Tag Archives: art

Hands, flowers, inspiration

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. – Thomas Merton

There is nothing more healing for a weary soul than a true dose of inspiration. I don’t mean a feel-good buzz, groundless “be happy” optimism or pretty things. I mean something that connects you to fun, rest and purpose. Something that recharges your flat batteries. Something that reminds you that it is really a gift to be alive.

I woke up on Saturday morning feeling weary. I had arrived in Singapore just the day before, and I was happy that my aunt had signed herself, my cousin and I up for a treat, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a floral arrangement workshop. I like working with my hands in certain things – like cooking (and very occasionally, attempting to ‘garden’) – but I wasn’t sure about flowers. I thought it might be too complex / feminine / romantic for me …

We had a delicious breakfast at Kith before going to Marina Square for the workshop. Walking in to XTRA and seeing their new showroom reminded me of how wonderful it is to have our human senses.

To see, touch, listen to, smell, feel stuff – even furniture – provides an experience that digital platforms will never replace.

I was also reminded that though we get many great deals shopping online, we need to support our retailers where possible if we want to keep having wonderful shops to walk into!

The air was gloriously scented with the perfume of fresh flowers. And when I laid eyes on the workshop space and the tall, graceful blooms and leaves, I felt a little leap of excitement.

Ching (from Triceratops) made us feel at home immediately, with her warm, honest introduction to flowers and the art of floral arrangement. She was generous with her knowledge, and patient and gracious in answering our questions.

As promised in the brochure on this workshop: ‘ideal for beginners’, it was delivered at a great pace for this complete novice. In saying that, I am sure even seasoned florists would gain some insight and inspiration from it.

We learned where to buy materials at a good price, how to prepare and preserve flowers, and how to present them in a beautiful way. Details weren’t glossed over – we learned how to tie ‘the perfect bow’, even with a ribbon that was shiny on one side and not the other.

Ching gave us a few great ideas for delivering maximum impact with minimum effort – e.g. displaying a single sprig of mint fern in a vase. How’s that for easy?

Ching’s ‘demo’ arrangement came together rapidly, seamlessly and beautifully … that’s 16+ years of experience and passion for you ;-)

Before long, it was time for us to get our hands dirty (and perfumed).

It was fascinating to see how everyone else worked on their arrangement. Even people who selected a very similar combination of flowers and leaves put things together in such unique ways.

Though part of the work had been done for us (vase + sponge + bottom layers + water – check!) I realised it had looked WAY easier than it was (for me anyway!)

Fortunately, Ching and her team were on hand to give us lots of help and advice :-)

And we got there in the end.

The biggest takeaways for me personally were the fantastic tips – and the wider principles to apply in life and art: practice, patience, and remaining connected in what you do :-)

Thank you Ching, Triceratops, XTRA and my aunt for this wonderful and uplifting experience.

A shiny new header – and a kitchen experiment

The trees are God’s great alphabet:
With them He writes in shining green
Across the world His thoughts serene.
~ Leonora Speyer

I’m not sure there is an adequate way to describe art which makes your heart twinkle… alright, see the new header graphic above? How can one not smile at it? Do you like it? I think it’s more delicious than a generous slice of moist banana-chocolate cake… it makes me wish I was sitting up on that tree branch asking you to come up and join me for a cup of tea. It’s a dream, is it not? I hope you like it too, especially if you visit my blog often… thank you Mr Piper for designing it! :-)

Tonight was the first night in awhile of cooking for all my flatmates again, and I couldn’t decide what to make. Steak? Pasta? Something crazy? In the end, I decided to make do with whatever I could find…

So. Four potatoes. One pack of chicken thighs. Leftover salad. An orange. A lonely nashi pear. A small handful of hazelnuts. An even smaller handful of dried apricots. Hmm…

I like mentally choosing a dish, and going to the supermarket to buy what I need. I like walking around the market, thinking about what to make and buying what I need for it there. I like having a lot of ingredients to choose from and work with. Spontaneous as I am, I usually like feeling prepared ingredients-wise when I’m cooking for others… tonight, though, I decided to relax and try cooking something out of nothing, so to speak.

It was good fun.

Of course, our cupboards and fridge were not too desolate, which made things a little easier. I sliced the chicken thighs into mini strips, washed and cut the potatoes, set some rice to cook in a bubbling saucepan of water.

I fried the chicken strips in warm, shimmering olive oil with garlic, mustard, paprika and chilli, adding the apricots, hazelnuts and a sprinkle of dried basil and mint in later. Boiled the potatoes. Zested an orange, cut most of the orange into cubes, tossed it all in with the leftover salad and left a wedge of orange out to make a simple orange juice salad dressing. I dusted the nashi pear pieces with some salt and added them in to the salad (sweet and crunchy, so good!).

And there we have it… a random dinner. Ate with my flatmates, and it was great. As a bonus, Matt was so good as to wash the dishes too. :-)

Goodnight!