Cáscara


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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.

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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.

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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…

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Professor Pyg


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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.

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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


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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


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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.