The Imperfectionist's Guide to Making a No-Sew Fox Ear Headdress

Halloween may be over, but when you're a mom of young kids, pretend play is a 365-day thing. E's amassed quite a number of wings, wands, and whatnots, and is always requesting for more. Recently, her only wish has been to have Judy Hopps and Nick Fox (from Zootopia) costumes. And since it's her birthday soon, she wants her friends to be bunnies and foxes for her party, too. We've come a long way since she would fight with her friends over who could be her current favorite character. She's sharing, guys! How could I say no?

A Bunny and a Fox Went a-Hunting—for Costume and Fabric Supplies

faux fur

No animals were harmed in the making of our Halloween costumes. Instead, we shopped for faux fur at this shop in Divisoria: Felt and Fabric by Manco. Located along Ylaya St., the famed fabric center of Divisoria, it's got enough furry, fuzzy, plush swatches to give you visions of Snuggies or trigger memories of bad mascot encounters. But, if you are in the market for costume supplies—in my case, grey fur for a Judy Hopps bunny ear headband—this is where you want to be.

The store actually has two branches in Divisoria: one holding the fur, the other holding the felt. I had to visit both and they're about a block away from each other so it's not too inconvenient if you need both types of fabric. Some of their fur fabric however is at their warehouse, which is only opened upon request, so if there is a specific type of fur you need, either set aside some extra time when you visit or call ahead. Two of the fur models I'd originally chosen were at the warehouse, so I had to settle for something similar. The vendors were very accommodating, however, letting me know of the expected wait time in case I wasn't willing to wait (which I wasn't) and helping me choose from their available fabric in stock when my original choice wasn't on hand. They also checked the fabric for damage before ringing it up, which I found super professional for Divisoria standards where what you end up with is usually what you make do with.

Felt for a fox mask

By the way, for occasional DIYers like myself who don't need a lot of fabric, the smallest yardage they will sell you is half a yard. Anyone else need faux bunny grey and fox orange fur?

Where to Shop for Fabric Projects on a Budget

For Fur and Felt Fabric
Felt and Fabric by Manco
(See on map)
794-796 Ylaya St. (and 624 M. de Santos St.), Divisoria
(+632) 241-8646

For Tulle, Beads, and Ribbon
Michelle's Ribbon and Lace Center
(See on map)
Bonifacio Dr. Tondo, Manila
(+632) 254-2935
They also ship! Message them through their Facebook page or check out their albums and recent uploads on Facebook to get a taste of what they have in stock.

For Fabric in Bulk
Taytay Fabric Market
(See on map)
Rizal Ave. Brgy. San Juan, Taytay, Rizal
Fabric here is only sold per kilo (not per yard) so be prepared to bring home a lot of fabric. Best for large-scale projects (I bought fabric for cake table backdrops for J's birthday—then used the same fabric for E's Judy Hopps costume!), or go with friends and divide the loot.

And here's what we made from it!

May the furs be with you! Happy hunting!

3 Soul-Feeding Podcasts for Surviving Mind-Numbing Manila Traffic

Manila traffic is not going away anytime soon and it is slowly killing us. Like every species that's been faced with such threats to our existence, there are only two options: adapt or die.

I am only slightly exaggerating.

When we chose to live further away from the city center, we did not anticipate that traffic could get any worse than it already was in 2013. At the time, it used took us about 45 minutes to get from our home in the east of Manila to the Pasig Central Business District, where we worked back then. On Tuesday last week, we left the house before 8 a.m. and arrived at our destination at 11:25. This is becoming the norm.

Sometimes I joke that if we were to die on the road, we'd have a lot of unconfessed sins we'd have to answer for. My daughter is 3, and she already knows to ask me, "Mommy, are you frustrated?" Dear soul, she has actually prayed for me in the car on more than one occasion: "Dear God, please tell this traffic to stop making my Mommy mad." And since there is nothing we can do about traffic, God has wisely decided to work on Mommy's temper instead—by leading me to some new podcasts.

I like to think of listening to podcasts in traffic as being on a road trip with your wittiest, funniest, most intelligent friends. Podcasts are the only reason why, in a road packed bumper-to-bumper with angry drivers, I'm now one of the few who you see laughing. Or crying, depending on the subject. I welcome any emotion other than rage and hopelessness. (Note to self: Get darker window tint.)

Podcasts have been around since the advent of the iPod, and were once thought to be the next big thing. If you've never heard of them (or are my mom), a podcast is basically a radio show that you can listen to on-demand. There are podcasts for every subject imaginable, for every mood, for every person. Here are the ones that I personally enjoy:

I'd never heard about The Academy of Achievement until I chanced upon this podcast a month ago. Established in 1961, this non-profit organization exists to honor and celebrate the greats of the previous generation—think Oprah Winfrey, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Tony Faddell—and allow the younger generation to learn from them. The treasury of knowledge and experience that was once only available to the privileged invitees at the academy's annual banquet has now been digested, reformatted, and made public through the academy's podcast, named What It Takes. I've just started listening to these hour-long broadcasts, but my current favorite is the program about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. What an extraordinary human!

The Dinner Party Download (Listen via browser)

Do you love trivia as much as I do? This podcast will arm you with some fun facts and stories "designed to help you dazzle your friends at this weekend's get-together." Sit at the table with some interesting strangers (a recent episode featured Saturday Night Live's Seth Meyers) who can lift your mood. Great for when lighter fare is needed for a particularly enraging evening commute.

If you're not already listening to the Moth, do yourself a favor and subscribe to the feed now. The Moth organization encourages people to share their stories, and helps those who have stories craft them for maximum audience engagement and appeal. The podcast started in 2008, but it also features stories that go back to Moth live sessions from 1997 onwards. This podcast really awakens you to the beauty of the human experience, from parenthood to prison life to the prison you feel you're in when you feel like your body is not your own, or you're trapped in a relationship with a person you no longer recognize. Hearing from so many different individuals also helps take you out of the prison on wheels you're trapped in for the next hour or so (and might even make you a little more gracious to the driver next to you—who knows what he's been going through).
The Life Enthusiast Tip: If you're worried about data limits or don't have 3G, you can download them over a WI-FI connection to listen to later, offline. Load up! I like to check Waze before I leave to see what my drive will be like (plus at least 30 minutes) and to see how many episodes I'll need.
I've scarcely scratched the surface of what's out there! I'd love to hear what you listen to so I can add them to my queue. I have many more hours of commuting ahead of me, so I'll need them. Do share!

P.S. Cup of Jo has a pretty excellent list, too.   

Getting #MomFit with KFit: 5 Things That Make It a Good No-Excuses Fitness Plan

I'm the last person who should be writing about getting fit after having a baby. I don't look fit. I don't feel fit. I don't eat healthy. But I want to, all of the above. KFit might help me do that.

In a nutshell, KFit is an app- and web-based fitness subscription service that allows you to sign up for fitness activities all across the metro. The free plan let's you sign up at a discounted rate (cheaper than the usual walk-in rate), while the premium plan gives you 10 free classes a month. After the 10, you can book more classes and activities at the discounted rate, "ala carte". My first class cost Php30, thanks to a promo code I found online (Here's one for Php100 off your first class). Aside from fitness classes like yoga, pilates, zumba, boxing, TRX, and muay thai, you can also book gym access within a time slot for regular strength training or use of the treadmill or elliptical machines, if a class-based workout isn't your thing. There are even sessions for archery and wall-climbing, which I'm trying to talk my husband into trying as a date day alternative.

This post would not have happened at all if the following three factors didn't happen to align recently:

1)  Our gym membership expired. I'd been going to (and enjoying) the dance-type workout classes I'd been going to a few times a month. Ten minutes on an elliptical machine and I'm already watching the clock, but put me in a dance class with some hot music on and I lose track of time. But since our gym membership expired two months ago, my husband and I had been looking at alternatives before signing up for another full year because, in the last two years since we'd joined, we'd never been able to consume all the X number of visits we'd paid for.

2) We'd spent a month in Europe and Korea walking on average 10,000 steps a day. The daily unavoidable exercise highlighted how unfit I was (define "sedentary"), but also showed me that I had it in me to push myself physically if I wanted to.

3) Globe has a promo for the month of August for Php400 off the first month for a premium KFit membership (usually costing Php999). Since I'm both commitment-phobic and broke, I saw this as a sign and signed up.

Let's Make: DIY Montessori Sandpaper Numbers

After picking up my daughter from school one morning, she said, "Mommy, I did the sandpaper numbers today! Can you buy me those?" E had been finding it challenging to adjust to the Montessori method, so this seemed like a milestone. Finally, she'd enjoyed the work! Still, I hesitated to answer. If you're familiar with Montessori didactic materials, you can probably guess why: a set of sandpaper numbers costs upwards of Php1000 locally! It would be a great investment for a school, or even a mom who does Montessori homeschooling or has raised her kids in the Montessori way (and if you are looking for a beautiful, high-quality, Montessori-teacher-approved set, do check out the online store of the wonderfully inspiring Mars Medina of Montessori on Mars). But for a mom with limited resources and patience whose daughter is not strictly Montessori-raised with the tendency to get creative with her usage of materials, the thought of spending over a thousand pesos on a set that might end up painted on, glued together to make a dinosaur house, or used as a raft in a water bin made me feel a bit queasy. I needed a budget-friendly mom hack.

So I decided I'd make a set myself.