete plan. For someone with a personality who makes Plans from A-Z, I was surely out of my mind to make this decision. That was my first step. A wild step, but a step nonetheless.

It felt like death, like a wilted flower falling off the stem. I had “bloom” as my theme for 2021 and I felt like I failed the theme that I had set for myself.

I kept searching. For every day that I woke up still breathing, it was my sign that I should continue the search, even if the motivation was gone. Until one day in May, my step forward appeared. A new project gave me an opportunity to bloom. All I needed was to wait for the wilted flower to sprout a new leaf as it lay dying on the ground.

The new project had a funny coincidence which I claimed as a sign that was meant for me. The project required the use of a book creation program called Bloom. How eerily specific.

“Yes, these kids are trying to learn new things, and trying to figure new things out, they don’t look lost, they look like they are finding new courage and taking on new challenges.”

The rest of the year wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Starting a new job meant learning, relearning, and unlearning a lot of skills. Every day was a struggle. There were good days and horrible days. Despite the feelings of uncertainty and doubt of being a newbie in the workplace (which I haven’t been in more than a decade), I am still thankful for the people that I worked with. They challenged me a lot, but they also trusted me to bloom on my own. I was lost 90% of the time, but I welcomed the change if it meant taking a step forward in improving my life.

Listing my daily to-do’s on the planner and a separate work notebook helped me manage my anxiety and stress levels. It’s nice to plan ahead, but also so much better not to try all the things in one go. There are things meant to be done today, and things that can be put off for another day.

So for 2022, we’re keeping the planner tradition because it keeps me sane. Making the planner is also very therapeutic and calming because I can just shut my brain off and let the hands take over.

Ok, it’s time to DIY a planner!

This year’s best online purchase goes to the paper cutter. In the past years, I just folded the paper lengthwise or crosswise. But for this year, I was following a specific measurement that required cutting lots of sheets of paper.

I took inspiration from Crazy Laura on Pinterest for the days of the week. Each spread was one week and I drew boxes for each of the days. Then I used a white gel pen (all hail Dong A) and a black marker for the days and the dates.

The notebook that I was using for work notes had postcards that you can tear out. The postcards featured paintings that won competitions in the past. I cut them to make it look like the paintings are framed. I can pretend to visit an art gallery when leafing through the planner (also known as Namjooning).

I cut up pieces of paper and stamped on the months for the monthly covers.

On the back flap of the monthly cover, I drew flowers on watercolor shapes and added a monthly calendar. I found some math paper in my paper stash which saved me a lot of time to line a blank sheet of paper.

For the notebook cover, I can finally say that I have used up the illustration board that I have been keeping for years. Because of the decluttering that I did a few years back, I was able to dig up all the hoarded cardboard that I can recycle for the planner. I have used up all my stock and it’s probably time to hoard again. lol

I cut up the illustration board and covered the back cover with recycled brown paper from a paper bag. I wanted to do a flap design for the cover with a quote. So I covered the other illustration board with a patterned sheet of paper and stamped on a quote in the middle. Then, I took a thinner piece of cardboard, covered it with recycled brown paper, and cut a hole in the middle to show the quote.

After completing all the parts, it was time to bind. I’ve gotten the hang of doing Coptic binding the past planners that I wanted to dry a different style. I saw a tutorial from Sea Lemon on Youtube which combined the Coptic Stitch and the French Link. When completed, there’s a crisscross pattern on the middle of the bind and I wanted to try that.

I only had two colors of yarn at home that is good for binding — white and black. They didn’t go well with the color scheme of the planner and I didn’t want to buy a new roll. I have this red twine in my string box that was meant for gift wrapping, so I decided to use it even if I knew it would be the worst idea for book binding.

It was the biggest regret of this project but I still pushed through with it. The twine didn’t have an even thickness so there were times that I had to pull the twine through the hole with force. It also frayed multiple times and also caused lots of knots. I was already halfway through and my pride (LMAO) didn’t want to give up.

Because the twine was thick and the monthly covers were also made from cardboard, the spine turned out to be really bulky. I will keep my pride (LMAO pt 2) and deal with the thick spine for the rest of the year. It was nice in theory, but the expectations were not met. Besides, I really wanted the red twine to represent the red string bracelet (if you know, you know).

I forged ahead, despite the regrets and the struggles. I’m never using that string again for binding (LMAO). I’ll just find other uses for it in other DIY projects. But I still like how it turned out, especially with the French Link. Maybe I’ll try that again next year with better binding yarn.

2022 Planner Reveal

I promise to use this Tiny Tan pen on the planner. It was given to me as a gift by one of the new friends that I have met in 2021. Meeting a new circle of friends from a new fandom was one of the great blessings that I received last year.

“I think that’s why instead of the “Lost Generation”, a more appropriate name would be “The Welcome Generation”, because instead of fearing change, this generation says welcome and keeps forging ahead.”

BTS, 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly

The quoted lines are from the speech that BTS gave at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly late last year. I wanted to paste the whole speech because everything they said gave validation to how we felt and how we’re trying to cope as a generation. Things may be looking grim still, but there are small glimpses of hope and choices that we can make to forge ahead. (Watch the full speech here and read the transcript here.)

Their speech also gave inspiration to my theme for 2022, which I also put on the cover of the planner. The full bloom that I was hoping for in 2021 didn’t happen. I’m still figuring things out and am still encountering lots of bumps in the road. But I will forge ahead and continue working on it in 2022.

It’s OK to Be

I’m in a zine!

This year, my friend KB started a passion project called OK to BE. It is a monthly zine where creators — writers, illustrators, photographers, or anyone with a story to tell — submit their creations based on a central theme.

“Named after my newsletter inspired by a BTS album, it serves as both a reminder to feel OK to BE, whatever that means at any moment, and an avenue to help fellow creators put their work out into the world.”

KB, creator of OK to BE

Three issues have been released already, with entries focusing on food, nature/pets, and health. I loved reading the entries submitted by my friends, as they shared experiences of how they were able to cope and deal with trying times brought about the pandemic or life in general.

KB asked me to contribute to the third issue, which is about health. I was hesitant to contribute because I felt like I wasn’t qualified to talk about it. I’ve mentioned in a previous entry that I’m still figuring things out and taking life one step at a time. I can’t say that I am in a good place or that I am healthy. I’m just… alive.

Then, while reviewing the previous issues to get an idea of what I could write, I realized that the contributors wrote about their experiences. Reflections. Moments of vulnerability. Process of healing.

I didn’t have to be an expert or be in my healthiest state. I could write about my current situation as I aim to find what healthy means to me: physically and mentally. Aaand that’s what I did. I wrote about how I took a break from everything and learned how to rest — by Respecting boundaries, Entering in love and kindness, Surrounding myself with the right people, and Trusting the process.

You can read the full entry by heading over to heykebe.gumroad.com and purchasing a copy of the zines. You can choose between a digital or print version. I always order the print versions because they come with surprise freebies.

Angy RJ not included in the freebies lol

If you want to contribute in future issues of OK to BE, sign up by clicking here.

You may also support KB by following her online accounts:

Writing Challenge: One Strand

I’m guessing that by now, you know who BTS is. They’re the biggest group right now in the music industry. They have broken records with their music, have set high standards with their healthy work ethic, and have been great role models with their advocacies and message of hope.

So yes, I’m part of the fandom now. But this entry is not about how I became ARMY or why I stan them. If you wanna know what drew me to them, may I direct you to my friend Trish’s blog entry. She was able to put together her thoughts in a heart-felt entry about the group and all I can say is: I AGREE. hahahaha

ANYWAAAAY.

Besides being global superstars and spreading kindness through their music, BTS also spreads joy through their weekly game show named Run BTS. The group goes through various challenges and games, ranging from cooking challenges, to going through a zombie maze, to playing minute-to-win-it types of games.

In one of their Run BTS episodes, they were given a challenge to write and illustrate their own stories. And the worst part of it was that they wrote children’s stories. CHILDREN’S STORIES. My type of books. I was so impressed that they came up with three beautiful stories on the spot.

It’s also hilarious that in my current job, I facilitate workshops on story writing for children. But the participants are the complete opposite, as they’re struggling with writing and conceptualizing their titles. Watching this Run BTS episode is making me wish that the participants would be as creative as BTS. Hmm should I recommend this episode to them as reference and inspiration?

Out of the three stories that BTS wrote, one story stood out to me the most. Jin and Jungkook wrote a story about a boy with one strand of hair. It has a theme of self love and self appreciation, which is very much needed these days. It was also written in a style that with a bit of tweaking, it could follow the format of children’s story.

The episode was bugging me since it aired last June 22, so I finally sat down and rewrote it. I based this rewrite challenge on the English translation because I can’t read and write in Korean.

This is the original text:

One Strand
Written by Jin
Illustrated by Jungkook

Once upon a time, there was a boy who only had one strand of hair. The boy looked in the mirror and wondered why he didn’t have hair like other animals. And so, the boy went on a journey to find hair that would suit him.

On the road, he ran into a wolf. “Wolf, may I borrow your fur?”

“Sure, little boy.”

But the wolf’s fur was too rough, and it didn’t suit the boy’s head. And so, the boy decided to find some other hair to try.


The boy then ran into a goose, so he decided to try the goose’s feathers. But the goose’s feathers made him sweat too much so he decided that they weren’t a good fit.


Then the boy ran into a pine tree. The boy tried putting pine needles on his head, but the needles wilted because thy couldn’t photosynthesize. The boy was very dismayed because he couldn’t find the right hair for him.


And so, he trudged back home in disappointment. When he returned home, he looked into the mirror and he saw that the hair strand that looked absolutely perfect on him. And the boy was no longer insecure and decided to cherish the one strand of hair that suited him the best. And so while having fun styling the one strand of hair, the boy lived happily ever after.


I kept most of the words from the story and used some lines in a repetitive manner. Having repeated lines allows the child to be involved in the storytelling. I also transformed it into a rhyming story to make it a bit playful and easy on the ear.

Here’s the rewritten story:

One Strand

There once was a boy who had one strand of hair.
He looked in the mirror and saw that his head was so bare.
“I want to have hair like the others,
thick and lush, and full of colors.”
So he set foot out of his house in a hurry
to find some friends who would help ease his worry.

The boy met a wolf coming out from his lair.
“Mr. Wolf, will you please give me some hair?”
“Sure, little boy,” the wolf said with delight.
He shook off his thick fur with all his might.

But the wolf’s fur was too rough and it made the boy’s head itch
So the boy said, “Oh dear, I need to make a switch.”
He went on his way, waved goodbye to his friend.
“I hope I find something to make my worries end.”

The boy met a goose with feathers so fair.
“Ms. Goose, will you give me some hair?”
“Sure, little boy,” the goose honked with glee.
She plucked her luscious feathers and gave them for free.

But the goose’s feathers made his head sweat.
So the boy said, “Oh dear, it’s too hot. I can’t let it set.”
He went on his way, waved goodbye to his friend.
“I hope I find something to make my worries end.”

The boy met a pine tree in the town square.
“Dear Pine Tree, will you please give me some hair?”
“Sure, little boy,” the pine tree said warmly.
It gave most colorful needles, ever so generously.

But the needles wilted and fell off his head.
So the boy said, “Oh dear, I’m not a tree and this I dread.”
He went on his way, waved goodbye to his friend
“I can’t find something to make my worries end.”

The boy trudged back home, looking sad and grim
Because he couldn’t find the right hair for him
Then he looked in the mirror and saw the one strand of hair
And realized that his head was not really bare.

The one strand of hair suited him the best
It made him who he is, and that he was truly blessed
He then cherished the one strand on his head,
“I don’t need anything else. My worries have come to an end.”


Phew, that took me two weekends to write. If you want to see the stories and the illustrations, you can watch the whole episode on VLive or Weverse.

I also posted the story on Weverse. Oh dear, now I want to rewrite the two other stories. hahaha What am I doing to myself. *screams* DALLYEORA BANGTAN!

Bloom on the Moon

The blood moon rose again, along with the flowers that bloomed for Spring.

Last night’s Blood Moon was a rare sight because the world experienced a super moon, a total lunar eclipse, and a full moon. It’s also called a Flower Moon, named after the season when the flowers blossom. Spring does not exist in my tropical country, so I’ll just imagine that the Moon is our pretty flower blooming for us.

The lunar eclipse started around 6 PM in our timezone. I was able to catch the latter part of the eclipse, when the Earth was starting to move away from blocking the sun. It was perfect timing just to see the moon transition from red to grayish white, just like seeing a flower bloom from a bud.

This Super Flower Blood Moon felt special because its name fits my theme for 2021: Bloom. I’m still in the process of blooming and I think 2021 is my spring time. Let’s see where 2021 will take me, if it’ll be my time to reach the full bloom and the full moon in my life.

Roily Doily

Here’s a life update disguised as a DIY post.

During the Christmas break in 2020 (which spilled over in the first quarter of 2021), I had a lot of time to reflect on the year that passed. Being confined to our own homes 24/7 has introduced a different kind of stress because the lines between workspace and rest space have been blurred. It has merged into one physical space which made it more difficult for us to set boundaries and say no when to stop working. I, too, experienced that in 2020 which led me to a major burnout. I went in overdrive and worked myself to the point of exhaustion.

The two-week Christmas break was the greatest blessing that I received because I learned to take a step back and see where I was mentally and physically. Mental health professionals emphasized the need for self-care in 2020, especially since anxiety has been in its all-time high due to the worldwide lockdowns. I realized that in order to promote self-care, I needed to know myself first. Knowing who I am, what my personality is, what gives me fulfillment, what I want to give and receive, allows me to find the self-care methods that would help me move forward.

Come 2021. The self-discovery and daily reflections continued. Every day I am learning something new about myself. Part of it was understanding my personality trait. For the longest time, I knew that I am an INFJ but I never took the time to read more into it. After retaking a personality test online, the results validated how I felt towards work, relationships, and life in general. I’m still an INFJ and it meant having a “sense of idealism and integrity, and take concrete steps to realize their goals and make a lasting impact.” It made a lot of sense because every time I took on work, I always thought how I could help fix it or contribute to fixing a societal problem.

I spent all my energy taking care of work in 2020. In 2021, I made a promise to also take care of myself. That meant learning to take some time off and being mindful of how I react to things around me.

According to this article by Mental Health America, there are various ways to take care of yourself. It can be categorized into 5:

  • Living healthy – not just with food, but in exercise and seeking help from medical professionals
  • Practicing good hygiene – hey I learned to regularly use sunscreen!
  • Seeing friends and building connections – gotta settle with online for now, even if I really miss seeing friends face to face
  • Trying something enjoyable
  • Fiding ways to relax

I’ll treat this as a guide as I’m sloooowly working on taking care of myself. I’m doing it at my own pace because I don’t want to be overwhelmed then retreat again in my stress bubble.

“Each day learn something new, and just as important, relearn something old.”

Robert Brault

One thing’s for sure: DIY projects provide joy. When I’m on a craft mode, my brain shuts out all negative thoughts and stops me from overthinking. I get to divert my attention to doing something offline and the output becomes useful for me (wow, this fits my INFJ personality).

For an enjoyable and relaxing activity, I went to relearn a skill: crocheting. It’s actually my mom’s hobby and I just picked it up from her. It’s been more than a decade since I learned how to crochet and I was worried that I might have forgotten how to crochet. But a friend reassured me that I’d have muscle memory once I have the hook and yarn in my hands.

I raided my mom’s crochet bin and borrowed her hooks and yarn. I had not decided on the type of yarn that I would use for the doily project so I got all the yarns that were available at home. You may have seen the black and white lace (?) yarn from my planner projects. The thicker fine (?) yarn are from my mom. Forgive me, I know nothing about the types of yarn haha. I just make do with what I have.

The plan was to practice first and relearn the stitches because the patterns I saw online use codes like st, sl st, and dc. The chain stitch was the only one I knew 100% and that was the most basic.

Muscle memory is amazing. I didn’t have to look online or ask my mom how to hold the yarn. I’m not sure if this is the proper way, but it was how I was taught. The yarn is looped once on the pinky (which is wiggled from time to time to “get” more yarn), placed over the point finger, then held by the middle finger and the thumb. Pulling the point finger farther from the thumb and middle finger allows you to tighten or loose the stitches.

For the practice, I did two rows of each basic stitch — chain (ch), sc (single crochet), double crochet (dc), and half double crochet (hdc).

It was easier to count the stitches and practice on a thicker yarn. My practice stitch on the thinner yarn resulted in a funny looking shape instead of having clear stacked rows.

I wasn’t planning on making three doilies. I only needed one for my work table, but ended up with two practice doilies and one final doily. It was also my first attempt in making doilies so I went in blind with the patterns that I saw online. All my patterns came from KristinesCrochets.com and it provided text patterns and video tutorials. I’m so thankful that she included video tutorials because the text patterns were confusing for a beginner like me.

I chose the thinner yarn because I didn’t want my doily to look too fluffy. I started off okay, surprising myself when the stitches were starting to look like an actual doily. The first design is a flowery and round doily.

Then everything went downhill when I had to make 29 stitches and I LOST COUNT. hahahaha It was my first time making a doily, I was learning how to recognize the stiches for it to be counted, and at the same time I had to be mindful of the stitch count. I think I over counted midway the pattern. The uneven spaces in the doily were so visible.

I showed my progress to a friend who also crochets (follow @mimoknots on Instagram!) and recommended that I use stitch markers to keep track. I couldn’t wait another day for a delivery of legit stitch markers, so I improvised and used yarn. I tried a different pattern for another practice doily. This time I vowed to pay more attention and count carefully.

The stitch markers helped a lot because I didn’t lose count (I think). The doilies were supposed to be around 5.9 inches in diameter, but because the yarn was so thin, didn’t come out as expected. It was 2 inches smaller in diameter.

The thicker yarn was more difficult to count because of its fluffy texture. I had to pull on the doily from time to time to be able to count the stitches properly and insert the hook in the proper spaces. It caused me to overcount and had to start over on the third doily. At the end of one round I was wondering why the gap was too big to be joined. Then when I backtracked, I found that I did one whole extra set of stitches.

I realized that crocheting is not an activity where you could just zone out. Usually for DIY projects, I put on a movie or a podcast, then let my hands do the work. With crocheting, I could not even put on music with words because it was messing with my counting. I had to concentrate and be mentally present for every stitch — all 31 of them on a particular round.

After the third doily, I was done. I achieved the diameter that I needed even if it wasn’t the yarn that I wanted.

When you think of doilies, it’s usually used a coaster for drinking glasses. But I made the doily for a mini usb fan on my work table. The small fan is for my laptop because I don’t want it to overheat because of the weather, especially now that we’re on the hottest season of the year. When it’s on, it vibrates on the table and the sound becomes too annoying. I needed something to absorb the vibrations. I originally used a round rag, but the colors did not tie up with the aesthetic. Having a visually aesthetic table is part of my self-care route, so I have to be particular on the smallest details starting off with the color scheme.

If we’re going to continue this work from home set up for the unforeseeable future, I needed to curate my home office. I am also trying to transition to a natural and earthy color scheme (brown, green, black, and white). I even replaced my blue mouse and went black. Here’s my current home set-up:

How is 2021 treating you so far? I hope you are also taking care of yourself in activities that you enjoy doing. It may not be a good day today, but we hope and look forward to better days. I still struggle and have low days, but I am slowly learning how to manage these feelings. It’s a slow climb, but progress is progress no matter how small it may be. So please hang in there, take it one day at a time, and we’ll survive each awful day together until we rise above it.

How to: Tighten Pants at the Waist Area

A Tiktok hack worked!

Buying pants that fit has always been a challenge for me because my body proportions don’t match the pants that are bought off the rack. I have wide hips, a small waist, and short legs (lol smol Asian girl problems). So most of the time, the hips part fit me but I end up having lots of space left in the waist area.

I always tell myself to buy a belt but belts are also meant to be styled. And usually belts add an illusion of cutting your body into proportions and make you look small if styled incorrectly. I don’t know anything about fashion so I stay away from belts as much as possible.

The next best thing was to tailor the pants to fit my body proportions. I’ve had this Tiktok hack pinned for the longest time that didn’t require any cutting, too much measurements, or a sewing machine. All I needed was the right needle, and I could wing it as I go.

To measure how much I would fold in and sew, I wore the jeans and pinched the fabric from the back. I remembered a video by Megan Batoon where she tried to thrift flip some jeans and took some sewing tips from her. Her flipping is much more complicated because she used a sewing machine and had to snip her pants. I ain’t got no time and courage for that. I just followed her idea of using a safety pin instead of a straight pin so that they don’t fly off when you take off the jeans. Anyway, I digress.

Using a safety pin also served as a marker in measuring the distance to the middle hem. Then, I drew a V from the two markers down to the middle.

Then I made a bar-like stitches across half of the V-pattern. I don’t know what that stitch is called. haha I just followed what was on the video.

After covering the whole area, I pulled on the thread to close the gap. Thankfully the thread didn’t break when I was tugging on the thread. (I apologize for the blurry pic. I was taking a video at the same time and didn’t have the patience to check if the picture came out well or even think about taking a second safety shot.)

I repeated the same thing on the other side. This is how it looks like from the inside after sewing.

And holy moly, this hack worked. It now fits perfectly on my waist and I don’t have to worry about the pants slowly falling down and showing a butt crack. It worked so well that I just had to do a quick change and flaunt that good jean fit.

I’ll be spending the next weekend tailoring the rest of my pants. Not that I have places to go to in the next month, but it’s nice to know that I have tailored jeans. Now, I need exercise to fill that butt area. lol My butt is as flat as it can be from sitting all day at work.

Bloom in 2021

2020 just ended and it felt like the fastest and the longest year that we have experienced. I’m thankful to put that in the past and move on to the new year. But stepping into the new year doesn’t feel like a fresh start. The whole world is still on a recovery stage from the big detour that is 2020. Some of us are probably still stuck in a rut, some of us are still figuring out how to move forward, and some of us are just trying to survive.

Instead of feeling hopeful that we are going to have a clean slate and start anew, I think the better attitude is to take it one day at a time, and bloom amidst all the uncertainties around us.

For my 2021 planner, I chose “Bloom” as a theme. It’s a suitable reminder for me that I can bloom on my own time and in the right season. It’s still good to plan, but also allow some room to adjust and adapt to the changes along the way.

(What a reflective segue to the planner. haha)

Weekly Planner
There aren’t any changes in the layout of the weekly planner. Last year, the fold of the planner was horizontal like a regular notebook. This year, I made it vertical like a notepad. I just folded sheets of scrap paper (I still have hundreds of sheets from my college bin declutter from last year) lengthwise then folded it down to make it look like a notepad.

Just like last year, I made 13 signatures for binding, each signature is for a month of the year plus one extra signature for notes.

I squeezed in lining and stamping the days in between stressful work days. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish it in time, given that I was having online meetings almost every day and I used my weekends to catch up on sleep and try to recuperate from exhaustion (spoiler: I never got a break). It took me around 2 months to finish the major part of the process.

Also, peep my make-shift phone tripod. I enjoyed taking videos during the last DIY that I decided to do another hyperlapse for the planner. In the embroidery entry, I used a waterbottle as a tripod. This time, it’s an abacus. lol

Monthly Covers
It took a while for me to decide on a design for the monthly covers. I was going back and forth on two designs — a watercolor + doodle design or a bullet journal-inspired design. I went with the latter because I still had photo prints and I was lazy to bust out the watercolor. haha

I made small fake polaroids by cutting 2.5 x 3 in rectangcles from scrap paper, the cut squares in the middle, leaving a 10 cm border on the top and sides.

Then I placed them over the photo prints and cut out the excess. Tadah, mini fake polaroids!

For the monthly calendar, I cut out squares from loose notebook pages. During my decluttering season, I shredded and threw old notebooks. I tore out the unused pages for future use and this is one of them. The recycled paper is perfect for the whole vibe of reusing old stuff and not buying anything new for the planner (oh except for the binding tools).

Layering is such a mental chore. haha I had to look for inspirations on Pinterest to see how bullet journal experts do it aesthetically. I did a mix of the printed portion of scrap paper, the fake polaroids, colored paper, washi tape, and stamps. I’m not sure if I did it properly, but it was the best that I could do as a first timer.

The back and front cover were from left over illustration board. I think I hoard illustration boards because I was sure that I used up the one I had in stock last year. Then I found a huge piece in a bin. I’m good for another 3 years. I covered it up with blackboard paper and cut up a gold paperbag for the inner cover.

Binding
I still used the coptic binding method and use the ever reliable tutorial from SeaLemon. And to make the bookbinding journey even legit, I FINALLY purchased a binding set that includes a proper binding needle and an awl.

OMG IT IS LIFE CHANGING.

Poking the holes was so much easier because I could adjust how big I want the hole to be. I still had help from a pushpin to make the initial hole, but the awl did wonders to making a bigger hole through and through the sheets of paper. And oh the curved needle, the best purchase ever, made the binding such a breeze. Before I used a regular sewing pin for binding and I have lost count on how many sewing pins I’ve broken. Now that I had a proper curved needle, I didn’t have to worry about needles breaking or struggling to pull the thick thread through the signatures. I’m so happy, I could cry.

Also ya girl got an upgrade with her video-taking set-up. As part of the office Christmas exchange gift, I received a ring light and lazy pod contraption that I could clip on a chair or the table. No more makeshift tripods!

And to make the final touches, I took inspiration from an artwork by Clare Owen and drew flowers in a mug using chalk crayons. I sealed it on the paper by brushing on a light layer of glue and water.

The Finished Product
I finished the planner just days before the calendar turned to a new month and year. Clutch! (Is that expression still relevant?)

The cover page taken from an adult coloring book
Aaand the final output

2020 has really been tough on me. This 2-week holiday break was my only break from the year. During that break, I was able to take it slow, reflect on the year that passed, calibrate my next steps for the new year, and stay in the moment. I just watched Soul and there was a question that made an impact. “How are you going to spend your life?” I think that the hustle and bustle of surviving 2020 pulled me away from living. So just like the movie, I need that spark that will pull me out of being a lost soul and jumpstart the will to bloom.

Lui Canta, Io Capisco

(He sings, I understand.)

When I took Italian as a foreign language way back in college, the first thing our professor asked was why we chose Italian. We had free reign to pick a foreign language to learn — Spanish, Japanese, German, Mandarin, Bahasa, and Italian — and I chose Italian. My classmates talked about how romantic and melodic the language sounded, or how they were just interested.

My answer was simple, I took Italian because of Josh Groban. HAHAHA

Josh’s first album was just released a year before that and everyone was so into The Prayer (the song that propelled his career when he stood for Andrea Bocelli at a rehearsal). We sang The Prayer at choir, I bought Josh’s album, I fell in love with his songs especially the Italian ones. His Italian songs are always my favorite, even in his succeeding albums.

So here we are, 17 years later, realizing that I haven’t tested my Italian knowledge. I went back to reviewing and learning Italian a year ago with Duolingo, a free language app, and was able to finish all lessons.

While tenses still confuse me, I think I can understand some words and figure out the meaning through context clues. So I went back to one of my favorite Josh Groban songs from his first album and tried to translate it. The first column is the lyrics, the second column is my translation, and the third is the actual translation. Then I went back to my translation to check if I understood it correctly. All text in pink are correct, the ones in yellow are correct but the tense is wrong, and those in blanks and black are obviously words that I missed.

Italian LyricsMy TranslationActual Translation
by LyricsTranslate
Qui c’è il buio fuori di me
Ed anche un po’ dentro di me
Che assurdità questa città
Senza persone
Here, there is hate outside of me
And also a little inside of me
That __ this city
Without people
Here there is darkness outside of me
And also a bit inside of me
What an absurdity, this city
without people
Io non so spiegar neanche come
Ma non è questa la mia dimensione
E la mia mente non è mai in pace
È sempre altrove
I do not know _ anything like
But it is not my dimension
And my mind is never in peace It is always
__
I don’t even know how to explain
But this is not my dimension
And my mind is never in peace
It is always elsewhere
Tu dove sei? La tua voce dov’è
Senza di te, senza il tuo aiuto
Che sarà di me
Where are you? Where is your voice?
Without you, without your help

That you have of me
You—where are you ? Your voice: where is it?
Without you, without your help
What will become of me?
Tutto sembrerà migliore
Alla luce che verrà del sole
Questa notte passerà
Everything becomes better
At the light that comes from the sun
That night
passes
Everything will seem brighter
By the light that will come from the sun
This night will pass
Il buio che c’è si dissolverà
Si vedranno le colline
Io continuerò a cercare te
The hate that there is dissolves
Coming from the hills
I continue to __ you
The darkness that is here will dissolve
The hills will reveal themselves
I will continue to search for you
Via da questa malinconia
Invidia o rabbia che sia
Qui nel mio cuore
Non voglio più queste parole
Come from this __
Here in my heart
I do not want more
of those words
Away with this melancholy
Envy or rage that it is–
Here in my heart
I no longer want these words
Tu dove sei? Il tuo sorriso dov’è
Senza di te, senza il tuo amore
Che sarà di me
Where are you? Where is your laugh?
Without you, without your love
That you have of me
You, where are you ? Your smile, where is it?
Without you, without your love
What will become of me?
Alla luce, al sole
Il silenzio morirà
La gente che c’è si confonderà
At the light, at the sun
Silence dies
The people that there is _
In the light, in the sun
The silence will die
The people who are here will blend together
E alla luce di quel sole
Io continuerò a cercare te
And at the light of that sun
I continue to _ you
And by the light of that sun
I will continue to search for you

Hmmm, not bad. The words I skipped were not covered in the Duolingo vocabluary list so I had no idea what they were. Translating the words wasn’t automatic, I had to go back and forth with the words that I understood first then filled in the other words by context clues.

I’ll try another Josh Groban song next time, this time from his second album. Ok back to Duolingo for another 150xp daily review.

Flowers on a Mask

Ah, here we are at another quarantine hobby: Embroidery.

I remember learning embroidery back in grade school as one of our Home Economics projects. I still do small embroidery projects by incorporating them in my things like the design on my 2019 Planner or placing my intials on pouches. When this skill reemerged in 2020, I knew I had to jump in and join the craze.

The most common embroidery projects that I see online is the Nike logo on clothing.

Embroidering on a sweater was out because I live in a tropical country and the weather is hella hot 90% of the time. I also work at home, which means I wear the most comfortable, uncoordinated, and unfashionable clothes that do not “require” an embroidery upgrade. Where else could I try out embroidery?

Then, I remembered my reusable face mask. It’s a pink and basic cloth face mask with no design or logo whatsoever. I could totally embroider that. Plus, I could still look cute while keeping the germs away.

The original plan was to buy an embroidery set and use the pattern on the face mask. So I placed an order for a set online, along with some other craft tools. I guess the universe thought otherwide and was telling me to be creative about it because when my package arrived, the embroidery set was nowhere inside it. Good thing I also bought a separate set of needles for bookbinding purposes, which included a needle fit for embroidery.

For the rest of the materials, I made use with what I already had. I still had a hoop that I used way back in grade school, an old and faded shirt that I wore in grade school (lol it still fits me but as a crop top), and the thread that I use for my bookbinding. I practiced first on a pink shirt because it matches the shade of my facemask.

I didn’t have a specific design in mind that I wanted for the facemask just yet, so I took flower stitches from Pinterest and bunched them all together on the shirt.

Look at all the flimsy stitches. hahahaha I was also trying out different leaf stitches but I failed in that department. I also tried doubling the thread but since the thread was already thick to begin with, it ended up really bulky, especially on small leaf designs. I also started off with blue DMC thread, but the shade of blue that I had didn’t match the pink. I scratched that and went back to white.

I nailed the woven rose design the first time I did it, but opted not to go with it as the final design because I was thinking how bulky it would look like on a face mask. If it were on a decorative hoop for hanging, it would probably work.

I wasn’t too happy with the bouquet type of design. I went back on Pinterest to look for other inspirations and saw this:

The flowers are all lined up neatly and the stitching isn’t too complicated. Tadah, I found my new inspiration and went back to the shirt to practice which flowers would work.

First, I drew on the shirt using a gray pen. A pencil will do too, but the marks easily fade.

I only used four kinds of stitches: Backstitch, Lazy Daisy, Stem Stitch, French Knot, and Romanian Fern Stitch. The first two were stitches that I already knew and the last three were completely new to me.

1. Backstitch
This is the most basic stitch, next to the running stitch. The first three stitches are a running stitch, but you go back on the fourth to connect the third and second hole. Then make a new stitch on the fifth hole, then go back to connect the fifth and third hole.

2. Stem Stitch
This is similar to the backstitch, but instead of going back to the same hole, you leave a teeny space. Keep the thread above the stitch, too, so it’ll give an illusion of waves.

3. Chain Stitch
I didn’t include this in my design but it was nice to remember how to do it. The first and second stitch goes into the same hole, but make a loop over the needle as it comes out from the back.

4. Lazy Daisy
This was my favorite in grade school. It’s similar to the chain stitch, but instead of making another chain on the third stitch, you go over the loop and close it to form a petal. Your fifth stitch is made near the first hole and you go around making petals in a circle.

5. Romanian Fern Stitch
I don’t know if it’s really called the Romanian Fern Stitch. The tutorial I got from Pinterest was in Spanish and I couldn’t find its exact name. If you know what this is called, please leave a comment below and correct me. haha

How do you explain this? It’s like making a chain of tridents.

Connecting hole 3 and 4 would make a straight line, but hooking the thread under the needle as it comes out on hole 5 (or 2) would pull the thread down and make a v.

5. French Knot
This was the most fun for me. If you knot your sewing thread by wrapping it around the needle and pulling it up until the end, then this knot will be easy to do. After pulling the thread through the cloth, wrap the thread around the needle 3-5 times (depending on how large you want the knot to be). Then poke the needle back in, keeping the knot as close to the cloth as possible.

I used the Backstitch, Stem Stitch, and Romanian Fern Stitch for the stems of the flowers then the Lazy Daisy and French Knot Stitches for the flowers and leaves. This is the result of the practice session:

I was happy with how the practice stitches looked like. It was time to recreate the stitches on one side of the face mask.

I haven’t gone out of the house for weeks now so I haven’t worn the face mask outdoors yet. Here’s my face pretending that I’m outdoors, but I just really dressed up one Sunday and took a video near the door. lol

Looks like I’m on my way to being a granny with all these quarantine hobbies. First, plants. Second, embroidery. What’s next, knitting? Oh dear. hahaha