My mid-year closet clean out

“Is it really true that all your clothes fit in one bag?” A friend I haven’t seen for a while asked me the question last week. She was referring to this article I wrote a few months ago. She added, “I don’t believe you!”

She’s a good friend, so she can say anything. And she did make me take a good hard look at my closet again. That same evening I realized that, yes, I could still fit all my clothes in a duffel bag, but I’d be closing the zipper with great difficulty.

So I decided that it was time for a closet clean out. I took out all the folded clothes in my closet, and came up with this:

minimalist clothes

Even if you counted the things not in this picture – eight pieces that I keep on hangers, my underwear, and my swimwear – that’s still not a lot of stuff. But they may still break the famous duffel bag’s zipper.

I went to work.

In less than 15 minutes, I was able to take away one-sixth of the pieces in the picture above. These are what I have left, 11 dresses, 4 shorts, 8 shirts, 1 long skirt, 3 sleeping clothes, and 3 wraps:

all my clothes - after 2

The process of elimination didn’t take long. Twenty minutes tops. I looked at the clothes I owned and asked: Which are too worn out? Which make me feel uncomfortable when I wear them?

You can see the resulting pile of discarded clothing in the photo below. I actually found a lesson in this heap of clothes.

clothes rejects 2

Five pieces had to go simply because they were worn-out, including a cotton skirt I had bought when I was still single. Another two pieces are too warm to wear in the Philippines. The lesson wasn’t in those, but in another five articles of clothing that I disposed of. These were the house dresses that I picked up from Divisoria and the Kamuning market.

I love Divi and Kamuning, but the low price of the items for sale had made me careless. I had forgotten to ask myself if I would actually  like wearing the house dresses. They were cheap, so why did I even have to think, right? Well, wrong!

I picked up the dresses because I thought they’d be comfy for sleeping in. And they were, but they were also shapeless, their colors were garish, and pieces of thread would poke out at the seams because the seam allowances were so narrow. Whenever I wore them I felt unkempt, ugly, and a little sad because, well, ugly.

wraps 2

Recently a client described what I do as having a “slow living” vibe. Of course! That’s it. If you had to put a label to what I’m trying to communicate here at La Pomme Living that would be it.

To live slow means to be mindful about life’s details, and that extends to the clothes we wear. We should pay attention to how they are made. They should fit us well, be comfortable, and not fall apart after a few washings. That frees our mind so we can go on to the more rewarding aspects of living.

Think about it: Cheap clothes actually make you their prisoner. Because you have to think about them: How not to damage them. How they are stressing you out in a social situation because they don’t fit well. How you want to replace or add to them. That’s your time and your money they demand. Over and over again.

Instead of buying several cheap pieces of clothing, buy one good one.


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Balance was my cure for bitch mode on

“You were a beta for so long, but you really are not beta, Apol!” This was my friend talking. I’d come to her because I had moved back to Manila from provincial France, and in the process I had lost my Zen.

I was full of resentment, stressed about my very busy city life . After listening to me gripe, my own personal Yoda, gifter of sage advice, told me, “The universe always seeks balance. You have to learn to let your alpha and your beta sides co-exist.”

I used to work a lot. Spent all my time at work, in fact, that almost my entire twenties, I did not take a break that lasted more than five days. Then I entered my thirties and quit it all. I married. I transformed into a housewife and a gardener. I planted lettuce. I cooked dinners. I made jam.

It was liberating. There were no more sales targets to reach. I didn’t have to constantly be making decisions. I let my husband take care of most of the details of our life. I felt like for the first time in a really long time, I could breathe.

But then the balance thing kicked in.

We moved back here from Europe, and being the local, I had to manage the ups and downs of resettling here. I had to take over steering our life. Aside from working full-time again, I had to deal with real estate people, movers, bank personnel, service providers, educators. Having disappeared for more than a decade, I had to do it all while re-adapting. Breathing became difficult many times.

My response: Bitch mode on. I became the work-obsessed control freak again. While it did help me get a lot done, it also made me unhappy. “Tell me, why did you want to come back here again?” I often whined to my husband.

Then the conversation with my wise friend. It was true. My nature had always been of the high-energy kind. I love having things to do. I mean, when I say I planted lettuce, I meant five kinds of lettuce, along with radish, zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, peas, basil, thyme, rosemary, cumin, and a decorative “dry” garden that I designed so that nothing ever needed to be watered.

If I were honest with myself – and I was trying to be – I enjoyed being busy and in control. It’s how I’m wired. I feel good when I’m useful and I know that my world is in order.

But to not forget the lessons of a decade’s worth of lettuce-planting taught me, I have to let my beta side come out to play more. Recently I allowed myself a three-day weekend off with just a couple of girl friends. It was the first vacation I had taken away from my husband and my daughter ever. 72 hours of me time! It was great.

So this is what I am currently trying to teach myself: With the day comes night. After the scorching heat of summer will pour torrential rains. You have to mix sugar and spice to get nice.



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Love lots,

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Independence Day Toys

Because this Sunday is our “Araw ng Kalayaan” – Freedom Day! – we are celebrating with homegrown toys with a patriotic bent.

The idea came when a few weeks ago, Lilou, Pierre and I were on a beach in Zambales. We met a boy named Justin, who had made several kites. He recycled them from discarded plastic bags and two bamboo strips tied together in a cross. Most of his material was found right on that beach. The only thing he had bought was a roll of nylon fishermen’s string.

independence day toys A

He flew the kites with his brother and a bunch of younger kids. With the openness and warmth typical of Pinoy kids in the provinces, they welcomed us. We spent a good part of one afternoon with them, just hanging out. As a parting gift Justin gave us one of his kites.

flag cans A

I bet that Justin is the kind of kid who is a master at tumbang preso. I remember enjoying it when I was a kid growing up in Las Pinas. Back then, it wasn’t the crowded city that it is now. Big parts of it were still grassland. Like our sparsely populated village. As there were not a lot of people, and certainly very few cars and tricycles, we could play tumbang preso out in the streets. Trying to hit the can with your rubber slipper, and then all the running around afterwards, was great, sweaty fun.

wooden tops AOne game I didn’t play very much were wooden tops. Maybe because I had this fear that I would drop the thing on my foot, in the process getting myself stabbed by a rusty nail. I was a too-imaginative kid. Or maybe because I was focused on becoming a Chinese garter champion. The few times I tried spinning a top, I was never very good. I had playmates who were ninjas at it though, keeping their trumpo spinning endlessly!

sipa A

I was much better at sipa. I read that we were playing this game way before the Spaniards came, so hey we should be all kicking around a sipa on Sunday! To make this, all you need are washers, or tingga. You can get them from any hardware store. I used strips of fabric in the photos, but traditionally, you tied plastic strips to your washer. The object of the game is to kick at the sipa with your foot, keeping it up in the air as long as you can.

paper nipa balls A

Now, do you remember these coco-leaf balls? I made them using long strips of thick paper or cartolina, but these are traditionally made using coconut leaves. Because it’s been so long since I made one, I needed a refresher course. I watched this video. It’s instructive, and gets bonus points because the guy is funny in that effortless and insouciant way we Pinoys have sometimes. View the video, practice a bit, and you should be able to make yourself leaf balls in no time.


I hope you enjoyed that! I’m always coming up with arts and crafts ideas here, so if you don’t want to miss anything, please subscribe to my list by filling up this form. I’ll send you my weekly articles about living the DIY minimalist life.

Lots of love,

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How to sew a plush ice cream

I showed you how to sew cupcakes last week. This week, I’m on to another yummy project. I’ll show you how to make plush ice creams!

Want to get to it, real quick? Here’s the video. Then make sure to scroll on down to the article below so you don’t miss out on the details.


La Pomme fans love these fun toys. Moms get them for their kids’ play kitchens. And I use them all the time to decorate my tables when I bring my arts and crafts booth to children’s birthday parties. Make a few for your kids, or make them as birthday party giveaways.

ice cream 3

You’ll need three different fabrics. For the cone, measure two isosceles triangles (that’s a triangle with two equal sides). The equal sides should measure 5 inches. The third side should be 3.5 inches. Leave about one-third of an inch allowance all around. Sew the two equal sides together to make your cone.

The scoop of ice cream is a circle with a diameter of 7.5 inches. The cherry is a circle with a diameter of 2 inches.

ice cream 2

Where do you get pillow stuffing? As I said in the cupcake story, to start with you can just steal a handful from one of your throw pillows! The large needle and crochet thread can be found at the notions section of your nearest SM Department Store.


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Lots of love,

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Pompom basket crazy

I’ve caught the pompom fever! I decided that it would be a nice change if I could make a colorful pompom basket for my largely neutral home. As you can see from the photo above, it turned out pretty cute. Right now I am using it to hold a fern, but Lilou is trying to negotiate to get it into her room. Let’s see where it ends up next week.

To start, I got this basket from Quiapo. It’s pretty big, at about 25 inches high. It costed P350. Then I researched how to make pompoms on Google. It’s an easy craft, and there are tons of tutorials like this and this. Take your pick.

fern basket

I asked a friend who makes frequent trips to Divisoria to get me rolls of yarn. Since I am just starting out and I’m frugal (a.ka. cheap), I opted for acrylic yarns. Each pack of 12 rolls costs P96. That’s P8 per roll.

pompoms and yarn

Then I made different colors of pompoms, in different sizes. You can opt for a more somber look with just one color and one size. Up to you.

If I were to do it again, though, I will stay away from the too-big pompoms. They’re much more difficult to glue on. You have to cover a bigger surface area with glue, and you also have to deal with the extra weight. The strands tend to sag down on the bigger pompoms.

pompom basket 1

I used a glue gun to apply hot glue on the pompoms and stick them to the basket. Needless to say, if you are crafting with your kids, don’t let them do this bit! One thing I’ve learned crafting with children is that they will ALWAYS touch the hot glue gun tip.

Stick as many pompoms as you would to your basket. Stop only when your heart is about to burst with pompom love… Then sit down with a coffee and congratulate yourself. Yey, you have just made something!

pompoms cat

A warning: Watch your cats when they get near your pompom basket. They will have evil designs. Exhibit A, Alicia and the snatched orange pompom…


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How to sew a toy cupcake

Everybody loves cupcakes.

I made boxes of plush toy cupcakes about a year ago, and they were among my bestsellers. Kids played with them. Grownups used them as pincushions.

These days, I’m concentrating on my Decorate a Plush Kits, so I haven’t been making them much. Still people ask. So I figured the best way to still get my plush cupcakes out there is to teach people how to make them!


If you know even just a little bit of hand-sewing, you’ll find that a plush cupcake is very easy to make. All you need are three different colors of fabric, pillow stuffing, crochet thread, a long needle, and a cake cup. For the pattern, you make three circles, one 6 inches in diameter, the second 5 inches, and the third 2 inches.


Plush cupcake main again

Where do you get pillow stuffing? To start with, maybe open up one of your throw pillows and steal a handful :) For the other sewing supplies, I’d recommend the notions section of your nearest SM Department Store. Cake cups can be found in many supermarkets, or a baking supplies shop.


Plush cupcake materials 2

Now let’s begin!

The biggest circle will be used for making the frosting” part of the cake. The five-inch circle is for the cake body. The small circle is the cherry. Cut these circles out of your fabric. (Up to you which fabric you’ll use for what cupcake part.)


Plush cupcake main 5

Make running stitches around the edge of each circle. Pull so that the circle closes into itself. Pull until only a small hole of an opening remains. You insert your stuffing through this. Stuff until you get a small ball. Then you sew the ball completely close.

Do this for all three circles. Then attach the three balls to each other. Remember that the medium ball goes at the bottom. The big one goes in the middle. The small ball goes on the very top.

Plush cupcake main 2

Put this in a cake cup, and you are done!

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Lots of love,

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Recycled toilet paper roll ladybug

Hello, I hope you had a great week! Yesterday was a first for me because I set up the very first La Pomme Recycling Center. It happened at Pop-Up Kids’ The Summer Project in Pasig.  I figure that a great way to teach kids to be more mindful of how they dispose their trash is by making it fun! In the center, I helped kids make toys using recycled materials. I’ll be posting photos of our projects in the La Pomme Facebook page this coming week.

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For now, let me tell you about Davey, a five-year-old hard-core crafting enthusiast, who asked me for toilet paper rolls and plastic forks, and proceeded to very confidently make his own monster , practically on his own. His mom said he “got sad” when he learned we weren’t going to be at the Pop-Up Kids today. This post is dedicated to him, and all the great kids who joined me yesterday.


Who hasn’t done toilet paper roll craft rolls with their kids? So we made you a video showing how to make toilet paper roll ladybugs. Additional materials are paper cups, button, and paints. Watch it with the kiddos, and have fun making!


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Lots of love,

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