Sunday, 10 October 2010

busy a-hunting

I keep meaning to post something new and interesting here, but somehow I keep getting too busy with other things. And when I do sit down to write, I feel lost for words. Maybe it's because I'm worried about a number of things right now. Or maybe it's the sleep that I'm not getting enough of. Or maybe it's Sofia going through a difficult phase right now, constantly crossing boundaries and throwing horrible tantrums that make me just want to weep in a corner. Sigh.

Sadly, I haven't done any proper pictures recently, as I'm busy job hunting. I've realised that one can't afford to be a starving artist if one has kids to take care of. I'm consoling myself with the thought that having a stable job (instead of freelancing) would mean I wouldn't have to worry about money matters and I'd be able to concentrate on doing the things I love in my free time. That's the idea anyway. I have a job interview this coming week which I'm really excited about, because it's with a company I'd love to work for, and it involves a role that I'd actually love to do. Wish me luck, please!

Anyway, here's a painting I made a couple of weeks ago. I'd love to do more pictures like this. This is only the first of a series, I hope. Children and their wonderful, wild imagination are definitely my favourite subject.

Friday, 17 September 2010

in praise of the cast iron skillet

I had never owned, nor planned to own, a cast iron skillet. I always thought of it as too heavy and too fiddly to season and clean. But then, a few weeks ago, I visited a wonderful baking site and saw this recipe. And my heart skipped a beat and decided that it was in love with the idea of baking in a cast iron skillet.

Fortunately for my bank account, I found one on Amazon that was selling for a song. Well, not literally, of course. But it was five pounds! Even cheaper than my el cheapo saucepan that I use for boiling rice and potatoes! I knew that it was Fate telling me to get the skillet. This was not going to be a doomed love affair.

Yesterday, | made my first attempt at baking in my now-seasoned skillet. And of course, the first recipe just had to be the one that set on my path to becoming a skillet devotee. Instead of red plums, however, I used the leftover apricot halves from when I made Danish pastry a few days ago.

The result? Delicious perfection. The cobbler cooked perfectly in the skillet. The browned butter lent a slightly salty contrast to the creaminess and sweetness. I thought it would come out a bit dense, but it wasn't at all. I served it warm with dollops of vanilla ice cream. It was a big hit with the family, even with Sofia who can be very choosy when it comes to food.

I'm afraid I don't have a decent photo of the cobbler before it was served. It just got gobbled up so fast. As you can see, we ate half of it last night. Which means we have another half to look forward to this evening!



'I have a feeling this is bad for my waistline,' the hubby said as he was eating the cobbler. I just smiled at him. He didn't need to know that almost 150 grams of butter and 200 grams of sugar went into this delectable dessert, did he?

Next on my list of goodies to make with my skillet: apple cake!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

happiness is . . .

. . . the postman carrying little parcels for me!




My copies of Katie Green's Green Bean issues 3 and 4 have arrived! With a lovely little note from Katie! And a print of one of her balloon paintings! (I know I'm squealing, but please bear with me—I'm excited.)

I've just had a quick look at the zines and oh, they look so scrumptious with lots of Katie's lovely drawings and charming prose. And they smell nice too. Yes, I love smelling paper, I'm weird like that.

I need to make sure to keep them away from Sofia though. She'll probably think they're colouring books for her and I know she wouldn't be able to resist colouring in the pretty pictures. She has already found my copy of Mio Matsumoto's My Diary and declared that it's a good book for writing and colouring in! Good thing I saw her holding the book with one hand and a shiny green pen with the other and managed to stop her just in time.

Here's the cute balloon print. It will definitely go in a frame and hung somewhere in our study where I can look at it and be inspired while I'm working.




And just to make my morning brighter, another little parcel came through my letterbox: a few new Prismacolor pencils, to add to my ever-growing collection. There are a couple of autumnal colours in here so expect some autumn-themed pictures soon.


I woke up this morning with an idea for Christmas goodies to make and possibly sell. I'll have to see if the materials are available here, as my goodies are inspired by how we celebrate Christmas in the Philippines. I'll post a prototype once it's completed.

Now, on to some housework and playtime with the kids. Lucas goes back to school tomorrow; Sofia, on Friday. I'll miss my babies, but I'm glad we'll be settling into a routine again where we don't spend every hour of the day with each other. Let's face it, the kids are lovely and fun to be with, but they do wear me out sometimes!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

where i went


I stayed in London the other weekend to see this play (and no, I didn't squeal every time Jonathan Groff appeared onstage, but I did get blown away by his performance and those of the rest of the cast, especially Simon Russell Beale)


with this gorgeous girl



who lives in a lovely cosy place furnished with pretty things like these (the seat pads were made by her mum)



and makes beautiful dolls like these.


I had a really wonderful time walking around London with George and watching Deathtrap with her (which is a terrific play, by the way, so go see it!). She was kind enough to put me up for the night and gave me cake and lots and lots of delicious tea.

I was a very tired but happy bunny when I came home and was welcomed with lots of hugs and kisses. Hmmm. Life is just perfect sometimes.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

last post for now

This is definitely my last post for the day. I will try and post more frequently but with the kids going back to school next week, I'm not really sure how much time I'll have for blogging. I do hope I can still make time for it because I do enjoy it.

Anyway, let me just rave about my new favourite artist, Katie Green. I chanced upon her when I was looking through the contributions to the Flickr group What I Wore Today (which is brilliant by the way so go visit it!). A couple of pictures caught my attention, which made me curious about the artist, which then led me to Katie's blog. I was so blown away by this amazing girl and her charming pictures that I spent a few days reading her blog from the very beginning. There's so much in her life story that resonates with my own (this deserves a separate post which I shall write later)  that I just wanted to go out and find her and give her a big hug just for being. 

She has just returned from a trip to the US and as soon as she re-opened her Etsy shop, I ordered the two latest issues of her zine, The Green Bean. I can't wait for them to arrive in the post!

As a parting shot, here's something I drew today in my brand new journal (Tim Burton's Tragic Thoughts Light-Up Journal—I know, it's not a Moleskine, but it does have pretty LED lights!):


And here's a potential entry to What I Wore Today. I wore this today when I took the kids to the local playbarn. We spent over four hours there today, which was fine with me because I got to read, take notes and draw! I'd love to join What I Wore but I fear I don't wear very interesting clothes on a regular basis. I tend to be most comfortable in old jeans and tops that can sustain assaults from my messy kids but I don't think other people would be interested in seeing those outfits. :)


what i've been doing

Can you tell that I'm trying to make up for my blogging hiatus? I've been doing a lot of reading, thinking and planning lately. There are a few changes in the horizon for our family, so I'm doing my best to prepare for them. Change is good, as they say, and so far, all the changes we've gone through have turned out to be good for our family.

Anyway, all the thinking and reading and planning seem to be leading me in one direction: making a living out of what I love the most—illustrating and writing. These past few weeks, I've been assessing my knowledge and skills, making lists of things I know I'm capable of doing, skills I need to improve, new skills I need to learn. It sounds pretty boring, but to me it has been a period of discovery and excitement, so much so that I've been staying up scribbling in my journal, setting goals, making timetables and to-do lists, writing down ideas for stories and pictures, doing sketches, and checking out artists' blogs and design websites. These are crazy times in my head. I'm so glad that this is all happening while school's out because I know I won't be able to maintain this momentum once the kids are back in school.

To convince myself that I'm not delusional about my goals, I've been posting some of my illustrations on Facebook, just to see how people will react to them. So far, I've had a lot of positive feedback. Right now, I'm working on my postcard girls series. Most of the girls in this series are based on women I know and admire. I made my very first one a couple of years ago. I drew her for my best friend Det and based her on Det's favourite comic book character, Death from The Sandman. This girl is called Didi (Death's human incarnation in The High Cost of Living).


Patricia, based on my favourite teacher

Sophie, who looks a lot like Sofia

Rosa, a girl who loves unusual flowers
This girl doesn't have a name yet. She's a product of my playing with my new rolls of washi tape.

Heather, a sophisticated girl who loves to dress up

I'll do proper scans of my girls and decide on the best background for each. I'm hoping to have them printed out as postcards next month. I still haven't decided whether to open an Etsy shop or not. I guess the best thing about Etsy is the amount of potential exposure one gets by selling there. I'll announce my decision once I actually have something to sell, so watch this space!

I have many more projects in mind. I've started writing a short story, apart from *the* book that I've been meaning to write and for which I have written so many versions of the first part. There's a lot of work involved, I know, but I'm really excited and happy right now.

this summer


Wow, this summer has flown by! It has been a challenging one for us, but I can't say that we didn't have fun.

We had to cancel all our holiday plans because of Simon's knee injury. It got worse over the last month of so, which made driving long distances a no-no for him. I'm afraid that my driving skills are still laughable, so I haven't dared drive the family anywhere just yet.

Hence, we've spent a lot of time at home. I wish I could say that we have managed to completely declutter and do all the chores we've been meaning to do (redesign the front garden and back garden, clean out the garage and put in a proper storage system, clear out the loft, finish decorating the lounge and dining room, you get the idea), but alas, nothing of that sort happened. We did manage to get someone to clean our gutters and repaint our fascias, so that's one item off our very long to-do list.

What we've been pouring a lot of energy into is a bunch of little rodents that have taken up residence in our house. We have twelve very cute fancy mice (we started out with four and they've multiplied since!) and two lovely furry rabbits. I don't know what got into us but we just decided on Father's Day that we would get mice and rabbits. Simon wanted to breed mice and I wanted to cuddle rabbits. Well, S got his wish. Unfortunately for me, we somehow managed to get the only two rabbits in the world who do not like being cuddled.

This is Milly, the alpha female wabbit who likes to show who's boss and nibbles anything she can grab.


Don't be deceived by Molly's cuteness. She's very good at jumping out of reach when you try and catch her.


Mousy and Cow are two of our first females.

We haven't really been spending all our days looking after our pets. We've also been doing a lot of playing inside the house


The kids with their new set of blocks - bought especially for rainy summer days.

and out.





   I just had to include this photo of Molly because she has this funny
habit of hiding under the kids' climbing frame whenever they're in the garden.

And of course, we've been doing a lot of baking too!

A big loaf of banana bread and lots of chocolate chip fairy cakes. Yum!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

spring awakened

There are times when I wish I were Susan Blackwell. She comes across as witty, funny and intimidating, a great combination if you ask me. And she has fabulous skin. Watching the video below made me want to be her even more. I mean, who else can molest Jonathan Groff and get away with it? (Warning: There are some bits of rude humour in the clip below, totally expected if you're a Susan Blackwell fan.)




If you've been reading this blog, you'll know that I lovelovelove beautiful gay men, especially triple threats (people who can sing, dance and act) like John Barrowman, John Cameron Mitchell and Adam Lambert. I don't know where this obsession comes from. I might have been a gay Broadway star in my past life. When I was a child, there was nothing I wanted more than to act, sing and dance onstage. I still don't know how I ended up taking such a different path through life, but I suspect it has to do with the fact that I couldn't find a gay boy to be a fag hag to.

Before you diss my theory, take a gander at Lea Michele. She's best friends with Jonathan Groff, and they are two of the most talented and adorable Broadway actors who are now on television via Glee. Historically, we have Doris Day, fag hag to (closeted) Rock Hudson, with whom she made some really cute and funny films.

Sadly, I have never found my singing/acting/dancing gay best friend. I did become a sort of fag hag when I was in university. Unfortunately, my gay boy couldn't sing to save his life. Also, he was more girly than I was, a no-no in the how-to-be-a-musical-theatre-fag-hag rulebook. Thus, my childhood dream faded into the distant past.

But back to Jonathan Groff, my latest obsession. Doesn't he look adorable? You know, the kind of boy you would have loved to date in high school or, more appropriately, if you're middle-aged, the kind of boy you'd like your daughter to bring home when she grows up? When I first saw him in Glee, I thought he was straight. Google told me otherwise; it also told me that he and Lea have such great chemistry on-screen because they spent a long time being an onstage romantic pair in Spring Awakening. Which then led me to do my research on the musical, and now its soundtrack is on my Spotify playlist, because the songs are just so beautiful and the ensemble vocally amazing.



You can just imagine how my obsession with Glee has doubled, nay, tripled in intensity. Episodes from the back nine set that have been broadcast so far are on repeat play in our PVR. I've watched Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) and Jesse St James (Jonathan Groff) sing 'Hello' um, a thousand times. And I don't even like that song. I really want Groff's character to stay on for next season so I can watch him every week next year. If he doesn't, at least I have the DVD of the back nine episodes to look forward to in the autumn. Oh, and this play which will run in London in September. I'm eagerly awaiting the day the tickets become available. If I do get to see it, I promise to do my best not to rush on to the stage when Groff appears. I can't promise not to squeal though.

Monday, 12 April 2010

here and now

At Anglesey Abbey on Saturday:









Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.

—T.S. Eliot, "Burnt Notion", Four Quartets

Sunday, 21 March 2010

egg pie for tatay

My father died on the 19th of March, 1987. He was 52 years old. We lived in a squatters' area in Makati, the main business district of the Philippines. Our neighbourhood was a mixture of desolation and hope, perseverance and despair. My father was one of those people who worked very hard so he could send his kids to private schools and give them a better chance in life. He and my mother were constantly saving money to pay off our school fees. We had no luxuries in our home. We didn't even have a fridge. We had a polystyrene cooler where we would keep the creamy fruit salad my mother would prepare for Christmas.

We would only get new clothes for Christmas. I always looked forward to Christmas because that meant getting a new toy. I never asked for fancy toys. There was one time when I thought I wanted a Barbie, but after weeks of deliberation, I decided that I didn't want it after all. So I never owned a Barbie doll. I preferred dolls that looked like little girls, with plump arms and legs, long dresses and clunky shoes.

Looking back now, I don't think we ever felt poor. There was always food on the table (although sometimes, I had to slug it out a bit with my brother who was always trying to eat more than his share) and on Sundays, we were always treated to ice cream. Our clothes were neat and clean, we never ran out of paper and pencils, and our house was always immaculately clean and tidy, thanks to my mother and older sisters who are paragons of tidiness. Our house was big enough to accommodate my school friends and we often rehearsed for our school performances there (I did a lot of singing and dancing in grade school); our neighbours even hired it for parties.

I guess the reason we never felt deprived is that my father made sure we were protected from whatever financial difficulties he and my mother were going through. My mother's only indulgence was a few celebrity magazines a month--she was, after all, a Vilma Santos fan and had to keep up with what was going on with her favourite celebrity. My father loved films and would go to the cinema once in a while.

His simple tastes in life notwithstanding, my father was very meticulous about his appearance whenever he went out. When he wasn't working, he would wear his smart jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, and brown boots. Oh, and yeah, he had tinted prescription glasses. Green, to be precise. At home, though, the smart attire would get discarded, and we would often find him relaxing in our living room, reading the paper, with just his pants on. This is one memory we have of him that always makes us laugh.

My father had a heart attack and a stroke in May 1986. He was kept in the intensive care unit for a few days and stayed in the hospital for a week. I suffered from motion sickness. I couldn't get into a jeepney, bus or taxi without being sick, no matter how short the journey was. It took me a few days to get over my fear of being sick, but I managed to visit Tatay in the hospital eventually. He was still in the ICU then but he was lucid and getting restless. He asked me how my Pity, my cat, was (she disappeared the night after Tatay was taken to the hospital but came back a few days later). I felt very shy and didn't know what to say to him. We weren't a touchy-feely sort of family; we never hugged or said 'I love you' to each other. So I just stood there next to my father as he held my hand and looked at me silently. We stayed like that for a long time.

He recovered and went straight back to work. He had to watch his diet; he had to keep his blood pressure low. He was doing fine, although he was still working hard. We thought he was safe and okay.

He was, until that evening in March less than a year after his first heart attack. Three of my grade school friends were visiting. We were now going to different high schools so we had a lot of catching up to do. Tatay was settling into his favourite chair, getting ready to watch 'Hunter'. He was listening to our banter and would occasionally laugh with us. Then my mother came rushing in with my one-year-old nephew. 'There's a fire,' she said calmly. 'It's very near us and it's spreading quickly.'

Sure enough, we saw the heavy grey smoke just a few feet from us. My friends hastily said good-bye and ran home. One of them would lose her home that night, just like I did. She was lucky, though. Everyone in her family survived.

My father got moving. He told us to go upstairs and pack what we could. My mother and my eldest sister laid out a thick blanket and put clothes and photographs in the middle. I stood next to them, not knowing what to do. I was panicking. 'Pack your school things,' my mother said. I obeyed her. Final exams were approaching; I would need my notes and books.

I don't even know how we got out of that narrow passageway and into the open street, but by the time we got there, there were hundreds of people clutching their belongings, most of them crying. There were also people there who were just being nosy or looking to see if they could steal anything. One of them went away with our blanket of photographs. My mother was carrying Nigel, my nephew. My sister was carrying a few things. I was carrying my schoolbag. I was barefoot. I saw my godsisters and we started crying together. My father had carried out a few more things - a box with Nigel's formula and clothes, pots and pans. He turned back towards our house - he was going to get more things. We didn't want him to, but he just looked briefly at us and walked back into the fiery darkness.

That was the last time I saw my father alive. The next time I saw him, he was in a coffin. I was the first member of the family to see him in the funeral parlour. I was with my best friend Joan, to whose house we went that evening, whose mother went with my mother looking for my father everywhere, until they saw my brother (who was at the cinema when the fire started) who tried his best to revive my father when he saw him on the ground suffering another heart attack but things happened that just made it impossible to save him. I was the first to see my father in his coffin because I wanted to go to school to tell my teachers that my house burned down and my father died. So I went to the funeral parlour on the way to school, with Joan at my side.

I wept when I saw him. I still cry when I think of the overwhelming sorrow I felt when I saw his face. Then I went to school where I wept some more as my teachers and school principal hugged me and tried to comfort me. I was exempted from the final exams and assured that I would still get top honours on recognition day. I thought to myself maybe I shouldn't have saved my schoolbooks after all. I could have just tried to save some of the books that my father spent many afternoons in second-hand book stalls in Manila to get for us. I could almost hear him laugh at my silly thought.

Twenty-three years. It seems like a lifetime, but whenever I think about that fateful evening, I still feel like my father's baby. Should grief last this long? Maybe mine will stay with me all my life because my father was my one true hero. He was my hero then, and now, even when I look back with my grown-up eyes, I still cannot find anything that could make me think less of him. He was smart and kind and generous and funny. And he loved his wife and kids a lot. He loved his parents and brothers and sisters a lot. Heck, he even loved his neighbours and always gave time and money whenever they were needed.

Dear Tatay, I hope you are happy wherever you are, strumming your guitar (yes, you're allowed to sing 'Dahil Sa 'Yo' there because Imelda Marcos would never deserve to be where you are), eating your favourite pork dishes, and hopefully wearing your smart clothes instead of just your pants. I learned to bake egg pies last week so I could make one for you on your death anniversary. I remember how you used to buy me a slice of egg pie as a treat, paired with a cold bottle of Magnolia Chocolait. That was heaven for me then. Today I shall enjoy a slice of egg pie with a cup of hot chocolate, and I'll think of you and your twinkling eyes and merry laughter.


Sunday, 14 February 2010

Happy hearts

To be frank, I didn't feel like doing anything to celebrate Valentine's Day today. For one thing, I harbour an animosity towards anything that's highly commercialised, especially in these times when so many people are having to do without. For another, Sofia had an accident on Friday which led to a lot of tears and a visit to A&E. Thankfully, she didn't need any stitches, but she has quite a nasty rip on her upper lip which means no rigorous activities for her for the next few days. Sofia not doing rigorous activities would be like the sun not being hot. Or something like that. My brain's not working very well right now.

Anyway, this little girl who can turn listening to music into a major head-banging event is now under strict orders to not even consider jumping or running or spinning around (the very activity that led to her splitting her lip open). It's quite funny seeing how her restlessness builds up as she watches a film or does painting or some other gentle activity. She somehow starts bouncing on her chair. Before long, she's sitting on the armrest, or has somehow slid across it, her legs dangling in the air. Or you just find her standing on the chair, squeezing in a jump or two when she thinks nobody's looking.

This morning, I left her and Lucas for a few minutes painting Lucas's junk modelling project. When I came back, she had somehow covered the crafting table and herself in green paint. The little rascal. :)

We decided to bake some cupcakes this afternoon because, as it turns out, today is Hissy's birthday, according to Lucas. Hissy is Lucas's beanie snake, a member of the family long before Lucas came along. We couldn't not celebrate, could we? So out came the heart-shaped cupcake cases, and into them we poured our double chocolate cupcake batter.

And we got these:




And here are the kids with the birthday boy. Notice the little girl about to sneak a cupcake away. She kept holding on to it until I finished taking their photos. If you look closely, you'll see the dark mark on her upper lip. Two days ago, it looked as if part of her lip was about to fall off, but now it has sealed up beautifully. Just a few more days, little one, and we can do some runningjumpingspinningaround again.



Tuesday, 2 February 2010

candlemas

Is it February already? Goodness me, time flies indeed! In a few weeks' time, Sofia will start at preschool. She'll be doing two sessions a week until September, when she goes full time. My little baby is growing up so fast.

She and I spent most of the morning playing with dolls and planning what to do with her kokeshi amigurumi once they're done. Poor Sofia, having a mother who's possibly the slowest crocheter (crochetist?) in the world. I've only just managed to finish the body and one sleeve for her first doll. I hope I can finish at least two dolls by the end of this week. She's been cooing over the pictures that came with the patterns I bought at Etsy, and saying things like, 'I can't wait for my new dolls because I'm going to have a snuggle with them!' Sweet.

We took a break off dolls this afternoon, though, to do our Candlemas activity for the year. We started the tradition last year, and the kids really enjoyed decorating candles with melted crayons last year. This year, we decided to make our own little candles from old ones. We only managed to find a few old candles that we were happy to get rid of so it was a small lot of candles that we came up with. We had a lot of fun watching the old bits of wax melt anyway, and pouring the wax into the waiting ceramic pots.

Here's an empty pot with a waiting wick:


The melted wax gets poured into the pot:


Et voila! New old candles:


We had dinner by candlelight, of course. And by candlelight I mean a great number of candles. S managed to take some photos of the kids during dinner:







And so now we'll just sit back and wait for spring—and hopefully milder weather—to return.

eric carle fangirl kokeshi

Sunday, 31 January 2010

kokeshi

Unfortunately for the male members of my household, I am once again in kokeshi love. Which means all my projects are kokeshi doll-based. I'm about to start some amigurumi projects involving kokeshi boys and girls. And of course, there's the constant looking at Japanese kimono prints and drawing pictures like this. Now, if I could only learn to make real kokeshi dolls too. . .

Saturday, 30 January 2010

mind the gap

Friday, 29 January 2010

JD Salinger, 91


Last night's news decided what my one a day would be today. My writing hero, creator of my all-time favourite literary characters, died last night at the ripe old age of 91.

This sketch is my tribute to him. I know it's not perfect, but the process of drawing this picture was my way of showing him my gratitude and admiration. Danny Gregory wrote in his beautiful memoir, Everyday Matters:

'I caressed what I drew with my eyes, lingering over every curve and bump, gliding around contours and into shadows. No matter what I looked at in this way, I saw beauty and felt love.'


This is exactly how I felt while I was doing this portrait, the same feeling I get every time I draw my children's pictures. I never thought I'd feel the same way drawing someone I never met. But the looking and the seeing that went into this picture made me know him a little bit. I saw how thick his eyebrows were, how lovely and straight his nose was, how his long eyelashes cast shadows around his eyes. I saw the meticulously slicked back hair, the wisp of a smile, the youthfulness in his eyes. I saw, with relief, that he had once been a happy man. And this young, successful, possibly happy man is the one I will remember, not the old recluse whom people were always trying to draw out of hiding. Rest in peace, Mr Salinger, no one will hound you anymore.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

one a day

This is my post-New Year resolution: to make something each day. That something can be a picture, a sewing or crochet project, or even a cake. Anything that can be made with my own fair hands.

I started yesterday.



I sketched this from an unsuccessful attempt to get Sofia to pose for a proper portrait just before Christmas. She refused to smile and just stared sullenly at me as the photographer kept trying to persuade her to smile. I bought a copy anyway because I thought she looked cute even if she was glum (and also because I felt obliged to, having wasted fifteen minutes of the photographer's time with my uncooperative little one).

This is today's one a day:



I had a quick search through old photographs to see how Lucas looked when he was the same age as Sofia is now. I can't remember him being this young and sweet. He's lost the baby fat now, and would definitely not be caught dead making cute faces at the camera anymore.

An extra thing for today:



Banana chocolate cake, with walnuts. Made with the help of my able assistant, whom I had to stop from mixing all the ingredients at once, but whose cheerful demeanor and excited shrieks when the oven bell rang after the cake was done totally made my day.