Biktima Press Conference

Chances of being in a press conference is limited and being there gives a writer a heads up on what to write about the upcoming movie and I’m fortunate enough to be part of the new media covering this press conference of the movie “Biktima”.

Cast by two of Philippine cinema’s reliable performers Cesar Montano and Angel Aquino join forces with a young and passionate director, RD Alba in a dramatic thriller movie titled as “Biktima” which hits theaters on September 19. Shot entirely in picturesque yet perilous Bohol, which happens to be Cesar Montano’s hometown.

The story of Biktima is about a female TV reported named Alice de la Cruz which was played by Angel Aquino who wants to make something else outside of her being a wife and a mother. As a news journalist for a local TV channel, Alice sets off on a dangerous trek to the island of Kamandao in Bohol against her husband Mark’s (played by Cesar Montano) warning.

In the midst of an attack by insurgents, Alice is believed to have died in the ambush with her fellow reporters. Devastated and left to care for their son, Alice’s husband Mark turns to the former’s best friend Sandra, which was played by Mercedes Cabral, for solace and love.

Things seem to have gone back to normal for Mark and Sandra until Alice is found alive after six months, her memory almost totally erased. Husband and wife get back together but then the missing pieces of what happened in the months that she disappeared fall into place and this triggers psychological scars to unravel and gradually erupt into an explosive crescendo. The turn of the story starts.

Together with other actors and actress Sunshine Cruz, Ricky Davao and British-born actor Philip Anthony fills up the casts of Biktima.

Baby Letter N

One of the many hidden picture master artists for Highlights Magazine, Tim Davis, recently celebrated the birth of his grandson. To join in the celebration, a group of Highlights for Children Magazine illustrators each depicted a letter of the baby's name with a hidden picture drawing. My letter was N, so I decided to feature a young artist (like his Grandpa) sporting three sticks of chalk to form the letter N and a chalk board background.

Like my other work, I started with a simple thumbnail sketch...

and then did line drawings of the images to scale. In the sketching process, my ideas always evolve and the original idea grows into something new. The pencil sometimes leads me in an entirely different direction than my starting point. For example, my original idea was to hide the words (that begin with N) on the baby’s shirt, but after finishing a thumbnail sketch, I decided a chalkboard would be best for the hidden words.

After sketching, my next step is to scan the drawings individually and place them in a Photoshop document. This becomes my final sketch which is then painted in Photoshop using the Cintiq. The fun part of this project was to paint and play with new brushes in Photoshop, trying to create the 'look' of chalk dust on the blackboard.

Congratulations to Tim and the Davis family on your new grandchild!
I hope you like the letter N.

Summing Up Summer

Maybe it's because I have been a teacher (or a student) for so many years, but Labour Day weekend always seems to signal the end of summer, even though technically there are still three weeks left! It is a time of transition and new beginnings. It often feels more like the "new year" than January 1st does. It's been quiet on the blogging front for a while, so I thought I would squeeze in a blog about our summer just hours before the Labour Day weekend is officially here!

We enjoyed July and August with a few special events like the garden wedding of my brother Paul, to Jane, in July just outside of Ottawa.

It was a beautiful event and we enjoyed meeting Jane's family and friends as well as spending a few days at a picturesque resort with Paul, Jane, my nieces Emily and Meredith, Meredith's husband Daniel, and their cute kids, Eli and Hazel. Eli, age three, was always entertaining, and sweet Hazel, six weeks old, was a delight to cuddle and hold.

We enjoyed hosting friends in our garden...

and a getaway to the cottage....

We've also been working hard "behind the scenes" in the studio this summer. It was definitely time to purge, clean, and re-organize the studio. You know, face the facts that if we hadn't figured out how to use that special little "doodad" we found or created six years ago, that it was probably time to let it go! It was a goal to actually create a system to put similar things together and label them instead of squirreling them away in a myriad of little boxes and containers. Although the process was time-consuming, what a sense of accomplishment to now be able to quickly find whatever we need for any given project. O.K...there are still gremlins in the studio that hide things on us...but not nearly as often!!!

Another big project undertaken this summer was figuring out how stay cool in the creative zone! With record breaking temperatures this summer, we knew we needed to do something to make the studio a functional and comfortable space. The studio has always baked in the hot summer afternoons with west facing skylights and windows. We finally got blinds for the skylights, (a step up from the aluminum foil I taped up there) and a roller blind for the west facing "tree" door. We love the way the tree is still silhouetted through the blind while shielding the studio from the afternoon sun.

The biggest challenge was figuring out how to get air conditioning into the studio. Angie saved the day by watching a YouTube video on how to take out a casement window, and succeeded in taking it out! The two of us were then able to install a beautiful little air conditioner in the end window. What a sense of accomplishment (and relief) when we could welcome summer workshop participants to a cool studio and could spend afternoons ourselves creating in comfort.

So now that we have an organized (mostly) and cool studio, we have retreated into the creative zone to get ready for our fall events! We have been having fun experimenting with some new materials and can hardly wait to show you our creations. We'll be spending much of September getting ready for the 24th annual Mary Allen Studio Tour which will feature 29 Waterloo artists this year. It takes place on Saturday, September 29th and Sunday, September 30th.
We'll fill you in on all the details and give you a sneak preview of some of our creations in the coming weeks. In the meantime, embrace and enjoy the last long week-end of the summer!

Savoring Summer

Labor Day weekend in America is the unofficially end of summer.  Where did the time go?!  But just because it's almost fall doesn't mean you have to put away your stripes.  Saint James has just debuted a new eight piece capsule collection at Barneys that are perfect for what the French call  la rentrée.  It was designed by Martin Carvajal of Freemans Sporting Club who kept the pieces in line with Saint James history which dates back to 1948 when they started making Breton striped shirts for the French Navy. The collection was then photographed on a group of New Yorkers by Backyard Bill for a 2013 calendar. 

“I thought of someone who has style, but is not complicated. Someone who can combine a striped sweater with a sport coat and dress shoes, but can also wear it with shorts or sneakers. I thought of people who appreciate a garment that can stay relevant in your closet for decades. The pieces are comfortable but also tough.” - Martin Carvajal

Bon weekend! 

Kirk Miller of Miller's Oath

Alex Burns

Zani Guglemann of Filigrana by Zani

John and Mark Barboni of Hudson Clearwater (also top image)

Judi and Marly Wong of Cafe Cluny whose wait staff wear Saint James. 

Benjamin Towill of The Fat Radish

Alexander Gilkes of Paddle 8

Architect Kelechi Odu

Jon Tietz

Anyone know who them?

Writer Glenn O'Brien

Angus McIntosh of Saturdays

All photos by Backyard Bill

Aiza Seguerra's BENTE SINGKO

Quite few stars in the show business have reached their silver anniversary at a younger age and Aiza Seguerra is one of them.   Who would not know this child star who've made everyone laughed way back in the 80's.  She has shared with us 25 years of musical and artistic craftsmanship.

She's been the love of every family as her young career bloom as Vic Sotto’s daughter in Okey Ka Fairy Ko and made more than thirty movies.  This former child star has blossomed into one of the country’s most respected acoustic singer-songwriters and guitarist with hits such as Pagdating ng Panahon and Akala Mo.

It was really an amazing experience meeting her in person.  It was a fun conversation with her during the bloggers event.  Here's a simple memento that I was able to meet her in person.

Aiza wishes to share her gratitude for her silver milestone with BENTE SINGKO: Aiza Seguerra Anniversary Concert on September 28 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, a production from MediaNation, Blackbird Music Creations and That’s Ntertainment Productions.

To celebrate Aiza’s stellar career, Tito, Vic and Joey, “Mr. Pure Energy” Gary Valenciano and “Concert King” Martin Nievera will join the silver anniversary concert as the major acts. Their enduring ballads will fill the coliseum with energy and passion.

Aiza’s role as mentor in the show Protégé :The Battle for the Big Break has led to the development of the grand winner Krizza Neri who will join the night as a Special Guest. The Company will serenade the night with hits such as Pakisabi na Lang, a song Aiza has also popularized in radio stations.

Fellow ASAP Sessionistas Juris, Richard Poon, Princess and Nyoy Volante, will also join Aiza for this big night. Gloc 9, Bayang Barrios and Cooky Chua of Color It Red will complete the night with their own distinct brand of music.

The ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra will provide musical depth to the evening under the guidance of accomplished conductor Gerard Salonga. Mike Villegas and Ria Osorio will be the musical directors.

ABS-CBN and MYX are the media partners for BENTE SINGKO: Aiza Seguerra Anniversary Concert. Reservations can now be made for the ticket prices below. Call 234 2117.

VIP P3,000
Patron P2,500
Lower Box P2,000
Upper Box A P750
Upper Box B P400
General Admission P300

Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad

I have a good friend N, who loves everything Korean.  She waxes enthusiastic on anything from K-pop, to digital perms, to where to get the most authentic Korean food in the city.  Yes, she’s been to Korea and is going again next year.  Yes, she knows the names of all those cutie Korean singers.  Yes, she refers to Korean dishes by their proper names and not by “the yummy grilled pork that’s kinda spicy and wrapped in leaves!” like I do.

She is also really good at karaoke.  (Not that that has anything to do with Korea, because I think every country in Asia has its own karaoke culture.  And if you live in the Philippines you *know* that we are the masters :)  Woohoo!  Challenge accepted!)

Also, she hates vegetables.

This is for N.  Hopefully, a spoonful of Korean will help the vegetables go down ;)

Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad
(adapted from TheKitchn)
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3-4 stalks green onion, white and light green parts only, sliced
  • 2 medium sized or 1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced

- Whisk together all the ingredients except for the cucumber.  When the dressing is well-combined and the chili paste dissolved, add the cucumbers and toss to coat.
- Serve chilled or at room temperature.

I had actually bookmarked this recipe a while back because, well, because I like anything chili-flecked and pickley.  So onto my Pinterest Crave board it went (if you’d like to see what else I’m pinning feel free to follow my boards here).  I hemmed and hawed because I didn’t have any gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder) and had yet to buy some.  Finally, with a lone cucumber lamenting its sorry state in my crisper, I realized I had to make do with what I had on hand.  And what I did have on hand was gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste).  Hmmm.  Can do.  I whipped up the dressing above the rest was history.  We had this with some five-spice fried chicken and, between C and I, this was finished in no time flat.  The contrast between the cucumber’s cool crunch and the spiciness of the dressing is what makes this salad a winner.  I imagine this will work wonderfully with any grilled meat or fish…from Gogi Gui (Korean barbecue) to our own local Pinoy pork barbecue.

Next week I promise you another round-up of links, but since we are on the topic of Korean food, here is my favorite Korean food blog.  If you are interested at all about Korean cooking, Eating and Living is a definite must-click. 

N and I are planning a Korean barbecue soon.  I’ll bring this salad and some marinated kalbi (beef ribs).  N with bring the pork and the music.  We’ll rustle up some soju.  Suggestions for other dishes are welcome!  It’s the weekend folks…let’s party!

30:60 The Remaining Projects and Announcing the Next Challenges!

Friends, it has been a busy few weeks here in Casa Grand.  First off, I've been busy reading all of the fabulous blogs that you have shared with me! I'm excited to have such a wealth of reading material to peruse every day :)  I've also been busy with some things on the home front.  Upon hearing that we were having guests staying at our place this weekend while we are gone (and sleeping in the sewing area!), I started a stash busting routine of waking up at 5 a.m. and going to sleep at 12:00 a.m. and sewing during all the waking/non-work hours. It is truly amazing what three cups of coffee and two diet sodas a day will do to you! So... it's been a bit busy.  I apologize for the complete lack of silence over here :)

I did get to take a few breaks, like hanging out with the AWESOME Liz of Zilredloh - one of my favorite sewing bloggers on the web, and a fabulous conversationalist as well!  We went to the Randolph Street Market last Sunday, but sadly, this is the only picture I got of our adventure!  It started raining a short time later and did not stop until Monday.  We had quite the adventure of getting to the car while leaving the Haymarket Pub - we were a bit damp by the time we got there! I didn't see anything that tickled my fancy at the Market, but Liz got some fabulous goodies for herself.  Can't wait to see what she makes with her new patterns!

 Now onto the projects... in the end, these projects walked the line between scrap busting and stash busting.  I needed to make space in the sewing closet for guests to put things away and it was just about making space as fast as possible.  

This plaid was mainly just selvage pieces, with one tiny section that could be folded to make the front bodice.  I shortened the sleeves and cuffed them to make for a fun camp shirt version, but the truth is that I didn't have enough fabric to cut the entire sleeve. I "made it work" a la Tim Gunn.

 The back is pieced together along the center grey stripe.  It's not exact, but it works.  I love how easily this pattern comes together and how flattering it is, especially the neckline. 

 Project 24: Simplicity 2258 The Denim Bow Skirt.  

I've had this pattern in my stash for a few months now, so when my grandma gave me a large denim remnant, I decided it would be perfect for a skirt.

 The denim is delightfully soft and pliable, but there was not enough for all the pieces. The waistband/elastic casing and back of tie were made with denim that had a similar feel, but is slightly lighter in color. I like the variance of the shades, and the fact that I can throw this skirt on and feel a bit dressier when I go out.

 Project 25: Butterick 5528 The Drapey Cardigan

Ever since seeing this post at Four Square Walls, I KNEW I needed a drapey cardigan.  I began the pattern hunt and eventually settled on this Butterick pattern.  It was a total breeze to make and took approximately 3 hours total.

I've had this green knit in my stash for a long time now, but had no idea how warm it was until I tried this cardi on - wow.  Oh wow.  It's a bit sheer, but it can hold in the heat like nothing else.

It's a little bulky around the sleeves, which is fine, since I'll probably be pairing it with long sleeve tees in the winter.  Right now, it's perfect to pair with work blouses against the chilly office air conditioning.

Project 26: The Perfectly Plaid Pendrell

This was the first Pendrell blouse I made, and I LOVE IT.  I made it out of a long pleated skirt that Mama Grand was getting rid of, and it works perfectly as a blouse.

The length is perfect, the sleeves are so fun, and I definitely love the colors in the plaid.

Plaid matching sorcery right there, y'all.

This is my absolute favorite blouse at the moment - comfortable, colorful, and stylish all wrapped up in one!

Project 27: Simplicity 2475 The Pinstripe Pencil Skirt

I bought this fabric online several months ago because I really loved the description of silver threaded pinstripes on a black background.  I ordered 5 yards so I could get both a pencil skirt and pants out of the fabric, but the fabric has been sitting there ever since.

The fabric has a TON of stretch in it, but has almost a plastic feel to it, so any exposed seams are mighty uncomfortable.  The waistband has a facing to take care of any major scratchiness against my stomach, and the side seams were all zig-zagged to encase the little silver devil threads.

I love the way the pencil skirt turned out because I desperately needed new skirts for work, and this is a great base piece.  From a distance, it looks like leather.  I feel rather like an Human Resources Biker Chick.  

A close up of the fabric - those silver threads are definitely running diagonal; the pinstripes run along the bias, but I decided to cut per usual and see how everything turned out.  I rather like it like this, though I think I might try to make the pants with silver threads running vertically.

Project 28: Simplicity 2659 Night at the Opera Jacket

I made this jacket on a whim.  I've had this fabric in my stash for awhile now, and just decided it was time.  I randomly chose the Simplicity pattern and got to work.  After taking about 5 hours of work, I was stunned by how it turned out and how much I liked it!

I love the colors together and I LOVE the collar.  I used the reverse of the fabric on the collar, so it appears as black swirls on green instead of green on black.  I love this little added detail, and I'm a big fan of how the collar pops out a bit.  I did not expect it to have so much volume, but truly, I feel like it's a very classy jacket and needs to be worn out often.

It did not originally call for a button, but because the fabric has so much give, I decided to close the front rather than leave it flap around.  I like the controlled look much better, and I'll keep this in mind if I ever return to this pattern in the future.

Project 29:  Simplicity 2475 The "Go Bears" Skirt

Ok.  I am Steelers fan to the core, but part of me has to root for the Bears now that I live in Chicago.   That part of me works in an office environment that is a bit hostile to Steelers fans - apparently other people wish their team had six Super Bowl rings as well and don't like me wearing my team colors to celebrate on Mondays.  Here is my appeasement garment:

I have no idea where this fabric came from, but it is a delightful, non itchy knit and I love how the fit turned out.

The only problem with this skirt is that the box pleat is completely uneven.  I was distraught when I saw this, but since the length issue is happening on both sides of the box pleat, it almost looks like I did it on purpose. We're just going to pretend it was a design choice.

I matched up all the stripes, and I love how it works with my navy blouses (including my Jasmine above).  I have an orange blouse in the works and it's going to be fabulous (I hope)!

Project 30: No Pattern ... Another Pencil Skirt

This skirt was originally a strange remnant that appeared in my stash.  A side and back seam had already been stitched, but it was so large that I would need to rip out and remake completely.  I decided to try and make another Ginger skirt, but without the waistband. 

To put it mildly, it was disastrous.  It was so bad that I gave away the Ginger pattern to a friend and said, "I tried."  I decided to reshape the side seams into a pencil skirt, but no vent was added because I didn't account for it when cutting out for the original Ginger skirt.  It works fine without - I can definitely walk and sit with the best of them.

I love it paired with this green blouse - the colors are so fantastic that I am wondering how I can mix more of these shades into my every day wardrobe!

 The best part was that I didn't need to line it since the fabric backing already acts as a lining.  I did add a waistband facing (made with scrap fabric - yay scrap busting!) and used some bias trim to keep the seams from fraying.  This fabric is incredibly soft and woven, which means it's very warm, but it also wants to shred on itself.

Project 31: Simplicity 2617 The Pants Purse!

As we are heading to down to my parents' house tomorrow for my grandmother's birthday, I thought it was only fitting to make her a scrappy little purse out of the pants she gave me to refashion. It's perfect for holding Bingo money, which is now essential in the nursing home.


I am so excited to finally be able to participate in the Sew Colette challenge!  I was a little nervous about finally tackling this pattern in my stash, but now that I have, I know I need to make more and as soon as possible!

The yellow contrast material was definitely a scrap, and the bottom was the last of a floral remnant that had been sitting on the shelf forever.  I put them together on a whim, and I LOVE the result!  It's so summery and fun!

Close up - there are some serious colors happening here.  I think if I wanted to make it last into the fall, I would definitely pair it with the drapey cardi above.


 Project 33: The Original Knit Top

Friends, I have the pattern for this top somewhere, but I have no idea where it could be.  I loved the fruits and veggies knit at first sight and cut the pattern out then and there ... but that was 2006.  In 2012, I managed to track down all the pieces in separate boxes and put it together. I am calling it a victory that I managed to find all the pieces, even if it is a bit tight since I didn't know how to cut out knits at the time.

It's tunic length, so I've paired it with a grey tank and a pair of black knit tights.  It's an extremely comfortable outfit!

After spending an hour helping me take all of these photos, my handsome photographer stepped in for a cameo:

 Friends, after 33 projects in 60 days, I can honestly say that I am very excited with the progress I've made in scrap and stash busting!  In order to keep on this process, I'm outlining the following challenges for myself:


Aside from my final Macaron and the Sew Weekly Gatsby challenge, I am only sewing AND wearing separates for the entire month of September.  I've got huge wardrobe gaps that need to be focused on, so I think this month will definitely flesh out my closet and make it easier to put outfits together.  The separates I wear do not need to be all me made, but I am still keeping to my New Year's resolution of wearing one me made garment a day (only 3 days that I haven't worn something me made so far!)


I am tackling the UFOs in my stash, and my goal is to complete at least 8. It's going to be exciting, I think!


I cannot even begin to tell you how many wrap dresses and wrap blouse patterns I have in my stash, and it's time to address these patterns I keep buying and not making.  Even if the dresses are more summer oriented, they will be made during this month. 

I've found that completing the 30:60 challenge has forced me to be more productive and power through projects instead of leaving them by the wayside.  I'm excited to keep working through my stash in the next three months - come join me if you like! 

Have a great evening all!