25 March 2017

Going with the flow...around the world




Indeed it is!
(in Sydney)

Before musing on the flow of life...I want to thank you all for the creative and clever names you suggested for our 'perch' in Hong Kong. We loved them all!  They continue to come in and as soon as I am back in Hong Kong I am going to sit and contemplate each and every one!


Hong Kong to Sydney 

Going with the flow...
I am in Sydney having left Hong Kong three weeks ago and I will be here, off and on, for a while.  The thing about expat life is it never seems to rest, just when you think you are heading in one direction, you turn around and you off in another...and then another, in reverse.

Tahilla Farm to Hong Kong 

The long and short of it is...I will be living between Tahilla Farm (New Hampshire), Hong Kong (No. 43) and Sydney for a while. I will be checking in with Mr. H in Hong Kong, the homestead in New Hampshire and the kids in Australia ( sons #1 & #2, daughter #1 and DIL #1)...and in a few months, Botswana (daughter # 2). The kids asked me when I was going to get a puppy...I nearly lost it on that one. ;)

How will I swing living between three countries..three continents?  Good question. It takes careful planning...and hope and a prayer. In the end you just do it...and try and keep yourself entertained. An easy thing to do in Sydney when you are hanging out with a gaggle of kookaburras..and a lizard.


I am currently staying in a home (Rental #2)
with seven hungry kookaburras and a lizard
who is trying to get the camouflage routine down. 
The owner of the property left me a note to ask
if I would mind feeding a few kookaburras who like to visit. 
A fresh supply of mince was in the fridge.
Little did I know...what I would be in for. 
How much mince do you feed a kookaburra? 
I had no idea...but clearly, 
they knew they were onto a good thing.
Word got around..and friends flew in.


Living in Dickens world...
"Please, Madame, I want some more"

I spy with my little eye...

The rental...
Kookaburras and lizard aside, it has been a challenging few weeks sorting through furnished rental properties in Sydney. Moving into our home (Windswept) seemed like a natural move but it is leased as well. The rental market is tight...and competitive, especially when you are picky...like me.



Thinking like Jimmy Stewart in 'Rear Window' 

Before the kookaburras, 
my view (from Rental #1) 
was along the lines of the Hitchcock movie
Each night I peered out the window 
to our neighbours across the way 
and thought of Jimmy Stewart
and Grace Kelly.
All sorts of thoughts come to mind
 in the dead of night.
;)

Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, Rear Window
source

On the move...again
Week three is upon me and I will be moving into my third rental property tomorrow. I have been taking them one and two weeks at a time, discovering new areas of Sydney as I go.  It has been a tremendous learning curve... one that I am happy to share with those on the hunt as well. I will give you a few ideas on where to start in a future blog post. If you have any questions, my email address is noted below.

Getting creative..
It has been relatively easy for me, slotting in where I left off in 2005. Family and friends are close by, the local spots are still there..if anything it is a bit surreal stepping back into a life that I left so many years ago. Since then we have lived in New Zealand, England, Vietnam and now...here and Hong Kong. I have come full circle to a place where I first started painting which ultimately led me to 'Collage of Life'.  Maybe this is a sign...if it is, it will certainly help with my next project.

Next project...
The next creative project is the renovation of our Carriage House/Barn at Tahilla Farm. The drawings are underway and Mr. and Mrs. H are in deep discussion...or we were until life kicked up it's heels. I have plenty to keep me challenged and top of mind is the best use of space for a studio.

Mr. H goes shopping..
I am also still trying to decorate our Hong Kong apartment from afar. Mr. H went shopping last weekend for a dining table and chairs ...and he took me along via WhatsApp. Pictures were flying back and forth. A month ago I would have said "no way" to sending him off on his own...but when push comes to shove you have to go with it. He was a trooper...shopping with Mrs. H a continent away is not easy.

I could go on and on but I won't because not only will I confuse you...I will surely put myself into a mental twist that could take me days to get out of.

I am off to pack up my 'apartment kit' for the move tomorrow. I look forward to telling you all about that...it has a few essentials to help me keep my sanity. We can't have 'mother' losing her mind now can we??? ;)

On that note...
sending you a bit of frangipani love 
from Sydney.



Happy Weekend! 

Jeanne xx

 jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com



02 March 2017

First Impressions and Elizabeth Barrett Browning in Hong Kong



The day begins at #43... sun rising to the east, behind the mountain ridge 

Good Morning, Good Evening and Hello!
Well, here we are again, on the Expat Express to Hong Kong! Many of you have been with me for the long expat haul, from our first days in Australia (pre-blog) to last days in New Zealand ( started blog) to life in England, Vietnam, Tahilla Farm and now Hong Kong. All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you..from the bottom of my heart and up, it is full of appreciation!

Those early days, first impression days are probably the most meaningful to me. When I look back at our time in each country I always start with those early blog posts, when the glimmer of adventure is within reach.

Unlike the other countries, Hong Kong is a known entity to me. I travelled with Mr. H several times...the most memorable as the tag-along wife in 2014. I have the 'lay of the land' as a tourist down pat which has given me a head start into life as an expat in Hong Kong. Phew!

Speaking of Mr. H...

Good Morning Hong Kong!

Mr. H in charge
I knew the move to Hong Kong would be a challenge. I was unable to be a part of the apartment hunt and left it in the hands of Mr. H. He prioritized his list, views first. I have to say I am very happy with the views.

I was unable to be on site in Vietnam to pack up the house for Hong Kong. Mr. H. had the responsibility. We kept the communication lines open. I received many emails with photos and questions like.. "What's this?" "Do we want to keep it?" "Where is?" "How come?".  Let's just say that will be the last time he packs up the house. A role he will gladly relinquish.

I am into day five of unpacking and moving furniture and am nearly done. I am just about ready for that sigh of relief.  It's actually been nice to have the time to sort it all out. I had a leap of faith back in May in Vietnam when I had to decide which items to ship to Tahilla Farm in New Hampshire and which to keep for our eventual apartment which had yet to be selected. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. So far so good. I will fill you in on the apartment details in a later post.

View from #43...Hong Kong


More important matters first...


View to Victoria Peak...to the west #43
The Name Game
Top of mind at the moment is what to call the apartment...because a name makes all the difference. We have 'Windswept' in Australia, 'Tahilla Farm' in New Hampshire and of course...the recently vacated 'Chateau Mango' in Vietnam.

This one is tricky. Living in Hong Kong, on the 43rd floor, in a high rise apartment with harbour and mountain views opens up all sorts of possibilities...or so you would think. We have considered many configurations of words.. even translating them into Mandarin. When we translated 'view' to Mandarin and came up with 'Shìtú'...I knew it was time to move on.

Night view... #43


So I asked my Instagram friends for ideas...and here are some of their fabulous suggestions, which I love!

The Apartment
The Dove's Nest
The Feathered Nest
Cloud Catcher
Dream Catcher
Honker's Heights (Aussie)
The View @43
Sky High
George and Weezie's Place ( reference to TV show, The Jeffersons)
#lifeelevatedhk
King Kong
43 Heights (reference to Wuthering Heights)
The View from 43
House of the Dancing Dragons
Zen Forty Third
Peak view Place
Chez Chinois


They are all wonderful and a lot of fun. We are still tweaking the name and while we tweak I have been using #43... you can't get any simpler than that. Hangin at #43, Life at #43, Views from #43....

Which then left me wondering about the significance of the number 43....and it led me to Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her 43rd Portuguese Sonnet written for her husband, Robert Browning, who she affectionately called "my little Portuguese".

If you have read along with me for a while you will know that I love signs, those quirky things that happen to you and leave you feeling like you have just had a sign from the heavens above.  I think I found one. Henriques is Portuguese...and we live on the 43rd floor. Surely, that is a sign for naming the apartment "#43"....or not.

You decide.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnets from the Portuguese

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

 (sigh)

~Elizabeth Barrett Browning 1806-1861
Sonnets written ca. 1845-1846

What say you?
Mr. and Mrs. H and Let Me Count The Ways...to the 43rd floor?
A sign for #43?
Or should I consider another?
Do you have a favourite from the list above or another suggestion?
I am all eyes!

Mr. and Mrs. H looking up to the 43rd floor

Day Five- Hong Kong

At the moment I feel like the High Priestess from my perch at #43. In my quiet moments..when I give in to an insufferable case of procrastination, I sit and take in every nuance of the scene above and below me. There is a nest of Kite's (think Eagle) in the mountainside behind us, they soar between the high-rises with absolute grace. I imagine reaching out and gliding along with them. Being one who gets wobbly knees and a bit dizzy at the mere thought of looking down from any height...it amazes me and Mr. H that I have not plastered myself, back up to the wall in fear. I am so mesmerized by the birds and the anticipation of photographing them that my fear of heights has vanished...at least for the moment.

Graceful Kite...(a bird, not a plane...or superman)

As for seeing Hong Kong, it will come in good time.  Mr. H took me out for afternoon tea on Sunday...one of my secret guilty pleasures. I have made a few trips out for errands which is not as easy as I thought it would be. It involves a bus that has a rigid time schedule, something I did not have at Tahilla Farm. Ah..life in the city, I will adjust, I always do.

Until then, I have to pack for Sydney. We head off tonight to catch up with the kids...

It's been a wild and dizzy five days but I am ready to fly...in a plane. ;)

Until next time, you can find me hanging out on Instagram here.

Wishing you all the best for a wonderful weekend!

Jeanne xx


Sunrise from my perch at #43...






PS..if you prefer to write to me, please do!
jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

13 February 2017

The Productive and Happy Woman- Podcasts


Did you make any New Year resolutions this year?
How is that going for you?
Still on course or are you feeling adrift?

I thought about my New Year resolutions for about a day
and that was it. I wasn't interested in focusing 
on a long list of goals...again.

I just wanted answers to a lot of questions.

Life changing kind of questions, the kind
that make you want to pull your hair out
 in search of answers.

Thankfully, my hair is still in tact,
just a little shorter. ;)

My luck started to turn when I tuned
 into the world of podcasts.

What is a Podcast?
A digital audio file
available on the internet,
where fun things happen.

I started by downloading 
the iTunes Podcast App onto my iPhone
and have been listening ever since.

iTunes Podcast APP

Being one who is known to be a bit ADD on the listening front.. 
I have to say I am listening (in earnest) like never before.

I listen in the car, I listen in the kitchen, I listen in the bath,
I listen in bed,  I listen when I am walking 
and if I get side tracked, I go back and listen again
and sometimes again and again. 

I am learning and laughing
through many subjects and loving it.

Best of all...I haven't tugged on my hair once!

It's easy to explore the world of podcasts
I recommended starting with

Here are a few topics that interest me.

LISTENER BEWARE...
this can be a lengthy and fun exercise!

I am currently learning.. 
how to become a more productive woman
with Laura McClellan, a happier one
with Gretchen Rubin and a well informed 
one in the world of design
with Debbie Millman. 


and


A podcast intended to help busy women find the tools 
and encouragement they need to better manage their lives, 
their time, their stress, and their stuff, 
so they can accomplish the things that matter to them.


Listen:



and


Gretchen Rubin is HAPPIER, and she wants you to be happier too. The #1 bestselling author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before gets more personal than ever as she brings her practical, manageable advice about happiness and good habits to this lively, thought-provoking podcast. Gretchen’s cohost and guinea pig is her younger sister, Elizabeth Craft, a TV writer and producer living in Los Angeles, who (lovingly) refers to Gretchen as her happiness bully. Part of the Panoply Network.

Listen:


and



Design Matters with Debbie Millman is a thought-provoking 
Internet podcast, which profiles industry-leading graphic designers, 
change agents, artists, writers and educators. 

Listen:

It is just the beginning for me 
but I have a good feeling about it 
and thought a few of you might enjoy it too. 
If you are well in tune with podcasts and would like 
to recommend ones that interest you...I am all ears! 

Here are a few others I enjoyed 
while running errands before the 'big snow' today..

An interview with Jo Malone 
and her new autobiography,
via

An interview with Anthony Bourdain 
on writing and travel with David Remnick 
via


Speaking of snow
We have a lot and it is still coming down.
I will sign out here..
Wishing you well from snowy New Hampshire!

Tahilla Farm
February 2017

Happy Listening!

Jeanne xx

PS..
Thank you all so much for your
kind words in remembrance of our
dear Tika. xx

23 January 2017

Puppy Love...True Love..Farewell Tika



Tika in Australia, 2003

Dear Friends,

I have stopped and started this post so many times in the past weeks... a loss for words, until now. Many of you would have seen on my Instagram post that our dear Tika passed away peacefully. Her 14.7 adventurous years had come to an end at Tahilla Farm in New Hampshire…a long way from her birthplace in Melbourne, Australia. We all take comfort that she is resting with us and is now part of the Tahilla Farm story.

09 December 2016

Hong Kong, London, Tahilla and a Christmas Book List

Birds of a feather flock together and guard the Christmas trees in New Hampshire, USA

There is no other way to start this blog post other than jumping in and saying HELLO!  Some of you may have thought I had travelled off into the midnight blogging sky never to return...again. My great attempt to complete a 30 post writing quest by the end of 2016 has gone awry...as life often does. I have decided to postpone it for another year....when life settles down a bit. (cough, cough, if ever) ;)

If I told you what I have been up to in the past month you would think I was nuts. As I know many of you already do...I won't add to that number!

14 November 2016

Hello...it's me

Just checking in to say...
I did something out of the ordinary recently
and booked myself a photo session.
It was time to be me.

Say what?
Yes, time to be me.

Simply said..
I hate having my picture taken.
The art of dodging an eager photographer 
is a specialty of mine. 

The only one who always 
seems to be one step ahead of me 
is my mother-in-law.
Clever woman.

I decided to 'just do it'
and where better than Sydney.

07 November 2016

What's with the Happy?

via

What's with the Happy?
My youngest son and I have been spending quality time together these past weeks. He is embarking on his senior year of high school, prepping for a long year in anticipation of the HSC (High School Certificate) in New South Wales, Australia.

03 November 2016

Walking on Sunshine with Lucy, Ethel and a Winner...



Good Afternoon!

I am signing back in from Sydney 
with a view to the Harbour Bridge.
I snapped this pic on my morning walk.

I love this time of year...
when the Jacaranda trees start to burst 
with beautiful lavender blooms.
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