29 April 2015

28 April 2015

Five Hours of Flowers



When we were in Singapore over the term break, we made sure that we visited Gardens by the Bay.  We paid for entrance to two conservatories –the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest.  Absolutely worth every penny.  We were there and walking about for over five hours –me and my two kids (while hubby was at work).  Never once did they complain about being tired. If anything, I was the one who got tired!  Zoë declared the Gardens as her “most favorite place on earth,”  that it was like paradise.  It was so sweet how she kept thanking me for taking them there.

Flower-Dome-(1) 
That was such a pleasant, pleasant visit. Besides the beauty that greeted us as we stepped inside the Flower Dome, we were instantly thankful for the cool air. Singapore is hot and we were there just past noon.  The entire Flower Dome was air-conditioned.  What a treat!  It felt like we were outdoors, though, because it was so spacious and there’s natural light spilling through.  Only it was nice and cool, no trace of the scorching heat and humidity.

The first thing that we saw when we stepped inside was a magnificent display of tulips.  Tulips have always been one of my favorite flowers.  They’re soft and elegant, so graceful.  There was a Tulipmania special display going on.  Zoë was beside herself with joy.  Out came her camera, out came her little notebook and pen.  Josh did the same (minus the camera). 

Tulip-(2)
 Tulips-(1)

Tulips-(3)

After ooh-ing and aah-ing over the tulips by the main entrance, we proceeded to the succulents section.  It was not a big section.  That said, we spent well over an hour there!  Why?  Because the kids were busy scribbling notes and drawing on their notebooks –sketches of cacti and baobabs, names of various succulents, etc.  You’d think they were having an exam afterwards!  I didn’t have the heart to hurry them along, –plus, it’s not like we were on a schedule, –so I took my time taking photos while I waited for them.  It turned out that they were having a mini contest as to how many species they could record down.  This contest continued on throughout our entire stay there –across both conservatories.  That’s why we stayed so long!

Taking notes 
There were different sections in the Flower Dome, grouped according to region.  There’s the Mediterranean Garden, the California Garden; flowers from southwest Australia, South Africa, Chile, etc. Interspersed among the names and scientific details were little factoids about uses of certain plants, how the conservatory is cooled, etc.  Overall, not just a feast for the eyes. but a treasure trove of interesting information, too.

While waiting around for the kids, there was an old man taking photos. I’d noticed him when we walked in and didn’t see him again until we were on our way out the Flower Dome.  He made a comment about my also using a Nikon and asked me what lens I was using.  We got to chatting and he showed me some of the photos he took at the Garden.  He talked about how he loves photography and how it gives him such joy (and you could so tell!).  He showed me some other photos he took.  My jaw dropped.  They were out-of-this-world, serious-award-winning amazing –like the ones you see in National Geographic magazines.  I kid you not.  I so wish I could have him as a mentor.

That was one amazing visit to the Flower Dome… and I haven’t even touched on the Cloud Forest yet!  That was equally fantastic and fun.  But that will be for another post, on another day.

24 April 2015

Imperfection



There is a kind of beauty in imperfection.
~Conrad Hall

That is what I’m thinking now.  This veil that I’m making for Zoë is going to be all kinds of imperfect. I am having a difficult time lining up the lace against the edges of the organza, especially around the curves and it looks like I might have cut out the shape of the veil unevenly.  I am hoping that the final product won't be too messed up.  What I know, though, is that this veil is a definitely made with love and comes with it all my hopes and prayers for her. 

Holey-leaf-(1)

22 April 2015

White



I knew I wanted eyelet for Zoë’s First Holy Communion dress.  Last time my mom was over for a visit, we had shopped around the whole morning before we found the fabric we like.  At that time, I had a general idea of what the dress is going to look like –simple, with an empire waist flowing into an A-line, below the knees, with 3/4 sleeves.

When my mom was over for a visit this time around, she set about to sew the dress. She brought over with her some dainty lace that would go nicely along the edges of the sleeves, as well as along the hem.  Originally, I was thinking that maybe Zoë could just wear flowers in her hair, but I was surfing online and fell in love with mantilla veils.  The ones that I wanted are either out of stock or the sellers don’t ship to Hong Kong.  My mom suggested that we just do the veil ourselves, but because I’d only decided last night and my mom was scheduled to fly back today, she couldn’t make it for me.  Which means that I will have to do it myself (!).  It seems simple enough, based on the tutorials I saw online, but I am hopeless with sewing, so it will be interesting to see how the veil will turn out.  Wish me luck!

FHC-dress-(1)
FHC-dress-(bw)


21 April 2015

Civet Coffee {Kopi Luwak}



One of the more interesting things we did while in Bali was to try kopi luwak (civet coffee).  I’ve heard of it before and was not interested at all to try it.  A couple of specialty coffee shops here serve it.  First of all, I was put off after knowing how the coffee beans are “processed” and the other reason was that kopi luwak is expensive (over USD35 per cup!).

Coffee-and-tea-tasting-(1)

But we found ourselves at a farm / coffee plantation.  They offered tea and coffee tasting.  We thought, why not?  A man walked us through the whole process of how kopi luwak is made.  They had a few civets in cages. He explained how they collect the droppings,
Civet-droppings-(1)
wash them and then dry them under the sun for five days;
Coffee-beans-(1) 
wash them again and dry them again for another five days,
Coffee-beans-(2)

peel off an outer layer of the seeds,
Coffee-beans-(3)

wash and then dry them again for yet another five days,
Coffee-beans-(4) 
They are then roasted for 30 minutes over open fire,
Roasting-coffee-beans-(1)

before being ground to a fine powder. 
Mortar-and-pestle-(1)

After knowing more about the process, it is not as off-putting as I’d originally thought.  Even my son, who’s so squeamish about things, agreed to try kopi luwak… and loved it!
 Trying-kopi-luak-(1) 

17 April 2015

A Cuppa



I love the smell of coffee, but I don’t normally take it.  I’m more of a tea person, but once in a while, I do enjoy a cup of coffee.  We had the chance to try kopi luwak (civet coffee) while we were in Bali.  I will share more about the experience in future posts.  For now, sit back, relax, and enjoy this {tamer} version.

Cappucino-at-The-Porch-(1)

15 April 2015

A Sunshine Smile



What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.
These are but trifles, to be sure;
but scattered along life's pathway,
the good they do is inconceivable.

~ Joseph Addison

Old-man-(1)
 Old-man--bw-(1)
 
(Also linking with Little Things Thursday and Black and White Wednesday.)
 
 

14 April 2015

These are a quick peek of some of the images from our trips to Bali and Singapore this Easter break…
a few that fit this month’s theme of Pastel.

Sunset-sibs-(1)

Batik-(2)

Easter-eggs-(1)

Pink-flowers-(1)

Please head on over and visit with Becky (her blog) to check out her lovely pastel images and then follow on through to the next one in our circle.  Once you are done visiting our circle, please check out our Facebook page and share your pastel photos. We'd love to see your pretty pastel pics!


(Linking with Texture Tuesday, Texture Twist, Sweet Shot Tuesday, Good Random Fun, and Life Thru the Lens.)

10 April 2015

Happy Accidents



We took the kids to a night safari in Singapore.  It was quite an adventure for them –staying up way past their bedtime, seeing all those nocturnal creatures, trekking in the dark, and being in really close encounters with some of the animals. 

It was hard to get good shots in the dark and out of all the shots I’d taken that night, this one made me do a happy dance.  We were on the tram and went past the flamingos.  Because the aperture stayed open so long as we moved past, I got this soft, blurry image…. of flamingo ballerinas! 

Flamingos-(1)

07 April 2015

Balinese Silver



We had a chance to visit a place where we could see how pieces of Balinese silver jewelry are made.  Balinese silver is known for its intricate granulation and wirework decoration.  Each piece is handmade.  The tiny little beads you see around the “pearl” is painstakingly glued/soldered on bead by bead onto the piece.  I love silver jewelry and it was great being able to see the process of how they make the jewelry.  The place that we visited is probably quite “touristy,” because we saw a few tourist buses parked outside.  Also, at their shop, you could actually negotiate the price down by 50%.  I have a feeling that they might have gone down more if we had started walking away.  Regardless, I am pretty happy with the piece that I've chosen.

Silver-(1)
Silver-bw-(1)

 
 

Bali Sunset (2)



One of the places we visited while in Bali was Tanah Lot.  We went there after a long day visiting other places, but we wanted to see the sunset from there.  Even though we were there for less than half an hour, it was worth the long drive. 

Sunset-surfer-(1)

Sunset-(2)

Sunset-(1)

03 April 2015

Bali Sunset (1)



The kids are on a term break / Easter holidays and we decided to take them to Bali for a short visit.  I’ve been to Bali before and I absolutely love the peaceful, laid back lifestyle there.  I don’t remember it being as busy as it is now, with all the motorbikes weaving in and out of traffic, but apart from that, everything else seems to be the same as it was when I was last there.  Friendly locals, plenty of tourists, cheap (but good!) food, beautiful architecture, gorgeous sunsets.

This picture below was taken from the rooftop of the villa where we stayed.  I’ll share a few more in my next posts, taken from a different place in Bali.  I don’t think I’ll ever tire of sunsets... or Bali.

Bali-sunset-(1)

01 April 2015

Jig



These girls dancing a jig in the park was such an unexpected sight.   They were practicing their number as part of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration a few weeks back.  They looked really cute and so focused as they hopped, skipped, and twirled about.

Jig-(1)
 
 
 
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