Faces in the crowd

Did you know that when you draw, you see more? You see more of details, the proportions, the faces..yes, the faces in the crowd.

It’s the same as when you read more, then you can write more. I don’t know about you, but I think I can’t make this Blog happen if I am not fond of reading.

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Faces in the crowd, can you recognize yourself ?

Last week, I have shared with you a glimpse of my artwork.Given the time, painting is one of the things that I love to do second to photography.  This year, I also wanted to take and make better photos, both personally and for the blog so I’ve tried a new camera lens and I am so happy with the results. I love the shots I took, all stunning. I’ve got to test its shutter and performance yesterday when we did another unexpected adventure- walking on a frozen lake! I guess that what goes around, comes around so here’s another watercolor art that I specifically associated with myself.  I call them ‘Faces in the crowd’. These are the product of my imagination while I’m having conversations with my palette and my brushes. Mostly done at night when my daughter is fast asleep. I also got new brushes so I’m just happy to do some art therapy when I can squeeze some time.

One of the subjects I’d like to work in painting are faces, especially women. I just find it an enigma to draw women from  characters that are swimming in my mind. I don’t have a particular technique but I’d like to mix n’match the layers with different intensity of washes. The shadows,the playful and geometric patterns I used to ‘give character’ is something that follows after I draw out their personality . The side of the face that shown is also important to portray an activity . I haven’t tried yet doing portraits of live people but who knows, maybe I will soon. I remember that during my childhood days, I often doodles ladies with a mannequin form so I can cut them out to be dolls. It’s a thing in the school where you also made paper dresses for each ladies.Such nostalgia.

For me, the eyes are the focal point in my painting  since it’s the one thing that draws interest to the whole aura. It’s the one showing the most sentiment. I’m no expert but women in particular are such a great subject because I can incorporate myself in them. They are someone I can relate.

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Today she puts on flowers on her head.

I was doing a course about the Modern Art and I have learned so many facts and facets about Modern Art of today and the way it paves way to an artist’s interpretation of everyday life. The symbols, the icons, and their dreams made into a work of art that can also perceived as an expression of their emotions or rather, an artist’s interpretation. The use of different medium and depicting a raw rendition of human’s inner emotions into an unrealistic landscapes. If you’d notice, I like to play with colors as well. It’s like the Rolling stones’ song “She’s like a rainbow “ and that my characters always comes in colors. I often think that a colorful face is such a powerful tool to convey so many things and that art and its form is unlimited. That the message it transmits solely depends on the viewer’s perspective. This makes me revisit  my memories when I saw the works of the Dutch masters in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

What do you think about colorful faces? Does it exudes a sense of individuality ?

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She’s one of the few faces I can’t forget

Today I have decided to put these ladies in one couch for them to gather together and get to know each other.  It would be brilliant if they were in a Tête à Tête sofa.The others will follow soon and join them. The stories behind each one of them is still untold but I leave you with your own interpretations. I hope someday you can know them individually.

But right now, I am  glad to share with you some faces in the crowd from  my conversations with pallet and paintbrushes.

When was the last time you have seen a beautiful thing, so interesting, and so moving that it affects you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking on a frozen lake

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Walking on the frozen lake
Would you walk  on a frozen lake? Or what about running after your kid in it? Well today, I just did. But hey,  its a Frozen lake! 

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Germans walking their dogs in the Auswaldsee
The past weeks here in Bavaria has been cold and temperatures are negative. Really freezing cold.Now mother nature have done something during these times, somewhat surprising us with a frozen delight to appreciate the cold.The waters in the dam turns into ice, with zero current. I was totally clueless this could happen, more because I’ve never seen such thing before. I didn’t expect that the Baggersee and the Auswaldsee will get frozen! Last summer, I remember walking around the lake and we had an amazing time exploring the nature around,watching the deers, enjoying its blue waters on a sunny day. I also cycled here last Fall and watch how it turned into a nature paradise of trees in their colorful  leaves. Such a beautiful scenic place! Its typical to bring a picnic, camp, and  some fishing enthusiasts flock in this lake to fish, sail a romantic boat and watch the time goes by.

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Meeting up in the frozen lake
But I never really expected that one day, I would be walking through the lake, walking on normal ice.It is an amazing experience, but scary as well. Especially when you are walking with a two-year old. I don’t even want to imagine a rescue scene here so it took guts to finally step on it.

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Lazy sunday walks is perfect on a frozen lake

Today was another day that’s still cold, still negative temps but at least we had some sun. You can tell that it’s a good weather today compared to yesterday where in we freeze our asses out in the cold.We needed to be out  the whole day since we look into the 5 prospective Kita for my daughter.A day like this, as usual,the  Germans are out, doing their usual routines. I already noticed that the waters of the dam were frozen ice. There is no movement  anymore and it reminds me of the movie ‘Frozen’ when Elsa freeze the fjord . Its my daughter’s favorite movie so yes, I know it!

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A game of Eisstockschiessen, It’s a Bavarian thing!
It was so nice breathing in the crisp winter air, enjoying the scenery . It’s always a great time to just be out and stay under the sun. People are walking in their heavy bundles, carrying backpacks with thermos. Some are still braving the cold cycling, and of course, since this is Germany, people run, jog and do Nordic walking. We were surprised to see so many ducks, swans, and birds gathering there in the thin ice. People start to feed them with bread crumbs so they flocked on one side while the rest stay on the other side, having a nice sunbathing. I love to watch in silence how the ducks and the swans swim in the icy cold waters.

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Enjoying some wildlife scenery
I tell you, I was apprehensive at first to do this. What if it cracks?  I didn’t know how thick the ice could be. What if I step on a thin ice and it breaks? Would I survive from the cold?

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The birds are chillin…A typical sight in the the frozen Auswaldsee
I see so much fun around me. People are playing Eistocks schiessen and broom hockey. Kids are ice skating, sledding with their parents, and enjoying the experience of being in the icy lake. I walked with my daughter as well, holding her tight because she keeps on falling. I am so sure I’ve stomped on my feet just to check if the ice is really that hard! It felt so different,really surreal, but then so fun!  You really need to wear the right shoes or else your toes will freeze as well.The scenery of Baggersee this winter is what the Dutch called as Gezelligheid, different and overwhelming. A different winter beauty worthy to see.

Watching the families frolicking on the clear frozen lake, some running after their dogs would surely brings a smile on anyone for sure. It’s so crazy that parents even brought the stroller there.No matter how tempting and thrilling this experience, I recommend to be always be on safety especially if you don’t know the nature of the frozen lake. Make sure that the lake is frozen enough to enjoy!  It can be scary if you underestimate the thin ice on frozen lakes.

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Just a duck
Another helpful hint is to monitor any cracks in the ice. Ideally they should look about four to six inches or deeper, although people have skated on three-inch thick ice. Also, dark, fresh ice is safest. And remember that occasional rumbling and cracking are normal.

Don’t let a little cold weather stop you from enjoying the sun on a cold freezing winter days! 

Now did this awaken your interest? Personally,I admit its bucket list for me since I grew up in a tropical country.So here are some tips for you to enjoy winter days in a frozen lake if you are planning to visit one. Best of all, most of them are free;

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One fine hazy afternoon in a frozen lake
Ice skating. The most obvious activity is also the most timeless. No need to pay for an indoor or small outdoor rink.

Broom hockey. If you have actual hockey gear, by all means have at it.  Broom hockey is a fun team-based activity to enjoy on the frozen water, with or without skates.

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Reflection of the sun in the ice
Ice stock Schiessen. Also known as Bavarian Curling. In German, it is known as Eisstockschießen. Competitors slide ice stocks over an ice surface, aiming for a target, or to cover the longest distance. Ice stocks have a gliding surface, to which a stick (ca 30 cm) is attached. This is a new sight to me so I really enjoyed watching how they play the game.

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Bavarian Curling or Eisstockschiessen
Photography. I’m no expert. But a frozen lake may very well be more beautiful and majestic than a thawed lake. I’ve shared here some of the shots I’ve made today. All stunning. So why not catalog and capture your own impressive views of the lake?

 

Wildlife observation. Not all birds fly south for winter. So take a pair of binoculars and listen to the sounds. Admittedly, you won’t encounter flocks of species in the winter. But with the refreshing silence, you’ll immediately know when you encounter something of interest. And you’ll be reminded of how delicate life can be. Watching the ducks and swans can even be therapeutic.

 

Enjoy the silence. In the mountains, like our winter wonderland in the Zugspitze Arena enjoying the Alps  the surroundings as well in the lake is so serene. So relaxing.So peaceful because you are close to nature. The only sound you hear probably is the ohhhs & ahhhs when you are about to slip! Be careful!

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The art of capturing the winter beauty
Weather watching. Before you roll your eyes, know this: weather conditions at lakes are something fierce. Weather conditions at frozen lakes can be even fiercer, so it’s easier and more impressive to observe. Case in point: Fog banks, ice crystals, sunsets, and ice floes, all of which make their appearance this time of year. A dam that is completely zero current–that’s quite a sight!

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A small fall near the dam
Dog sledding, etc. This is what I knew Germans to be doing 24/7, no matter what the weather! Walking with their dogs is considered as a habit here, so why not let him do some fun adventure as well. Dog sledding is new hype.

Can’t believe that January will soon be over,time flies. How are you surviving the cold?

Have you ever tried walking on a frozen lake?  Do you remember doing some thing for the first time?

Thank you so much for reading my friends. Wishing you all a great week ahead.If you enjoy this post and want to see more of my photography , follow me on Instagram and my Expat stories!

 

 

 

Painting my own reality

” When words fail.. colors sing! “

Lately, I found myself engrossed in painting, after all, it’s one of my firsts love. I believe that there’s an artist in all of us, it’s an innate nature, but we all need time, a time to just sit around and do nothing.Time is so precious that  fractal moments in it creates priceless discoveries. I rediscover myself, going back to familiar surroundings, with colors and splashes. One of my friend commented : “I didn’t know that you were good in painting”. She means I finally take the guts to show it.You see, creativity takes courage.

Holding my paintbrush feels like visiting an old dear friend, there’s this familiar feeling, you feel the excitement,you can’t wait to dub your brush into the water and get into circular movements, the sound it makes against the glass, the creative spirit in me is bursting. I cringe when I splatter colors and rush to wash it off, my paintbrush dances gracefully as my emotions goes with my thoughts. I have conversations with my paintbrushes and they transmit my thoughts in colors. When life makes a shift and priorities changed, this part of me is kept well hidden, it’s just there,dormant, like a jewelry that I never wear.  I thought I’ve lost it but the seasons in my life paved way for its comeback, like spring after the long dark days of winter. I find myself once again when I lost myself.

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 My conversations with my Sisters in mosaic. Thinking about how life with sisters creates colors in my life, in different shades and intensity. (Watercolor/Aquarelle/Crelando)

I adore art in various forms but didn’t pursue any art studies. Drawing and arts has been in my life for so long that I can remember. During my childhood, I always love doing some creative arts and I always look forward to our Art subject. Nothing fancy, I thought its  just normal thing to do, a pastime maybe, but hey, life seems to be simpler back then. We don’t have the technology to amuse us, so we need to use whatever resources we have. I only have 1 box of Crayola (crayons), a prime staple in any grade school kid. My watercolor palette was a 2-row with just the basic colors and it can go for years. I craved for those “flashy” ones I’ve seen in the shop but it was expensive. Those time I haven’t heard of cray pastels, oil & acrylic paints or even a cold-pressed papers. I just draw in a normal bond paper.My favorite subjects were abstracts, nature, illustrations of people. I love the faces, the eyes, and the emotions in it.

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Color is my day long obsession
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My Crelando color pallet which my husband gifted me last Christmas.I thought its super sweet and definitely worth more than any bling-bling.

Coincidentally that  my days back then in Kuwait revolves colors as well. My previous work deals with painting, coating & varnishes every single day . I never imagined that there is such a thing as RAL standardReichs-Ausschuss für Lieferbedingungen) and that I could be so efficient in decoding RAL colors and shades from a given sample. I mixed colors and with the help of chemistry, I create a unique design for powder coating, that is, for architectural finishes.My drawer is filled with different shade panels, color palettes and I am the first person to ask for color specifications. Colors plays an important role in creating something useful, in creating something beautiful. But then, I think of it as work. And when you work, it’s a reality that you are compensated in what you do. It’s a perk if you enjoy it, which not all people have the privilege.

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What A beautiful mess

I believe that doing arts is like bridging your new joy. It can change your emotions, even boost your confidence. It silences your worries and deepen your understanding of yourself. Who would thought that a yellow paint can make sunshine and daffodils? or that red hues can manifest the emotions of roses? It transmits happiness.

If you know that you have painting as your desire, you need to do it. Squeeze time to make it real and get your resources be handy. Because you owe it to yourself and not for the sake of others.When I see the changes in my life as a woman, wife and a mother, this part of me was overlooked and paid little attention.

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My favorite part is the face when colors starts to create a personality.

When I become a parent, and responsibilities toll on me heavily, my days were consumed of routines. Living as an expat overwhelmed  me of the change of surroundings, the new places that I have discovered through traveling. The moments of stillness of just sitting creating an artwork seemed like a luxury that I cannot afford on a daily basis, especially when I have a super active toddler to chase. Colors, brushes and pencils have become my tools for stimulation, my lifesavers when all others fail to entertain the child.

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Where roses sing and never  lose their vibrant color.

For me, my painting, my paintbrushes are like medicine. A time for me to surrender myself and let the colors decide my moods. It heals, it creates something magical, an escape from the orderly chaos that surrounds myself. I still need to learn so much. There are so many options. Painting nowadays is my perspective of ordinary things. My own reality.

Have you ever done something that makes you feel alive again?

A little inspiration to ignite your creativity in simple ways.

It’s Wednesday  already and we’re halfway through the week. Have a lovely day my friends!

 

 

Fateh al-Khair : Graceful against the wind

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Fateh Al-Khair – The last surviving Dhow ship displayed in front of the Scientific Center in Kuwait. (c.1938)

The Fateh Al- Khair  and its voyage  to India and Africa up until 1952 is one of Kuwait’s local pride and symbol of cultural heritage. They are called the “graceful “sailing ships . Built to withstand against the strong winds , these boats are with triangular sail (lateen)  set on a long yard mounted at an angle on the mast, and running in a fore-and-aft direction. For me, grace is an art and act of doing things in a dignified motion, like elegance against turbulence.

Living in Kuwait means seeing Dhow ships like this on a daily basis, as you see date trees almost everywhere!  Staring at them takes you back to the time where in dhows are the mighty means of transport of trading during the good old days, before the oil was discovered. The marine lifestyle of Kuwait is still so very active up to this day, although Kuwaitis prefer to travel leisurely  by yachts & private-owned boats. Fateh Al-Khair stands as a perfect memento of Kuwait’s  rich maritime culture. I won’t be surprised if they will build another extension of The Avenues with the concept of a dhow ship, after all, it’s the Top 1 Attraction in Kuwait!

Fateh Al Khair, is a surviving deep-sea sailing ship from the pre-oil era, that is displayed as an exhibit in front of the Arabian Gulf right inside the grounds of the Kuwait’s Scientific Center. Fateh Al Khair  is 19.8 meters long, 8.1 meters wide and 4.9 meters high. This ship was designed and built in Kuwait in 1938. The building of the ship took 18 carpenters who worked 60 days round the clock and cost approximately 17,000 rupees, which was the currency prevalent at that time. The dhow is made from Indian timber and weighs 95 tons when empty and can sail up to 13 knots.
In my days spent in Kuwait, I visited the Dhow harbor frequently since it’s just a few meters away from where I live. Seeing it against the background of  beautiful azure blue waters of Arabian Gulf makes me feel proud that once in my life, I have seen this important part of Kuwaiti culture. She’s a  fine noble ship, surviving the harsh winds from her voyages, and now, she rested with pride, gracefully.
Her legacy –  a Dhow ship in full sail is represented in the Emblem of Kuwait, emphasizing its traditional importance in the country, where it was used to carry fresh water and in the pearl industry, as well as a trading ship.
Are you fascinated with the Arabian culture?
If you want to read further about the Maritime Culture of Kuwait,here are some useful posts that I have written documenting my experience of seeing them. I got  married in the Guiness World Record- “Al Hashemi II “, the largest boat I have ever boarded, and even celebrated most of my special days in one of the traditional “Booms”.
Do you have a boat experience? What’s the biggest boat you’ve ever boarded?
If you like to see more photos with stories, please check out my Instagram and follow my Twitter for more updates! Have a great week…

This post is my entry for this week’s  DP Photo Challenge | Graceful

National Tulip Day in the Netherlands

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Fresh tulips in the house
Yesterday was  National Tulip Day in the Netherlands. Everyone is free to pick tulips in the ‘picking garden ‘in the Dam square in Amsterdam. Bursting with around 200,000 tulips on display, an event that should not be missed if you’re in town. More than 10,000 people come and pick their own free tulip, and you know what makes this event really rocks?  

You pick FREE tulips of your choice, with its bulbs,so you can bring Spring to your homes,All for FREE! The special theme for 2017 is ‘Mondrian to Dutch Design’, as the Netherlands celebrates 100 years of De Stijl.

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National Tulip Day in the Netherlands
I don’t know about you , but one of the things that I love in this world are Tulips!  Although tulips originally came from Turkey, the Netherlands and Tulips are two things inseparable! Just like Curry wurst and Germany. Yesterday, my husband surprised me with a handful of fresh bulbs of flaming yellow-red tulips, as he always does. He knows that I loved them. The aftermath, of course, me taking some photos and getting some inspiration from it.

There’s something about its slim perfect skinny stem, the fresh long green leaves, and it’s cup petals  bursting with unique charm and beautiful vibrant colors. The “flames” and mosaic in the petals is a total stunner, a nature’s wonder. Tulips  is the ultimate symbolic flower for grace. No wonder tulips (Tulpen)  is  3rd world’s most popular flower! Such a surprise that I married a Dutchman and that tulips is just right in the doorsteps!

Did you know that the first Dutch’s financial bubble is because of tulips? Can’t believe that a single bulb of tulips could cost more than 10 times the annual  income of a skilled person! So precious…

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Tulip mania
The Dutch love affair with tulips during the Dutch Golden Age of the mid-1600s paved way  to tulip bulb bubble or also known as “Tulip Mania”.  Generally considered to be the first recorded financial bubble, the Tulip Mania of 1636-1637 was the time in which tulip bulb prices were propelled by speculators to incredible heights before collapsing and plunging the Dutch economy into a severe crisis that lasted for many years. Incredible, right?

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Graceful tulips
While it’s not the fanciest flower in the garden, the beauty and grace of a simple Tulips means it has become a symbol for many things. Here are some interesting facts about this flower that I have found out;

  • A dark or light-colored center contrasts against the petals and can symbolize a broken or light heart respectively.
  • Bright red is the color of passion and perfect love. Don’t send a bouquet of these flowers to a family member or you’ll be sending the wrong message!
  • Tulips are edible but not medicinal. They become emergency food during WW II.
  • Perfect, enduring love between partners or family members
  • Undying passionate love, whether the passion is spurned or returned
  • Royalty and a regal nature
  • Forgotten or neglected love
  • the 11th wedding anniversary
  • Abundance, prosperity, and indulgence
  • Charity and supporting the less fortunate

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The beauty and grace of a tulip flower
I fell in love with tulips even before I have seen a real one. Seeing it from the magazines and in TV made me dream to see it for real. I am just so engrossed in its form, and how delicate it looks and yet so proud. Same as an obsessed gardener, I have this urge to plant dozens of bulbs into our garden. Spring is still  far away from our doorsteps and yet, the sight of tulips in flower shops makes me dream of  bright sunny days ! There’s nothing compares to the sight of  fresh bunch of Tulip  in your hands, in a vase full of these inside your living room, even a single stem can really make a change in the ambiance of your place.

I can’t wait for Spring for our Easter trip to  finally see and visit Keukenhof  gardens to  indulge in the sight of these babies up close!

But for now, this sight is enough for me to look forward for more beautiful days!

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Tulips and a freshly baked Angel Food cake with warm cup of tea equals a perfect  winter weekend treat!

“A tulip doesn’t strive to impress anyone. It doesn’t struggle to be different from a rose. It doesn’t have to. It is different. And there’s room in the garden for every flower.” – Marianne Williamson

 

How did your weekend go? Have you seen something that inspired you?

 

Thank you for stopping by friends. Are you on Twitter? Please follow me on my  Twitter  and my Instagram if you want to see more photos of our adventures and  Expat Life in Germany!

 

Identity symbol, the Kuwaiti style

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Local Sightings : A Giant Kuwait Flag hang in the street during Hala February celebrations in Kuwait

You know you’re an Expat in Kuwait when the sight of the colors red, green, black and white has become a norm wherever you go.

One of the things that stands out and I particularly noticed while living in Kuwait for years was the local’s love of their national flag. It just sprouts everywhere! In the shopping malls, bridges, in the motorway, in almost all building’s facade,in cars and yachts,and oh even in the shirt that people wear! I’m telling you, visiting Kuwait during the festive month of February is quite an experience. As the biggest festival of Hala February approaches, around 4 weeks before the event, almost all houses including office buildings are heavily decorated with life-size Kuwaiti flag. The face of the Amir & the Crown Prince is also almost e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.

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You can’t get lost. These signs will be your guide that you’re still in the country’s premises.

In the Miya-Miya shops ( 100 fils shop or like the Euro shops), tons of things are being sold with designs of the flag as well. From head scarfs, earrings, hats, glasses, pins, dresses, almost anything that you can wear on yourself!  In my old neighborhood alone, where most of my neighbors are Kuwaitis, all villas have this giant size flag hanging from their roof top down to their basement. It’s like their identity symbol. A competition of the biggest flag and I don’t really know who’s winning. Children wear dresses made out of the Kuwaiti flag colors. The colors green,white and red are made into a frenzy lights that dazzled at night. Kuwait loves sparkling, dancing, and almost surreal light displays.Well if you’re in an oil-rich country like Kuwait, you will put lights everywhere,too. This country is really a must see especially in February when they are celebrating their culture, national pride and liberation in their National Day.

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A girl dressed in Kuwaiti colors

I have never seen this kind of patriotism and pride which ever you may call it. Young children are part of this and they enjoyed it the most,for the fun part. In my home country, or in the Netherlands or even here in Germany on a daily basis. Even a Bakala in Kuwait has a flag in their doors. In the Philippines, flags and the ways that its being used is somewhat only  in sanctified functions.Here, I know that a surge of display of flags and symbolism comes very timely during sport tournaments and of course, during Football season and its fanfare.

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Hala Hala Kuwait!

What local sightings do you appreciate or see in your neighborhood?

Are you in Instagram? Follow my account Here for more photos of the local sightings I post about  my Expat life. Thank you for stopping by!

 

 

To love winter is a Privilege

From our recent trip to Austria where I have seen  surreal images of the beauty of snow during a cold Freezing January , I admit I was in love of this pure whiteness all over me. To tell you honestly, coming from one of the hottest country in the world,and grew up in a tropical climate where I only knew humidity, rain & scorching summer, the sight of the mountains, especially the Alps covered in snow, and walking through a gush of  a heavy snow fall, all day, all night, sure thing its a pretty sight. It’s overwhelming for the first time! My husband said ; you are asking for snow, now you have snow!

I can’t stop staring and capturing these moments. All the more that I was immediately smitten when I saw  from Snowmeltssomewhere  her wonderful captures of  the silence, beauty,  and the low visibility in the Finnish Lapland, covered in pure whiteness, almost unreal for someone who experience snow for the first time.

Then comes the second day, the third day and the rest of what we called nowadays, it all becomes…pretty normal. Almost everything. It’s still a winter wonderland, but the “wonder” diminishes gradually.

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To love Winter is a privilege

All I wanted to say is,  to love winter and snow is a privilege.

Because not everyone experience these changing seasons. I, myself was one of them. There are people from the other side of this planet who have never seen a single snowflake in their lives and for them, seeing a place like this is an absolute paradise. They would fly miles away just to see a winter wonderland and experience White Christmas, dressed up in winter clothes and  soak in the winter atmosphere. Yes, they have the right to brag about it. I remember seeing people in Kuwait during the months of December ~January  who dressed up in winter boots, faux fur coats and  wool jackets in a temperature of 10 degrees on a sunny day . Meanwhile, we would all be cycling and taking walks here in Germany in pullover and light jackets. Here in Bavaria, even with the minus temps & snowing, people still cycle to go to school and work, jogging, bringing out their kids in the cold, and walk their dogs on a freezing day. Same routines.

Not everyone have the chance to grow up in a winter wonderland place. I used to dream about snow and a white Christmas too. I wonder how a snowman is being built and how does it feel to ski or even ride a sled. I longed to know how does it feel, and taste the snow, and watch the magical snowflake falls on my face. I was so eager for this experience like a child.

But the fun ends and I won’t lie, I have these secret emotions and I don’t expect that every one of you can relate. Despite the beauty that I’m seeing, I can’t deny that I have these blues that engulfs me whenever I see all these whiteness and exhilarating coldness. I know complaining never helps because I don’t hate the cold, I am not just used to it.

Can anybody relate to my feelings?

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A walk into this winter wonderland.

This biting cold. It creeps to my bones and I can’t stand anymore even 3 seconds without my gloves. One time, in the middle of my Wandertags and my whole body  feels  a surge of panic to get inside immediately or else I couldn’t even  feel my face anymore. I’m afraid I might get a frostbite. I dunno what is a frostbite. No, not yet. That on weekends, I was dying for a bike ride but continuously hesitated, dreading the freezing wind in my face and I know my nose will just be stuffed and becomes runny. How annoying it is to remove your gloves, get a tissue, wipe your nose–all in repetition? Oh well if it itch somewhere, then…

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A christmas Ball covered in snow.

This panic of layering clothes. I am not so conscious but what exactly is Winter fashion?  Here in Germany, I can’t think of any fashion— only Function! You need to dress up for the weather. They say that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. But how much is too much? Is 3 layers enough? Unless you’re attending a very important meeting, your impeccable dress doesn’t matter. At home, dressing up a wiggling toddler is something that we do in haste nowadays, oftentimes leading to drama. Please tell me if you have any tips how can I make my daughter put on her mittens/gloves because it’s always a fight for her to keep it on. Before I could even put on my shoes, she already removed it.

 

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Time to work the messy work in Winter

It’s a hard work pushing! Winter is a lot of work. If I managed to push my daughter’s stroller in the snow-covered streets  for even an hour, then I don’t need to work out anymore. I needed to be cautious in my steps too, or I’ll end up landing my ass in the streets. Even buses I’ve seen have snow chains since roads with ice can be so slippery. Not fun at all. I’m just glad if we survive on a daily basis. Besides,  my toddler might ask me why we need to take walks in these minus temps, freezing cloudy days ,  when all the playgrounds have disappeared, literally!

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A Submerged Mercedes-Benz  in snow .

I’m sweating the moment I get in.I thought I felt cold but why I was sweating so much?  I should blame these layers that I wear. I can’t wait to untangle my scarf when entering a shop but dreading to put it on again after 5 minutes. Is it only me who thinks that drinking Hot chocolate everyday  makes me feel so bloated? I admit I have drink more tea nowadays more than I have ever drink tea in my whole life, also countless trips to the bathroom.

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A  statue covered in snow.

Happy hour is nowhere. No leisure walks outside means no sunsets to watch. It’s just grey & white there,then black. When I am dreading the 5:30 a.m wake up call knowing it’s still pitch black outside and that our days practically ends at 4:00 p.m when everything turns dark. Am I supposed to have early dinner and what else? go straight to bed?  Remembering back in Kuwait where we put on dark curtains just to shield out the bright sun and children are playing up until 1 am in the morning in the park. In winter, all fun is indoors after 4pm. Now that we are living in these changing seasons, the only time Germans go crazy to rush to go outside is when the sun decided to show up. It is a sunny day, but also very cold.

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Snow everywhere and a frozen bird house.

 

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A perfect  natural White Christmas Tree

These Heavy. Winter. Garb. The daunting feeling when you’re about to go outside and start getting dressed, and you grab your winter jacket, boots, hat & gloves. It has become your daily uniform. For quite sometime now. The streets suddenly become narrow  with all these people walking in their stuffy jackets. I wore 2-3  layers of socks sometimes and yet, my toes still feel cold. I must add that wearing tights & leggings becomes a daily struggle.

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I’m not stopping  by this time!

When some friends made  comments about how much they LOVE Winter and the only words that comes out from my mouth is–Yes, it is.  But deep inside, again, these silent emotions– the reality bites of winter. I am thinking how to give a polite answer with all these things in my mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I love winter but sometimes it’s utterly depressing. I see it as everything is hibernating!  I love seeing the snowfall today, and I would love to watch it tomorrow ,again & again. I love-making snowman in our garden with my daughter, after all, I just had a complete winter garb this year, great finds I must say. I love everything about White Christmas too. My first Christkindlmarkt and our first Christmas here in Germany is all good memories although I’m not so fond of Glühwein! But…

 I  hope the warm sun touches my skin again and see  beautiful sunny days…can’t wait!

What about you, what do you like about Winter? Which one of the seasons is your favorite?

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Creating Ambience in your Home

Are you familiar with the good feeling when you finally got home from a long day?

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What’s the aura of your home?

You open the windows and soak the view outside and after kicking your shoes, you lounge in your favorite chair. The familiar scent of your home fills your nostrils. You breathe in and the feeling of sense of belonging…the relaxed feeling, the calmness, right in your cozy own place. Even the taste of your home- made tea , your own favorite mug, the flavor is different from the ones you buy from cafes. It’s all about personal space. I am self-confessed homemaker and for me, creating an aura, a cozy atmosphere in my own place is very important.

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A corner  in our kitchen where we have soothing views of the garden and  ample natural light

Just like style, I believe that creating your own ambience is totally personal. I love it when a simple detail can enhance the overall feel of a room. Be it a lamp shade, a picture frame or a vase full of flowers, it doesn’t matter, the effect always affects your mood. That is why I am a fan of neutral colors and natural lighting from the sun. This is why I love our new home here where we have large windows & doors made of glass.In Germany, curtains are almost rare, totally opposite from the norms in Kuwait where dark,patterned heavy curtains are essential because of the harsh sun.

I can’t claim our home to be completely minimalist ,but it’s almost livable even without the technology disturbances. This works for me since I have a 2 year old kid, where de-cluttering with tons of baby stuff and toys is almost impossible to achieve. Not at the moment. So by keeping things less, it’s less stressful,more appealing and most important –Easy to clean

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A Corner of fond memories of travel and Expat life
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A bathroom with the calmness of greens.It’s only here in Germany where bathroom windows are placed directly facing main streets.

Having an active toddler ushered us to live in simplicity. With the daily chaos and noise from playing, screaming &  running, we’ve been trying as much as possible to bring in the calmness by putting more green plants, keeping our ornaments and decorations to minimum, and keeping our furniture simple and natural. Truly, less becomes more.

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How to create homes with an Ambience .

Our kitchen has the most amazing natural light and I love the views I have when I’m cooking. I watched the sun rises & sets here while I do the dishes,listen to the raindrops, the swaying of the trees, and now, the magical snowfall. Most of the pieces we keep have a sentimental value and putting them in the right places draws us to fond memories of our Expat life.

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What’s the aura of your home?

Ambience is the feeling that you’re creating in which ever place you’re in. Either it has been created by others for you, or self-imposed, you allow that feeling to manifest in your system and to others. As for me, the best ambience to languish is the one coming from your own home. Nevermind the noise, the clutter and the mess–because really, there’s no place like home.

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Our garden in complete whiteness of snow

What about you, what do you think is the impression that others get from your home?

This post is in response to this week’s WP Photo Challenge |Ambience

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99 Names of God | Grand Mosque in Kuwait

The dome of the Grand Mosque in Kuwait is probably one of the most beautiful things created by man and the architecture influenced by Islamic faith in Kuwait.This unforgettable sight is also the center of this mosque (masjid al- kabeer ) and contains the 99 Names of God written around it.The dome of the mosque is 26 metres (85 ft) in diameter and 43 metres (141 ft) high, and is decorated with the Asma al-hosna.

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Dome of the Grand Mosque in Kuwait where the 99 Names of God is written.

According to tradition (hadith) there are 99 names of God in Islam, known as the ʾasmāʾu- llāhi l-ḥusnā (Arabic: أسماء الله الحسنى‎‎) “Beautiful Names of God” (also أسماء الحسنى asmāʾu-l-ḥusnā “Beautiful Names”).

I have made hundreds of photos in my 4 times visiting this Mosque together with my family and friends and each time, I always find so many notable architecture details worth mentioning. Now, as I remember my Expat days back then in Kuwait and exploring the local sightings, the Islamic touch always fascinates me, totally unforgettable .

What about you, what kind of local attractions attracts you the most?

This post is in response to this week’s DP photo challenge |Names

Gästehaus Panorama : A 360° Panoramic stay

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Our Guest cards for the Tiroler Zugspitze Arena

“A 360° Panoramic  surroundings filled with natural landscapes, cozy rooms with  decent amenities, conveniently located, accessible to all attractions in the Zugspitz Arena, and provides a homey atmosphere for my family– This is what I called a “Home away from Home”. The satisfied feeling that I’ve got from our stay in Gästehaus Panorama in Biberwier, Tirol, Austria.”

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Our room view of the Zugspitze mountain in Biberwier,Tirol, Austria
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We have this view while we stand at the entrance of the hotel

If you’re planning for a holiday in the Tiroler Zugspitze Arena, then I highly recommend Gästehaus Panorama for your accommodation. I seldom give reviews on places we’ve stayed , since I don’t have time to look further into details of hotels,or share our experiences, but on our recent Winter Wonderland stay in Biberwier,we were just totally satisfied with this place. It really exceeded my expectations, considering that it’s only a 3-Star hotel as per Hotelstars.Eu standards. The whole region is filled with Pension houses and even on Biberwier/Ehrwald area, almost all houses are turned into a family run hotel business. Gästehaus Panorama offered us with something that you can only have once you’ve experienced it . Once you are here you leave your worries behind and feel totally at home .

 

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Picture of the Winter Wonderland Stay

 

Karin, our Hostess did a wonderful job all throughout the days that she and her family welcomed us in their homey  house located at the foot of the Zugspitze mountain.Our reservation went smoothly and we’ve got immediate confirmation. This hotel is ideally located just a few meters away from restaurants, the Marienberg Ski & Snowboarding resort,and 5 minutes away from the beautiful hiking paths.It has a panoramic views of the mountains, the forest, and sparkling springs that flows nearby. A 3- minute walk to the bus stop for all the Hiking & Winter wandern in the region. There’s so much things to do and I had my top 10 Reasons why I love Winter in Austria,especially in this region.

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Cozy stay at Gästehaus Panorama

Our room was located in the ground floor adjacent to the service entrance area where we can leave my daughter’s Kinderwagen and for guest’s ski and Wintersport gears.There is a Infrared Sauna & Massage room right next to our room. We have TV-Sat, a very good wi-fi connection, closets, and its great that our bathroom was clean, with enough fresh towels & even a hair-dryer! It maybe outdated compared to modern standards but I didn’t see any problem with it.

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Hallway in the ground floor

The beds in Germany and in Austria was one of the culture shock that I eventually got used to. I was so surprised to see that  beds here consists of 2 separate mattress, and with 2 separate blankets. Totally weird for an Asian like me who grew up with different bedding arrangement.Always making us feel comfortable, they have arranged an additional bed for my daughter as well, offered to lend their sled, and gave us all the info and tips we need in exploring the area.

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Wall display

Every morning, we have delicious buffet breakfast personally arranged & served by Karin. Everything  with her personal touch. She prepared everything with the help of her kids and I find that so impressive. We were really pampered and treated like a guest in their house and not as a client in their business.My husband was happy with everything and so as my daughter who enjoys all the many choices of cereals, breads, cheeses, and fruits. their orange juice is really good and the best so far that I have tasted! I could even sit there for hours for the view!

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My daughter checking out  the beds

We always have a great time lounging in the Breakfast room because we have an amazing view of the mountains. When it’s snowing, we all kind of speechless just watching how magical the winter wonderland experience we are having. This place is super -value for your money and worth the travel since now, the new Tirol Express Arena have free train connections from Garmisch-Partenkirchen up to Vils. From the Ehrwald station, you can be in Biberwier within 10 minutes. Going to main attractions such as the Ehrwalder Almbahn & the Tiroler Zugspitzebahn, there is a free bus ride to take you there almost every half an hour! Totally convenient for us since we have a toddler with us and this place is super kid-friendly.

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A very hungry guest at the Gästehaus Panorama

We wanted to extend our stay but we have already purchased our return tickets. If we would have a chance to visit Tirol once again, maybe in Summer, Gästehaus Panorama would always be our choice.We were even offered by a free transfer to  Ehrwald station by Karin’s husband and it was really a kind gesture from them. Totally unexpected.

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The postcard that we’ve brought home from Gästehaus Panorama

If you’re heading to Austria on your next holiday staycation, do check out Gästehaus Panorama. Experience an authentic Tirolean hospitality in their house to have an unforgettable Winter Wonderland & enjoy the fresh snow in the Tyrolean Zugspitze region .

Please Check out their great offers for skiers and Kurzentschlosssene with their amazing deals for 3 Nights in Double/Triple/Single or Family Rooms for only 105 Euros/Person from 11:01. – 01.27.2017 including daily buffet breakfast, 1 time Sauna/Massage/Ehrwalder indoor pool, a trip to visit their alpacas & a parting gift.

Hotel Contact details & Address : Gästehaus Panorama- Prof.Giemsa Weg 1, A-6633 Biberwier/TIROL, Austria

Tel. + Fax .: +43 (0) 56 73-25 46/ Tel .: +43676621 92 01

Email : info@gaestehaus-panorama.at /www.gaestehaus-panorama.at

You can also check their Facebook page and they have an App available in the App store:Gastfreund to have instant travel tips, top news in the Tiroler Zugspitze Arena region, Food & Drinks , Tourist Attractions and so much more!