My DIY saddle-stitched leather tote bag =)

diy-saddle-stitched-leather-tote-bag-front

DIY saddle-stitched leather tote bag (front details)

I first started doing the bag in November 25, and unsurprisingly, it took me a very long time to finish it. Aside from the lack of time to stitch, I kept on changing my mind on its details. Granted that it was designed with simple and clean lines, I must also be very sure with the details that I would add. If I were to carelessly apply contact cement, or worse, prick the leather with the awl and needle, I would automatically ruin it. Just like playing chess, it was touch-move. It is always easier to add hardware/details than remove them later on. So when I finally attached the hardware for the backpack-style, I know I can no longer have a change of heart.

The bag, as it is, is all ready to be used as either top-handle or as a backpack. However, one roadblock was my inability to decide on the design of the straps. I only have two dog snap buckles with me, and I needed two more. I also have to choose for an appropriately-colored canvas strap to sew in the leather and and the buckles. I am also half-sure on how to fold the sides in, to make it less broad and acceptable once I carry it as a sac-à-dos. I’m torn between sewing in magnets so they won’t be as obtrusive as the usual hardware; or I can add those pesky hardware behind the side-flaps thus making it possible to close them with a lock and/or attach straps for messenger-style. LOL

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Measuring up!

Black is beautiful, but too much black is charcoal” — that was the tongue-in-cheek saying I immediately thought of upon receiving the Porter by Yoshida Company bag on the mail yesterday. I already have eight black bags but it did not prevent me from getting this briefcase/messenger bag. I was really happy because the bag was lightweight and both the straps and rolled handles are comfortable on my shoulders. The coated canvas gives off a leathery finish on pictures, but I guess it will hold up really well under the heavy rains.

Porter by Yoshida Company briefcase messenger bag

Porter by Yoshida Company briefcase messenger bag and Red Wing 8875 boots

Anyway, on my way to work today, I dropped by the Handyman store in Farmers Plaza to buy locks and bolts for the apartment we will be renting starting in June. I found the aisle dedicated to these items and I had a great time choosing what should be used to secure our apartment. At first, I was just looking for a traditional door knob but I remember Mon describing an alternative. He was not able to give its exact name but when I saw the ‘deadbolt lock’, I immediately sent him a photo to ask if it was what he had described.  I subsequently bought approximately Php 900-worth of items, which we would be giving to the landlady so that they will be installed during the repainting of the unit.

Locks and bolts from the Handyman storeSpeaking of repainting, I wanted to have the unit’s paint changed from yellow to at least off-white, just like what I’ve mentioned in my previous post. The unit is due to be repaired/renovated for occupation this weekend, so I also asked the landlady if she could have it repainted and I will just pay for the extra cost. I wanted off-white because that is the color of our walls in our house, so the color scheme is a piece of home away from home. Our extremely yellow roomSo during dinner break, Faye accompanied Mon and me to the apartment . We needed to give out the locks to the landlady, and I also had to measure the floor area so we can proceed in deciding what pieces of furniture to purchase/bring. I know that I should have brought a retractable measuring tape, instead of the one made for human/fabric measurements because my hands were a bit dirty as the place was still quite dusty. It was an oddly-shaped studio apartment (well, at least the area excluding the bathroom), so I have drawn a rough sketch on paper of the floor area to facilitate measurement.

Floor plan of the studio apartmentWhen I got there, my immediate decision was to use inches instead of centimeter. I normally use inch-foot when measuring bags and clothing, but I usually resort to centimeter-meter when measuring space or floor area. SO I had no idea why I immediately jumped the gun on inches, when centimeters could have given me a more accurate measurement, especially I needed every single space I could measure. Well, no good crying over spilled milk so I would just have to live with the measurement I have made.

From the sketch, I have generated this floor plan of the unit with approximate measurements of every single side of the polygon. The total floor area is 115.50 ft²! It was not much but I see it as a challenge.  I’m not big in interior decoration as I never had the chance to foray into tinkering whatever it is that we have in our house. But honestly, I see the limited as an opportunity and I was greatly inspired by this “IKEA Small Spaces – Small ideas” video.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQjBrt9LriY]

I love the idea of maximizing every bit of space available, and having items with multiple functions. What worries me the most is the amount of clothing, shoes and bag I have. I’ve been doing a mental inventory and selection of what items I will be bringing with me; and as much as I have pared down that list, I still could not think of how I will manage to properly fit them in the unit. We will be going to the Makati malls on weekend, and I look forward to seeing possible options for the bed and closet (if we will be getting one). I think our work would be easier because we have the floor plan with us. I just  hope we’ll find a decently-price sofa bed because that is the whole point of moving from Marikina to Makati —to have a decent sleep!

Afghanistan isn’t always about the Taliban: The Kite Runner

Amir and Hassan - The Kite Runner

(Photo from telegraph.co.uk)

When was the last time you cried while watching a movie? I just did and I can’t even recall when I last teared up prior to this one. This is one hardcore movie and only the stone-hearted won’t well up. Based from Khaled Hosseini’s novel of the same name, The Kite Runner was shown in theaters way back in 2007. Unfortunately, it wasn’t commercially released here in the Philippines (afaik).

It was like Atonement but in a different geographic location and time period. What will you do to amend the things you have done when you had wronged another person? It is a story of friendship and loyalty as explained through the eyes of a then-child and a war refugee. Amir and Hassan’s friendship is slightly twisted and Baba’s paternal authority and conviction is something to admire. Ever since the Taliban brought new interest to Afghanistan in 2001 at the height of the “War on Terror” (through infamy on the West, definitely), all we know now is the war-torn, poverty-stricken side of that region. Little do we know that Kabul once flourished as one of the most progressive and burgeoning cities in the Middle East prior to the Soviet occupation (Kabul is one of the cities along the ‘silk road).

Set in the beautiful snow-covered mountain ranges of Afghanistan (but in fact, they were not allowed to shoot there but improvise on a Chinese territory), the movie depicted culture and politics in a viscerally humane way. It puts things into perspective about how do we conceive culture, though. Ethnic wars, Hazaras versus Pashtuns, who is more superior, the question of nationality and who takes precedence in a given land. Things like that. For instance, one part of the movie showed a young boy (Hassan’s son and Amir’s nephew… they were brothers!) made to dance in front of the men, wearing bells and other adornments to the spectators delight is considered to be part of Afghan culture —- bacha bazi (English = “boy play”). It has long been outlawed but the practice still goes on and these young boys are continually exploited (emotionally and EVEN sexually!) by the grown up men. But how can you ensure that such measures will be upheld in the war-torn area? Implementation of such rules are not always strictly followed. It is very sad and disheartening and I was also able to watch this documentary available on YouTube, chronicling the practice of bacha bazi in present day Afghanistan and other Middle East countries.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywWjjewqNDA]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRhfthE_Ifg]

Similar to other adaptations, I see the movie first and pass judgment before reading the book. I got hold of a copy of The Kite Runner and has already finished reading it. The wealth of description in the book is amazing, but I won’t take it against the movie because movies can only translate so much. The Kite Runner is nevertheless amazing.

90s party music was pure fun!

A few days ago, I decided to go grunge for the party. However, Mon dissuaded me that the thing I was going for might be too much and I decided to narrow it down to a denim vest. I took out this denim jacket from the bowels of our storage room and was already resolute to remove the sleeves. I remember buying it from Robinsons Metro East department store more than 10 years ago and I had worn it just once — I regretted buying it afterwards. LOL

Denim jacket, ready to be ravaged - Manila, Philippines

After about an hour or so, I was able to transform the jacket to a vest, sparingly embellished with my favorite studs to give it a little character. Maybe it was a good thing that I had little time to do it because if I had more time, the vest could have gone over-embellished and would have crossed the gaudy side. I originally thought of wearing a white shirt with a bejeweled skull design on it but finally talked myself out of it. Then of course, nothing says 90s more than a good ‘ol Prada nylon backpack!

DIY Studded denim vest - collar

DIY studded denim vest, dark blue V-neck shirt, Jag jeans, Prada nylon and saffiano backpack, TechnoMarine watch, studded cuff and beaded bracelets - Manila, Philippines

We arrived late in the party at around half past nine, but we still were the first people to arrive in our group. Then one by one until 11:00 PM, everyone has already arrived and we started having a great time. And I think the best part of it was to see my teammates dress up as the Spice Girls (albeit toned down)! Clang as Posh was definitely the bomb, with the the LBD, black heels and the bob wig.

Mon and I with my teammates

Birthday boy as Sporty with the Spice Girls - Spice Girls costume

Girl power!

With my pretty girlsIt was the perfect event to party with these guys, because honestly, I have NEVER met another bunch of people like them who are, admittedly, the best party people. It has been a long time, in fact, years, since I last indulged myself with booze and good music.

With LR =D

Mon and I

Happiness!

Speaking of good music, last night reminded me of how much I love 90s music. From Mariah’s Breakdown, Diana King’s Shy Guy, Robyn’s Do You Really Want Me, TLC’s No Scrubs, Ghost Town DJ’s My Boo to name a few. It was the perfect playlist, sauf when the DJ played The Corr’s Breathless. O_O It was the most non-dancey music out there and I have no idea why it was played. Anyway, I went home looking for copies of the music played and the entire Sunday afternoon was full of 90s nostalgia.

Reciting Mariah's 'Breakdown' word for word!There was also a surprise guest. =D Ali was very ecstatic since last week because one fierce queen  had agreed to come to the event. I was eagerly anticipating this because it has been years since I last saw a drag performance in person.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwSSTFQ6Tdk]

Perfect impersonation of Mariah Carey's Can't Take That Away - look at the live video played at the back LOLI can’t stress enough how delighted I was to have attended Ali’s birthday, especially partying with my teammates after a long time. And also, a big thanks to Mon for allowing me to drink even just for one night, =D Again, Happy birthday Ali and thanks to the wonderful one-night time machine!

Birthday boy with his cake - Citizen Pub and Burger bar
*All watermarked photos courtesy of Shot and Shoot Productions