2011: Things I Did This Year

/ Thursday /
This year has been a strange year for the world and one I’ll probably tell my kids about- the fall of Europe, dictators overthrown in the Middle East, too many natural disasters , the royal wedding and so on....I actually watched a highlights reel of the year on the news and it made me a bit emotional!

It’s been a strange, kind of momentous in a quiet way type of year for me too (though there wasn’t any getting naked with thousands of people like 2010). I can’t help but think that somehow 2011 was a big turning point and 2012 will be even bigger.

So here's my highlights of what I did this year in no particular order:

1. Stopped working full-time
Have you ever fantasized about not working? At the start of the year I was pretty much burnt out from my job and couldn’t quite bring myself to get back into the rat race. Then my boyfriend found out he was being posted to Vietnam and I was going to move with him. Both of those things meant that for most of this year I haven’t worked. It’s been amazing. Some wonder what I’ve been doing with my time- the answer is not being stressed and unhappy. I’ve travelled, played an awesome housewife (for those who’ve wondered, it’s GREAT), and fostered my internet addiction.

2. Met my new nephew Callum
I unashamedly LOVE babies and so I was absolutely ecstatic to finally have a nephew. He’s absolutely gorgeous and happy baby. He has fat legs and I want to bite them!

3. Had 2 fun part-time jobs
Although I haven’t worked for most of the year I’ve had two part-time jobs which I’ve loved. Firstly, just before I left for Vietnam I worked in my dad’s Malaysian restaurant Kopitiam waitressing which I liked because I got to make people happy and socialize. Right now I’m working at a publishing house as a producer on some of their women’s magazines websites- and I love it (I might be in my honeymoon period so we’ll see!). The pace is a refreshing change from working in an ad agency.

4. Got arty
This wasn’t something that immediately jumped out at me until I uploaded it all to a tumblr- but I’ve created a hell of a lot of artwork this year, mostly thanks to Sparkapolooza (which will be back next year). You can check it all out here.

5. Started riding a bike again
I haven’t ridden a bike since I was a kid- at least until I got one this year when I asked for one for my birthday. People ask if it’s scary riding in the Hanoi traffic and it’s not at all! I feel far safer there than I would in Sydney and it's really the only practical way to get around. I love the convenience and the freedom it brings as well as the fact it’s pink and has a garland of fake red flowers on it.

6. Moved to Vietnam which meant…
Getting to live with Johnny for the first time, in a big beautiful apartment, and make a home. I’m very thankful because we would never be able to live in a place like we do in Sydney simply because we couldn’t afford too. It also meant making some wonderful friends who I will force myself upon for the rest of our lives and getting to cook and bake lots.

7. Played host to lots of Visitors
There’s something so terribly exciting about seeing friends and family overseas and Johnny and I were lucky enough to have lots of visitors in Vietnam. This meant I got to show off where I live a little and get lots of validation that yes, Hanoi is a crazy city to live in.

8. Put on art exhibition & got interviewed
I’m combining these into one because they both have to do with my side project Sparkapolooza. Earlier this year in an ad hoc moment I decided that Laura and I were going to put on an art exhibition. I didn’t care how lofi it was, we were just going to do it- and we did! I can tick that off the life list. The other life list tick goes for being interviewed. It’s something when I was younger I always wanted (I thought I'd be a CEO of a massive company) and earlier this year Juice Magazine interviewed us about our project.

9. Did the the 70km KOTO Bike Ride
Anyone who knows me knows how outrageous this is. I’m wussy when it comes to most things so even I’m amazed that I completed this “fun ride” (not fun). I partly feel this doesn’t count because I only finished because Johnny was with me the entire time (if I was alone I would have quit at halfway), but I’m still happy because I can tell people I did it and more importantly never have to do it again.

10. Went to some amazing gigs
Specifically, Leftfield @ The Enmore- I loved that every single person there went nuts, Max Cooper @ GoodGod purely because he’s an amazing artist unlike anyone else I’ve heard, and Cobblestone Jazz @ Becks Bar because well...you had to be there!

11. Travelled lots & saw lots of family
Living in Asia meant that I got to visit and see family a lot more. We went to Bangkok twice (though it’s never quite long enough) and got to do touristy stuff for the first time. I also went to Malaysia twice to see lots of family as well as go to a wedding and probably spent more than a month there altogether. I also ducked down to Singapore to visit Ray!

12. Got skinnier!
When I was younger I really well and truely thought I would be skinny without having to do anything FOREVER. This is obviously not true and I'm wondering why no-one prepared me for the truth earlier. This year, because I had the time I went to the gym lots and was able to fit into all these clothes again. Win.

13. Discovered Pinterest & Google Reader
I have talked all year about how these were going to make it to my highlights list, so here they are. Both of these have changed my life for the better and have filled a gap in my internet heart.

So there we go. I'd love to know some of yours!

Image by Cow & Co via Trebleseven

Lana Del Rey: Video Games

/ Sunday /

Lana Del Rey is my new obsession. Who could possibly resist that voice? It's the type to bring boys to their knees!

Max Berry In Action

/ Saturday /

I always love seeing artists at work. Especially when they're Max Berry.

Kate Bush: 50 Words For Snow

/ Sunday /

Excuse me I'm sorry to bother you,
But don't I know you?

There's just something about you.
Haven't we met before?

When we got on top of the hill,
We saw Rome burning.
I just let you walk away.
I've never forgiven myself.

I saw you on the steps in Paris.
You were with someone else.
Couldn't you see that should have been me.
I just walked on by.

Then we met in '42,
But we were on different sides.
I hid you under my bed,
But they took you away.

Come with me, I'll find some rope
I'll tie us together.
I've been waiting for you so long…
I don't want to lose you again…

 Snowed in at Wheeler street.
Just two old friends.
Keeping the fire going.
We looked so good together.

Can't we just stay there forever?
We were so happy!
I'd live that day over and over.
But the world won't stop turning.

How do you find music you love? The way it usually works for me is that I'll play an album a couple of times, and my ears will somehow pick up on some random detail. That's the test. When I'm not fully focused, will something jump out at me?

Kate Bush has a new album called 50 Words For Snow (you can stream it here).  I LOVE Kate Bush. She is probably the only one left on my list of "people I want to see before I die". Considering she has toured only once in her career it's probably not about to happen anytime soon.

I'm all about lyrics when it comes to music (I'm often taken back when most people say they don't notice them!). I love Kate Bush because she is an amazing songwriter- everything she writes springs visuals and emotions with such simplicity. I feel like there's layers and layers of meaning, yet with one simple story. Kinda of like fairytales you love as a child but who's full meaning you find out later.

My favourite song of all time is "Running Up The Hill" where she manages to so poetically capture the essence of of a break-up. It's not about being heart-broken as most songs are, but rather it gets to the heart of wanting someone else to feel how you feel. Isn't that the essence in a break-up?

On her latest album the song "Snowed In At Wheeler Street" is the one that grabbed me, and an excerpt of it's lyrics are above. I must be mushy at heart because it's about a couple who love each other through time. That sounds incredibly corny and done before, but add her textured voice, and Elton John, and you feel like you were there with them watching the scenes before your eyes.

Let me know what you think. Perhaps Kate Bush isn't for everyone.

On another note, Ben Folds is another lyricist I love (for the same reasons) and this is equally my favourite song of all time, again, for the lyrics.

The Chinese Wedding

/ Saturday /
Ancestor offerings

Double happiness fruit

I don't know what any of this is

Hair combing ceremony

Burning ancestor offering

New Asian tradition of taking a gazillon photos

Tea ceremony

Firecrackers (which caused me to have an asthma attack, hilarious in hindsight)


Then everyone gets drunk and parties on

My last trip to Malaysia was specifically to go my cousin Vicky's wedding that I had invited myself to. Being Asian, this of course was perfectly okay. It was just a matter of time before an aunt told me it was the right thing to do anyway.

I'm glad I went- my dad's side I found was still very traditional, and this meant lots of "what's happening now?" and "what does this mean?" type of questions. It's quite funny seeing all the adults try and remember the proper order of traditions and what should be done next in the ceremonies- god knows what will happen when it's up to my generation!

The highlights:
:: I love the part where the bride sits in the room and her bridesmaids put the groom through all these challenges (like eating wasabi, doing push-ups, and paying them bribes) to prove he's worthy to go and take her from her home

:: Being introduced to family members I have no recollection of, and couldn't speak Chinese to. There was alot of awkward smiling

:: Being told I look like my mother by almost every single person. After seeing this you'll know I'm okay with that

:: Seeing Vickys wedding outfit- WOW. Check out that beading!

Is it just me or is it wedding season? They're everywhere! (or it might just be because I'm in Vietnam...)


/ Wednesday /

Say hello to Melaka. Isn't it pretty? Melaka is south of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and is known for it's historical roots. It used to be a trading port and a result had the influence of lots of different nationalities that came through. In particular it's known for Baba Nonya, the culture resulting from the inter-racial marriages of the Chinese and local Malay.

Part of the town has been preserved and many of the old architecture and signage remains. It was wonderful wandering through the old shops but my favourite part was a lane with people selling secondhand bits and pieces. I completely regret not buying the 1960's Chinese womens magaines! I stood there for a good 5 minutes thinking about it but then thought did I really need them. The answer should have been yes! I did however score a new year cards from the same era with famous stars of the time on them. They're now framed and brightening up my living room.

The Devotion Project

/ Monday /

The The Devotion Project is project aimed at inspiring the GLBT community about love and relationships through short films.

The first is about Bill & John who have been together for 54 years and if not already, after watching it you, like me and a hell of alot of people in this world will be baffled by the inequality gay people face these day. I really wish the Australian government would just allow for gay marriage and get on with it. Sigh.

Anyhoo, back to the film. It's beautiful and so incredibly sweet. It's Johnny and my three year anniversary tomorrow- hardly seems like anything in comparison!

Balloon Ladies

/ Tuesday /

Despite there being alot of challenges living in Vietnam there are a few things I love (and never get sick of seeing).

These balloon sellers with their giant bunch of blow-up, colourful distractions for kids appear everyday and always make me smile.

Hello Kitty Fisheye IV: Sapa

/ Monday /

I have a very short term memory. While this comes with many downsides, one of the upsides is getting back a roll of film and having no idea what's on it. Surprise!

This is a bunch of photos from my and Lauras last day in Sapa. When I look at them I instantly go back to the feeling of being rained on, and completely wet from the rain. Ew.

Homemade Banner

/ Friday /

Over the last three weeks I've been gallivanting around Malaysia and Singapore. Or perhaps I should say EATING my way around. I don't think I've ever eaten more food in such a short amount of time in my life.

It's been a crazy couple of weeks and it continues as I have a truck full of visitors over the next couple of weeks.

These are some photos I've been meaning to put up for a while of a banner/bunting/wall hanging thing I did a couple of months ago. It's very haphazard (that's a PLASTIC STRAW in case you're wondering) and all hand sewn (not by choice though).

It is currently living in my guest bedroom.

Any validation of my AWESOMENESS is welcome.

The Tiles of Vietnam: Part Two

/ Tuesday /

Part two of Saigon tile adventure. I still can't believe all of these were in the same place!

I'm off to Malaysia next week for a wedding and can't wait. I'm not sure of the cousin getting married but we're now friends on Facebook so that has to count for something. There's going to be a massive amount of family, plus a whole heap flying in from Australia. This is either going to be awesome, or really really painful. Here's to the first!

The Tiles of Vietnam: Part One

/ Wednesday /

Vietnam is currently in that economic and social stage where only the very the new and "modern" is considered beautiful and acceptable. These gorgeous tiles can be found everywhere but unfortunately don't fall into that category. Sadly this means you can often seen the haphazardly smashed up and dumped on the side of street. Oh well, who are we to judge.

I think they're beautiful and I find myself taking photos of them constantly. If you've ever been here you'll know they won't be here for forever! Amazingly these photos were all taken last week at the Fine Arts Museum in Ho Chi Minh City (I tagged along when Johnny was there for work). The 2 buildings the museum  is housed in are gorgeous and there's over 30 different types of tiles.

Part 2 to come...


Sydney. Art. Music. Yum Cha.


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