Monday, June 10, 2013

Easter Lily by Paragon-- faith to walk thy path

In the past few months, I could feel that things happened in sequence to test me to the max. I lost this and that, mostly I lost things that i need to survive in this material world. And thank God, I did not lose my spiritual side, the one thing that makes us human, that one thing that links us to the higher realm. 

I could feel that I was in the dark. I saw the ugliness of human hearts and the irony is that how this ugliness is celebrated by society and how it works well to bend those who are sided with the light. Certainly the world is full of duality. Where there is light, there is dark. At the moment I feel that the light is yet to shine brighter to maintain a healthy balance of the world. 

I asked myself many times if I need to change myself in order to adapt and survive in this world. No, i dont need to. I just need to work around it to protect myself. Along the path, two people told me not to change. They must have seen something precious in me that made them say that. If i dont keep the light, if i switch off the light, the world will get darker and darker. If more people switch off their light because they think it helps them to survive. sure the dark will win at the end. 

The world is heading to a crazy direction. Instead of spending time to admire God's beautiful creation of the world(the nature, the art), people are plotting every second to destroy each other, that is what they call survival skill. Observe nature, we seldom see animals killing their own kind, even lions dont do that, they merely protect their own land and get rid of intruders, they fight, but they dont seek to eliminate. Only when their lives are threatened, they seek to kill. But humans are not like that, the fear and needing to control and their own imagination are doing the tricks to them. When there is no dangers, they seek to destroy first. 

I hope that the world will become a better place and that people start putting more trust and faith in it. Actually there should not be fear and needing to control. Things will fall into places if we learn to trust the human heart. 

Like the easter lilies in the paragon cup, I hope that humans can remain a pure heart and keep their own light even though at times it seems that walking a dark path helps reach their goals faster. following the dark is like forcing something to happen while following the light is like letting things to happen in their own courses. The dark sure can help you reach your goals faster but when there is time to leave this world, you would have wished you had chosen a bright path. 

I am joining Terri and Martha for tea cup Tuesday. 

Have a lovely week!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My love for 'The Great Gatsby'

I first came to know 'The Great Gatsby' in my sophomore year. It was on the reading list for the world literature class in my university. And now it's been my all time favourite. The impact this work has on me is unexplainable. Sometimes I still find myself in tears when turning the pages. I try to find the reasons but cannot, even when I was in my most contented self, I would tune into the energy of that Jazz age era and got 'depressed'. 

photo belongs to the movie 'The Great Gatsby' 2013

The cup I can think of to match the Jazz Age is this cup by Royal Albert. The gold band at the edge is like the head band the flappers wear. The hot pink is a rather flamboyant color. It's the color of the new money or those rebellious second generation of the old money.

Now back to the book. 
It takes little to get me hooked to this book:

'In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.' --- 'The Great Gatsby'

The opening is simple yet powerful. I got a strong feeling that I must listen to the protagonist for he--Nick Carraway must have something important to say after learning life lessons.

We got to see the old rich Daisy and Tom and their restless lifestyle from Nick's perspective. 

'The had spent a year in France for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people played polo and were rich together.' 

And then Gatsby appeared in a mysterious way:

'Something in his leisurely movements and the secure position of his feet upon the lawn suggested that it was Mr Gatsby himself, come out to determine what share was his of our local heavens.' 

In search of Daisy, Gatsby holds parties often hoping that Daisy would one day stepped into his parties. 

'In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.' 

It is a simple love story, the theme is almost cliche. It's about a man Gatsby who cannot forget his first love--Daisy years after Daisy's marriage, thinking that now he is rich, he can turn back time and changed history, to win Daisy's heart once again. Failing to notice that things change and fate throws them in different circumstances, Gatsby hurt himself at the end and pays a great price. Yes, love is there but the people, the surroundings are different. Daisy is used to the status her husband can give her, not to mention that she has a girl already. Yes, Gatsby can offer her the comfort of life but his wealth also comes not without scandals. 

Story line is simple but prose is very powerfully written.
I finished it in one sitting, I could not wait to see the story unfold, so page after page I read on till the end and by the time I finished it, it's way passed midnight. 

At the height of the story, I found myself crying like a baby. It's a touching story indeed, in reality, how many men can still think about first love/past lover when he has all the wealth and all the girls in the world? How many of us can at least believe in the illusion of love? 

Fate is a funny thing. It takes people, timing, place, a bit of magic to make a relationship work. Reading the book, I truly tuned into the energy of the book and felt things the characters felt, I felt their pain, sorrows, anger and all those that make up a tragedy. 

What if you love and lost and found love again with the same person? Do you start over again or do you let it slip away? If love gives you a second chance, are we brave enough to embrace it once again? Maybe things have changed, but love never will. 

But whatever we do, 'we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.' 

I am joining Tea cup Tuesday with Terri and Martha 

Monday, May 13, 2013

English roses--Do you always play by the rules?

I am not the kind of person who likes to break rules especially when I think the rules are reasonable. But when the rules are set just for the sake of setting them, then I have to find ways to get around them without stepping on others' benefits. 

Years ago I visited England, and Cambridge and its colleges were on the top list. Before I got there, I imagined myself sitting on the long bench and reading my favourite book and paying tribute to one of my favourite Chinese writers who studied there 80 or 90 years ago.

I had no idea that the colleges were not shy from shutting all the tourists out saying that all colleges were closed during exam period--- early June. The first day I was in disappointment. That evening I tried to talk it out to my roommates in the hostel. Then I found out that most exams were held in the morning so basically afternoon visit would not bring such inconvenience to students. I received all kinds of suggestions. 'Hide your camera, try to look like a student.' 'Tell them that you study here.'  'Just break in.' 'Carry a few books then walk in.'  

Next day, I did carry out my plans. First I tried to get in from the back door telling the porter that I travelled a long way to get here and I was not able to stay till the colleges were open for visitors again. She asked me if I study there, being an honest person, I must say no, I am just a visitor. Of course she gave me another chance, again I told her no, I am not a student. So, honesty did not get me far. I must try to be smart.

(The stone was engraved with the lines taken out from the poem written by my favourite Chinese writer who studied in King's college 80 years ago)

For the next few hours, I just took photos outside and I stopped a Chinese student asking him how to get in. His answers surprised me. 'Well, just get in, you dont need to talk to the porter, I doubt if they would stop you as long as you look like you study here.' So he told me to follow him and see if they will stop me. It's true, no one asked for my student ID. After showing me the college he was in and me saying thanks to him. We parted and I continued my own little adventure. 

I used this method again and again, college after college, no one said a word. I remember when I was entering the door of King's college and looked straight at the eyes of the porter and wore a big smile, she remained calm and still. Yes, I got in, leaving others scratching their heads wondering how I did it. 

'I dont know how they let her in.' was the thing I heard when passing a group of students. I dont know either, I guess luck plays a big part, of course courage to take the first step is important as well.

It's worth taking a risk when I got to see the English garden and its roses. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mother's Day Special--- Morning Glory in Royal Albert's cup

Mother's Day is approaching, I wish every mother in the world a happy mother's day.

If there is one tea cup that reminds me of my childhood memory with my mother, it's this set with morning glory all around the cup by Royal Albert.

I remember when I was a child, my mother took me to school everyday in a bicycle. It's a 10--15 minutes ride. There was a small path that we passed everyday, the path was always decorated with wild flowers that had no names.

One morning I saw some purple flowers peeping out from the green leaves, the petals were in light purple gradually faded into the white. My mother told me that the flowers were called morning glories. It's said that they open in the morning and close at night. So I had to wake up early and passed that little path to see the blooming flowers on the way to school.

Now I have not seen morning glory for a while, I do miss that little path that leads to school.

Happy Mother's Day!

I am joining Terri and Martha for tea cup Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spain series (5)--- Paella

Hi everyone, I hope that you have had a lovely weekend.

As last week I was a bit down and things came to challenge my way of thinking, I brought the Spanish sunshine in by making my families and I a traditional Spanish dish-- Paella.

You see, I did not use the paella pan to cook it as i could not find one here with reasonable price.

When I was in Valencia, Spain, I had a lot of chances to have this dish as you can see it sold in restaurant and small store as take away.

Paella is originally from Valencia, Spain. If you ever visit Valencia, remember to go visit Albufera as you can taste the authentic paella there with reasonable price, forget about the restaurant in the city. Albufera is the place to go, it's about 20-30 mins taxi ride from the city centre of Valencia.

In albufera, they really cooked paella with open fire using wood to make the fire. Last time I was there, i waited for my order to arrive for about an hour. But it's all worth it as it tasted so good. Also, you got to see the lake and nature in Albufera as it's one of the rice growing area in Valencia.

Today, you can still see the traditional houses that belonged to the villagers in Albufera, also, people are still growing orange trees and rice there. After having the paella, you can pay for a boat ride to have a look at the lake.

I am lucky that I can get ingredient from supermarket here in Hong Kong to make Paella. The rice I bought is really from Valencia.
Nowadays people still are arguing about what ingredients to put in to make the authentic paella. I dont care much about that, you can put in chicken, seafood and rabbit meat to make the paella mixta. I never skip saffron, paprika.

Speaking of paella, the traditional drink sangria is naturally brought up. Here you can see I used tea cup to hold sangria.

Who said that teacups are for tea only?

I like the small hand-painted yellow flowers and something that looks like rice crops surrounding the cup.

Its maker is Wedgwood.

I found a video online and followed the steps when I made paella as I never got to take a look at how to make one when I was in Spain. I was either busy looking at the scenery or talking to people when the locals were making one.

I am linking with Terri & Martha

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spain series (4)-- dancing with feelings: Salsa

When it comes to dancing, I keep two principles: 1) I don't like being led so I only learn solo dancing. 2) I thought that without hard practicing or preparations, one should not dance in front of strangers. All these principles vanished in Spain when I learnt the true meaning of dancing--- dancing from the heart or dancing with feelings. 

When I was in Valencia Spain, I was lucky enough to meet people who liked salsa dancing. I was invited to join the free dancing lessons held in one of the universities. It was taught by students for students. There, they taught everyone techniques and skills about salsa dancing. I did enjoy myself so much that even with my hurt foot(I hurt my left foot when looking for a shared apartment), I kept on practicing with my dancing partner. Little did I know that this free dancing lesson gave my hurt foot so much burden that it took me at least 3 months to recover. Yes, I was very tough when it comes to dancing, I basically wanted to conquered physical limits like any other athletics do. Silly I know. I gave up going to the class after the first lesson because my foot called for that.

That was the first encounter of Salsa. I never thought that I would be given a second chance and that my perceptions towards dancing changed completely. It was at the birthday party of my friend and her brother that I learnt the true meaning of dancing. My friend's brother was an avid salsa dancer and after the first dance with his girlfriend, i was invited for the second dance. I was not prepared but somehow I was confident that I could manage. So, I put my heart into the music and heard the rhymes and my feet started moving naturally. Maybe because my leading partner was good enough to know how to lead the dance, I just picked up everything easily and got the hint as when to turn and which direction to go for. It was magical and I never thought that dancing with someone can be wonderful too. As long as the partner respects women, you wont feel uneasy having physical contact(well, they respect you enough not to have contact with your other body parts except hands and NO sliding of hands here and there on your waist). 

Then during a mini road trip I had another chance of dancing with my friend's brother and his friend. I managed well with both of them. They even asked me if I had learnt salsa before I said no. Yes, it's strange that I could dance like I had taken tons of lessons before but No I only had one free lesson and that's it. I guess it's because they could lead so well that I could follow well.

The cup here by Royal Grafton and design of pink and raised jeweled dots reminds me that dancing is a pure expression of passion one has and that dancing is not mechanism. One should only follow one's own heart or feelings instead of going through harsh practicing. It's not the perfection of dance that make things work, it's the joy you have when you are dancing that makes it enjoyable. 

It's such a liberation when one learnt that dancing with a partner does no harm as he respects his partner and as long as men are good enough to lead, let them lead. (I dont like being led but if they have the ability then let it be)

It's such a wonderful experience to forget about techniques and mechanical practicing. Be in the moment is the most important elements of dancing. 

Note: After 3 months of suffering with the foot, and after putting on chinese medicine my family sent me and two consultations in local hospitals , I finally came across one clinic that saved me, and after 3 times treatments, my foot was fully recovered and guess what, all treatments were free of charge. That's why I had a deep feeling that I had done something really good in previous life in Spain and people were returning my kindness during this one-year trip.

Have a nice week!

I am joining tea cup Tuesday with Terri & Martha .

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spain series (3)-- Spanish people

Have you ever visited a place and felt that you belong to that particular place even though you have never lived there before?

Have you ever encountered some people whom you felt they are returning your kindness in this life time because you had treated them well in the last life?

To me, the situations described above happened to me more than once when I was in Spain. 

Every time I use this cup, I remember the story.

There was this cafe that sells ice cream, cakes and fresh hand made yoghurt in the city of Granada in Spain. I was dragged into this nice cafe with modern decoration by my dancing teacher one day right after lunch because she had to have ice cream in one cold winter day. I had no idea that after the first visit I would become a frequent visitor there.

The cafe was often packed with visitors because the food and the service there was superb. In its busy hour(around 2--3PM), you often found one waiter in the centre of the counter busying serving all customers. My teacher and I were impressed with this waiter's swift service. He was able to take orders while making yoghurt, serving ice cream or cakes to customers. He never got the order mixed up. We never learnt his name. All we knew was that he never left his hometown--Granada and he was not the boss of the cafe. We often jokingly said that he belonged to a fast-paced city like Hong Kong. Sometimes we had this understanding that he could slow down a bit when it came to our order because we had all the time in the world to wait for our orders. Sensing our patience one day, after completing our order, he went to the chocolate counter and took out two pieces of chocolate as a compliment gift. At that moment, we bonded.

Sometimes I felt that I visited the cafe just to marvelled at the swift service. Sometimes I just had to have ice cream. Whatever the reasons, I went there at least once a week. 

For some odd reasons I had to leave Granada for Valencia, I left Granada for two full months and decided that I had to live in Valencia so I went back to Granada to pack my things. 

The day I stepped in the cafe for the first time after my 2-month absence. The waiter immediately asked me where I had been. I told him casually that I had been to Valencia and decided to settle in Valencia and I was back just to pack my things.

As usual, I ordered ice-cream and sat there quietly and started observing the waiter's work. He was making yoghurt with fresh fruit. All I saw was that he was mixing the yoghurt of original favour and put some freshly cut strawberries in it and then he made the crunchy chocolate to top it off. Minutes later, I found this cup of yoghurt sitting in front of me.He said to me,"This is the hand made yoghurt with fresh strawberries, it's good for your health." He said to one of the customers,'well, this girl is a frequent customer, she is leaving Granada for Valencia, I make this yoghurt to her hopefully she will come back again to Granada one day.'

Looking at this cup of yoghurt and feeling the kindness, I found myself in tears and called my friend to talk about it. It never happened to me in my own city. People just are so cold that they made no contact with one another let alone doing things for one another unconditionally. God, the happiness and grateful feeling were so difficult to contain and I burst in tears. I was happy and touched because I felt that the world was still full of humanity and kindness. 

'I think I will be back once again before I leave for Valencia.' These were the words I uttered. I had no idea that the day I visited again the waiter was nowhere to be found. Maybe he was on holiday. Well, life! life!

The white texture trim looks like the yoghurt. I also love the violets at the well of the cup and saucer. Violets remind me of this pure friendship between the waiter and I. We never talked much but somehow he was like my uncle, we had this kind of understanding. It's kinda like the friendship between the two characters in the film--'Lost in Translation'.

Though it's a married set, the cup is in pale blue and saucer in mint green, the color tones are the same and it does not distract its own beauty.

Who said that Spanish people are always lazy and inefficient? There are always exceptions.

Have a nice week.

I am joining Terri & Martha  for tea cup Tuesday. 

Note: Usually most of the shops in Spain close from 1PM--4 PM. But the cafe I visited open during Siesta hour, maybe that's why it was packed with people.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rebirth of a cup

As Easter is approaching, I wish everyone a happy Easter.

To celebrate Easter, Spain series will be postponed.

When I think of Easter, the color blue comes up and I think it's best time to share with you this cup by Royal Albert.

When this cup first arrived at my home, the handle and the pedestal were covered by some yellowish stains which I think they were left-over cleaning detergent.

I guess the previous owner loved this cup so much that she/he did not want to ruin the color so she/he was careful not to give this set too much a bath hence the stains.

Seeing that this cup has a beautiful vibrant color, I would like it to reveal its beauty and so I cleaned the handle and pedestal careful so as to get rid of the stains.

After giving it a proper bath, the beauty of the cup was restored. I think it's the rebirth of the cup. And this is how I relate this cup to Easter.

I love the gradual fading from blue to white of the exterior of the cup.

The high handle is very special and elegant.

The flowers poppies and white daisy are just what I like.

To add the Easter holiday mood, here I show you the cup with "rabbit' that a child made for my mother, isnt it lovely? The body of the rabbit is a chocolate ball.

I also bought some Kinder Joy eggs. That's what I liked to have as a child. I have heard that because of the small parts contained in the Kinder eggs, it's not allowed to be sold in the US. Dear readers from the US, can you please tell me why and if it's true that there are no Kinder eggs sold in the US?

Anyway, I just love the small toy you can get after eating the Kinder egg, the toy designers are very creative to think of something which is interesting and can be fitted into the small egg.

Spring also comes with Easter, I hope that you have a new beginning in things that you want to start over.

I am joining tea cup Tuesday with Terri & Martha 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spain series (2)--- Fallas and flower offering and senorita from Royal Albert

It's that time of the year. The time of saying farewell to Spring and welcoming Summer. It's time of celebration and time for me to feel the vibe of the festival even though I am not physically there in Spain. Yes, it's the time of Fallas.

If you have been to Valencia, Spain. You would have heard of the Fallas festival for it's one of the most celebrated festivals in Valancia, Spain.

It's said that Fallas was originally just a common practise by carpenters. During winter time, carpenters made the candle holder in the shape of a doll. As winter passed, they no longer needed it so they burnt it. To pay respect to the saint of carpenters, San Jose. They have this tradition of making wooden figurines and burn them. Nowadays, the artists need one year to complete the figurines as they are very large, some are as high as a 3 or 4 storey building. On 19 March at midnight, all figurines are burnt.

Starting from 12 March leading up to 19 March, a fire crackers show is displayed at the plaza in front of the city hall at 2:00PM every afternoon. The show aims at using different fire crackers to make the different tones and sounds and by placing the fire crackers at different distance, it creates a beat. So it's like the fire cracker musical show. Hearing the beats and feeling the explosion of the fire crackers, it seems that every bit of your low emotion/bad luck was taken away. I remembered making a wish while watching the show, I really felt lifted and light hearted and all the bad energy was taken away and so my life begins again.

On 17, 18 March, those who have donated money to the church are allowed to participate at the flower offering parade. The statue of Saint Mary is placed outside the plaza of virgin mary. Trained men climb up the statue and put the flowers on the statue and make the 'dress' for Saint Mary.

They took 2 days to complete the 'dress'. Every year, the pattern of the dress is different. The year I was there, the back of the dress shows the face of a girl.

Look at the black veils the girls wearing, I suspect that Royal Albert china maker got their inspiration from the Fallas parade

We call those flower offering girls and boys Falleros. People of all ages can participate in this parade as long as you have donate money and are catholics. From infants to adults, we can see people of all ages.

Look at this grandfather, he is holding flowers and waiting for his family members walk pass.

Two men in traditional custumes leading a group of children.

The dress of Virgin Mary takes 2 days to complete. On 19 March, the Saint Jose day, she is on full display.

In one of the areas near city centre, there is the street light display. The whole street is decorated in light and it's like the light building. At the two sides of the street, you can find a lot of booths selling traditional snacks and drinks.

Almost every corner of the city has a figurines. The picture shown above is the figurine on the street from where I lived. Actually there are many statues/figurines, this one is my favourite.

At midnight on 19March, all the statues are burnt. Before lighting the fire, the fire fighters must arrive and if it's necessary, they will wrap up some buildings to prevent the fire from damaging the wall of the buildings.When everything is ready, first, there is a firework show at the area where the statue will be burnt, and then the most voted 'Falleros'-- the selected girl in custume will light the fire crackers that lead to the figurines, and then seconds later, the whole figurine is on fire.

Actually all people can stand close at a safe distance, you can really feel that it's a purifying method to wake up your soul as if all the bad/evil things are taken out/burnt down by the fire. The whole city is lifted and cleansed.

The main structure of the figurine is shown.

The 'La crema' ---cremation is completed and everyone leaves with a light soul and a pure spirit.

After being purified, it's really time for a cup of tea.

The bracelet above is often worn by 'Falleros' during the parade. Walking pass a shop that offers hand-made bracelet for Fallas one day, I could not  help but buy one for myself. I admired the neatness of the pearls. Not to mention that I enjoyed a chat with the sales lady there who hand-tied the bracelet.

The lovely white hair comb was given by my friend.

Writing this blog, I feel like I am back to Valencia again witnessing the Fallas and all the events that are surrounding the festival. And that there is always a Spanish heart in me!

Happy San Jose Day!

(All photos about Fallas were taken by me in 2011)

I am joining Terri and Martha for tea.