Friday, August 28, 2015

Why I'm still at it

I'm talking about coloring, that is. It's been a while since I had a hobby that I truly enjoyed. And let me just tell you that I am really into this coloring shiz. Bring on those coloring materials!

And I never realized that there are so many kinds of coloring materials out there. Colored pencils, colored pencils with watercolors, markers, fine liners, blending sticks, shading pencils, gel pens, glitter pens, metallic pens. Oy! It's a craft maker's wet dream!
I started with buying colored pencils.
Lately though, I've experimented with markers and fine liners.
I have never been surrounded by this much color in my life!
My favorite coloring books are still Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest.
They feature a lot of greenery (grasses, plants, trees, leaves).
And so I've been buying a lot of green markers in different shades recently.
A good friend, Ajie, introduced me to this brand.
They're great for coloring because they don't produce those ugly black
marks when the colors overlap. Unfortunately, they're very expensive.
And so armed with these markers and colored pencils, I immerse myself for a few hours into these black and white plates. I've never really logged the time it takes me to complete a plate. (It depends on the intricacy of the details, I guess.) But I think it's safe to say that it takes me at least 4 hours to finish one. And during those 4 hours, I think of nothing else.
I used colored pencils for these. See the different greens?
Normally, I prefer to color in solids, but I tried shading in this one.
I love that there's an owl that's making a peek-a-boo.
I also used colored pencils for this one, just two colors actually.
Since there aren't that much detail into the plate, I thought of coloring the background.
Huge mistake, that was. This took me longer than I expected!
Here I used markers.
One has to be careful to use that kind that doesn't bleed to the next page.
R. challenged me not to use greens for the next plate. Tough!
This plate is unfinished.
I tried using glitter and metallic pens to work on this one.
And I think the effect is beautiful!
In other non-coloring-related stuff, R. and I attended the free Airbnb orientation last weekend. We were interested at what it takes to be a host, plus other details such as fees, security, cancellations, and listings. 

I've never tried the Airbnb service. Whenever I find myself in other countries, I still go the traditional route—going online and booking a hotel room from there. During the orientation, I was impressed by the range of accommodations that Airbnb has in its listings. You can even choose to stay in a castle! Rates are good; sometimes even lower than hotel rooms.
R. during the orientation
Even though it was free, they served food!
Lucky me, as it was already almost 3 pm and I still haven't had lunch.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Why take it slow

Most of my life, I've been a speed reader. I'm not exactly sure how fast I read in terms of the number of words per minute; all I know is that I can go through a 400-page book in one afternoon. Of course, comprehension is another matter. If you read text in chunks, as I do when I speed read, you don't really get into the details. It's like a buffet—filling but not wholly satisfying taste-wise.

How I became a speed reader is a story in itself. When my younger brother was 9, my parents enrolled him in a speed reading course. He's not a big reader, my brother is. My parents probably thought that if he speed read, he'd still be able to finish books and still have lots of time playing or doing the usual, you know, boy stuff.

Anyway, my brother got sick on the first day of the course. I would never really know to this day if it was a real illness, or if it was just purely psychosomatic. And I will never understand why my parents didn't just take note of my brother's "illness" that day and force him to attend the following day.

The speed reading course was non-refundable and non-transferable. Bummer, my parents must have thought. Then they had this brilliant idea, which I now think to be a touch Hitchcock-ian. Clap, clap. (Sometimes, I feel unworthy to be their child.) For one summer, my 10-year-old self pretended to be Thomas, my younger brother. I believe I was the youngest in that class of 15. And it took me a while to respond when somebody called me Tom. So I just kept to myself and just immersed myself in all those speed reading exercises.

That summer changed my reading life. I've never looked back since.

Speed reading is extremely helpful. You go through all your class required reading in a matter of days. You can finish the newspaper in the morning, which is the only way to read it, methinks. Everything goes by in a flash. And you really have more time to do other stuff, which in my case is to read more stuff.

Lately, however, I've come to realize that perhaps it's time to it slow. Not just in reading but in most of my routine activities. What's the point of all this hurrying? Why do I need to rush things that I find enjoyable? It's bad enough that I have to constantly meet deadlines at work, so I don't want to make speed a de facto in other aspects of my life. So consciously I've been trying (with moderate success) to read more slowly, to take my time enjoying the food in front of me, to jot down things in a notebook, to walk more leisurely.

No matter how fast I read, I'm never going to read all these great works of literature. I've gotten comfortable having my to-be-read pile around. Besides, there are books that are worth every hour your spend with them—the flowery prose of Proust, the sublime poetry of Czesław Miłosz and Seamus Heaney (still my favorite poets), the Gothic romance of Jane Eyre, and the fluid narrative of José Saramago, just to name a few.

Let me tell you, dear reader, you do feel more relaxed when you deliberately take things slow. (I even noticed that my pores have become smaller.) More importantly, you get to enjoy your reading material more. Like this debut novel by Edan Lepucki, the post-apocalyptic California. This novel had quite a buzz going for it last year, especially after Stephen Colbert featured it in the light of that Amazon-Hachette debacle. Ergo, it jumped into the bestseller lists. The New York Times even said that it won the "literally lotto."

California is fantastic post-apocalyptic fiction. What sets it apart from other works in this genre is its deliberate pace. Lepucki focuses the story on how a couple, Frida Ellis and Calvin Friedman, survives in Los Angeles, which has now been totally devastated. It's a sad novel really; you know that things wouldn't really end well for our main characters. The world has become cruel, one where being pregnant is a liability and your acceptance to a community comes down to a vote.

There's a sense of dread in the pages of California. Lepucki never really discloses why the world has come to an apocalypse, which is a very good decision in my opinion. I felt a good mix of paranoia and horror reading it. Somehow, you get a sense that what's happening in California can really happen. I do hope that I'm dead when that time comes. I wouldn't last a second in there anyway.
My obsession over coloring books continues.
So happy that I finally have Johanna Basford's works.
These are quite difficult to find in bookstores lately.
Even my 8-year-old niece has taken to them coloring pages.
She has no fear of intricate and very detailed illustrations.
Speaking of slow, this took me more than 5 hours to color.
Not 5 straight hours though. Otherwise, calluses.
(From the Secret Garden coloring book)
I've also taken the habit of taking things slow to other small things. Last weekend, we went to a local crafts fair, and it gave me a few ideas to try out. I have no delusions of becoming the next Martha Stewart though.
Those pre-arranged bouquets can be quite expensive, so R opts to buy flowers in bulk.
Besides, I think he enjoys being a florist. Hehehehehe.
I bought this lime liqueur last weekend, and it's divine.
I am loving all things citrus lately—the refreshing scent, the clean taste, the vibrant colors.
I tried adding a splash of this liqueur to sparkling water.
My own "slow" fizzy lime drink without the sugar. Win.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Why some people are just awesome

Because they can make really beautiful things. Like R, who took the time and effort to make this artwork by hand.

It's something that I can print out and color! Yes, that's me—mustache, beard, reading glasses, curly hair, and all.

This artwork is actually a preview of what's going to happen soon with the layout of this blog. After all, this site seriously needs a facelift.