Calligraphy Kit for Beginners

Winter is almost over down under and I found myself learning calligraphy lately. The joy of challenging oneself to try on different art forms feels liberating. Calligraphy is definitely one of those art forms that I have neglected to pay attention to when growing up.

I have tried on different tools to learn and realised that the most important material does not lie on the quality of tools. The desire to learn, practice and motivation to improve are more important above all things.

To all those who would love to start practicing calligraphy, I put together the most basic kit you will need to start your journey. The Calligraphy Kit for Beginners can be purchased through my Etsy shop.

IMG_7740 (1)The Calligraphy Kit for Beginners includes the following:

  • 1 box of Calligraphy writing kit:
    • 1 calligraphy pen
    • 3 nibs
    • 1 brush
    • 1 bottle of black ink
    • calligraphy guide
  • 3pcs. A4 sheets with different calligraphy styles with grid lines
  • 10 pcs. A4 sheets of blank paper with calligraphy grid lines

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For those who already have a beginner’s writing kit, you can download my Printable Calligraphy Practice Sheet through my Etsy shop as well.

Happy writing!

Bookon x MikaelaSong

Hi guys!

I recently joined this Australian site for book lovers, called Bookon. It’s basically a digital marketplace for books. It’s similar to Ebay’s concept without auctions and specifically made for books. It’s currently the largest book marketplace in Australia where you can find thousands of study notes, textbooks, novels, references, study books or any kind of books. Whether you are required to have it for university or you would like to read it for personal use, Bookon has something for you.

 

Please have a look at my current display shelf – My Bookon: Katrinard

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NGV: Whistler’s Mother

Portrait of Artist’s Mother (1871), one of the most iconic paintings in the world, was exhibited in NGV, Whistler’s Motheralong with the artist’s and other Australian painters’ works that were highly influenced by Whistler’s art.

The original title of the famous painting is Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1, which refers to the exploration of form and colour rather than the portrait of his mother present in the painting. The original title was also inspired by the abstract form of music, with the use of “Arrangement of… No.1” a standard title commonly used in classical music.

It is quite surprising that a masterpiece popularly referred to as a portrait was not originally intended to be a portrait painting at all. The solid blocks of colours, the proportional alignment of each block, and the combination of warm and dark tones portrays Whistler’s strong geometric composition on this painting. It is also important to note that Whistler’s mother’s dress is a block of solid black colour, which is one of the abstract elements that he included.

Interesting though, Alfred Barr, director of MOMA in New York back in 1943, pointed out a mind blowing fact about this painting. He wrote that, without the image of the mother, this large-scale painting is, “a composition of rectangles… not very different from the abstract Composition in white, black and red [1936] painted by [Piet] Mondrian.” He then referred to this painting as a precursor of modern abstract art. 

IMG_6599Portrait of Artist’s Mother (1871)

All my life, like most people who have seen this painting, I looked at its biographical aspect and ignored its existing visibly abstract elements. It could be due to my lack of formal art trainings and my limited exploration of my interest to visual art which has always been finitely intrapersonal. Visiting this exhibit has sparked my curiosities of further understanding behind the visual elements of an art piece, the outspoken message it communicates and the admirable skill and personal history of the artist.

Staring at this large-scale painting alone, exhibited solely in one large room, while all spotlights illuminating only it, was so dramatic, it’s moving. The overwhelming feeling I had when I first laid my eyes on Juan Luna’s Spoliarium (1884) suddenly hit me again. Its grandeur, magnificence and emotional artistic value are undeniably present.

The layout of the entire exhibit itself was carefully crafted that it started introducing the early life of the artist, his life journey, his relationship with his mother and the meaningful backstories that eventually lead him to create such masterpiece. The layout was highly commendable for the dramatic effect it created for every visitor.


James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) is an American master artist who was born in Massachusetts, USA. His family moved to St. Petersburg, Russia in 1843 after the inglorious period of US Military Academy. In 1955, he trained in Paris as a painter for four years before moving to London. He created several works before his commendable masterpiece, Portrait of Artist’s Mother (1871), has been recognised as aestheticism, an art form which has a combination of realist and formalist elements.

Source: NGV Whistler’s Mother

 

 

 

Melbourne: Collins St x St Patrick’s Cathedral

In the arts and fashion capital of Australia, it is expected to see a long stretch of little Paris at the eastern side of Collins St, which is locally referred to as “Paris End”. Collins St. is major street in Central Melbourne that is notable for its history. It is still the home to all major designer and prestige brands, high-end retailers, and it used to be the centre of finance in Australia. The original architecture of every building is mostly preserved like any other streets in the city of Melbourne.

Walking along Collins St. towards St. Patrick’s Cathedral, I snapped a handful shots of the glamorous Collins St post-edited with creamy, vintage-looking effect as a reminiscent of its early history.

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Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei

It is such a privilege and a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness a major international exhibition featuring the late pop icon Andy Warhol and political artist Ai Weiwei. Being the two of the most significant artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, I was so thrilled when I first heard the news (a year before the start of the exhibition) that the National Gallery of Victoria has teamed up with The Andy Warhol Museum, in cooperation with Ai Weiwei, to organise such event.

The major exhibition explores the influences of both artists in modern art and contemporary life, which focuses on the parallels, intersections and points of difference between the two artists’ practices. Due to transportation, gallery’s area and other limitations to consider, not all iconic artworks of the artists have been exhibited at NGV for this particular event. Nevertheless, over 300 artworks of both artists’ significant contributions that delivered evocative messages were curated, which lead to my cultivation towards their remarkable life-long journeys. (National Gallery of Victoria)

I’ll start exploring the journey of Andy, who’s art I’m the least a fan of amongst the two. Ai’s extensive, massive and evocative installations beat Andy’s flat, complacent and mass-produced paintings. Ai’s works cover as far back as Ancient China up to the latest societal issues. But to be fair, Andy’s audacity and unconventional art practices have defined a new era of revolutionary artists and may have majorly contributed to Ai’s bold, dissident style.

Andy Warhol

andyAndy Warhol carrying a Brillo Soap Pads Box photograph by Billy Name

I first heard of Andy Warhol when I got into Advertising. I wasn’t talking about the time I majored in the field in college, but the time I got really interested in the history and admired the glory days of the industry back in mid-40’s. (cue Mad Men’s theme – TV Series) One of Andy’s famous paintings is called the Campbell Soup Cans (1962) series in which he hand-painted each can of the product, arranged each variety according to its date of release, and observed uniformity through merchandising in grocery shelves.

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The Campbell Soup Cans (1962) is the epitome of Andy’s style when it comes to paintings. Detailed, commercial, low-cost, and mass-produced, similar to the popular products he took inspirations from. His silkscreen medium allow him and his assistants to instantly produce similar huge paintings in a short period of time.

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Another famous series of paintings by Andy is his tribute to the late Marilyn Monroe, which he created after the iconic actress’ death. He used a single photograph from the 1953 film Niagara as reference to re-create an entire series as a form of “..memorial and as a reflection of the media’s insatiable appetite for celebrity and tragedy.” (NGV Label of The Three Marilyns 1962)

MarilyndiptychImage Source: Wiki 

The Marilyn Diptych (1962) contains fifty images of Marilyn Monroe. Twenty-five images on the left are brightly coloured while the other twenty-five are in black and white, that suggests the relation between the celebrity’s life and death. The particular painting above is currently owned by Tate and unfortunately was not part of the NGV Exhibit.

IMG_6169Andy Warhol – Filmography 

Most people would associate Andy with the expression “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” and his popular talk show “Fifteen Minutes” which aired from 1985-1987. Through my readings, I’ve seen at least three different interpretations for this famous expression:

  1. German art historian Benjamin H. D. Buchloh suggests that Andy’s style invalidates the hierarchies worthy to be represented, and once abolished, will be an opportunity for everyone to be famous; Or
  2. Fifteen Minutes represent the limited time a celebrity can only be famous; Or
  3. Due to the technological advancement and level of accessibility of today’s society, anyone can actually be virtually famous. (Wiki: Fifteen Minutes of Fame)

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I also came across different articles refuting the expression’s origin to be the words of Andy. The critics have suggested that the famous phrase was actually taken from the text of an exhibition brochure written by the curator rather than Andy himself. He tried to honestly confess the truth through interviews but it was too late. The society has already branded the expression as his and still continue to do so today.

Screen Tests (1964)

Throughout his career, celebrities, poets, musicians, socialites and other personalities posed for a short film at his legendary studio in Manhattan, the Silver Factory. The films capture the actions of the subjects at natural state and let the viewers interpret whatever narrative they desire.The Silver Factory has attracted many prominent people and has become a space for Andy’s social scene. In a span of two years, Andy has shot over 500 Screen Tests, which he prolonged to imbue a dreamlike stillness. Some of these prominent people include: Cass Elliot, Ann Buchanan, Bob Dylan, Donyale Luna, Billy Linich and Jane Holzer.

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Silkscreen Paintings of Mao (1970’s)

Andy’s repetitive paintings of Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong portrays media’s proliferations of the image and advertising’s promotion of consumers’ desire and identification. Andy created these paintings during the height of cultural revolution in China that has been a global media spotlight. Andy’s numerous works of Mao portray him as a pop-cultural icon during his time.

Andy’s other silkscreen paintings throughout his career that defines today’s definition of pop-culture.

The core of Andy’s career is the portrayal of American’s consumerism: Inexpensive, low-cost, mass-produced, charismatic and popular. His means and the final products of his works both satisfy his core, which are clearly seen through his inspirations and the media he utilised.

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Andy’s painting of Coca-Cola first appeared in 1961. Six years later, he coated Coca-Cola bottles with silver paint as representation of source material. Three years more,  Coca-Cola Company responded with a cease and desist letter when he expanded his project to 100 bottles and filled it with his own You’re In / Eau d’Andy’ (1970). Get it? You’re In…

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Andy did not only focus on the glamorous lifestyle of popular products and celebrities. One of his thought provoking artwork tackles the clash of American Dream and violence in America. Incorporating a tabloid style, gloomy and sombre, Andy replicated the photograph from a newspaper with a headline ‘Did a leak kill … Mrs McCarthy and Mrs Brown?’ referring to the two women killed due to expired canned tunas. In Tunafish Disaster (1963), Andy portrayed how consumer products actually failed its consumers.

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In Silver Clouds (1966) and Cow Wallpaper (1966), Andy expands his artistic style to a theatrical scale by offering an immersive experience that encourages participation through floating metalised polyester films propelled by air currents floating from the walls into space itself. This particular installation exemplifies his fascination with serial production and repetition of pop-cultural imagery. Andy’s deployment of modern manufacturing techniques served as an introduction to a whole new era of art installations.

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Ai Weiwei

A Chinese contemporary artist and activist, I first heard of Ai Weiwei during the preparation of Beijing 2008 Olympics when he collaborated with Herzog & de Meuron in designing The Birds Nest.

birds nestImage Source: MondoArc

However, my interest in Ai Weiwei’s life only began in 2011 when the international media caused a stir on his arrest at the Beijing International Airport. Initially reported as arrest due to incomplete presentation of documentation for travel, the media uncover his alleged tax evasion case. Ai Weiwei has been known for his online presence writing social commentary and criticising government policies aside from sticking to his autobiographies and thoughts on art and architecture. He has always been known for his bold and unapologetic nature which are then transmitted through his art.

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Personally, I believe that Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (2015) is the quintessential artwork of Ai Weiwei. As one of his iconic works captured in both in video and photographs, this particular performative action of holding, dropping and smashing a cultural heritage clearly demonstrates his critical engagement with China’s violent cultural tradition. It draws attention to the continuous desecration of cultural heritage. As shown in the photograph, these images were re-created in plastic blocks representing pixelated forms for the distribution of his powerful message in the digital platform. He originally wanted to use Lego blocks for his other works as well but the company refused to participate in his political activism.

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During the dynastic changes in China in an attempt to erase the past and start over with the new regimes, much of Buddhist statues dating from the Northern Wei (386–535 CE) to Northern Qi (550–577 CE) dynasties were looted and only a few pieces survived today. In Ai’s Feet (2005)he sculpted stone feet on these remaining statues to show that the past cannot easily be erased and eventually catch up with the present.

IMG_6084With Flowers (2015)

At some point in his life, his audacity lead to his detention for 81 days. Every morning, he placed a bunch of flowers in the basket of a bicycle outside his studio and captured it on camera as a form of protest against his restriction to travel. He has posted images of these flowers on social media which emerged a movement called Flowers of Freedom.

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Ai Weiwei created this series in another art form through Bicycle Basket with Flowers Porcelain (2015) and Blossom (2015), this time, to protest against the restrictive rights of people through speech and human-rights. He collaborated with the skilled porcelain craftsmen from Jingdezhen province, whose predecessors once produced the highest quality of porcelain in Ancient China. Through this complex project, he has provided temporary employment to hundreds of people, whose livelihood has been declining through the years.

IMG_6087Blossom (2015) Bed of flowers made of porcelain

Ai Weiwei’s projects do not only focus on his bold actions against government policies and protests against restricted human rights, but he also continuously provides livelihood to the very victims of injustice. 

ai-weiwei-ruptures-faurschou-foundation-002Image Source: AI WEIWEI: RUPTURES MAR. 20TH – DEC. 22ND AT FAURSCHOU FOUNDATION COPENHAGEN

Another perfect example would be the Sunflower Seeds (2010) which he created for his simple yet poetic exhibition. The extensive project has been collaborated again with approximately 1,600 skilled artisans of Jingdezhen producing over 150 tons of man-made Sunflower Seeds out of porcelain. Each piece have been individually hand-painted comprising of 2-3 strokes per side by the locals of the community and the entire project lasted for two and a half years.

Ai-Weiwei-Sunflower-Seeds-Still-from-Tate-video-9Image Source: Ai Weiwei Seeds

An excerpt from Ai’s Sunflower Seed’s website – Ai Weiwei Seeds – perfectly expresses the multiple yet simple meaning behind this project:

“For Ai Weiwei, ‘Sunflower Seeds’ is one piece of art that is composed of 100 million pieces of art. As a singular tiny sculpture, every seed is submerged by a hundred million ones with subtle nuances, similar yet each unique, just as 1,600 workers in Jingdezhen performing repetitive duties; as 1.3 billion Chinese, silent in the crowd; as every fragmented individual in this digital era. Through a sunflower seed, Ai Weiwei triggers a Domino effect, enlarging the lengthy, complicated and exquisite process by 100 million times. Devoting unimaginable patience, time and energy, he brings into focus the significance of individuals, and the imposing strength when they gather together.”

The video below shows the extensive and laborious process each Sunflower seed went through for this project:


Video Source: Ai Weiwei: Sunflower Seeds by Tate

 Ai retells his detention for 81 days back in 2011 through a series of dioramas entitled S.A.C.R.E.D. Maquettes (2011). The acronym stands for  Supper, Accusers, Cleansing, Ritual, Entropy and Doubt, which are the six parts of this series that are all made of fibreglass. It depicts scenes at the cell where he was imprisoned without charges that serve as evidences of oppression, denial of personal freedom and loss of dignity, he and several victims went through.

IMG_6141One of the dioramas in the series. It clearly portrays his lack of privacy and dignity throughout his time at the detention cell.

Ai do not only portray his messages through sculptures, print and dioramas, but he also take in consideration the type of material used in each masterpiece to deliver his evocative messages.

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In Surveillance Camera (2010), Ai’s practice of incorporating traditional materials in addressing contemporary cultural issues is evident. By using traditional marble to portray the elevated status of a significant artefact in this particular sculpture, this piece is very personal to Ai that relates back to his confinement at his studio while all his actions were being monitored.

handcuffsHandcuffs (2015) were both sculpted in jade and in wood. Jade is considered to be the most precious stone in China. Historically speaking, jade is worn only by the members of imperial family. Ai portrays the similar cuffs he wore during his imprisonment to address contemporary issues in the government.

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If there’s one project that clearly defines Ai Weiwei’s character and controversial career, I personally believe it’s the Study of Perspective (1993-2005). As seen in every photograph, Ai is giving a finger in every iconic location around the globe to express his disdain for authority. His audacious behaviour and poetic forms of powerful communication have inspired a new generation of artists in the 21st Century.

Andy Warhol x Ai WeiWei

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Some exhibits showcase a parallel in artistic value and in speaking social context beyond the world of art. In Neolithic Pottery with Coca-Cola Logo (2007), Ai portrays a pop-cultural imagery through the influence of Andy by painting a Chinese artefact and branding it with a logo that represents American capitalism.

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Myths are traditional stories explaining historical events or natural and social phenomenons. Ai and Andy both explore these myths through cultural archetypes from two different parts of the world. Circle of Animals (2010), is a reinterpretation of the twelve zodiac heads ransacked by French and British troops. It functioned as a water clock–fountain in the European-style gardens of Yuanmingyuan palace. “Ai focuses attention on the ethics of looting and repatriation, the role of the fake and the copy and power relations between China and the West.” (Source: Circle of Animals label)

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On the other hand, Andy presents the cultural archetypes in the American popular culture through a series of silkscreen paintings that run from Uncle Sam to the superstardom of Hollywood screen siren Greta Garbo and the innocent charm of Mickey Mouse. (Source:Narrative, myth and memory label)


Further Readings:

Masterchef x Australia

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The new season of Masterchef Australia starts tonight. It’s only fitting to post my snapshots inside the famous Masterchef Kitchen!

A little backstory about the show, Masterchef TV show was originally produced in the early 90’s and was re-developed in Australia way back in 2009 that propelled its international success (Ref). Having an avid fan of the show, I was delighted to have visited the Masterchef Kitchen, located in Metro Melbourne, where the show is annually shot.

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Among any other reality cooking shows, Masterchef got less drama and has more interesting challenges. Its format also allow a lot of information to be absorbed and learned from by the audience. It’s one of the best ways to subtly learn about culinary art while entertaining oneself. It basically showcases creativity of different culinary styles and innovating gastronomic skills. From then on, I’ve become more appreciative of the techniques and fusion of flavours in every dish I taste.

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TokyoTreat: Matcha May

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TokyoTreat is a monthly Japanese candy and snacks subscription box that directly ships worldwide from Tokyo. I have always been a fan of Japanese candies and snacks since it constantly evolves to fit consumer needs by offering seasonal and limited edition products. I have enjoyed hundreds of them growing up back home, but since moving to Australia, each of these products cost a fortune! I’m so glad I discovered TokyoTreat that doesn’t only ship worldwide for free, but also delivers the latest candy and snack trends in Japan!

Since it’s my birth month x Matcha Month, a combination of two of my favourite things in the world, it’s only rightful to do a review on this particular month. My May box came in as early as 25th of April since TokyoTreat ships every week to reduce delay in shipping and to ensure quality freshness of every treat in the box.

PREMIUM – MAY 2016

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It’s evident that this box is for Matcha Month with all the green tea goodness filled in one box. Quite frankly, this is the best deal in all subscription boxes out there including boxes from other categories (beauty, wellness, crafts, games etc). EVERYTHING in the box is a full size product. Not single one of them is a sample size, which is the usual size in subscription boxes. Plus, Tokyo Treat offers free shipping worldwide!

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These are all the Matcha goodness in the May box. I can’t wait to try the Matcha Soda! Matcha Crunky chocolate, Matcha Friend Bakery and Matcha Pocky are all common in today’s time but the other two treats are unexpected. Matcha gum? And Matcha brownie freshly packed to spread mouthwatering satisfaction worldwide? This will definitely be a great month!

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TOKYOTREAT BOOKLET

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Every box comes in with a booklet with English translations of the names and descriptions of every candy and snack in the box so you’re assured that you know what you’ll be enjoying.

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It also contains an English instruction of the DIY Candy of the month for non-Japanese subscribers, an anime comic strip, brief background of the featured product, and the delightful FREE goodies a lucky subscriber is awaiting to receive for the random draw of the month.

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SUBSCRIPTION OPTIONS

There are three subscription options to choose from: Small, Regular and Premium, all three offer free shipping worldwide.

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Honestly, for the price, it’s basically a steal! Here in Australia, a Japanese candy costs at least AU$5 each for the small one. TokyoTreat‘s Premium box offers the best value with 13-17 full-size candies and snacks + a DIY Candy kit a special item of the month + free shipping, it’s the best deal out there! Not considering, you’ll also have a chance to win the monthly draw. =^_~=

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PS. This is not a paid blog post and I don’t get discounts if you subscribe. I’m just very satisfied with this wonderful find. Thank you #TokyoTreat!

Mikaela goes to Etsy

artbymikaela

Hi guys! I recently opened my Etsy shop for instant download themed design baby shower and birthday packages. I’ve yet to add more products.

Feel free to browse around and let me know if you need any customized orders for any occasion and I’ll be very happy to create a new listing for you. 🙂

QuirkyLittlePuppet

Road Trip Down to Mornington Peninsula

In the midst of Winter’s break, we drove 75km South East from Melbourne CBD to the famous Mornington Peninsula. The entire peninsula is divided into four areas: Northern, Western, Southern and the Peninsula Hinterland (Mid Land).

It’s a huge area to explore and different activities varies from season to season – From enjoying costal water activities (boating, fishing, swimming), to camping, horseback riding, trail walking, farm gating, wine tasting and fruit pickings. The land is also preserved for golfing and the natural hot springs are its best tourist attraction. So, for this particular day trip, we decided only to explore along the coastlines of Southern peninsula and visited the most visited lighthouse – The Cape Schanck.

A little trivia about this peninsula. At the tip of Point Nepean, Australia Prime Minister Harold Holt mysteriously disappeared while swimming in the coastal waters of Chevion Beach near Portsea way back in 1967. His body was never recovered up to this day. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to reach that point since it’s far off the road and takes a long time to walk to get there.

We started our trip at Dromana’s coastline to look at the historic colourful bathing houses – For they are no more than a shed, with no supply of water nor electricity, these make the peninsula famous for. It covers the long stretch of southern area’s coastline – From Mount Eliza, Dromana, Rosebud to Pointsea.

Next, we crossed the Peninsula and headed straight to Cape Schanck Lighthouse. It was built in 1859 as the second coastal lighthouse in Victoria. Built from limestone standing at 21 metres high, situated 100 metres above sea level. It is considered as one of the first buildings ever constructed in the state.

The entire ground covers the lighthouse, a museum in the old assistant’s quarters and accommodation in the old residence of the lighthouse keeper.

This trail naturally hollowed by trees is the entrance to the lighthouse’s grounds.

The view of the sea is stunning from this height. The majestic sea between the states of Victoria and Tasmania is enthralling to think that looking from this point, you are basically looking at the bottom of the earth. That only a ship ride away, you will be reaching Antartica!

Then we headed to the traveller-friendly Blue Mini Cafe! Famous for both locals and tourists, this is my favourite part of the trip! Because along the hours-long drive from the city, far away from home, is unbelievably THIS place! A cafe-restaurant with vintage items for sale; Decorated in rustic, uncoordinated sets of furniture with superb fine menu to indulge.

Upon entering the place, you’ll find this vintage fridge full of old-school kitchen tools, which are all for sale!

Their dining tables are made of vintage wood signboards which added to the homey atmosphere of the place.

There are metal scrap arts in one section made by Melbournian artists – Definitely locally made!

And for the love of stationery – This cafe offers a wide selection of different kinds of – well – STATIONERY!

Aside from vintage items, metal art scraps and stationery, there are local products for sale. And for those people with OCDs, this cafe arranged the products by colour!

This is the orange corner packed with a variety of locally-crafted items for sale.

Upon leaving the cafe, I found this interesting piece of art. A pair of boots growing organic things! Pretty, isn’t it?

Our last stop for the day was the village of Sorrento. I was not able to take photos of the heritage buildings along the area but I was able to capture a few shots of the coast! Oh, hi there little brother!

In this village you will find antique stores passed on from generation to generation and a good bargain hunting for rare treasures!

Along the coastline of the Peninsula are these century old trees preserved by local tourism! In general, everywhere you look, Mornington Peninsula is definitely a place worth visiting. Next time you decide to drop by the State of Victoria, don’t miss out this place!

Pleasures from the Heated Kitchen

I have always been known as the person who starts a venture and jump from one to the other without totally mastering any particular field. In the astrological point of view of the Western and Chinese cultures, it must be primarily caused by the position of celestial objects at the time of my birth. I was born under the zodiac Gemini (the twins known to have split personalities) and the year of the Metal Horse (impulsive in productivity). After all, I’m part Chinese and it’s my second nature to involve astrology every time I get the chance.

One of these ventures engages in different cuisines to further enhance my culinary skills. Today, I was so delighted to spend my free day from work to prepare a sumptuous and complete meal for my family. I decided to do it completely Japanese! It may look like a laborious and dull domestic chore, but it’s actually therapeutical and pleasurable to do. Results of hard work in the kitchen are best harvested when you see the people savouring the food with every bite. Nothing beats the rewarding and pleasurable feelings out of making other people happy. I think it’s one of the best lessons I still bear in mind from my Home Economics teacher way back in high school.

Anyway, here are the photos of every dish I prepared for our dinner.

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Presenting our menu:

Miso soup

Salmon Sashimi (sliced salmon)

Gunkanmaki (warship roll)

Shrimp nigiri

California maki

A variety of makizushi (sushi rolls)

Ebi Tempura (shrimp)

Nasu Tempura (eggplant)

Satsuma Imo Tempura (Sweet potato)

Tamagoyaki (fried egg roll)

Green tea ice cream

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Individual Platter: (L-R) California maki, Makizushi, (T-B) Ebi Tempura, Satsuma Imo Tempura, Nasu Tempura and a ball of Japanse rice.

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To share Platter A: (L-R) Salmon Sashimi, California Maki, two kinds of Gunkanmaki, Shrimp Nigiri and Tamagoyaki.

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To Share Platter B: California Maki and A variety of Makizushi

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To share Platter C: (L-R) Salmon Sashimi, California Maki, two kinds of Gunkanmaki, Shrimp Nigiri and Tamagoyaki.

Platter C is almost the same as Platter A. The only difference are the kinds of Gunkanmaki included.

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Dessert: Green tea ice cream (to cap off the lovely night)

On the side note: I was dreadful the day before thinking of the worst, which is not finding any tuna available in any store nearby. Lo and behold, there was no available tuna everywhere!!! It’s my first time preparing a complete Japanese meal without a tuna so I settled with salmon instead.

I’m proud to say that all of my culinary skills were either self-taught or passed on to me by my parents. Neither of my parents work for the industry (both CPAs) but our family and extended family are very passionate in cooking! Plus, it’s a common Filipino culture for families and relatives to dine in together in every possible meal. Thus, it’s a pleasure to be preparing food for large groups of people. I never received any formal trainings in Japanese cuisine and in anything about cooking/baking in general but I’m longing to have one. Practical work may be the best way to learn but not when it isn’t backed up with theoretical knowledge. It has always my been principle when it comes to learning. Both must go hand in hand.

A little history on how I started, I first prepared sushi when I was in high school. My dad bought me a simple hard-bound sushi book with the most basic recipes. There were only less than 10 recipes on it, and one of them is how to prepare the rice – the most important ingredient! I started with a simple bamboo sushi mat as my tool, tried the other kinds that promise to do the task faster and more efficiently, but as I go along, I decided to stick to the very first one I had – the bamboo mat!

Then after several trial and errors accompanied by my research on basic readings of How-Tos and different techniques from different chefs and culinary enthusiasts, I learned to develop my own style, which is the one that suits my needs and my skills best.

Basic knowledge in absolutely everything is at the tip of our fingers with the power of Internet. Gone are the days of literally dragging ourselves to the library (which includes catching up with their closing time) just to satisfy our hunger for information. With great power comes with great responsibility… and of course, opportunity!

Don’t you love our generation? We can utilise whatever we have to enhance our skills efficiently and conveniently!

FYI, I also learned my Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator skills just by reading tutorials through the Internet. 😉 I’m very much grateful for it!