Hocus pocus no more

Hello, there.

You might probably have noticed that I’ve been silent for quite some time (if you haven’t… whew… really? hahaha).

Sometimes all sorts of things get into my head and I get very overwhelmed that I need time to re-focus. So, last year, I deliberately took time off, for no reason except that I just want to be off the radar and find my balance.

It was a time well-spent, to be honest. I went to Ho Chi Minh city with a dear friend (although what happened there is a different story). During the past months, I’ve finally come to terms with some of my personal issues and internal conflicts. I’ve learned to embraced the challenges of being a stay-at-home-wife and a fur-mum. I’ve worked hard to achieve improvements on the calligraphy and lettering front. My husband and I hosted visiting family members (my in-laws) and part of that was going away on a trip together and re-connect.

So what is it I’m trying to say?

Always. No more hocus pocus. Love yourself first and everything else follows.
Always. No more hocus pocus. Love yourself first and everything else follows.

Not much, really, except that when you feel like you are losing yourself, you are not alone. That you can turn things around, if you want to. Take time off, like what I did. Travel. Go out and go shopping with a friend (how could I say no to a friend who was excited to shop for an evh at guitarcenter.com?), tee-hee. Pick up a new interest or hobby. You can’t be your 100% self when you yourself are lost and need some space to breathe. Take time to take care of yourself because if you don’t, who will?

My calligraphy wishlist

This year, I have been having the best time with my calligraphy works even though I don’t have much spare time. I absolutely enjoyed practicing hours and hours, albeit doing same strokes over and over again. My death grip is no longer deadly as I’ve loosened up quite a bit. Hence, the beautiful upstrokes (IMHO) that I managed to produce, hehehe.

Since picking up on my calligraphy adventure some 3-4 years ago, I’ve already grown my supplies and would like to invest in some stuff that I can use as I go further with my journey. Just like a good friend of mine who started playing guitar using a secondhand one she bought at a yard sale, she now has in her possession the prized Godin Guitars. See what I mean? It is only inevitable for an aspiring calligrapher to level up and invest in good quality tools to further grow.

Photo from Google images.
Photo from Google images.

So, in case you haven’t noticed it yet, Christmas season is upon us again. I don’t normally do this but I find myself drawing out a wishlist for myself. Mostly calligraphy related. I have a sketchy list on my hand now but I’m going to have to go through it again before posting the list here. Stay tuned for the update in a little while.

What is the best comeback blog post?

I don’t know but I’m starting mine with this –

To be honest, I often have long breaks so this is not the first time I’ve returned to blogging. It’s figuring out what to write for my comeback post that has always been difficult. I have no excuse to offer. It’s just my ‘blogging rhythm’ is different from the others and that I can not maintain that regular rhythm.

So what did I do during this period? There have been a lot of events and milestones that are blog-worthy but didn’t share them because I wanted to keep them private. However, I can share to you that I have devoted my time offline to practicing calligraphy and making artsy-fartsy stuff on the side during this period of absence. Happy to say that my hard work paid off and I have finally developed my own style! I was asked to do a small project addressing envelopes and I had a blast doing them with my new calligraphy style. I even did the project pro bono just because I enjoyed the whole process 🙂

Right now, I’m brushing up on brush calligraphy and, still, I find it very challenging. But I’m not giving up this time. My brush pens just arrived — brought to Cambodia by my sister last week – and I’ve been using them non-stop. The pens are heaven-sent. The pens are from an online art shop in the Philippines. I saw the shop’s ad from a musicians friend catalog and the rest, they say, is history.

Looking at my practice sheets, gee, I have a death grip! I think I need to work on having a lighter touch for my upstrokes. As you can see in the photo, those lines aren’t much different compared to my downstrokes! I want them to be much, much thinner. I definitely still feel like I’m trying to get more control of pen and hand movements, but hopefully these will improve soon.

Hello, it’s me.

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.
It’s been playing in my head over and over for no reason. Anyways…

The first two months of 2016 has just flown by and I can’t quite believe that we are on the last week of March. Soon it will be Khmer New Year!

Thinking about time flying by so quickly, I think I’ve been productive in a sense that my morning schedules have always been packed since the beginning of 2016 and I’ve spent less time on the Internet. I’ve kept my house relatively tidy and my dogs are healthy, I’ve caught up on my favourite TV series, I’m making progress in calligraphy and hand-lettering, and on top of that, I think I’m doing okay with my after-school “job”. What do you think?

A bowl of spicy udon and onion tempura filled my hungry stomach quickly. Very good meal for affordable price.
A bowl of spicy udon and onion tempura filled my hungry stomach quickly. Very good meal for affordable price.

Thursday last week I caught up with a friend and her awesome Binosaur over udon noodles and it was the first time we’ve been together again since, errrmmm, January? We proceeded to Aeon Mall and had coffee at Costa while catching up on the latest gossip (and shopping stuff like top selling dj gear).

Also, I finally got a hair cut!

I had a long, thick hair and a coarse texture that,  prior to getting a hair cut, gets in the way when I work around the house.  I usually tie (pony tail) or braid it.  Now that I have a shorter, more manageable hair, I think I’m ready for the hot summer days in the Penh.

Saturday Photo Hunt: Pets

Hi, friends! Happy to be back at Photo Hunt again. How are all of you after all the months I’ve been away? Hope all is well.

The weekend is generally a lazy affair in our household. We can do whatever we want, and whenever we want to 🙂 Obviously, it includes our dear pets.

We have three mutts, Maxx, Joe and Joe’s son, Red.
And this is how we chill on weekends…

On one corner, there’s Maxx, strategically positioned in front of the fan and quietly enjoying (and hogging) the cool breeze, observing what happens around her.

My oldest pet, Maxx. She's 9 years old this year.
My oldest pet, Maxx. She’s 9 years old this year.

On the other corner are these two rascals… oops, it’s beer o’clock!

Saturday Photo Hunt Pets
Dad Joe to the rescue! Photo originally appeared at Inside Cambodia blog.

With these three we never run out of amusement!


My quiet life

Hello, world!
Yes, I’m back again 😛

I’ve been very quiet here lately, like blah.  I’ve been meaning to write an update for the longest time now but never got to it. I don’t really have a very good excuse to offer either. I’ve just been pre-occupied and haven’t got enough energy and mojo to write anything. I’ll get around to it, eventually.

I’ve been popping on Twitter once in a while, sort of… to post a few photos, check a few important people that I follow (lol), engage in a convo once in a while but otherwise I’ve been quiet.

I enjoyed the peace and turned my focus to calligraphy, practicing my strokes and swirls. So far, I’m making progress. Can you see? 🙂

modern calligraphy style
This is definitely not Copperplate! I only used the guideline sheet to practice this particular (modern) calligraphy style.
oblique pen
It looks like a magic wand, doesn’t it?

You are looking at my brand new pen, by the way, bought from a master turner from the USA for a very good price. My creative side (ahem) thinks I’ve shown massive progress so I decided to put away my Speedball pen and reward myself with this beauty. A real pen – a turned Brazilian rosewood fitted for my Nikko G nib. It can also fit my other nibs such as Esterbrook 355, Hunt 56 and 22, as well as my Hiro 40.

In other news side, the holiday chachita bells have started ringing again in the Kingdom! It’s the Water Festival next week! This means no work for three days (usually extending to one week) and it’s a good excuse for most expats like us to go out of town and chill. And yeah, escape the chaos. It was reported though that the annual crowd-magnet boat-racing competition is cancelled this year but a large number of people coming from the nearby towns are still expected to arrive in the capital to join in the city-wide partying.

Anyhoo, like any other expats, my husband and I haven’t planned anything yet. A month ago we said we’d go to Kampot, but it looks like yobo has a change of heart. Let’s see which way the wind blows this weekend.


Signs, signs: Gasoline shop

My husband and I go for Sunday rides outside Phnom Penh with our trusty old Hagrid. Hagrid is a 1992 Honda 400 SuperFour motorbike.

Once in a while, when on road trips, we run low on gasoline. No problem. There are lots of roadside gasoline vendors, even in remote areas.

signs gas seller

For a first-timer in Cambodia, you might mistaken this roadside stall for a drink shop because of the soda bottles. It is actually a makeshift “gas station”.

Gasoline is smuggled across the border, in plain sight, and sold in shops like this in rural villages, quite openly, even in the capital Phnom Penh. Gasoline is sold in re-used soda and plastic water bottles and are displayed out front, as you see in the above photo. You don’t see this in developed countries.


My week

What a whirlwind week it was!
Here are a few of my favourite photos taken last week.

I prepared coconut macaroons for my good friend’s son’s birthday party. I was a bit nervous so I practiced, hah. Yobo assured me that the macaroons tasted good. The only comment he had was he preferred the golden brown with uneven lumps rather than the “prettified” version. How about you? The party was held at Nham Cafe last Sunday. It was a small gathering of the family, close friends and relatives.

Summer is nearly over and yet I can still see lots of durian and rambutan in the market. The durian fruits came from Kampot – which is arguably the best in Cambodia – sweet, sticky and creamy. You can’t miss them, just follow the scent and your nose will take you to the right spot.

Highlights of last week.
Highlights of last week.


Red Dog recently turned a year old! He’s been such a source of joy not only to us but to the two older dogs, Joe and especially Max. Red’s energy and playfulness spread to these two.
The three of them always find a spot close to me when I’m practicing calligraphy in the veranda. I started practicing Copperplate this month and it’s really very challenging. I can’t seem to get the strokes right — the Bs, Ps, and Rs are particularly tricky. To help me with the techniques, I’m watching video tutorials on YouTube. I sent out postcards last week, one of them you see above went to Peru. It’s my first postcard to Peru and I’m very excited that it’s another country off my list. I also got to practice modern calligraphy when writing the postcard.

That little boy on the lower left side is my nephew, Ryder. He’ll be turning two years old next week and he loves playing with his (plastic) tools.  He pretends to be carpenter, a plumber, an all-around handyman. He proudly tells anyone who listens that he is Ryder the Builder. Oh, he could be that and more when he grows up! I can’t wait to see him soon!

Food! That’s how weekend meals look like in our household.
How was your weekend?

Signs, signs: In search of “hi”

It really pays to have your camera with you at all times. You never know what or who you’re going to bump into.

Take for example this photo below.

Can you help reunite "ho" with "hi"?
Can you help reunite “ho” with “hi”?

I was on my way to the mall to check out a u22 recommended by a friend for a small recording project I was doing when I decided to stop by the Post Office to check my mailbox. On my way out, I spotted a moving sign from afar and before I knew it, I realised it’s “ho” wandering in the streets, probably looking for “hi” 🙂



Shopping for art’s sake

Hah, it’s been awhile again. I wasn’t up to writing (again) because Rafa (Nadal) lost in the QFs of this year’s Roland Garros tournament.  I was beside myself (slight lang, hihihi). Thankfully, my husband knew exactly what to do to get me out of this funk — he took me shopping.  And when I say shopping, I meant shopping for calligraphy supplies 🙂  So I want to share some of my spoils.

But before I went on a splurge, my husband and I went to Home Top first. For quite some time now we have been meaning to get new frying pans but we couldn’t find ones that we’re looking for. While checking out the frying pans, I overheard an elderly expat couple at the aisle opposite us discussing to Buy spandex table cover. Didn’t mean to be eavesdropping, but, really? A spandex table cover? It’s the first time I heard that, pardon my ignorance. Anyways, we found what we’re looking for — a decent non-stick frying pan.

His and hers frying pan, lol.
His and hers frying pan, lol.
Sponges! There can never be enough of them.
Sponges! There can never be enough of them.

We bought two, of course. We also got dish-washing sponges.
We then drove to Aeon Mall for my calligraphy supply – check out the stuff I picked up. My last splurge was in early January this year when I ordered various nibs, pen holders and ink from an online shop in Manila through my sister, DonyaBooding. Aren’t sisters the best? 🙂 This time though, it was my husband who offered after seeing that a) I needed cheering up after Rafa’s loss, and b) I have the knack for hand-lettering and calligraphy. I kid, I kid!

Pencils, erasers and Sakura Gelly Roll pens!
Pencils, erasers and Sakura Gelly Roll pens!

I was surprised to find Sakura Gelly Roll pens at PBC. They’re only $0.85 each.

Dotted notebook, calligraphy ink, white art paper and a wooden block.
Dotted notebook, calligraphy ink, white art paper and a wooden block.
A plastic nib case to house my nibs. The nibs were purchased in Manila.
A plastic nib case to house my nibs. The nibs were purchased in Manila.

And because I’m exploring other tools, I got these brush pens. So now I’m both into dip-pen and brush calligraphy. Bah, yabang!

Pentel colour brush pen in blue and 2 refill cartridges and a Faber-Castell artist pen in orange.
Pentel colour brush pen in blue and 2 refill cartridges and a Faber-Castell artist pen in orange.

Some of you might scratch your heads and wonder … since when have I been artsy-fartsy? It’s kinda, sorta, hidden, just like my talents are, lol. Seriously though, learning calligraphy is #40  in my bucket list. And this year is the year that I get to pursue this creative hobby. So watch out for more artsy-fartsy goodness in the future posts.