MHL Project: Tip Basket with Foldable Legs!

The ubiquitous tip jar.

Imagine any street or coffeehouse musician and you’d see a tip jar in your mind’s eye.  I, for one, have always felt uncomfortable with it.  First off, Bronne and I have several instruments to set up, cables to plug, and sounds to check before a performance.  The tip jar is a detail we can do without.  Second, and more importantly, I’ve always felt uneasy putting it out which is strange because I’d never feel contempt for any musician who has one.  It isn’t the ‘playing-music-for-money’ part that I dislike.  I think a tip jar could be seen as another means of measuring how one’s gig went. . .

How did we do today?

Oh, we got $10.  Not bad considering there were only 3 people here.  

. . .  and, head count, applause, and compliments, aside, do I really need another means to make myself feel insecure?

But many times in the past when we didn’t bring a tip jar, people would come up to us asking for it.  Some, with their dollar bill on hand, would awkwardly stand in front of us and  place their tip on my keyboard or at my feet.  Some would actually advise us, “You guys should have a tip jar.”  So to prevent any more discomfort or awkwardness for these people who show us their appreciation, we started putting one out.

We’ve been using a small basket we bought from a thrift store for 50 cents.  One of my concerns during set-up is where to put this darn tip basket.  We can’t put it on the floor.  We can put it on a chair but, because we play an 88-key keyboard, bells, and 2 guitars and use 3 mics with mic stands and 2 music stands, we take up space more than the typical duo.  Putting the tip basket on a chair would just create more clutter.

A few months ago, we went to another thrift store and bought half-a-music stand for 79 cents.  We couldn’t find the lyre.  I had the feeling the legs alone would come in handy some day, so we bought it.  And a couple of weeks ago, I thought of putting one and one together to eliminate this tip jar concern from my mind.

All it took was a needle and sturdy twine, glue gun and sticks, a small square cardboard, clear tape, and a chopstick.

I sewed the basket to the legs by hooking the twine around the clip (where one adjusts the height of the stand).  I used the glue gun to keep the twine in place and to make the basket more stable. Finally, I wrote THANK YOU on a small cardboard and covered it with clear tape to keep it from getting dirty.  I cut a slit at the end of the chopstick and slipped the cardboard in.

I know it’s such an easy little project but it sure made a huge difference for our band mascot, Joyful, who’s in charge of the tips.  He seems to really appreciate the tip basket’s handiness and compactness.

Was it Plato who said, “Necessity is the mother of invention”? It’s true in this case.  Design doesn’t have to be complicated and practicality often brings about elegance.


I am not Fatist

I am wearing pigtails, a scarf, a long-sleeved violet T-shirt, a thin knitted loose-fitting top, a necklace an ex gave me, and velvet-but-not-too-shiny yoga pants -- and all because it was all that could fit me. 😦

I need to lose weight.

I’ve slowly put on the pounds since I got here.  Can’t really give an exact number pounds-wise, but I guess I’ve been carrying an extra 25-30 pounds with me.  I hate it.

Oh, Man Hands Lizzie, you’re a fatist!  Fat can be beautiful!  Women come in all shapes and sizes! You should love yourself no matter how much you weigh!

How can I love myself when I can’t even go up a flight of stairs without wheezing?  Or wake up feeling slow and sluggish, and end the day feeling the same?  Or walk and feel pain on the soles of my feet because of how heavy I’ve become?

You can’t judge me until you’ve slipped into my skinny jeans, is all I’m saying.  And this is about me and my well-being.  So just to make things clear, I am not saying I have anything against fat people.  But I am saying that I don’t want to be one because it’s not making me feel healthy and happy.

This has become a real issue for me since I started performing as half of HE SANG SHE SANG.

First off, I’ve been having a torturous time thinking of what to wear.  I’m at that point where I can’t just suck in my gut and look better.  Now, when I suck in my gut, I still have some spilling out.  When I’m activating my diaphragm, as singers do when they sing properly, I get very conscious of my rolls of fat in full view of the audience.  I’m also no longer at that stage where I can bare my slender legs and hide my tummy because my stems have become just as padded.  Thinking of an outfit to wear for a gig is no longer exciting or fun.  I now dread it because I know I’m not going to find anything with which I’d be 100% happy.   I just come out “making do” with what I have, and that’s a really hard thing for me to admit.

When I was younger, a friend of mine watched me put an outfit together and remarked, “I guess you know yourself so well you can put on anything and be happy with it.”  I told her the only reason why I can “put on anything and be happy with it” is because I felt thin and healthy enough to feel that way.  What happened to me and where is that girl she admired?

Anyways, for the past two weeks, every-other-day, I’ve been brisk-walking for an hour.  I’m getting ready to run again.  Running is a passion of mine and I used to run almost everyday before my accident.  Since I’m too heavy to run right away, brisk-walking is a great alternative to building some muscle on my legs, especially my thighs, before I do actual runs.  Tomorrow, I believe my legs are ready.

I’ve also been careful of what I eat.  I’ve stopped drinking cola and eating chips.  I’ve been eating more veggies.  Saturday nights, though, I pig-out.  We get free food at Zen on Ten, this lovely Asian bistro and sushi bar at which we’ve been playing, and their food is fabulously delicious.  So after our gig, we feast on our complimentary meal at home as we watch a film on our laptop.  I sometimes also enjoy a bottle of Red Rock ginger ale.

I’m looking forward to running tomorrow.  My legs have been raring to do it since last week.

Anyways, hope you all have a great week!

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Every time I visit my blog, I see that I’ve got some readers despite my on-and-off existence here, and for that I’ve been and am grateful. Thanks, you lovely people — friends and accidental visitors!

Here I am with Ladybug, wearing my blue-framed glasses for the very last time. The lenses have warped and so I had to say goodbye to something that's become part of my face for years.

Since you’re here…

I might as well tell you that I need your HELP.  Whether I know you, or you just stumbled upon my blog, I really need your help!  If you don’t know it yet, I’m a musician and part of an acoustic rock duo making its rounds here in Georgia, US.  We’re getting known for our unique arrangements, what we like to call as our “inventive renditions”, of hit songs.  But we’re also making a *tiny* dent in the music world with our original songs.

Right now, we’re beefing up our repertoire and recording our songs, or at least, trying to find time to do it.  It’s difficult being musicians but we’re pretty darn serious about what we do.


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Chris Getting Married


Hello, lovelies.  I’ve been away but I’ll be writing about our new house and add before and after pics to boot.  Watch out for those!

But now for something completely different:

One of my best friends from the Philippines got married a couple of days ago.

Chris in Korea.

She, another good friend, and I were batch mates that took up Music, lived the demanding life of musicians and music teachers.  We were so dedicated to our muse that we put marriage at the back of our mind.  That, and the fact that we didn’t want to shake up our life/routine for just any guy.  We held out for the right one.  We dated and had relationships and learned about men and how it is to be one-half of a twosome.  Of course, for each man we were with we hoped for the best.  But we didn’t say “yes” to the idea of marriage until we were very sure.

Chris, pretty in pink, and me, bodacious in the blue sarong (heehee).

Out of us three, and hardly as much as other women with their fairy tale ideas, Chris was the one who seemed to want to get married the most.  While the two of us had our family, she went off on her own for college and spent years working hard to support herself and her music.  I’ve always admired Chris’ steadfastness and how she was able to juggle everything without falling apart.  When she started teaching at our University and the “Boy’s Club of the Composition Department” relegated her and her music to the sidelines, she forged on and create her own channels to make her music heard.   She got her PhD and won best dissertation on the year she graduated.  She’s now the department chairperson of Composition at the University of the Philippines.

But, despite her achievements, Chris yearned for companionship.  And when she met Ti at one of the conferences she participated in in the US, she formed a bond with him.   She came back home and they started a long-distance relationship only the most patient of women could endure.  She wanted more but the timing was never right.  I can’t say this is a correct recollection of the progression of things, but Chris and Ti were together for a year when our friend got married and it was just us two spinsters left.  (Haha!)  Then after a couple of years, I met Bronne and that got me hitched.  And Chris, on her singleness lonesome, endured.  And just when she told me that she’s going to have to be content in her long-distance love affair, the universe deemed it the right time for these two to exhale and be together-together.

Chris and Ti on their wedding day, beaming with happiness. Chris is wearing a lovely wedding gown made of pinya fiber and Ti is wearing a "Barong Tagalog". Lovely.

Chris getting married is an end of an era.  I don’t get sentimental about weddings and I’m hardly sentimental about mine, but she’s the last one.  All three of us have crossed over to this different realm.  These past two days, I recalled all the breaks from our classes, then all the ones from our teaching life, when we’d meet, planned or accidentally, and talk about men, relationships, marriage, and our music.  Our lives without men, our lives with them.  What it would be like to be married, to have children, not to have children and have pets instead.  LIFE.

I am filled to the brim with gratefulness for having met my two good friends.  They’ve put up with my growing pains, my volatile mood swings and banshee craziness.  They’ve seen the change in me after I battled my demons and slowly found my place in the world.   They are my oldest friends and are witnesses to my life, and I always found my way to them, to their little room/oasis in our college, every time I needed someone to talk to.

Chris and Issay, I miss you both and wish you both more music and a life well-lived.  Always.

And now, back to the regular programming.  Me cleaning our house, that is. 🙂

How-to: My First Official (Uber) Short Animation Film


Typing that title was a real laugh-out-loud moment.  The short film is sooo short it didn’t even hit the 1-minute mark.  The main character is someone that you might have met in my blog before: Joyful, my green dog.  He is my band’s, He Sang She Sang‘s, mascot and “dogager”.  In the film, we define what DOGAGER means.  Watch it to find out.

Would it surprise you to know that this 53-second film took me 3 weeks to make?  It was a laborious project and, it being my first real foray into animation WITH music, I experimented a lot and wasted many hours of work on drawings and slides that I didn’t need in the end.  I also spent some time getting to know the Windows Movie Maker.  Fortunately, Bronne knew how to edit music and had the software to do it, so that was one less thing for me to worry about.

I didn’t read up on how to make animation and, as in the many things I do, learned by doing.  The missteps and mistakes were essential in learning.  And despite the tired eyes and hands, headaches and sleepless nights, I enjoyed every minute of it.

Just in case you are thinking of creating your own short animation film, here are the steps I chose to take (I’m sure the folks at Pixar would have a better way of doing things, though):

  1. Brainstorm on a story line with the characters, plot, music, etc.  I guess the trained folks would have a story board and if my story were longer, I would have made one, too.
  2. Edit your chosen music/sound effect to your desired length.  The amount of work you do will depend upon this.
  3. Draw your characters.  In this case, I consider the dancing flowers, sun, and clouds as supporting characters to Joyful.  I drew them and their different poses and facial expressions using a combination of MS Paint and Photoshop on white background to make cutting and pasting easier.
  4. Draw your background. Mine was the sky and the green hilly ground.
  5. Create your ‘slides’ or ‘panels’ by cutting-and-pasting your characters onto the background. Each slide would feature 1 pose or facial expression.
  6. Color.
  7. Enhance your slides with artistic effects on Photoshop or Corel Draw.  Some people skip this because they like the raw look.  I just enhanced the color and put some effects to make the slides look more “story-book” seamless.
  8. Upload your slides and music to your animation/film software.  I chose the Windows Movie Maker because it’s FREE!!!  Plus, artist, Josh Latta, told me that was a good software for beginner animators.  Windows Movie Maker is pretty easy to use.  You’ll have fun experimenting with its different effects.
  9. Edit.  Take care in coordinating the music with your slides.
  10. Save.
  11. Upload on YouTube.
Hopefully, all the things I learned from doing this uber short film will aid me when we start our next project: making a video for one of our original songs.  The song is definitely more than 1 minute.  In fact, it’s one of our longest songs.   So, if all goes well, that one will probably be unveiled in about … oh, maybe 3 years!  Hahaha!

It’s Her Fault

This is Mildred (part of her, anyways) and it’s her fault I haven’t blogged the last couple of days, and probably won’t until Monday.

I am a musician, after all, no matter how much I pretend not to be.  I have this new musician friend who’s been inviting me to jam with him and his pals and I’ve been making him wait (sorry, Zen. :P) because my mind hasn’t been on music since I got here.  It’s been on organizing and preparing my workstation and closet (because my outfits are definitely part of my ‘work’ — hahaha).  But Zen has read my blog, and the last couple of times we’ve hung out he’d say,

“So when are we going to jam, man?”

And before I could answer, he’d say:

“But you know what?  I think your mind’s not on music, man.  What you really want is to be a DESIGNER!”

He says the word like it’s on all caps.  On both instances, I never get to protest that, no, man, you’ve totally missed the note on that one.  Maybe it’s because I know I wouldn’t be able to say it with conviction.  I’m not out to be on Project Runway or start up my own clothing line.  But creating things is part of my life, whether it’s music, clothes, jewelry, or stories.  Creating is designing, right?

Anyways, this week, music won my attention.  And it’s about time, I say!

My knee dictated my outfit choice these past few days.  Shirt-leggings-big poncho (or boncho, snicker!)-socks-slippers-and, of course, the most somber-looking but reliable knee brace.  A blah outfit but it kept me comfy.

Anyways, lovelies, just letting you guys know I’m still alive.  Have yourself a wonderful knee pain-free weekend!  Talk to you soon!