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Category Archives: Growing & Learning

Autumn Time is for Remembrance of Souls

Beginning of November also marks the beginning of Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere.  Autumn is a time when nature prepares to go to winter sleep before it’s revived again in Spring.  The cycle of life and death with the Winter and Spring has impacted the cultures in all parts of the world.  Totally isolated and dissimilar cultures have celebrations and observations that relate to the passage of seasons.

In Autumn, when the earth prepares to hibernate under the white blankets and sheets of snow, humans are reminiscent of their dead ancestors.  Thoughts turn to death as the light of day becomes scarce.  On October 31st, the Pagan holiday All-Hallow’s Eve is celebrated.  It’s said that on the eve of October 31st, the spirits of the dead can walk the earth for a brief time between dusk until dawn.

Catholic Religion has chosen to honour the Pagan celebration by adapting holidays around All-Hallow’s Eve.  November 1st is All Saints Day and November 2nd is All Souls Day.  Spirits of Saints and dead ancestors are remembered on these dates respectively.

In the Latin Americas, predominantly in Mexico, November 1st and 2nd are Day of the Dead.  Colorful skeleton and dead paintings adorn every shop window, wall and mural to remind the living of the dead.

Similar celebrations are observed in Spring to celebrate coming back to life.  Jesus is said to have arisen from the dead on Easter.  Easter always falls in Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and is a time of revival for all species.  Birds’ eggs hatch, animals give birth and life has again reclaimed dominance.

In the Balkans Hidrellez is a celebration of Spring and in the Middle East Newrooz is very similarly celebrated.  However, they are celebrated a few weeks apart as the season of Spring hits during different times due to geographical location and Earth’s tilt.

Nature and seasons have been an integral part of life and to this day they play an important role in our motivations, moods and behaviours.  No matter what language, religion or cultural background, we are all influenced by seasonal variations.

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Hit Me Baby One More Time: Get More Visitors to Your Blog

1) It’s not all about writing. You have to read too. You are part of a Blog Community on WordPress and as such, no blog is an island. You have to venture outside of your blog to find others with similar interests, build rapport, engage in conversation by leaving a comment. This is also helpful for getting you inspiration on what to write about.  You should find your circle in WordPress and build your clique.  You love fashion?  Find others who love fashion and subscribe.  Love food?  Plenty of foodie blogs to subscribe to and befriend.  Combine your powers.

2) If a tree falls in the woods and there’s noone around to… Yeah, you know this one. You have to publicise. Make sure you have your publicise feature turned on so whenever you blog this comes up on your Twitter, Facebook, LinkIn, Digg accounts. If you’re not subscribed to social media, this might be a good time to do it. It’s a great outlet for getting people to read your writing.

3) OK, so you hooked people and got them to click on your blog. Make your content worthwhile with catchy titles to grab interest so they actually spend some time while they’re visiting you. You have to provide something of interest to keep them coming back for more. Visuals help. So make sure you have atttractive photos and pictures to illustrate your thoughts.

4) Tag your writing. You should tag with as many relevant keywords so as to make your articles search-able.

I hope these pointers help and I wish everyone happy blogging!

Old Wares in Newtown

On my side of the King Street on Newtown, towards St. Peter’s train stations, there are second-hand and retro furniture and old wares shops one after another. These shops along with an old-fashioned milk shop take you back in time. You are taken back in time until confronted by old bottles priced $5 and $6. The ‘treasures’ in these shops may be old but the prices are straight out of today’s inflated rates.

My search for a coffee table resulted in some interesting sights. There was this bench made of old bicycle tyres in front of a bicycle shop for example.

And these views from the old wares shops.

Mainly Manly


When I first arrived in Sydney in December of 2010, I was told to make use of the ferries as much as I could. The views of sailboats, the blues of the waters, greens of land they make some amazing contributions to one’s view of Sydney. Some of the scenes are straight out of Ralph Lauren commercials and couldn’t possibly be more generic preppy wholesome goodness of outdoors.

Approaching Manly Beach on the ferry I was trying to visualise what it may have been like when the first settlers gazed at the beach. The beach takes its name from the fact that Aboriginal men were seen by the first colonists on this beach and they looked ever so manly with muscly bodies and glistening skin in the sun (I may be over-visualising this).

From December 2010 – January 2011 there was an exhibition by a local artist in the Manly Art Gallery. The artist, James Guppy is renowned for his surrealist forms and has a masterful way of portraying textures.  His paintings also reflected the intense love and passion for his partner, who was the inspiration and subject of many of his works.   James Guppy is not a young man, and neither his partner.  Even in advance age, to have this sort of passionate love, it really moved me.

Some examples of James Guppy’s works are below.

Textures and Detail

Nailing down the Surf

James Guppy's Ubiquitous Orchids

The Infidel Mountain Salad

‘Gavur Dagi” Salad, or as it translates to English ‘Infidel Mountain Salad’, as ridiculous as it sounds is actually a very delicious, fresh, nutritious and detoxifying salad containing plenty of parsley, which is excellent for our detox organ, the liver.

As for the origin of the name, I can only ponder that the salad comes from the eastern region of Turkey, where Mount Ararat (in Turkish Agri Mountain)is located.  This region with the controversial mountain had plenty of Armenian residents of the Orthodox Christian faith.  As it’s customary in countries with a predominant religion, those who were not of the 99% Muslim population were ousted as the ‘Infidels’. 

Putting aside the history, the controversy, the conflicts I think everybody in Turkey unifies on the fact that this salad is delicious.  There may be different versions of the recipe but this one I’m going to give is tested and approved in Sydney by my circle of friends.  This recipe serves 6

Ingredients:

*Plenty of Parsley

*1 White Onion

*6 Tomatoes

*3 Cucumbers

*1 Capsicum

*1 Pomegrenate

*Some Crushed Walnuts

*Olive Oil

*Balsamic Vinegar

The trick to making this salad tasty is mincing the ingredients as finely as you can.  When you finely chop the fresh vegetables you’re ensuring that you unlock their full flavours and the complementing flavours can intermingle in the salad.  The chopped ingredients come together to form the uniform taste of the marvellous salad. 

Sprinkle olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dressing.

It is ironic that these different vegetables can come together to synergise in such a burst of flavour yet we as people, with similar flavours, colours and shared history still fail to be uniform in some parts of the world, not saying where I mean exactly but you get the gist.

The Photo Studio in Glebe

The Photo Studio, found by one of Australia’s better known commercial and advertising artists, North Sullivan, is a red door on the wall in Glebe.  For one who’s not looking for it, it is virtually impossible spot.  One would not think there would be a full capacity studio behind the Broadway parking lot.  But there it is.  And once you walk through the red door, it’s a walk into studio magic.

The minute you walk in, your coat is taken and your wardrobe is set up by the very capable studio hands.  The experience is almost like visiting one of your friends who may live in the bohemian part of town with a penchant for shabby chic items and textures.  There are nice little touches around every corner like the lighting used in old movie sets or a collection of children’s chairs from yesteryears.

The make up room is the laboratory where you try your different looks.  The expert make up artist is always willing to accommodate to give you the look you’re after.  The MUA who helped me was like a girlfriend and I felt like I was at a pajama party as we went through different looks for the different photo sessions. 

Casual look with minimal make up was uplifted by a fancier hair style with more curls for a long dress and then full on smoky glamour was put on for the LBD (Little Black Dress).  The make up and photography for all the looks worked perfectly to portray the mood and I was very happy at the end of the photo shoot knowing that I looked my absolute best.

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OK, fast forward a month later to last Saturday, when I finally had my photo viewing day due to busy schedules on my part and the studio’s.

I felt the atmosphere, the viewing room, Cat, the hostess’s, hospitality were excellent. The room was comfortable with nice ambience (the whole studio is very nicely done, reflecting impeccable taste). The photos were laid out very nicely and we went through the picking and choosing of portfolio photographs smoothly. Cat was very proficient in helping me make the selections of photos to choose for my portfolio. She was very knowledgeable of the packages and deals.

Everything was going very well until I heard the total price for the 10 photo portfolio that I was opting. I have to tell you that there are other well- respected photographers who work in commercials who offer to shoot portfolios for quarter of the price.

I also take advantage of an internet portal called Model Mayhem to produce my own portfolio. On Model Mayhem, I model in exchange for portfolio photographs (TFP- Trade for Pictures). The make up artist, the photo shoot and the photos are provided to me for free in exchange for my modeling. Though I have never done professional modeling, I’m in high demand on Model Mayhem.

I realise the pricing reflects what people are willing to pay for their portfolios at the Photo Studio and that maybe lowering the prices maybe detrimental to the luxury experience and the exclusivity they offer.

I would suggest perhaps offering lower ticket items so as not to lose potential buyers like myself (introduced by a significant discount campaign) who are turned off by the steep prices. I would have loved to keep a souvenir of my experience with the Photo Studio, perhaps a low-resolution FB image. 

Oh well, I guess the fabulous memories of the day will do.

A Weekend in Spring

Spring is making it pleasent again to be outdoors.  Outdoor markets near Sydney (Eveleigh and Glebe) are attracting onlookers and participants.  They make for a colourful scenes and backdrops for Newtown’s well-groomed people to showcase themselves with their poodles.  The 1950s style is the newest trend with denizens of Newtown.  Everyone is very meticulous with their clothes and accessories to reflect an authentic vision of the 50s.  Poodles are the purebreeds of choice but all sorts of toy dogs are highly cherished displayed in public with pride.  Living in Newtown is a very unique experience.

Walking around in Newtown, it’s not unusual to run into homes turned into art galleries.  Homes of artists also function as showing galleries as they try to sell their paintings to pay for refurbishments and renovations that reflect the discriminating taste of the owners.  The houses all have a distinct charm.  They’re British with touches of exotic South Pacific islands with Palm trees adding that extra touch of the tropics.  Below are some impressions from weekend walks around Newtown.

Eveleigh Carriageworks

 

Musician Performing against a Pneumatic Hammer

Clever Recycling of old Luggages