Touchdown Tokyo!!!

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My little family was blessed to be able to travel to Tokyo again this year.  You may remember that last year, we were treated by my in-laws to a 6-day vacation.  This year, it was just the three of us, exploring what is starting to become one of my favorite cities in the world :).

We arrived at Tokyo at around 2PM.  Not a bad schedule because it gave us the time to still do some afternoon sightseeing.  Because we landed at the Haneda Airport which is much nearer to the city (only 30 mins!) and accessible by train to and from our hotel, we were out and about by 330PM! :)

This year, we opted to stay in a different neighborhood from our previous visit.  We stayed at the Shiodome Royal Park Hotel–very near Ginza and Tsukiji.  Also, as I had mentioned, our hotel was right by a train hub, so getting to and from the various areas in Japan was very, very easy for us :).

On Day 1’s bright, sunny and COLD afternoon, we opted to take a leisurely stroll right outside the Imperial Palace, right by Hanzomon Gate.  According to the hotel reception, that area was lined with blooming cherry blossom trees.

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After taking the requisite photos and spending some time at the mini park for A, we dropped by Ginza for dinner and a little bit of Uniqlo shopping.

Our next day in Japan had a forecast for rain.  After hearing mass at St. Ignatius Church, we decided to spend the afternoon indoors at the Japanese Toy Museum.

What a charming and fun place!

Set in a quiet neighborhood in Yotsuya, in what looked to be like an old school building, the Toy Museum was basically two floors of various traditional and modern Japanese toys.

Not only was it a wonderful place for A to explore and enjoy, but admittedly, both the hubby and I had a great time too!  We spent hours playing, touching, feeling, and experimenting with the various toys on display.  I love that it was such an interactive place!  If you have small kids, this is definitely an awesome experience for them :).

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After the Toy Museum, we decided to stop by the Shinjuku Gyoen National Park for more cherry blossom sightings.  Unfortunately for us, while on our way there, we were told that the park closed at 430PM.  So, since we were already in the Shinjuku area anyway, we instead spent the rest of the evening at my craft haven–Tokyu Hands!  And boy did I rack up a bill!  Huhuhu :(!  Can’t resist all the kawaii stuff!

On our third day, we had a taste of something old and something new.  In the morning, we made a quick visit to Legoland Discovery Center at the Decks Mall in Odaiba.  Who doesn’t love Lego, right?

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Similar to our experience at the Toy Museum, it was a fun place, and truly for every member of the entire family!  I especially loved the miniature version of Tokyo, made entirely out of Lego bricks.  It was amazing!!!

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The little one enjoyed the play area very much, and insisted on building one lego tower after another.  She especially enjoyed using the big rubber lego pieces, and building towers that were taller than her!

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At around lunch time, we made our way back to the Minato District to visit Zojoji Temple.  I make it a point that every time we visit a place, we balance out the cultural and sightseeing stuff with the shopping, the eating, and the kiddie activities.  Although the great thing about A is that she enjoys the cultural stuff as well!

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Zojoji Temple definitely did not disappoint.  I liked that it was not as crowded as Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, and the grounds were actually more picturesque and Instagram-worthy–hahaha!  With the Tokyo Tower in the background, it’s hard not to take a great picture of the temple, especially during sunset!

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After Zojoji, we headed to Shibuya for some dinner.  It is unfortunate that in the two times I’ve been to Tokyo, I’ve not been able to spend more time to explore this area.  It can be a bit overwhelming because of the throngs of people that crowd the streets and sidewalks, but I’m sure the shopping must be wonderful!  Hahaha!  Oh well…maybe next year… :).

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By Tuesday, our last full day in Tokyo, I was already feeling the exhaustion from the activities of our trip.  Instead of packing our day in, we decided instead to take a leisurely stroll inside the Imperial Palace East Gardens, and while our morning away there.

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It was a beautifully warm day, and seeing people lay down and relax underneath the cherry blossom trees made me wish I had packed a picnic blanket and some lunch.  Hahaha!  But I guess that just gives me something to look forward to on our next trip here :).

Oh Tokyo, oh Tokyo.  I truly love you so!  Hoping we meet again next year, same time, same place! :)

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Gift Wrapping Idea # 3 : Twigs and String

Just wanted to share with you another gift wrapping idea that I did for the little one’s teachers last March, for her Moving Up Day.

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I have a whole bunch of twigs at home from a flower arrangement that my sister used for her son’s baptism.  Being the crafter that I am, I knew that these twigs would come to good use someday so I convinced the hubby to let me keep them and not throw them out :).  I’m glad he agreed :).

For these particular gifts, I decided to use the twigs as accessories, dressing them up with three different colors of string–red, pink and white–to contrast the black floral print of the wrapping paper.  The string is crochet string, and I bought it in National Book Store.  The wrapping paper is from the stationery department of SM Hypermart :).

When it came to attaching the twigs to the gift, at first I tried using glue, but unfortunately, it didn’t adhere properly.  So instead I tried using my ever reliable and decorative washi tape, which I think gave it an interesting effect :).

For the final touch, I decided to stick  the gift cards in some non-typical places, just to provide some visual interest again.  In hindsight, I should have probably cut the card in the shape of a leaf and position it next to the twig so that it looked like it was attached.  Oh well.  Maybe next time :)…

Candy DIY Book Launch

What do you get when you have Alessa Lanot, Mansy Abesamis, Mikko Sumulong and Macy Alcaraz all together in one room?  A really awesome craft party, ofcourse!!!

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Fully Booked at The Fort served as the venue for Candy Magazine’s DIY Book book launch last Thursday evening.  I received an e-vite from Alessa, and new the craft party would be a perfect mid-week, stress buster activity.

The first order of business when I arrived at Fully Booked was to buy my copy of the DIY Book and have it signed by Alessa, Mansy, Mikko and Macy–aka the Craft Superstars :).

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As I was doing so, the little one spotted this table full of mouth-watering cupcakes and cookies.  She kept pulling my hand, dragging me towards the desserts.  I don’t blame her.  If I hadn’t just given up sweets for Lent, then you’d probably find me making a beeline for this table as well :).

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After getting her dose of sugar, it was time to start crafting!

There were 3 stations in all.

First was the rubber stamping station.  I finally got to play with Alessa’s alphabet stamps!!!

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The little one stamped her name on her postcard too :).

Then we tried Hey Kessy’s Washi Station.  It was a full house (er…table :))!

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The little girl embellished her postcard with some washi tape, buttons, and paper straws!  Boy, did she have fun doing it!

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Lastly, there was also a pompom station, but we unfortunately didn’t have time to sit and try it out.  Instead I asked Mansy if I could take a pompom home as a souvenir :).

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Like I said, even if we were in the event for all of half an hour, it was a quick but energizing and feel-good activity :).  I had a wonderful time doing something creative, and even better, doing it with my little girl :)!  Creative fix?  Check!

I couldn’t end the evening, however, without having a photo with two of my favorite crafters–Alessa and Mansy!  They have truly inspired me to pursue my creative goals, and to try to inject more art and DIY activities into my week!  They are truly rockstars in my world!

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Hooray for DIY!!!

Manila FAME in InstaGrams

If you are my friend on InstaGram, you probably noticed how I was flooding your feed with images last week of the Manila FAME expo. My apologies for that. I guess I couldn’t contain my excitement on how fabulous this year’s show was!!!  Hahaha!

But the posts I made were but a fraction of the wonderful things I saw. Here’s more!

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These were but some of the baskets that we saw at the OTOP (One Town, One Project) section of the show.

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More baskets! This was a collaboration with Heima. Love the colors! Pretty, and functional too!

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Aren’t these baby brogues by Maco Custodio too cute!!!

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One of my favorite accessories designers, Ken Samudio, fresh from his exhibit in London, showed off his new editorial pieces–hats inspired by corals in the ocean. So pretty, right? I wonder what he’ll come up with next!

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Baubles from Joyce Makitalo. I sooo want her dipstick necklace and am saving up for it for this year!

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Would you believe that this is both a bag and a sculpture?!? Only from the mind of super creative jewelry designer Micheline Syjuco. It’s definitely an art piece in itself!

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Another fresh concept from Kenneth Cobonpue.

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I must have ordered 3 new dresses from Filip+Inna!  Len Cabili is another one of my favorite designers!

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Through these shows, and the various pop-up events I’ve attended, I’ve met a number of young and extremely talented designers.  Here is the Bungalow 300 display.  The creative tandem behind it is Vernice Songco and Marga Espiritu.  I just love the way they put things together!  Bravo, ladies!!!

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Another artist to watch out for is Lilliana Manahan.  I just loooooove her quirky and colorful planters!!!  If I’m not mistaken, I think they took their inspiration from a buko shell!

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Mats, mats, glorious mats!  These beauties hail from Basey, Samar, one of the towns hardest hit by Yolanda last year.  While they are still recuperating from the tremendous loss, the mat weaving industry is starting to get back on its feet.  I hope events like these will help their businesses to start picking up again!

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Another beautiful exhibit on other Filipino weaves curated by Bungalow 300.  Everything here was so pretty, and just looking at it was so inspiring!

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T’nalak Weaving.  I heard a story that one of the famous weavers sees these designs in her dreams so each of the patterns produced is really unique!

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Last year, Schema was one of the hubby’s and my favorite booths.  We adored their pendant lamps and wanted to get some for our dining area.  This year they came out with these copper balls.  Oh no!  I want them too!!!  Hahaha!

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Vito Selma’s Lotus table is giving his Geo table a run for its money!  Hahaha!  Did you know you can turn the base over for a different look and effect?  Genius!

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While mommy was ogling the Lotus table, A set her sights on the Cara-Boo.  Don’t you just love it? :)

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I think this Raina chair was one of the most photographed pieces in the expo.  Definitely queen-worthy!

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Catalina’s booth is always visually striking!

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Loved these functional yet decorative storage baskets from Hacienda Crafts!

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Ok, so I totally want a distressed wooden dining table now.

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Wow!  Love the effect of all these lightings clustered together :)

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Beautiful throw pillows from Tadeco.  Loved their display too!

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Such chic lighting from AZCOR! :)  It would definitely go well with my distressed wood dining table!  Hahaha!

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A peacock chair from Obra.  I have no words… :)

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For my future beach-slash-rest house :)

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I wouldn’t mind lounging on these floor pillows as well.  So cool that they’re just made from jersey cloth!

So there you have it–my curated images of Manila FAME (trust me, there were too many nice ones to choose from!).  I hope they will encourage you to drop by and see the next show, which is scheduled for around October.

Not only is it a way to show your support to our local designers, and to the local traditions, but I’m sure it will be a feast for your (design) senses as well!

Bar Cart Makeover

Because of its accessible location, my home has become entertaining central lately.

Especially on Friday nights, my cousins who work close by love dropping by our place to have a drink or two, while waiting for the crazy traffic to subside.

Our wine and cheese, or sometimes chips and scotch nights have definitely awakened the inner hostess in me.  Hahaha!  It’s made me want to invest in nicer cheeseboards and knives, prettier chip bowls, and a nice bar cart to hold all our glasses, drinks and other cocktail stuff.

Even though I’m not really much of a drinker, and the hubby usually just drinks scotch, wine or beer, I think a bar cart would be such a chic way to display our beverages, especially when we have guests over :).  Don’t you think so, too? :)

Good thing that my mom’s bodega is really such a treasure trove of vintage things!  So much of my own furniture right now are actually cast-offs from my mom!  Hahaha!  And during one weekend trip home, I happened to spy what seemed to be a sad looking bar cart partially hidden underneath a pile of mahjong cases.  Upon closer inspection, I was quite excited to confirm that it was!!!  After getting my mom’s permission to take the bar cart home, the hubby and I loaded it onto our trunk, and drove away as happy owners of a truly awesome find!

Here is what the bar cart looked like.  It was a boring black color, and you could tell that the metal frame was already rusty, and had just been painted over.  The mirrored glass at the bottom level of the bar cart was also cracked and icky.  The wheels were stuck, and could not be rolled. Slide1

After consulting Pinterest and other blogs online, here are the pegs that I used as inspiration for my refurbished bar cart : oncedailychicblogspot

Image from oncedailychic.blogspot.com

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Image from eframeco.uk

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Image from tracysnotebookofstyle.com

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Image from houzz.com

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Image from betterdecoratingbible.com

We hired someone to execute this project for us because as you can tell, there was a lot to be done to get it even close to Pinterest-worthy.  Hahaha!  The paint had to be stripped, the rust had to be removed, the metal smoothened (if that’s even possible) and coated with fresh paint.  While I initially wanted to do it on my own and claim all the makeover glory, I felt it would be more practical to leave this job to the experts.

And I’m glad I did.

This is what the bar cart looks like today.  Don’t you think it looks worlds away from what it used to look like? And while the styling and accessorizing are still a work-in-progress, I am already quite happy with how this little makeover turned out :).

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Ta-daaaaaaah!

Ain’t she a beauty? :)

As in the photo pegs, I plan to decorate that navy wall too, to add even more drama to this little corner :).

I would definitely call this makeover a success, don’t you agree? :)  Wine-and-cheese-slash-chips-and-scotch nights just got a little bit more exciting :).

Musings of a COO : Like Family

Just wanted to share with you all a picture of our oldest employee.  She’s 78, and she’s been with our company for over 50 years.  50 years!!!  Can you imagine? And she’s still working to this day!

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Mrs. Moya, you are a treasure and an inspiration!  I cannot thank you enough for all that you’ve done, and continue to do for our company.  You truly are family!!!

Work-in-Progress Washi Wall

Our office just underwent a major renovation.  Aside from breaking down walls and re-assigning rooms, our entire space was re-laid out to maximize the total floor area of the office.

It was a pretty humongous undertaking, but I have to admit I am loving our new headquarters! :)  It’s definitely roomier, brighter, and more conducive to collaboration :).  Plus, it was nice to start the year in new digs! I can tell that our employees are both excited and motivated :).

A new office also meant a new room location for me :).  When I first moved in, the white walls were definitely screaming, “decorate me!!!”.  Hahaha!  You know what that means…project time!!!  Hahaha!  And for my first project, here is my Washi Wall!!!

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Since I didn’t want to drill any holes into my wall, I decided to “frame” my daughter’s artwork, as well as other interesting images with washi tape.  I am loving the work-in-progress so far! :)

What do you guys think?

I’m actually in no rush to fill in the space as I’m sure it will get filled with inspiring images in time.  For now, it’s my personal little happy corner in the office :).

Gift Wrapping Idea # 2 : Pompoms and Polkadots

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Over the weekend, I had to wrap a birthday present for one of A’s classmates.  As I was feeling extra crafty, I decided to start with a blank slate–kraft paper–and build from there.

Using left-over hole punches, I first stuck neon orange circles onto the kraft paper.  I love the look of bright orange against neutral brown.  It really stands out!

Then instead of ribbon, I used two shades of blue yarn which I wrapped several times around the gift.  I topped this off with several sizes and colors of pompoms. I thought it made the present look really festive and fun! :)

For the gift tag, I used a manila tag, and used my stamps to create the greeting. To personalize it a bit, I let the little one sign the card :).

So there you have it, an easy, festive, and crafty gift wrapping idea!  It took just a couple of minutes to actually put this together, and I had so much fun doing it too! :)

Road Trip : Pinto Art Gallery

While many people were off to their various destinations for this 3-day weekend, my familia ended up having a forced staycation due to pre-bought Wicked tickets.

Anyhoo, despite my initial wistfulness over not being able to spend the holiday out of town, I eventually just decided to make the most out of my family’s time in the city by exploring a new place that we’ve always been wanting to visit, but never get to.  For our first road trip of the year, we settled on trekking to Antipolo for a long overdue tour of Pinto Art Gallery.  Let me warn you in advance that this post will be quite picture heavy.  Hahaha!  As expected, the gallery grounds and the art were so beautiful (spoiler alert!), that I couldn’t resist clicking away on my iPhone. :)

Despite getting lost several times due to misguided directions from our GPS app, we finally reached Pinto after about an hour’s drive from Taguig.  It’s actually easier to just follow the map from their website.  Hahaha!  If we did so, it probably would’ve taken us only 30 minutes as traffic was quite light that day (another perk of staying in the city during a long holiday :)).

To get into the gallery, there is an entrance fee of Php150.  This entrance fee gives you access to all 5 galleries, as well as to the upper and lower gardens.

Here is what we saw at Pinto:

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Art sculptures and installations all over the place…

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A charming and rustic chapel with many antique pieces I would love to have in my own home!

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More sculptures and art in the garden…

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These were kinda freaky and had a “My Precious” kinda vibe to them, but it was also quite visually interesting especially the way there were displayed against the foliage.

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The architecture kind of reminded me of the structures you’d see in Texas or New Mexico (think: The Alamo).  I love the use of stark white, especially against the vibrant art work :).  According to Pinto’s website, the buildings were designed by Antonio Leano.

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We found this plaque right outside the entrance of Gallery 1.  Love the quote from Dr. Cuanang–the owner of Pinto–when he said, “This museum is dedicated to their art, to their dreams and to the times we live.”  Well said!  Did I mention that Pinto is purely a museum of contemporary Filipino art?  No masters here. Instead, as its name implies, it is an open venue for all kinds of modern art practice.  You’ll find a lot of new and up and comers here in the fields of painting, sculpture, and mixed media.

Personally, I think it is truly wonderful how places like these encourage more Filipino artists to create, by providing them a wonderful space to showcase their work.  I also think it makes art more accessible to everyone, less serious or for the “intellectual”, and definitely more fun!

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Here’s what we saw in Gallery 1…

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I found the pieces to be quite dark and dreary–not my style at all.  Hahaha!  I appreciated Gallery 2 more as it was filled with art from some of my favorite contemporary artists–Elmer Borlongan, Plet Bolipata, and Rodel Tapaya.

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The notorious Hari Sonik was on display in Gallery 2.  I find this character so intriguing, yet disturbing at the same time.  The H just finds him flat out freaky. Hahahaha!

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I was so drawn to this Borlongan painting.  Definitely not as “dark” as his others.

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There’s also a very cute cafe inside Pinto.  Too bad it was closed that day we were there.  I read somewhere that the cafe is operated by Bizu during the weekends. I’m not too sure if that is still true, though :).

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Going down the steps from the Pinto Cafe will lead you to Gallery 3.  Again, there were more interesting artworks to see…

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Can you believe these 2 different artworks were done by 1 artist? :)  Loving the reference to the jeepneys of old :).

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This was one of my favorite pieces…

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And now to the best part–Galleries 4 and 5.  These two spaces had the most interesting pieces, and the nicest displays–truly, a visual feast! :)

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Haha.

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A very timely “year of the horse” sculpture by Plet Bolipata.  I think there were 4 of her sculptures throughout the gallery!  I loooove her art!  Incidentally, Plet is Elmer Borlongan’s wife :).

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By Leeroy New, another artist that I admire very much :).

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Sweet ride :).  Even the little one thought so :).

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Before we get to Gallery 5, I would literally like to take a bathroom break.  Yes, I did take pictures of their bathrooms, but only because they were so pretty, and so clean!  Did I not tell you that there were just too many beautiful spaces in this place?!?  This bathroom is proof!  Hahahaha!  And that turquoise door…Haaaay! Soooo loving it! :)

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On to Gallery 5…

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I was particularly drawn to these paintings by Emanuel Garibay too.  Not like his usual paintings, these are very bright and colorful.  I like the subject matter as well, especially the ones with the women in it :).

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Throughout the gallery, you will find arched windows or doorways that open to spectacular views such as this one.

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“Sit at your own risk.”  A living room made entirely out of paper!

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There were also these 2 rooms we found at the last gallery–one looked like a bedroom, the other a den-slash-living room.  It made me wonder if they were meant to be used for gallery guests, or were they simply a space to display artwork as well?  Both rooms were very pretty :).

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What else is pretty at Pinto?  The view, ofcourse :)

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There are several rooftops in Pinto that give one a gorgeous view of the city. Definitely picture-worthy! And it was with this particular view that we ended our tour of the wonderful Pinto Art Gallery.  Like I said, no regrets that we ended up spending our holiday in the city, as we were finally able to visit this gem of a place :)!

In Terrarium News…

So I recently “refreshed” our terrarium with new succulents.

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I decided to go for the non-thorny variety since I was kinda getting traumatized by all the pricking everytime I’d have to transplant new cacti.

To make the arrangement a bit more fun and interesting, I also added the little one’s baby dinosaurs.  We got them from a birthday party loot bag some time ago.  I love that they’ve found a new home :).

When she saw her dinosaurs inside the terrarium, the little girl whispered to me, “Mom, they’re kissing!”

(Face Palm)