Write Until You Meet Yourself


P3222359

I was very young when I started writing in journals. My mother, being an introvert herself, bought me my first diary, and I took to it quite naturally. I was extremely uncommunicative with people, very rarely raising my voice to talk or make conversation, but I was expressive in my writings. On paper, my thoughts were easy to pour out.

Much of writing is unpacking ourselves from the tightly-wound package of public perception and social pressures. The deliberate act of putting words on paper requires a certain measure of introspection and openness.

Perhaps more importantly, when I write, I am brave. I open doors that I never opened before. I confront my ignorance and willingly accept self-correction. I ask myself those very difficult questions, and I am able to write down and face the answers, painstakingly thought out and laid down, letter by letter. I write honestly, without trying to cover anything up, without trying to make me look better. Without judgment.

In writing, I meet a version of myself. One that’s inaccessible outside the pages of my journals. Through the years, it has  been my safe space, helping me understand and love the person I meet through introspection and quiet meditation.

“Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.” – Natalie Goldberg

A Peek in My Health Journal


I opened the year 2018 with a new commitment to myself. My husband and I will turn 40 in a few years, and that has brought about a lot of realizations in my life. Our health is just one of those. He has Type 2 Diabetes, I’m pre-diabetic myself. I decided it’s time for a paradigm change and it may sound like a cliche, but there’s something great about starting a new lifestyle on a new year. It feels like you have momentum behind you. Before the new year, though, I did start a health journal. I ate what I usually ate, drank what I usually drank, and wrote them down.

20180212_155021

A few weeks of doing this gave me an insight on the state of my eating habits. I didn’t eat a lot of rice and ulam, but I loved my sweet treats and I enjoyed them at all hours of the day. Writing it down gave me valuable insight on what I put inside my body and what I placate my hunger with. I think gaining this insight before I plunged into a drastic lifestyle change was particularly good for me. It felt a lot like reasoning with myself.

20180212_155021

I planned our week’s meal, made a simple grocery list, and planned out what things I wanted to track. I decided on a few things; exercise, caffeine intake, food, and overall mood/feelings for the day. Again, a few weeks into recording these things gave me more insight on how I was faring. The first week that we started on a low-carb, high-fiber, high-protein diet, I was expecting to go through a difficult withdrawal, but that didn’t happen.

Instead, I felt clear-headed. All these years I got so used to living with frequent headaches that I think my body just accepted it as normal. Like white noise in the background that I eventually learned to live with. Several times a week, I would struggle with worse headaches, and that’s when I would pop painkillers. The first week that we changed our diet, I felt like I had more energy, I felt that I could do more things within a day and that I don’t burn out after giving the best of myself to my work. I felt like there’s more of me to give. I was also snacking less. I felt more satiated and less hungry. This didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy food anymore, I still did. Just a different kind of food, and still in healthy, generous portions.

20180212_155103

I documented my daily challenges and enjoyment about a more involved process of planning and preparing food for myself and my husband. It wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t unpleasantly difficult. We tried a few things that worked and a few that didn’t work, and we learned from them.

20180212_155052

In my health journal, I also documented food or drink-related things that I found interesting. I enjoyed that most.

20180212_155133

At this point, I think I can say that I have a more natural feel for what my body needs and what we want to eat for the week. I am aware that I will not need to monitor my food intake anymore. I know that a lot of people monitor their diet by writing down what they ate, and I’m sure it works for them, but I have a very different approach to it. I like to monitor for a while to gain insight, then wean myself out of it so that it doesn’t become all about the stats anymore. My health journal will still be about my health, the food and drinks I find interesting, but it will be less about policing my food intake than enjoying the new kinds of food that I like to eat. Sort of like removing my training wheels.

So there, that’s a little peek in my health journal. I would encourage anybody who wants to change their eating habits to start one. This format or any other format that helps you make sense of your diet is going to be helpful.

Here’s to a happy, healthy 2018 for all of us.

Olds & Milner’s Rat No. 34


P1302210

I’m currently reading “Irresistible” by Adam Alter and the first part talks about the biology of addiction. Though the book is about addictive behaviors, the first part touches on addiction to substance. It’s a pretty interesting read, I’m looking forward to really getting into it in the coming days.

I often stop and write down things that I want to remember while I’m reading. Or things that I want to chew on and understand better. I find that writing helps me sort out my thoughts, like they fall into order as I write. I remember things better this way too.

From Seed to Cup


P1262100

I wrote this page on my health/food journal yesterday because Montblanc Toffee Brown ink reminded me of the color of espresso. I’ve been keeping a health journal for the past weeks and to liven it up, I add pages like this. I write about food and drinks that I find interesting. I’m gathering a bit more pages before I write about the format I use for my health journal before I share it. It has been very helpful to me recently.

I really love the color of this ink. The photo doesn’t show off the gorgeous shading it has or how it remains vivid after drying on the page. Such a beautiful color.

Ink Swab: Montblanc Toffee Brown


Montblanc Toffee Brown

I’ve had this ink on my wishlist since 2014, but I didn’t really go to Montblanc boutiques to check if they had it. Yesterday my husband and I were walking from Greenbelt 1 to Glorietta and we passed by the Montblanc boutique on the ground floor. We wandered in and I ogled the gorgeous pens on display. My husband bought the ink bottle because, as usual, I was hemming and hawing about getting it for myself. As soon as we got home, I inked up one of my favorite pens with it, my Parker Vacumatic Golden Brown.

Montblanc Toffee Brown

My first impression before I tried the ink was that I loved the bottle. It’s so pretty, and functional too. That portion near the cap functions like a little pocket that catches ink so that your pen can suck it up even if there’s little ink left in the bottle. Sort of like its own ink miser. The bottle’s opening will fit large pens comfortably. The cap is, surprisingly, quite heavy for an ink bottle cap. It’s my first Montblanc ink, so I’m pretty excited to try it out.

Montblanc Toffee Brown

When I put the pen on paper, it was pure pleasure. The ink flowed moderately wet, and it made the nib glide on paper. When wet, it’s the color of espresso. Rich, dark brown, almost a bit reddish. When it dries, it shows off the most beautiful shading. In natural light, it almost looks like there’s a soft fire glowing inside the strokes. The gradation of colors range from a rich, very dark brown, to a reddish, golden brown. Like luscious toffee. Here are a few close up shots of the writing sample.

Montblanc Toffee Brown

Montblanc Toffee Brown

Montblanc Toffee Brown

Montblanc Toffee Brown

Montblanc Toffee Brown

Montblanc Toffee Brown

The closeup shots don’t do it justice at all. It looks really beautiful in person. I think the closest hue to this I’ve encountered so far is Pilot Iroshizuku Tsukushi, but Toffee Brown has a redder hue. Diamine Ochre is also a little similar, but that has a bit more yellow in it, I think. It’s not water proof or water resistant.

Overall, it’s a wonderful ink! I wrote a whole page in my journal with it right after testing it out and it looks so beautiful on a full page. Like parts of it are softly glowing. I would love to see this in a stub nib. I’ll make a new post about it once I try that out. I think I’ve found my favorite new brown ink.

Cáscara


P1042003

I recently started my very first health journal. Not a diet journal or a fitness journal but a health journal. It helps me keep track of my daily physical activities, food intake, how many cups of coffee I consume, my mood for the day, general thoughts about health, etc. It also helps me plan our menu for the week. I’ll delve more into that in another journal entry. Today’s entry in my health journal is about this “tea” that I recently discovered through Everyday Coffee PH (Not affiliated with them BTW, I’m just a happy customer. They’re my main source of freshly-roasted coffee beans).

It’s called Cáscara which is Spanish for husk. It’s made of coffee cherry skin and pulp that’s dried and lightly roasted. It’s actually not at all like tea leaves but it’s called coffee cherry tea. It’s also called sultana in some places.

P1042004

A few grams of these husks are steeped in hot water for about 5-7 minutes and can be enjoyed hot or cold. I’m not an avid tea drinker but I really enjoy this drink. By itself, it tastes sweeter than other teas that I’ve tried. You don’t actually need to add any sweetener to it, but you can add a bit of brown sugar or honey if you want it to be a bit sweeter. It tastes like sweet raisins and has a subtle hint of berry. If you use honey, it tastes a bit like wintermelon tea. It’s surprisingly good, actually.

It’s also found to be rich in flavanols. This secret superfood is said to have more antioxidants than blueberries. It’s great that Cáscara gives coffee farmers another stream of income from what used to be considered as a byproduct of harvesting coffee beans. It gives an additional income boost for the farmers.

If you want to read more about Cáscara, check out: The Truth About Cascara.

Ms. Fountain Pen Manners: How to Respond to Someone’s Vile New Pen You Absolutely Hate, And More


I’m going with “I love the Rhodium trim!”

Fountain Pen Follies

It being Black Friday weekend, and the kickoff of the holiday buying season, there are a lot of new pens floating around social media. Pen makers and dealers are posting them, your friends are posting them, and every Instagram account or fountain pen forum has people posting them.

As this time is upon us, I shall now put on my “Ms. Fountain Pen Manners” hat. This is how a person with good manners responds to someone’s vile new pen they absolutely hate, or someone’s attractive new pen that comes in a box they don’t like, or whatever tricky situation arises.

1. A new pen arrives in dealers’ hands and hits Instagram. The color repels you; the material is garish. It’s awful. But your friends go gaga for it.

You want to say, “What’s wrong with you?! Are you high? That is molten aqua/orange/violet nightmare-fuel.”

Readers, that’s probably a tad harsh…

View original post 383 more words

Professor Pyg


PB251781

My journal entry from early this morning was about Professor Pyg. Actually, I was just thinking about how Gotham (the TV series) is one of my favorite super hero TV series so far. Recently there has been quite a lot of TV series based on comic book stories. Gotham does a great job of portraying heroes and villains as complex individuals who became who they are in the future because of a series of events and decisions that led them there.

PB251785

Professor Pyg doesn’t have a backstory, unfortunately, but it does lend to the story of Penguin and Jim Gordon. Gotham does a good job of showing how villains don’t just pop out of the woodwork, they have their own stories. In some instances, their stories converge with the stories of heroes. It’s just that they make a series of decisions that got them where they are. The origin stories are very interesting, for both heroes and villains.

Professor Pyg’s violent rampage was quite visual and visceral, it felt like something out of Criminal Minds. Oswald’s transformation from ambitious mafia small fry to criminal mastermind is also quite fascinating. The cycle of allowing himself to be emotionally vulnerable for the sake of friendship and companionship and then being betrayed twists him up more than his criminal activities do.

I hope the writers continue to do a good job on the series.

 

Project #3: Carrier for my eBook Reader


PB251788

Here’s something I worked on several weeks ago. It’s a leather pouch for my ebook reader. I named it my Kobo Karrier haha. I consider it a practice piece because the texture and thickness of the leather isn’t what I really wanted to use for it, but I haven’t found the time to go to Marikina yet to shop for leather hides.

PB251789

I had difficulties sewing the seams for this piece, and mostly because I made measurement mistakes when I started the project. If there’s one thing I really need to get a handle on, it’s that. I need to be patient, measure twice, cut once. In any case, it worked out okay in the end.

PB251791

I’m thinking of a smart cover as project #4, but perhaps I’m just going to redo this piece using the kind of leather I really like. The reader (together with its current smart cover)fits comfortably inside the pouch. I made a pen loop for it and an external pocket too.

PB251794

It holds my mobile phone securely, but I wanted to use it to carry around a little notebook and my pen, for when I want to take notes while reading. 🙂 Overall, I enjoyed making this and I really learned a lot from it. I’m already looking forward to my next project.

Test Drawings for Platinum Carbon Ink


I got my first waterproof black ink last week. The waterproof Noodlers inks are always out of stock, so I bought a bottle of Platinum Carbon Ink off a friend’s collection. I made a few test drawings on my journal to see how well they hold up with watercolors. Needless to say, I am so happy with the results.

PB121750

PB121752

I love that the ink stays vibrant on the page even after drying up. Some inks become flat when dry, but this one stays shiny. It looks almost like it’s still wet on the page. It’s really saturated, so it’s best not to leave it in a pen that’s going to sit unused for too long. Smells a bit like Noodlers inks, too. The flow is pretty wet, I am very happy with it. It doesn’t seem to take longer to dry compared with most of my wet-flowing inks.

If you’re looking for thick, super-black ink that shows no shading and stays vibrant after drying, I would highly recommend this.

 

Handmade Leather Pen Holders


I’m always on the lookout for leatherworking workshops here in the south. It’s always somewhere in Quezon City, and I’ve never had the chance to join one because of how far the workshop venue usually are. So I was really excited when @beatnikmnl announced a basic leatherworking workshop at @commonroomph Alabang Town Center last October 14. I signed up right away.

I really enjoyed the workshop, and I did learn the  basic skills that I needed in order to complete the personal projects that I had in mind. I wanted to make my own pen cases that are specifically tailor-made for the kinds of pens that I use. I am a fan of bespoke pen cases, though it’s always a challenge to have something made that fits your pens like a glove unless I decide to send my pens to the person who’s making my cases. I thought that this would be a fun skill to learn. We took home some extra materials that we could use to make our own projects. I picked a square piece of dark brown, full-grain leather. After the workshop, I went home and made my first pen slip for my two Kaweco Liliput pens.

PA151609

I liked the pen slip that I made for my Kawecos, though I did modify this after a few days to make the pens easier to pull out. Today, I made another pen case for my other pocket pens; Kaweco Sport cappuccino and cognac, and a Sailor Progear Mini.

PA201665

Here’s what it looks like with the flap open. Beside it is the modified pen slip for my Kaweco Liliput pens, I carved a half-circle so that the pens are easier to pull out. The fit was just right, but since the pens were so slim, I needed some space for my fingers to grip on the edge and pull them out comfortably. The half-circle I carved was just right for that.

PA201684

It was a challenge to get the size of the flap right so that it fits through the loop, I wish I didn’t run out of leather so that I could have made the flap longer. I like the finished case, though.

PA201677

The pens fit perfectly and are easy to slip in and pull out. I think the fit will be much better after a few days, when the leather becomes more molded to the shape of the pens.

PA201686

I didn’t burnish the sides of the case too much, I like the finish to be a little raw and rustic-looking. For my next pen case project, I think I’ll pick a thicker/stiffer leather and try burnishing the edges.

P_20171020_174118

I attached my little Kaweco medallion from my old leather pen case as a finishing touch. I wanted to add decorative stitches to the flaps but I decided against it. There’s a lot of room for improvement,  but for a first attempt, I think I like it just fine.

I enjoyed BeatnikMNL’s workshop a lot because it gave me an insight on how much effort is involved in making handcrafted leather goods. From picking the kind of leather and threads, sourcing good supplies, making patterns, measuring out the seams and stitches, punching holes, stitching, etcetera, etcetera… A lot of time and skill is needed in order to produce a good piece. I need to develop the patience it takes to measure (and measure again) before I cut because I wasted a lot of leather due to taking shortcuts in measurements. It was really therapeutic, though. I felt so calm and serene as I worked with my hands.

I definitely have a deeper appreciation and respect for leathercrafters now, and I think that these artisans that hold workshops for people who want to learn how to make their own leather goods are investing wisely on educating others about handmade items. I’m definitely going to support local artisans this upcoming holiday season.

Joy and Sorrow


P9281550

Today I practiced some italic calligraphy. Truth be told, I struggle with anything that looks flow-y. It feels as unnatural to me as forcing myself to write with my left hand, and I often come out at the end of it feeling frustrated and tired. Not frustrated enough to quit, though. 🙂

The poem Joy and Sorrow is one of my favorite poems. I learned to read at a very young age, and since my mom is a voracious reader, I often putter about her bookshelves looking for things to read. I think I was in third grade when I first came across her collection of Khalil Gibran poems, and this particular one really caught my attention. The lyrical quality of the words and the way they painted a picture in my mind started a lifelong fascination with poetry.

On Joy and Sorrow
by Khalil Gibran

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater thar sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Pen: Nemosine Neutrino with 1.1mm nib
Ink: The pen is loaded with Diamine Amber, then I dip the tip of the nib in De Atramentis Thomas Alva Edison for the red variation.

Blending Inks in Calligraphy


P9271535

Since I’ve been playing with inks for my new journal refill, I thought I’d try something I often see many of my calligraphy friends do–blend inks. I admit I’m a bit finicky about this. I like to thoroughly clean my pens before changing inks because I don’t like the inks mixing. Deliberately mixing inks for calligraphy is pretty interesting, though. I put a teeny-tiny drop of ink in a palette, dip the tip of the nib (say that ten times, fast) in the ink and write. For the photo above, the ink in the pen is Kyoiro Soft Snow of Ohara, and I dipped it in Kyo No Oto Yamabukiiro. It’s even more fascinating to see the effect in person.

P9271536

For this page above, I used a pen loaded with Kyo No Oto Yamabukiiro, dipped in De Atramentis Thomas Alva Edison to give it that autumn-y feel. It’s actually quite fun to do, and the resulting calligraphic work looks colorful and vibrant.

My Favorite Pen


P9271529

I was thinking of joining Inktober this year (and I will TRY to post as much as I can) and thought I’d try something different. Instead of using watercolors for the little illustrations in my journal entries, I’d use fountain pen ink. This was my practice entry. The pen and wash drawing is made with Rotring pen, Iroshizuku Asagao, and Parker Quink Black. I’m surprised at how vibrant the color was, especially the blue one. Kinda hard to control the flow of water and pigment, but it creates an effect different from what I’m used to with watercolors. I kinda like it.

I wrote about my favorite pen, which is a bit of a difficult question because I really love all my pens. If I really, really had to pick one, though, I think it would be this one–my Parker Vacumatic Debutante in Azure Blue. There are a lot of reasons why I love it. I like that it’s from 1941 and it still works perfectly, and that it’s one of the first azure blue vacs made.

I love that it’s really adorable. It’s a vintage pocket pen that’s only slightly bigger than a Kaweco Sport. It’s light and long enough to be comfortable in the hand. I don’t use the plunger, though, so that I can preserve the mechanism. I use it as an eyedropper, and it holds a lot of ink. It also writes like a dream. The nib is so smooth and springy, and lays down a wet line. But most importantly…it’s adorable! It’s been in my daily carry since I got it back in early 2016. 🙂

Cook Up a Storm


Earlier today we watched this movie called Cook Up a Storm and I wrote a review of it in my journal. It was a fun movie, and I like how the set was designed; a modern city slowly inching out the small neighborhoods. The old and the new buildings struggling for a foothold. Drawing people and buildings don’t come easy for me, but sometimes I manage to wrangle out something that I like enough.

Cook up a Storm

I also tried out the birthday gift my husband gave me, a digital drawing pad. I’ve never had one before, but I’ve always been curious about doing digital art. It really requires a different skill set because you’re not just drawing, you’re also puttering around a software (or two). I figured out how to do pencil drawings, but I haven’t quite figured out how to color yet. It’s so much fun doing digital drawings, once you get over having to look at the screen while you draw.

Cook up a storm

The movie was quite fun. It’s a little preachy and cheesy at times, but it’s a nice, feel-good movie with lots of great food shots. I like the values that the  movie tries to highlight. The fact that modern and traditional don’t need to be at odds with each other, and that we can all learn something from one another. That success and fame isn’t all that’s important in life, and how food can be inclusive if we want it to be. That fame can be fickle, but failure can be the path to finding new people, better people, to let in your life. It’s a nice, family-friendly movie. 🙂

Psalm 90:17


Here’s one of my favorite verses in uncial and Baybayin (ancient Philippine script). I think the words of the verse are beautiful. I love writing verses in uncial because I think the style matches the words very well. Also, I can’t write in beautiful, flowy script to save my life. ^_^

Psalm 90:17

Psalm 90:17

Pens and Inks used:

Franklin Christoph Model 02, 1.1mm stub – De Atramentis Thomas Alva Edison
Bexley Corona in Blueberry Cream, 1.1mm stub – Kyo Iro Soft Snow of Ohara

Review: Robert Oster Blue Water Ice


Robert Oster Blue Water Ice

This past few days, I’ve been using Blue Water Ice in my journal entries. Robert Oster certainly makes eye-catching blue inks. This is a vibrant blue with pink sheen. It’s interesting to look at because the base blue color is light enough and the pink sheen is sheen-y enough for the ink to show a halo around the lines. You can see it on the writing sample above, it’s like the letters have a thin outline around them.

I would recommend using wide nib sizes for this ink for you to truly appreciate the ink’s beauty. I tried using it with a fine nib and the ink comes off as a pale blue. Pretty, but not as pretty as if you use a wider nib, like the one I used here (a cursive italic nib). It’s a saturated ink, but it still shows off a lot of beautiful shading. It’s saturated enough for everyday writing, but it’s not a boring, standard blue. It’s a happy shade of blue that is so vibrant, it pops right out of the page.

It flows wet, and dries about 15-20 seconds (on Tomoe River, with a cursive italic medium nib). It’s always fun to use flow-y inks. Here are a few close up photos of the writing sample.

Robert Oster Blue Water Ice

Robert Oster Blue Water Ice

Robert Oster Blue Water Ice

Robert Oster Blue Water Ice

Robert Oster Blue Water Ice

Robert Oster Blue Water Ice

Robert Oster Blue Water Ice

Check out Everything Calligraphy for Robert Oster Signature Inks.

Sailor Morita Progear Mini


Sailor Morita Progear Mini (Broad)

The first Sailor pen that I bought was a clear candy, back in 2014 (if I recall correctly). I got another Sailor, a Sapporo Progear Slim last year, and I’m really happy about how the pens write perfectly out of the box. The nib wasn’t soft, but it wrote really smoothly. So I thought I’d get a Morita as well, because I love the color and I enjoy the Sailor pens that I bought so far.

Sailor Morita Progear Mini (Broad)

I was going to get a progear slim again, but I thought I’d try a progear mini this time, and I’m glad I did. This pen is super cute. It’s a little pocket pen that is just a teeny bit longer than a Kaweco Sport.

Sailor Morita Progear Mini (Broad)

When uncapped and posted, they are almost the same size as well, although the end of Sailor’s barrel has threads on it where you can securely screw the cap on. I’m glad they did it this way because it’s not comfortable to hold unposted, and having a place to thread the cap on means that I don’t need to worry about the cap scratching the barrel when I post it. It’s also pretty secure, your hand won’t push the cap off while you write.

Sailor Morita Progear Mini (Broad)

It is about 1.5 cm shorter than a progear slim, and the girth is the same. When capped, the girth is like that of a medium-sized pen, so it’s easy to hold while writing. The length of the section is a bit short (like the progear slim), but it’s the right proportion to the body. Since I hold my pens near the edge of the section anyway, the threads don’t really bother me a lot.

Sailor Morita Progear Mini (Broad)

I really like the color of this pen. It looks like Tiffany blue for me, but after reading about the pen online, it’s called robin’s egg blue. It was made especially for Mr. Morita, of the Morita Pen Shop in Osaka, Japan. The color is said to be based on the ceiling of a cathedral where Mozart performed. I like the combination of robin’s egg blue and rhodium trims.

Sailor Morita Progear Mini (Broad)

Because of the length of the pen, the proprietary Sailor converter doesn’t fit. It uses cartridges instead. I don’t mind it at all, though this might be a deal breaker for people who don’t have the time to refill empty cartridges using a syringe. Here’s a video of the writing sample:

Like I mentioned earlier, the pen just wrote perfectly out of the box. My Sapporo has a medium nib, though being a Japanese medium, it wrote more like a European fine. I chose a B nib this time because I like thicker lines. The Sailor Morita’s B nib writes like a European medium, which is perfect for me. I love it, it glides on paper and has the slightest feedback. It’s really a pleasure to use.

Here are a few more closeups of the different parts of the pen:  Continue reading