30 January 2013

Karen Blixen...in the afternoon light



Image by me... turning pages in the afternoon light at Chateau Mango.

In the afternoon light, in the far corner of District 2 of Ho Chi Minh City, 
I am thinking of Karen Blixen, also known as Isak Dinesen. My thoughts 
have travelled as a result of a surprise package. One that came a great distance, 
from Copenhagen, where a talented woman by the name of Carina 
so kindly thought of me and Karen Blixen in the same light. 

26 January 2013

Life at the Chateau...



My collage...a fan to stay cool, my art easel needing new pegs, a gardenia plant and lotus plants 
to add to the garden, Tika taking in a swim and making friends with our Buddha, Mr. Thuan 
hosing down new pots and vases, re-potting for our orchids and new signs of growth...I just love that!


Home alone....
I am writing from Chateau Mango today...our home in Vietnam.. dressed in the colour of a ripe mango.
I have been home alone for a week..a most unusual feeling. Mr. H headed off to India and young Connor went off to Dalat, Vietnam for a week long school trip. Tika (faithful canine) and I held down the Chateau along with Miss Huyen (cheerful cook), Mr Khai (driver and keen gardener), Thuan (quiet gardener) and Mr. Tam (attentive night guard). This kind of 'home alone' experience wasn't so alone but it was enjoyable none the less.

The party's over....
The last of our children and house guests departed last week after a five week buzz of activity. I admit there was quite a bit of 'woe is me' going on. It hit me like a lead weight. Miss Claire flew out the door for an early morning flight back to the USA and I felt the rug pull out from under me. We all know the feeling..I call it the 'wind down'. You have to start again, one step at a time. It takes me a few days and  I am happy to report that my few days around the chateau helped tremendously.

Garden, write, read, photos, cook...
I am nearly done with the wreck I call my office, I watched 'Tea with Mussolini' which I love and  the BBC classic 'North and South' written by Elizabeth Gaskell. I admit to having a crush on English actor, Richard Armitage. I have lots of crushes..shhhh (here).  I explored the outer reaches of Ho Chi Minh City for pots and urns for our garden, re-potted our orchid collection, dragged out my art easel for a bit of tweaking, spent way to much time in my favourite books shop, ARTBOOK..., got back to the gym and stepped up my game and spent time in the kitchen discovering old recipes and trying new ones.

Most importantly...I thought of you, dear reader 
and what you might enjoy so..without further adieu..

Linking in from Chateau Mango...

Gardens and food...

Love figs? check this recipe out. 
Personally if I could devour a plate of fresh figs and blue cheese 
with a bit of prosciutto on top..I would. But I have to think healthy...
or so I have been told by my inner self.

I have been tinkering around the garden this week...vying for space. 
Every time I finish reading Gardenista..I run out to the garden 
to fuss with things. It is that inspiring! 
BTW...be sure to check out Remodelista while you are there.


Read ' 10 Easy Pieces: Editor's Favourite 
Gardening Books' by Janet
@ Gardenista here


Visit 101 Cookbooks while you are there...just lovely. 
If you go to 101 Cookbooks..you will want more and if you want more 
you have to visit Thyme...Sarah is the best!


via


One last word on food... Heather @ Lost in Arles posted a fab review 
of the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook which I quickly 
went off to discover. Don't miss this post..she will tell you all about it.



Style, Art and Decorating....

Are you a Style Maven? 
I am not ...but I do have my own style..
which I have been kindly told by friends..is interesting. 
I discovered Hemingway and Hepburn today..
love the site and the name..


via


Honestly, if there was a design sisterhood...
I would put Design Chic at the top of my list. 
Every post is a pinfest for me. In fact, I think it would have to two 
for first place, for Cindy Hattersley keeps me pinhopping too.


via


Speaking of pinfest...I have been doing a bit of that lately. 
I organised my files, consolidated and actually enjoy 
hanging out there now. This week..
my favourite personal boards are Farmhouse 
where I stash my decorating ideas for Tahilla Farm...  
Art where I think about creative places and what can 
happen in them and Create for all those projects.. 
that if you put some thought into it..
you could probably make most of them yourself. 
There is a whole lot of pinning going on there.

For those of you with a bit of caftan love 
and who love checking in J. Peterman now and again.
This Ornate Paisley Caftan...'Apolline' is on sale..
and I for one am very tempted. And you?



and something new...

I love discovering new blogs...today Wallace Gardens..
you can find tweet with Sassy Nancy..here

via Sassy Nancy at Wallace Gardens

Can you tell that I am getting my mojo back?
I will stop there before I lose you all together but I will say
if you want to keep going, you can join me on Facebook 
because there is a whole lot more...thoughts on pots, 
needing decorating advise, the story  "Mrs. Wharton Goes Canoeing"
an Inaugural poemBarn Dance signs
Paris travel tips, a car to love, the story on the pots below.. all here
Hope to see you there!




With parting thoughts and wishes for a wonderful weekend 
to you all..my music crush, James Taylor.
Pass the tissue!

Jeanne xx


21 January 2013

The Photography Lesson #saigon




I made a pact with myself this year that I would stop talking and start doing.
There are a few things on my list, that pop up each year...
only to be added to the next year.
A photography lesson is one of them. 
Call it lazy, call it paranoid, there has always been a reason.
Not so this year.

I managed to pass the camera bug on to my daughter, Miss Claire.
I have been promising her a mother and daughter photo session
for a long while. With a five week visit home, it was the perfect time.
A recommendation from a friend and a bit of circumnavigating
around the net put me on to Peter Stuckings
a talented photographer, under his own label, IndoChina Images.
Miss Claire and I signed up for a private lesson,
the 'Better Travel Photography Workshop'.

Travel Photographer, Peter Stuckings

Our mission was to walk away with a clearer understanding
of the big three. The ones that so often get us in a twist...
Exposure, Shutter Speed and Aperture.
Eight hours later... after intensive discussion, reviewing
personal photos and going 'walkabout' Saigon.
I have to admit...we started to 'get it'
Mission accomplished...at least for now.

Miss Claire enjoying the results of her efforts.

Our practice shots were fun but not so easy.
Peter encouraged us to embrace speed...as in shutter speed.
The object was to capture passing cyclists in motion.
We attempted this in a number or ways.
All I can say is the one where I had to stand still and
turn with the passing motorist from the waist...was a challenge.
It was hard to ignore the stares...the ones that said..' you crazy woman'.






Peter said once we understood the concept and attempted
more practice sessions, we would be hooked.
I know he is right...I can't wait to get back on that street corner again.


 With thanks to Peter for sharing his expertise. I am more
determined than ever as a result of his efforts and
excited to be joining his upcoming Travel Photography Workshop
with fellow travel photographer Mark Stennett in a few weeks time.
If you are interested in photography workshops and tours around Saigon and further
afield into Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Laos and Mt Everest Base Camp..
 you can read more here and here.

With that, I leave you to enjoy the rest of this beautiful weekend
and I hope you can do the same. I am in the midst of exploring
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4, do you know it?
Peter gave it a big thumbs up...it looks wonderful.
Do I dare?

After watching this video featuring American Photographer,
Nevada Wier...I am very tempted!

http://youtu.be/2N6iTzdiYFs



Happy Creating!!

Jeanne xx

13 January 2013

Art, music, books...create!




'Uluru' by Jeanne Henriques

On this Saturday afternoon in Ho Chi Minh City
I offer one of my playlists,  'Create'. 
When I need to produce something, 
whatever it may be, I listen to the music below.
In the case above, it involved a canvas, a few buckets of sand, 
a can of paint the colour of the Australian outback
and Yo Yo Ma. It was fun!
Most of my playlist is from movie soundtracks. 
If you click on the links, you will find the songs.
Happy Listening!


For Good 
from show...Wicked
Follow the Flower 
from Under The Tuscan Sun
Dawn  
from Pride and Prejudice
All that I need is Love
by Melody Gardot
Gabriel's Oboe     
from The Mission
Suite for Solo Cello
    No 1 in G Major ...   
by Yo Yo Ma
Julia's theme   
from Julie and Julia
O Mio Babbino   
from No Reservations
Building a Family
from Life as a House
Boeuf Bourguignon   
from Julie and Julia
Baby Alessandra    
from Under the Tuscan Sun
Liz on Top of the world
from Pride and Prejudice
Wish You Were Here
from Under the Tuscan Sun


FYI
Talking music, movies, books, travels and
a whole lot more on Facebook.
If you care to join us, you can 'Like' my page 
HERE




Best wishes for a fabulous weekend to you!
Happy Creating :)
Jeanne xx

09 January 2013

Life, wisdom and creative retreats






I received a letter recently from a very wise friend, Joan, who so inspired me by her words (as she always does) that I asked if she would mind if I shared her letter. I met Joan as I have so many of you, through Collage of Life. Words reaching out from one to another, creating friendships of like minds, of kindred spirits. I call it the gift of blogging.

Being the gracious soul that she is, Joan was more than happy for me to share her letter and sent along the quote by Thoreau to set the tone. I am sharing because I believe there is a message in it for all of us. Especially those of us who are reflecting on the chapters of our lives. With the New Year spirit in your heart and soul... I offer wisdom and creative retreats..


Excerpts from a letter..

Dear Jeanne...

Normally I would say that age between like-minded people makes no difference and should not be referred to.  But -- and I am guessing like you -- about 50, more windows opened in my brain - opened in the beginning without being quite aware.

But then - then -- I noticed that I had come into my own in so many ways that I had not seen before.  What did I notice?  A confidence at a level I had not experienced before.  A faster stride in my step - my actual step.  A step with purpose.  The beginning of wisdom, just the beginning . . . but as time went on it became more noticeable to me.  And yes, I believe to others.  There seemed a new found respect.  People listened like I was one they could believe.  Sometimes I felt like one of those monks high in a mountain in Nepal in a cave with people coming up to make a pilgrimage to gain my knowledge.  I did not speak unless I felt sure of myself because often, other lives would be too affected to make missteps.

Perhaps I am reading through your words.  Frankly, I don't think so.  I see you as I was when I was fully coming into my own.  It is a good feeling. . . but I believe what I really want to say is that as talented, having the ability to swing with all sorts of circumstances and come up on top, juggling and seldom dropping a single ball that I can see, I will tell you that you are in the beginnings of the best chapter in your life if you make it so.

I watch closely, observe others, and instead of opening up at 60, they begin slowly closing up like a Japanese fan.  But that is not you and me.  I know it may be hard to believe, but the best of life is yet to come.  . and the best simile I can explain it with is that more and more windows open up and wisdom flows out.


Wisdom you are going to be able to use in so many important ways.  You will feel that there is nothing you can not do -- and succeed in.  You begin to fully flower -- as you only thought you did before. 

Just so you know, I hate the word "retirement" as too often it smacks of sitting on the sofa watching TV and letting life pass you by.  Instead of that, for you it will be a new door opening and another chapter beginning.  I think of life as series of sidewalk pavements.  Most often we are not aware that we have stepped over the line to the next part of life for quite a while -- but as long as we move forward, always LIVING LIFE and being sure you do every single day.  No vegetating as usually I equate it with slowing down -- and as I look at my friends who have given up really living --- you never want to do that.  It can start early -- and I am so fast at picking it up in others. 

I loved the MacDowell Art Colony video and I have followed them and other writers' retreats:
Click here: Residency | Ragdale  and that is one of many.

Don't let a day go by that you are not learning as you are hopefully enjoying and growing.  I am sure that there are days you wonder -- but all that is you is a part of a larger jigsaw puzzle that will all fit together when you can give your all to every talent you have. In other words, it will pay off.  Try to believe me as this is what I have done - always reaching out, always learning - and I find life thrilling, productive, and in my heart of heart, I feel like a woman of worth (without the bragging part).

Jeanne, I am knee deep in Christmas at home --- and I cannot believe that somehow you inspired me and I wrote "a book" to you in the midst of wrapping paper -- but it seemed the right time -- and perhaps bits and pieces can be my Christmas gift to you.  I want to say:  just wait until you see what is ahead for you!  Your own life has just begun -- and it gets better, or so I have found.

I want you to know that if you always are looking at what lies over the next hill in life, I promise that the wonders that still lie ahead will be all you would want and more.  I can say it as this is what I discovered --- and still discover for it seems to be never ending.

Much love and those moments of joy and happiness that drop out of the sky and fill our hearts,

Joan

note: Joan is a writer, adventurer and world traveler. Her heart is clearly set on Antarctica..a place she considers to be her second home. With this note, I send my thanks once again to Joan for her wisdom, encouragement and friendship. I am blessed. :) You can meet Joan..here.

For Joan..



With thanks to Maude for passing along these encouraging words 
on an adventurous life. They speaks volumes..
Maude is part of the Tahilla Farm story, another gift of blogging.

Joan referred to creative retreats, you will find video clips 
for each..here and here. They are both equally inspiring.

With that, I send best wishes to one and all 
for a wonderful week ahead.
I hope all of the above inspires you as much as it did me
and helps you to plan the next chapter of your life. 
This is my way of 
Paying it Forward...to you.

Best wishes..

Jeanne xx


The beauty of friendship..the smiles 
that come with each and every one.





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