Outfit of the Day: Peplumed and Booted in Black

We had a very satisfying day, the highlight of which was performing at an open mic of 20 talented songwriters in Duluth, Georgia (see Eddie Owen Presents).  It was a freakishly cold day and that meant only one thing — time to awaken the sleeping jackets!

OK. . . I look like a duck. Quack.

This jacket was a thrift store find. I bought it for 3 reasons: 1) it’s well made, 2) it’s velvet but matte, and 3) it has a peplum.

I love a peplum. I was unaware that it made a comeback recently but I don’t care much for trends. In fact, I love peplumed garments because they remind me of bustles, which will probably never be resurrected.  Sure, Vivienne Westwood made a go at it and they looked smashing on the runway. But I can’t see a modern woman sporting a bustle.  Can you? How would she drive her car without flattening the thing? Just imagine her making a grand entrance to a party with deflated bunched-up fabric against her bum. Sad.

Peplums are like demure bustles. They say, “I want to make your butt look bigger, but not too much, OK? Heehee!” Why exactly this excites me, I can’t say.  It sure does amuse me.  Maybe it’s because I like a little humor in what I wear.

I confess: I’m a little knock-kneed.

A view from the top!

And here are my vintage Dr. Martens 20-eye lace boots. I got them for a steal at Ebay from a very nice seller. They are unique because they don’t have the trademark yellow stitching DMs usually have.

Haha, I say that now but, to be honest, after I bid on them, I started sweating bullets when I noticed too late the lack of yellow along the sides.  “Fake”, my brain whispered.  Maybe . . .  Then Bronne pointed out another disturbing thing: the soles are not the usual transparent DM soles with the ridges.  “FAKE!!!”, my brain screamed.  As the end of bidding neared, I stared at my laptop and willed someone to bid even just a mere 50 cents higher than me.  But, alas, I won. And the evil shoe gods laughed with glee.

Then I did a little googling. OK, a lot of it. I learned that DM does produce non-yellow-stitched boots and their soles are not always transparent. In fact, these were Made in England and they have a registered no. on their soles that can be traced and thus proves THEY ARE NOT FAKE. So take that, evil shoe gods. Who’s laughing now, you cruel clog deities!

Anyways, I love these boots. I’m very partial to combat-looking boots. Probably because they remind me of my dad’s army boots. My dad is/was the best man I know and his choices and actions have shaped my life tremendously. He was a proud military officer, but a gentle man. He used to bring us to his barracks when my brother and I were kids and we christened his men, according to their physical appearances, after characters from the comic strip, ‘Beetle Bailey’. I was mesmerized whenever they did their formations. And their marching chants to the rhythm of boots against the ground were music to my ears.

Why I included this photo, I don’t know. I hate my face sometimes. Especially tonight. I thought I looked good but this photo, snickering, proved otherwise. But I’m posting it to memorialize my hair, to show everyone WHY NOT TO CUT YOUR OWN HAIR.

Yes. I cut my own hair. Back in the Philippines, my mom usually cut my hair. When I wanted to get pampered, I would walk to the next street and have our neighbor cut it. She ran a salon from her living room. It smelled of dye and burnt hair from hair dryers. No fancy salon sinks here. Clients bend over to get shampooed from a bathroom-type sink, their crowns often greeted by the faucet jutting out — bonk!  Anyways, my hair loved Nancy-the-friendly-neighborhood-hairdresser.  It thrived after she cut it.

So, because I can’t imagine anyone else cutting my hair here, I started doing it. It’s not so bad NOW. But there was a time I didn’t have my glasses on and I cut my hair. Hahaha. That was 2 months worth of hat-wearing.

And because Bronne wanted to memorialize his outfit, I’m including it here.

Look at him. His eyes are half-closed but he still looks great (grumble!). Guess who cuts his hair? (Evil grin.)

This is Bronne’s signature look: black top and red pants. It took us a long time to find him red jeans and I think we got these at Marshall’s or Ross, two of our very favorite shops. Actually, we call them our treasure haunts.  We go through the racks until we find a treasure and for a bargain, too. I got my first pair of Dr. Martens from a Ross.  Bronne found two very nice Ben Sherman button-downs for a song (“♪♫ Twenty Dollars! Twenty Dollars! ♪♫). Often we leave empty-handed, but that just makes the treasure hunt more exciting each time!

His red-striped Addidas sneakers. I almost typed ‘rubber shoes’ which gives you a clue how ancient I am.

Who am I kidding? I practically revealed it when I mentioned the comic strip, ‘Beetle Bailey’.

Bronne has a collection of belt buckles. This, I think is one of his top three faves. He’s Superman, my husband, and his kryptonite: belt buckles and British-branded shirts!!! This superhero goes weak-kneed at the sight of a unique buckle or a Ben Sherman shirt. On sale, of course.

And lastly,

Bronne sandwiched between red pillows, having a conversation with Ladybug. He’s telling her about our open mic experience, which was pretty good. But, boy, were we tired tonight.

I wanted to be in this photo but Katie refused to take our picture. What a diva.


MHL Upcycle: Transforming the 6-Ring Beer Can Holder into a Lamp Shade

If you watched the movie, “Happy Feet”, you might remember this guy…

The movie didn’t exactly tickle my soles, but I do remember this penguin because of its unusual neck wear.  An unfortunate piece of jewelry no creature on earth would want to have around its neck, and not for aesthetic reasons.  Obviously, it’s uncomfortable and, the longer one wears it, painful.

That was a cartoon character.  And though I felt sad for him and his predicament, this creature below is real.

This is how far man has come.  There was a time when he hunted and dragged his prize home.  Now, he goes to the grocery store, hooks his finger under a 6-ring beer can holder, puts it in a rolling cart, drags the cart to his car, and brings his beverage home.  Man’s come a long way, baby.

Back in the Philippines, we didn’t have a lot of packaging-trash issues.  I can’t explain why.  We shop and eat probably as much as Americans do but consumer products back home are packaged simply.  One can say that it’s the manufacturer’s way of saving a peso, but I say it’s a sound decision for the environment.  Here, many products we buy are packaged as if they were volatile experiments safely contained inside plastic within plastic.  Corporations are so afraid of getting bad reviews or, worse, sued for selling contaminated or defective products that they’ll package the hell out of them.  They put little “Please Recycle” or “Please Reuse” signs on their packaging to relieve their conscience.  But, really, who reuses the ziplock bags food come in? I used to.  In the Philippines, buying something with a ziplock on it’s packaging is like getting a bonus product.  My mom and I would reuse the bag until it disintegrated.  But here, even when I did reuse them, when the time came for us to buy another pack of its product, we’d reluctantly get another ziplock bag in the process.  After a couple of months living here, I must have had a cupboard full of totally reusable recyclables but I couldn’t keep up with the deluge of plastic.  It’s like a never-ending cycle.  We had no choice but to trust our garbage collector that they really do recycle everything we give them in our bins.

The 6-ring beer can holder, or let’s call it 6-rBCH, it’s one of those recyclable plastic things that I never discarded.  I have “Happy Feet” to thank for that.  But also, I found them to be quite interesting, design-wise.  I knew I could upcycle – or transform – them into something useful and unexpected, but I wasn’t sure what.

Then last July we moved and we were fixing our home.  I needed a lampshade for my kitchen but I didn’t want to buy one.  I told Bronne I’d make one out of my collection of 6-rBCHs.

And here it is.

I sewed them together with little stitches and designed it so two layers of the 6-rBCHs would create a new pattern from their overlapping holes.

Bronne wanted me to add something inside to cover the bulb, and I experimented with tulle and Japanese paper, but I really liked the light and airy feeling the original design gave.  Though the bulb is a bit exposed, the double layer of plastic mutes the intensity of its light. 

I’m quite proud of this design and I’m thinking of other projects to do using the 6-rBCHs.  I’m happy to be doing my part in keeping these things off landfills while having created something that I like looking at as well.

Do you have design ideas for the 6-rBCH?

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!

Please LIKE the HE SANG SHE SANG Facebook page! Click me!


Please visit our He Sang She Sang Blog and read all about our latest gripe: venue owners and festival organizers who ask you to play for free but never say “thank you”.

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. 🙂

Hello! My Name is …

I’ve introduced myself to you many times as Liz.  Man Hands Lizzie is based on that monicker.

BUT — you may as well know it — I am mostly called by another name.  One which will be revealed to you in the cartoon below.


I haven’t been misrepresenting myself to you.  I am called Liza by family.  Pronounced “lee-za” and often spelled incorrectly with an “s” by some people, it’s my second name.  I am called Alma by everybody else.  I’ve been christened other names by friends, students, and co-workers; but these are the two I’ve been called the longest.  Alma is my “public” name; Liza is “private”.

My mother told me that the characters my names bring me oppose each other.

Alma is an extrovert.  Liza is an introvert.

Alma is open.  Liza has many secrets.

Alma is adventurous.  Liza would rather stay home and read.

I was supposed to have a different second name, she said.  Something like “Bella”, which means ‘beautiful’.  But she changed it at the last minute because she checked the astrology and numerology charts and realized the character it would bring me wouldn’t suit me.  She’s not a die-hard believer in those things and just happened upon a couple of articles from magazines.  Still, I find this tale to be very telling and believe that fate had it that I receive two conflicting names.   And I find that, yes, I am all of these things.

I used to hate my public name.  There was a famous actress who had the same name when I was growing up.  Her intelligence, or lack thereof, had been fodder to many jokes about stupidity.  I can’t tell you how often people made lame quips connecting my name with hers.  It used to irritate the hell out of me and I’d instantly dislike whoever joked about it.

Alma means “soul” in Spanish.  I came to love this name because of its meaning.  Liza is short for “Elizabeth” and  means “consecrated to God”.  I connect this name to the sound of my parents voices.  Even now, with my father gone and my mother thousands of miles away, I can close my eyes and hear them speak my second name and feel utterly LOVED.

So, hello!  My name is Alma.  Or Liza.  Or Liz.  Or Lizzie. And if you know me by any other name, then feel free to keep calling me that, too.  All of my names have, in their way, defined and shaped me.  Just as much as the people who utter them to address me have.