StencilGirl: October StencilClub

Hi everyone, just popping in quickly to let you know that this month's creative team inspiration post is up on the StencilGirl blog! This month we have a very cool set designed by Mary Beth Shaw that is actually nine stencils in one instead of our usual 3. Make sure you check it out! Here's the art journal spread I did this month... you can see more details in the blog post.

October 2015 StencilClub - Art Journal - Gwen LafleurThere are more projects from the other three creative team members included in the post this month, so make sure you check them all out!

Bali Part 4

Finally wrapping up the trip! The last full day was Sunday 9/20. At breakfast we ran into all of the other ladies, so we were able to say our goodbyes to them before we went to meet Ketut for our last day of touring.

We started out by driving about 1 1/2 to 2 hours north to visit the Temple on the Lake - Ulun Danu Beratan. This was one of the country's postcard locations, and I was very excited to see it! I did think it was interesting that we didn't have to put on a sarong to go into this one... I guess at this point it's more a tourist attraction than anything, although the working areas of the temple were closed off to the public.

Entering the main compound...


IMG_2275We looked around a bit, but then went straight through out to the lake to see the view from there.


We were there toward the end of the dry season, so the water level in the lake was low. The real postcard shot is when the water is higher and it comes right up to the edges of the temple. But it was still gorgeous!

IMG_2285One thing that I thought was cool that we saw everywhere we went in Bali - they have these pebbled walkways and even driveways that all have beautiful patterns in them.

IMG_2291We walked around to the other side where you could see the whole compound:

IMG_2303Beautiful grounds...

IMG_2298We wandered the grounds a bit longer, but finally decided that we had seen all we wanted to see and went back out to find Ketut and move on to our next stop. We drove through some really beautiful hills, forest, and rice terraces on our way to Wisata, which is the biggest and most beautiful rice terrace in Bali. And of course, we had to pay a toll to see it. ha!

Here are two views - left to right, from the side of the road where we stopped outside of our restaurant.

IMG_2359For lunch, we went to Billy's Terrace Cafe, where we paid for another expensive buffet that included decent food and a very nice view. It was a smaller buffet than the day before, and no signs to tell us what it was, so I felt pretty adventurous making my selections.

IMG_2361The satay turned out to be chicken or pork mixed with peppers and lemongrass - it was a lot like what we'd made during our cooking lesson, and pretty good! The little spring rolls were good too. I never did figure out what the thing that looked like a thick oat cracker was.

After we finished lunch, we went back across the street to walk a bit and take in more of the views.

IMG_2376Ketut came out and met us, and we talked to him about what else we might be able to do... either we'd started out too early or something, because we were way ahead of schedule! I think he'd moved some of what we were originally doing on Sunday to Saturday so that the other ladies could see more. We had an option of a waterfall, but it involved a bit of hiking and we didn't have good shoes for that. We also passed on the butterfly park. We were supposed to get to Tanah Lot in time for sunset - it was supposed to be the best sunset view on the island. We decided to add a stop in Semenyak since it was near Tanah Lot. So we set off to go back down south, about a 1 1/2 hour drive.

On the way, another stunning view on the side of the road:

IMG_2395I was so exhausted that I think I dozed a bit in the car. When I finally got my eyes totally open again, it turned out that we were going to Tanah Lot first - I guess since it was the one we got to first. It was only about 3:15 in the afternoon - more than 3 hours until sunset. So we got out, bought our tickets, and headed in to see what was there.

IMG_2406There was kind of a maze of market stalls on the way to the temple. We'd thought maybe we could kill some time shopping, but we didn't see anything very enticing - it was probably the worst shopping we'd seen so far at the place where we most needed a diversion! We kept looking, but didn't see anything, so we continued out until we got to the gate leading to the sea and the temple.

IMG_2409And there it was... Tanah Lot.

IMG_2412We found our way down to the beach and walked along a bit to see what was there.

IMG_2415There was a place where you could see the "holy snake" inside one of the sea caves, but that was another ticket, so we passed. We walked along a bit, but since the tide was still coming in, we decided to go back up off the beach and explore in the other direction. We found another little promontory where you could go out and get some nice views.

IMG_2423We wandered some more, and could see where people were starting to stake out their spots for sunset and vendors were hanging around getting ready to sell food and drinks to those who were staying. Unfortunately, we couldn't find any place where you could just sit and order a nice, cool drink and relax and see the sunset without having to stake out a place in the sun. It was an extremely hot day, and we just couldn't do it. So we decided to head out and find Ketut and go to Semenyak and watch the sunset from the beach there instead.

It was about 30 minutes to get there, and Ketut dropped us off on the main shopping street and pointed the way to the beach. We walked in that direction until we found it, then took off our shoes and walked on the beach. Very fine sand! I think there's a bit of volcanic ash in there because it's gray on your feet. We walked in the surf for a bit and made our way up to a likely looking hotel where were could sit out and order something to drink.

IMG_2435We found a place to sit and someone to bring us a drink menu and take our order. I got a lovely mango vanilla milkshake and we just sat and enjoyed shade, a beautiful breeze, and just chatting and relaxing while the sun slowly sank down toward the water.

IMG_2440Sunset is at about 6:30pm, and that was the same time we needed to meet Ketut back where we started, so we watched as long as we could and then made our way back to meet him and drive back to Nusa Dua on the other coast of the peninsula. Since we'd had lunch at a normal time that day, we went to the Sorrento restaurant for dinner and had a lovely Italian meal. I ordered a steak that had some truffled potatoes, red lentils, and mushrooms. It was delicious. Of course, it would have been nice to have Indonesian food for my last dinner in Bali, but I'd had my fill of chicken and noodles and that was about all that they had at the resort restaurants that I could eat (still surprised by that, but I guess that's because it was a tourist resort.)

IMG_2442We enjoyed our meal and a quiet evening packing and getting ready to leave the next morning.

Monday morning, we went down for breakfast around 7:30, then came back to finish getting ready to go. Once we were dressed and pretty much packed, we went out about 9:30 to go out along the beach and take a last walk through the grounds. As I mentioned, the resort was gorgeous!


The tide was out - high tide was always in the afternoon, so we were never there to see the beach at its best, unfortunately. We wandered up and down a bit, checking in on the resorts on either side of us (the whole string of them is connected by a long walkway.)

IMG_2463Since neither of us was wearing sunscreen, we headed back to our rooms before too long - it was already very hot and it wasn't even 10am yet!


IMG_2473We hung out at our private pool for a while until they came to get our bags and we went to check out. My flight was quite a bit earlier than Emily's, so our trip guide, Kandi, came to get me first. We said our goodbyes, then it was off to the airport! I'd managed to balance out all my goodies in my bags so there was no trouble checking in, then it was time to eat lunch and spend the last of my rupiah. I couldn't find any decent souvenirs, but did find a few packages of the delicious ginger candies we'd found in our hotel in Ubud - greatest thing ever for an upset stomach! So those, a small package of TimTams, and some fun Indonesian chocolate made their way into my carry-on.

Finally, the plane loaded for my flight to Taipai, and we were off! My last views of Bali... I could even see the resort from the plane!

IMG_5642And thus ends my Bali adventure! I stopped briefly in Taipei... 5 hours from Bali...

IMG_5645Then was an 11 hour flight to San Francisco. Fortunately I had a window seat on the way home, so no one was poking and pushing me and waking me up to get out, and I wasn't getting hit by every person walking down the aisle! I was able to sleep a bit, then stayed the night at an airport hotel in San Francisco (which was unfortunately next to a loading dock that got quite loud and active at about 3:30am.) I finally made it home Tuesday afternoon. I can't believe how quickly it went! We packed so much into the 8 days on the island that it felt like we were there much longer, and yet it was over in a blink. But new adventures are on their way, and I'll always have wonderful memories. I'm so glad that I decided to go, and that I kept with it even after my job situation changed and I might have canceled! I'd go back for sure... Bali is amazing :)


Bali Part 3

Today I'm sharing our adventures from Saturday 9/19, when we hired a car and driver for the day to take us to some of the really great sites on the island. Emily and I were joined by Lisa, Eunice, and Judy, and we had a fabulous day together!

Starting out, we had breakfast at the resort before meeting our driver at 8:30am. This guy sits right outside of the restaurant where breakfast is served; he played every morning and always had such a lovely smile!

IMG_2040Our first stop of the morning on the tour was in Denpasar, where we went to see the Barong and Kris dance. This is a classic story of the eternal fight between good and evil. The Balinese Barong is a mythological creature that represents the good spirit - you see the Barong everywhere in the art, carvings, masks, etc... the evil spirit is the Rangda. The Balinese believe in the concept of Yin and Yang - they also use black and white as symbols of this concept. Balance is very important to them.

IMG_2045Fortunately they gave us a program for this show as well, so we could follow along. There was music throughout, and the actors don't speak much. There was a very funny comic section in this one as well. It was interesting that there was no ending to the play, because of course, the battle between good and evil is ongoing!

Our next stop was the Satria coffee plantation a bit further to the north.


I didn't realize that coffee trees had blossoms - and they smell a lot like jasmine... so wonderful. This plantation also grew cocoa, papaya, vanilla, cinnamon, mangosteen, and lots more! They also produce Luwak coffee here. This is a luwak:

IMG_2086We called it "poop coffee" because the luwaks eat the coffee berries, and the bean with its shell still intact get pooped out (gross, huh!) They clean the beans, shell them, then roast them. I guess the enzymes from the digestive process change the flavor of the bean and make a very expensive and sought after type of coffee! I don't know who decided that it was a good idea to try this, though.

We walked through some of the grounds...

IMG_2087And they showed us the difference between the beans... the ones in the very front are cocoa beans.

IMG_2089And a lady showing how they're roasted by hand (which I'm pretty sure was just for show.)

IMG_2092They take us to a little area where you can do a free coffee and tea tasting. Since I don't drink coffee, I just sampled the herbal teas.

IMG_2100The only tea I didn't try was the rice tea since the other ladies said it was gross and it didn't smell too appetizing. Of course, after you finish sampling, you exit through the gift shop... or past it, at least. The marketing is brilliant, though. You've just tasted this delicious free tea, so naturally we all stopped to buy some! I got mangosteen, rosella (which I think is hibiscus - my favorite,) lemongrass, and ginger. (For Nicole and Brian - this is like the apple tea we got in Turkey - different flavors, but the same instant tea pre-mixed with cane sugar.)

After leaving the plantation, we went to the Tirta Empul - Tampaksiring... basically, a local holy spring where you can bathe in the pool and they have fountains where you can make an offering and cleanse yourself. We went through the entrance where we had to put on a sash (or sarong if your knees weren't covered) so we could walk through the compound on our way to the changing rooms.


IMG_2114I was a bit surprised to find that the changing rooms were kind of unisex, and there weren't really private places to change... just lockers and then kind of a space. We took turns holding up sarongs to screen each other. We had to wear a sarong into the pool, so we got ready and then headed back out. Ketut took my camera to take pictures for us while we were at the pool.

IMG_2116He explained to us how we were to go through the pool and what to do, then we took off our shoes and got in at the beginning. It was cold!

IMG_2119The water was from a spring under the temple, so it was very clear, and what was coming out of the fountains was clean. You start at the first fountain and you wash your head first and then your body. Some of the people there made an offering at each fountain or left a candy or something that represented something they were grateful for.

IMG_2127You go down each fountain, skipping two toward the end that are only used if someone has died. Then you have to go over the barrier into the next section of the pool. Here we're all waiting our turn and the last fountain before we had to cross over.

IMG_2131We finished the last group of fountains and went back to take turns getting back into dry clothing. Unfortunately without any towels. lol. We managed!

IMG_2142We left the pool and headed north, up to Mt. Batur and Lake Batur. On the way up, we passed a beautiful green terraced rice paddy. Since the others wouldn't be with us Sunday to see the great big one we were going to, Ketut stopped for us to get out and take a peek at this one.

IMG_2153As we got up near Mt. Batur, we got our first taste of how tourism was handled in that area, at least. They stop you on the road as you're getting to the location, and you have to pay a toll of sorts for each tourist in the car. They give you a ticket and then they let you drive through. I think the money goes to the villages as repayment for having to put up with the bother of it, but it's the first time I've ever had to pay to see a view through the car windows! (There was another toll when we stopped at an overlook and got out.)

As we were driving, we passed another, smaller temple / bathe area nestled into the trees - very beautiful!

IMG_2164The more we got into the hills, the more we saw produce farms and lots of fruit stands with beautifully arranged fruit.

IMG_2173The view of Mt. Batur and Lake Batur:

IMG_2182We stopped at a nice little restaurant (for the tourists, of course) along the road where we were able to go sit on the patio overlooking the view.

IMG_2185We also had a nice (although expensive - view tax, of course!) buffet lunch... more chicken and noodles! They also had some really yummy tempura veggies.

IMG_2184Another view from where we stopped at an overlook on our way back down:

IMG_2189Then we headed off to our next stop. On the way, we passed a bunch of people going to the village temple for a celebration... there are over 2,000 temples in Bali - I don't think that even counts the family temples in each family compound or at the hotels, etc... every village has 3 temples - one for each of the aspects of God (Brahma, Siwa - or Shiva, and Vishnu.)

IMG_2196Finally we got to our last stop of the day - the biggest, oldest, and most important temple in Bali - Besakih on the slopes of Mt. Agung. Ketut told us that they'd try to force us to take a local guide with us into the temple, and to tell them no because it would be very expensive. So we put on our sarongs and went and bought our tickets, then they told us that they wouldn't let us in without a local guide. So I told him that our guide had said not to get one. He told me to go get Ketut, so I did. After they talked, suddenly we didn't have to have a local guide, but they would disavow all responsibility for what would happen to us if we wandered someplace we weren't supposed to go or took pictures that were forbidden, because there weren't signs to deter us (which was kind of a lie... lol.) So I told him that we completely understood, but weren't going to pay a lot of money for a guide. Finally he said he would provide us a guide for 50,000 rupiah (which was less than $5 - Ketut said that sometimes the cost was as much as 500,000!) So we agreed, paid, and took our guide with us into the temple grounds. What a racket! It was too bad they put such a bad taste in our mouths, because the temple was absolutely incredible.

IMG_2201The temple grounds were a happening place! There were lots of vendors on the grounds selling snacks, and also lots of locals there for worship.

IMG_2206There was a benefit to taking a guide with us... there was a big sign in front of these steps that said that only worshipers were allowed beyond that point. Apparently that also meant only worshipers and people with a local guide, because our guide took us up the steps and while we were there, we heard other tourists who were there without a guide being turned away.

IMG_2210The view from up on the steps was gorgeous!
IMG_2214The guide took us all the way up the steps and into the temple at the top where we stopped and he told me a bit about it - this was the temple to Siwa - the other two temples were higher up on the mountain on either side.

IMG_2220The clouds cleared a bit and you could see peeks of Mt. Agung in the background.


The guide took us around the compound, showed us areas for meditation (where we were, of course, welcome to make a donation if we wanted to meditate for a minute.) In the background, I think it's the temple of Brahma that you can see here.

IMG_2244We circled through and started back down... you can see a bit of how big the temple complex was, and also the temple to Vishnu is in the background on this side. With the beginnings of sunset in the background, it was just spectacular!

IMG_2248Of course, I knew what was coming... I was absolutely not surprised when the guide expected a tip, but I was a bit surprised that he just flat out asked for one. I decided to just go ahead and tip him - it wasn't really that much money, and we did see more because he was with us. So he left us and we made our way back down and out to meet Ketut, with only a small sidetrack at one of the stalls in the little street market to buy a beautiful sarong in a peacock batik pattern that was gold and blue. I'll either make it into a skirt or use it for something else - it was a pretty cheap meter of gorgeous fabric!

So with that, we piled back into the car and started out on the two hour drive back down to Nusa Dua. It had been a great day, and the other ladies were very excited and happy that we'd invited them to join us. As beautiful as the resort was, it was wonderful to get out and be a tourist for the day and see more of the country as well as some truly beautiful spots.

We got back to the resort at about 8pm, and since we'd had lunch at about 3:30, Emily and I just wanted something light for dinner, so we went to the El Patio coffee bar. The resort - the Melia Bali, is a Spanish chain, so they have a lot of Spanish dishes on the menu. I ordered a light platter of Serrano ham and Manchego cheese with bread and another delicious fruit drink. It was the perfect finish to the day!

IMG_5628Just for kicks, a cool statue we passed in the dark on the way back to our room.

IMG_5629That's it for Saturday's adventure! I'll have Sunday and the trip wrap-up tomorrow :)

Bali Part 2

Wow, sorry for the delay! I meant to get this post up sooner, but I had a whole bunch of things come up that I needed to do to get ready for my new job and my move back to Utah later this month so I had to take care of that before I could get to editing more photos and posting. But now I'm back! I finally finished editing all of my photos (I took around 1,000 during the 8 days I was there,) so I'm ready to finish sharing my trip!

Picking up where I left off... Thursday morning Emily and I got up really early so that we could go up the street to the local market that runs until around 8am. We got there around 6:30 or so - early! The sun wasn't even all the way up when we set out. I always love these kinds of markets - to see what the locals shop for. There was so much beautiful produce, and lots of flowers for the daily offerings!

IMG_1818The brown fruit here is salak - they also call it snake skin fruit because the outside has the texture and appearance of snake skin. But the inside is very crunchy and has a sweet, tart juice. We had them quite often at the hotel in Ubud and I really enjoyed them!

IMG_1812Lots of chickens everywhere we went in Bali. When the TV show airs, you'll probably here them crowing in the background in just about every scene!

IMG_1825And the peppers that are the foundation of the flavor profiles in Indonesian cuisine:

IMG_1826We got back to the hotel as one of the staff was coming out doing the rounds of daily offerings on the grounds. She let us watch and take photos - it's a short but beautiful ceremony.

IMG_1837Breakfast... fruit, pastries, and that morning I had Indonesian porridge. It came with a little tray of toppings - spiced chicken, mushrooms, and a hot pepper paste that I just touched my finger to in order to taste and my lips were burning for hours! I also make the mistake of touching just inside my nose at one point. Oops!

IMG_1839After breakfast we set out our suitcases and went to check out. As we were getting ready to leave, the staff came around and gave each of us a small, silver offering box that had two large versions of the little cookies that were in a jar in our room. (Did I mention that? They were like raisin shortbread - I really liked them, and they were a lovely touch!) It was so sweet for them to do that! They all came out to say goodbye to us - it was a great staff. They remembered our room numbers at meals, and even special dietary needs for some of the group! The friendliest hotel staff I've ever had. We even took a group photo with them, but it's on someone else's camera so I'm waiting until we trade pictures to get that one.

Our first stop that morning was at the Bali Bird Park. We had almost two hours there to just wander around and see the birds. A lot were roaming free (wings clipped) and then they had habitats from different islands in Indonesia, as well as other parts of Asia, Australia, and a few from Africa.


The cockatoos were just adorable:

IMG_1874This one (the one we held) loved to have his neck scratched. I just wanted to take him home with me.

IMG_1877A gorgeous peacock in one of the habitats - there was another one on the roof on the outside and they were calling to each other.

IMG_1901My favorites... we came outside and were interrupted by two of these Australian pelicans who were having a bit of a walkabout and couldn't decide which direction they wanted to go on the path. I hadn't realized how huge these birds are!

IMG_1906There are lots of species of Hornbills native to the area as well. And they're heavy!

IMG_1910(These are for my mother who was so glad I was finally on a trip where I wasn't playing with snakes or going into a cage with tigers. This was as dangerous as it got this time!)

As we were heading back out toward the restaurant for a bird show before we left, Emily spotted this guy. I would have missed him - hiding out in the shade and a bit camouflaged! He let me get fairly close to him... probably because there were no peahens in the vicinity. (It was mating season there, after all.)

IMG_1921Next we stopped at a silversmith where we could see how they make the jewelry - the detail work they were doing was amazing.

IMG_1931On the way to lunch, we passed this amazing building (in Denpasar.) Very modern, and so cool!

IMG_1940Then we stopped at a lovely little restaurant for lunch. With my severe mental seafood allergy, this was pretty typical of what I had every day. We also usually had some kind of fruit drink. At this place, I had an amazing raspberry coconut drink that I wanted to drink by the gallon. So good!

IMG_1942Next we went to the place that was a serious highlight for the quilters in our group (which was everyone but Emily and I... lol.) It was a warehouse for batik fabric where we could go through and pick out anything that wasn't already packaged for shipping, and they'd cut the lengths we wanted - we got the fabric for like $2 a meter! Insane. They even had packages of fat quarters and some jelly rolls. I tried to keep myself under control. I had been hoping for more traditional patterns and colors, so it's probably a good thing these were more modern batiks or I would have been in trouble.

IMG_1946Many of you saw the stack of fabrics I bought - most of which I got here - that I posted on Instagram after I got home.

IMG_5648From the warehouse, we went to the factory where they make the fabrics. I was prepared for something more modern. But this is what we saw:

IMG_1955Those are the dying vats. We also got to see them doing some silk screening which was fascinating!

IMG_1958All of the fabric in this "factory" is still batiked by hand! We also saw the wax stamping room where I once again drooled over all of the stamps.

And outside - this is one of the drying rooms:

IMG_1974It was all very cool to see, but the number of mosquitoes flying around made most of us pretty ready to go when the time came.

From here, we headed down south to Nusa Dua where we were going to check into our resort.

IMG_1980We were greeted at the entrance by traditional Balinese dancers.

IMG_1985All of us were lucky enough to have our rooms upgraded...

IMG_1989What's that you see right outside the doors? Oh yes. The room-side entrance to the private swimming pool that runs along the side of the building.

IMG_1992That was a pretty sweet perk. Emily and I both spent a lot of time in the evenings with our feet in the pool while we worked in our journals (and yes, I did get in and swim too!)

Friday morning, we got a lesson in how to put on a sarong and how to properly sit for making offerings and participating in the temple ceremonies.

IMG_2008Then they taught us how to make the baskets for offerings and how to fill them. There's a specific way to do it, and symbolism in each part of it. Mainly, it's about a daily offering of gratitude to God for sustenance, etc... and they're very particular about making sure that everything that goes into the offering is clean, of the best quality, and also beautiful. I thought all of it was really lovely and I think it helps explain part of why the Balinese people are so happy - you can't spend so much time being grateful for what you have and not be at least a little bit happy!

IMG_2015Here's mine:

IMG_2023Following our class, we got to go into the temple and make an offering - they gave us each some incense. Then they showed us the rest of the ceremony. I didn't get photos of that, but I think others did, so hopefully I'll get them soon!

Next we had a Balinese cooking class with the executive chef at the resort. That was pretty cool... he showed us three recipes, so we got to see how they get those amazing flavors!

IMG_2004One was chicken which was delicious, one was pork which I didn't taste because the pork had been sitting out for a while and I didn't see any ice (better safe than sorry!) and the third was fish. I assembled it and put it on the grill, but didn't taste that one. I heard it was delicious, though! If you like fish, of course (bleh.)

The afternoon was all filming wrap-up. We had lunch and then Emily and I went up to the concierge and found out where to find out about excursions. Since we were going to have Saturday and Sunday free, we didn't want to hang out at the resort - we wanted to get out and see more of the island! So we found Ketut - the guide / driver at the desk that day, and ended up hiring him for two full-day excursions. It was surprisingly inexpensive to hire a driver for the day, and we were able to work out some itineraries that would show us most of what we wanted to see, and even a bit more! The rest of the group was also going to be there Saturday, and we ended up adding three more people to that day and renting a bigger car. Then we just lounged on the patio chatting, enjoying the beautiful weather and ambiance, and taking turns doing final interviews on camera. I have a feeling I'm probably going to be totally embarrassed when it airs, but oh well! It was fun!

That evening was our farewell dinner on the beach:

IMG_2036Jim also handed out the batiked fabrics that we had made so we could all see what everyone had made. There were a lot of really beautiful finished products!

Here are mine:


We enjoyed a lovely dinner and then went around and exchanged cards and contact information, hugs and goodbyes to Jim and the crew who were all leaving the next day. We had a really fantastic TV crew working with us so there were lots of warm goodbyes. And that was it! The official part of the trip was finished!

Stay tuned for the recap of our free days :)


Bali Part 1

Well, I meant to try and blog while I was gone, but we were busy from sun-up to bedtime (which, since we were all jet-lagged, was around 9 or 9:30pm.) So I decided to just enjoy myself, take lots of pictures, keep up with my journal, and blog when I got home. I've been home a week now, trying to get over the jet-lag (coming back across the international date line always takes me at least a week) and then getting over the cold I got from not getting enough sleep. I'm finally feeling a bit better and have started editing photos to share.

We did a LOT of stuff every day, but as most of you know, we were filming for a TV show as part of the trip, so I'm just going to give some highlights from each day showing what I'm allowed to share right now. When the show airs next year, I'll be announcing it everywhere, and then you can watch it! Bali was totally amazing, and I'm SO glad that I went.

For the first part of our trip, we stayed at a wonderful little hotel in Ubud. It was beautiful, with a fantastic staff and a really good restaurant. This was our view during breakfast every morning:

IMG_1327On our first full day, after breakfast a few of us went across the street to the ATM and then explored the area around our hotel a bit before meeting our bus. 

IMG_1337We visited some local artisans who greeted us with fresh coconuts. I'd tried it in Thailand and didn't really like it, but the taste of the water varies, so I tried it again and really enjoyed it this time - I drained my coconut!

IMG_1360This was one of the views from their showroom - pictures don't do this place justice.

IMG_1380We had a chance to shop for ikat fabric and were able to stick our heads into their workshop to see where they make it all by hand.

IMG_1407That evening I went for a walk with two of the ladies in the group - we headed toward the Monkey Forest, looking in the shops and enjoying a beautiful evening. As we got close to the forest, we found a few of the inhabitants out making trouble.


We went back to the hotel and had dinner at the hotel restaurant. They had a very nice set menu that most of us tried. Here's the entree which was a tasting plate of Indonesian dishes. Delicious!

IMG_1447The next morning, Tuesday, we started out visiting another artisan shop - it was in their family compound, and they had decorated everything for our visit. The courtyard was beautiful, and their workshop and showroom were amazing.

IMG_1485This is the grandmother - the wife of the founder of the workshop. What a beautiful lady!

IMG_1487I was in Bali with Craft Tours, and all of Jim's trips to Bali include a chance to learn how to make batik fabric. That's what was on the schedule for the afternoon and I was pretty excited about it!

Some of the ladies at work in the workshop:

IMG_1554Eye candy (their batik is very traditional, and GORGEOUS! They sell to haute couture companies and their fabrics have appeared in several international fashion magazines.)

IMG_1532Some of the batik stamps in the stamping room. I wanted to bring just about all of them home with me.

IMG_1535We got to make two kinds of batik on our own. One was stamped, one we traced or drew a design in pencil and then painted over it with hot wax. After we were finished, the dyed them for us (our guide picked them up later and brought them to the hotel when they were done. How's that for service?)

Here are some of the other ladies tracing their designs:

IMG_1566Here you can see my stamped batik piece before it was dyed and the wax was removed:

IMG_1579 croppedAnd here's a shot of my finished ones after I got them back a few days later... I was pretty impressed! I want to find a way to do this at home now.

IMG_5647When we got back to the hotel, Emily and I went down to the pool patio for tea. Isn't that just the coolest? We had a pot of jasmine tea, and these are the refreshments they served us (plus some veggie fritters that were delicious.) That little handmade basket was full of corn and fresh coconut and it was awesome.

IMG_1605After tea, we got to go to the royal palace of Ubud, just up the street. We were able to meet the prince of Ubud! (One of them, there are 3.)

IMG_1613I didn't get a good photo with the prince on my camera - there were several other cameras there, and I'm hoping someone else got one! But here's one with him and Jim.

IMG_1645It was cool to visit there - especially since we got to go into a part of the palace that's normally closed off to visitors :)

Emily and I walked back from the palace through the local craft market. They were closing up, but it was enough to do a little bit of shopping and see what we wanted to see. Since we're gone all day, we usually miss it, so we wanted to find a way to see it while it was open!

Wednesday, we started out quite early so we could drive an hour to go see the elephants. The drive itself was stunning!

IMG_5583The elephants aren't native to Bali, but were actually brought there from Sumatra - they were rescued from government camps where they had been sent to keep out of the way of newly built plantations. We were told that there are now 43 elephants in the park - 4 of which were born in there, and the others were all rescued. (Here's an article that talks about the rescue and their new home.) I love elephants, so seeing these beautiful and happy ones safe and loved made me very happy!

IMG_1693Note the elephant totally laughing as he put the flowers around me.

I stole this one from Emily's Instagram until we have a chance to exchange photos... that's Gigi. Isn't she pretty?

Emily and I on ElephantI took some video a little later when some of the elephants had free time in the pool. They were trumpeting and playing - dunking each other and having a pretty awesome time. I have to get it off my video camera... eventually! It was so fun to watch - and listen to!


Eventually we went back to the hotel to have a late lunch. Emily had gotten a recommendation to try Watercress - very close to our hotel. We went and had a fabulous lunch. I had corn fritters with avocado and poached eggs, and this mango ice-cream shake that was to die for.

IMG_1706Next we went to the Monkey Forest in Ubud - full of monkeys, there were also a few temples and some very beautiful surroundings!

IMG_1747There were several monkeys with little babies - they're so adorable! You can just see the ear of this one:

IMG_1751We left the Monkey Forest about 3:30 so that we'd have time to slip in an extra stop for the day... some of the ladies had asked if it was possible to go visit the shamen from Eat.Pray.Love - Ketut Liyer. Since they close at 5, we had to hustle! We got there and his son, Niyoman was able to see us (Ketut is retired and wasn't seeing anyone that day.) This is where the scenes in the movie were filmed. Just for fun, we each sat with him for 10-15 minutes. Of course, we're all beautiful, intelligent, lucky, and successful. He told me a few things that he didn't tell anyone else (mostly common sense and probably fairly easy to deduce,) but it was all good advice! Most of it I'm even going to try and follow!
IMG_1780Since it was our last night in Ubud, when we got back, Emily got some recommendations at the desk for a dance show that we could go to. We had dinner and then the hotel drove us over to see the Trance and Kecak dance. We had no idea what we were seeing, but the lady at the hotel said it was the best! At the show they gave us a pamphlet with our ticket - I read it ahead of time which is the only way I understood the story. It was about Rama and Sita, and all of the music was from 100 men sitting in concentric circles who sang / chanted - no instruments. It was outdoors and dark, and there were several tall people in front of us, so I didn't get good photos. You can kind of get an idea from these:


IMG_1801I can't imagine how those men manage to sing non-stop for an hour (I got some video of this too - just to remember how it sounded!) That was the trance part of the show - the singers seem to go into a kind of trance for their portion. It was very cool, and the costumes were great and the dancing was beautiful. They finish by putting up barriers to protect the audience and then they light a big fire in the middle. A man comes out and kicks the fire around with his bare feet (it's a hoby horse routine - still don't know what it meant!) and they keep raking it back and he kicks it around again until it mostly goes out. That's the end of the show. After that, we walked back to the hotel and then called it a night.

Now, it's time for me to get busy editing some more photos so I can put up the next set!

Traveler's Notebook Junque Journal

Welcome to today's stop on the StencilGirl and The Groove Tool blog hop!

Groove-StencilGirl-Blog HeaderI'm super excited that I got to work with The Groove Tool for this... you know how much I love anything I can use with my stencils!

For today's project, I thought I'd try something that's been kicking around in my head for a while. Traveler's Notebooks are super hot and trendy, and I've seen some homemade art journal inserts, but I thought I'd like to make a stenciled Junque Journal insert, so I did!

Traveler's Notebook Junque Journal - Gwen LafleurHere you can see mine inserted into my notebook. My cover is actually by Chic Sparrow and I use the wide one that fits the Moleskine Cahiers instead of the original, thinner Traveler's Notebooks (although those fit in here too!) With that, here's a very quick overview of how I made it, and how I used the Groove Tool to pull it all together!

First up, I did the cover. I used a sheet of very thin chipboard because I knew I'd want it to be somewhat sturdy after it's full and I take it out of my traveler's notebook. I cut it to the size of a Moleskine book - 8"x10.5." Then I used the brush attachment on the Groove Tool to stencil the Butterfly Duo stencil by Maria McGuire with acrylic paint.

TN Junque Journal Step 1 - Gwen LafleurI did both butterflies, spreading it across the whole cover so that both sides would be decorated.

TN Junque Journal Step 2 - Gwen LafleurThe brush attachment really works great for this - I just popped it off and cleaned it in water when I was done.

To finish the cover, I added lots of detail to the butterflies and then used pieces from a travel themed ephemera package from Art-C (makers of the Groove Tool) to embellish. I used one of the sanding attachments for the Groove Tool to do a little distressing around the edges of my cover. That's definitely a lot handier than trying to sand by hand!

TN Junque Journal Step 3 - Gwen LafleurNext, I made the inside pages of my journal. There were several very cool sheets of 5x7 patterned cardstock in the ephemera pack, so I combined those with paper scraps and some thin, black masking tape to make each folio - there are five of them, all sized 8"x10" when I was finished assembling.

TN Junque Journal Step 4 - Gwen LafleurI punched holes and bound them into the cover and then started decorating. The backs of most of those pages were pretty blank - perfect for stenciling, of course! This time I used the sponge attachment (I need to get a few refill packs of these!) These work great with ink, but I also really liked using them with paint.

TN Junque Journal Step 5 - Gwen LafleurHere you can see all of the completed inside pages:

  • TN Junque Journal Page 1 - Gwen Lafleur
  • TN Junque Journal Page 2 - Gwen Lafleur
  • TN Junque Journal Page 3 - Gwen Lafleur
  • TN Junque Journal Page 4 - Gwen Lafleur
  • TN Junque Journal Page 5 - Gwen Lafleur
  • TN Junque Journal Page 6 - Gwen Lafleur
  • TN Junque Journal Page 7 - Gwen Lafleur
  • TN Junque Journal Page 8 - Gwen Lafleur
  • TN Junque Journal Page 9 - Gwen Lafleur
TN Junque Journal Page 9 - Gwen Lafleur

I used some of my hand-carved stamps in here to alternate with the stencils. Here's the list of stencils I used in the order they appear in the book:

Finally, the back cover so you can see how it looks inserted into my notebook:

TN Junque Journal Back Cover - Gwen LafleurThere you go! I now have a portable Junque Journal, ready for me to work in on the go (or at home!) I hope you enjoyed today's project and that you've enjoyed our blog hop this week.

Make sure you leave a comment below and on all of the other posts this week since one lucky winner will get their own Groove Tool plus a $25 gift certificate to StencilGirl!

Groove GiveawayComments will close at 11:59PM Central on September 26th, so make sure you get to all of the blogs and leave your comments for your chance to win! (One comment per person per blog post, please.)

Today there's one more stop for you to visit, and make sure to visit StencilGirl Talk to get the list of any posts you might have missed on Monday and Tuesday.

For those who are interested, The Groove is available now at EVERY Hobby Lobby store.  Most Michaels and Joann Fabric and Craft stores have it now, as well. At Hobby Lobby and Michaels, it is in the stamping isle.  At Joann, it is in the paint and stencil aisle, near the unfinished wood.  Of course, it may be ordered directly from Art-C by calling Customer Service at 800-448-6656. (You can also ask your local independent store if they carry it or will order it - I know I'll be calling mine to see about getting more sponge attachments!)
Thank you Art-C for letting me play with this awesome tool! So much fun!

Travel Journal with StencilGirl and USArtQuest

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to my stop on the blog hop with StencilGirl and USArtQuest! I'm so excited that I got to participate in the hop... so many fun products to play with!

I'll get right to the project and then show you a brief step by step of how it evolved. A little background on how this came about - I love to make books, and I LOVE to travel! So naturally, I make books to use as travel journals. Usually I do a 3-ring book and don't actually bind it, but for my trip to Bali this month I decided to try something a little different, and I thought that using StencilGirl stencils and products from USArtQuest would be perfect!

Here's my finished book (pre-trip, of course!)

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 7 - Gwen LafleurAnd now for a little how-to... I started with the covers. I picked out some 8x10 canvas panels to use for those and started decorating. First, I did the back cover. I took a beautiful half-sheet of USArtQuest Art Papers  and decided that I would add a little copper Perfect Pigment Fluid Acrylic paint to the background to make the flowers stand out. I won't lie... this took a while, but I find it pretty relaxing, so I didn't mind.

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 1 - Gwen LafleurNext I started working on the front cover. I used more Perfect Pigment paints to cover the background, then stenciled the main image using the Bloom True stencil by Flora Bowley.

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 2 - Gwen LafleurIf you look closely, you'll see that this stencil comes in two parts - the outline, and then the actual flower mask. I left the pieces together for this part so that I could add an outline later. I used the Perfect Pigments paints again - I mixed Magenta and Wheat to get the lighter color for the flower.

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 3 - Gwen LafleurI knew I wanted the cover to be inspired by batik fabric designs, so for the outline (you can see above that I removed the mask) I used Duo Gilding Adhesive to put down a layer of glue so I could go back through and gild the outline. Once the adhesive was tacky (follow the directions - "when it's white it's not right, when it's clear it adheres!) I put down the Gildenglitz Leafing and then buffed off the excess.

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 4 - Gwen LafleurI used the Spring Fling stencil by Flora Bowley and repeated this process so that I had some leaves. Then I added a few other details and a title. I glazed both the front and back covers to they'll stand up to travel and handling. While that dried, I assembled my inside signatures. I separated the trip into travel time and then actual days in Bali and set up a signature for each day there and then one at the beginning and end for the travel (it's almost 2 days each way!) I bound it all together, and there you go!

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 6 - Gwen LafleurFor the inside, I used more of those beautiful half-sheets of artist papers to make the end papers of the book. Here's the inside of the front:

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 8 - Gwen Lafleurand the back - this paper is really iridescent - so cool!

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 12 - Gwen LafleurI also went through with stencils and Perfect Pigment paints and stenciled designs on some of the blank pages. I liked the transparency of some of the paints, because it makes good backgrounds for writing or other things I might add during the trip.

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 9 - Gwen LafleurAbove, I used the Going Global stencil by Mary Nasser along with the beautiful pearlescent green paint.

On the next ones, you can see where I bound this gorgeous textured artist paper into the book, and then added some stenciling next to it:

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 10 - Gwen Lafleur
StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 10 - Gwen LafleurI used the Floral 1 stencil by Traci Bautista and the Flower and Leaf stencil by Daniella Woolf for these.

And last but not least, the finished and bound back cover:

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 15 - Gwen LafleurI hope you enjoyed today's project!

No blog hop is complete without a giveaway... one lucky winner will receive a $25 gift certificate to StencilGirl as well as some of the USArtQuest Decorative Papers and Perfect Pigment Acrylics that you're seen us use in this week's hop!

USArtQuest Giveaway promo collage

Make sure you visit all of the stops on this fun, 2-day blog hop and leave a comment on each to increase your chances to win! (One comment per person, per blog please.) The giveaway closes on Sunday, Sept. 19th at 11:59pm Central.

Today's blog hop participants:

Inspiration Wednesday Weeks 16-18

Just popping in for another quick update... I wanted to share the last three Inspiration Wednesday challenges I've done in my inspiration journal... I've really liked all of these!

Week 16 involved fabric and molding paste. I had this cool fabric from Alexander Henry - I believe it was from a 2006 collection. I've had it for years and not really used it, so this seemed perfect!

Inspiration Wednesday Week 16 - Gwen LafleurI didn't take a picture of the other side of the inclusion, but it's got more fabric (with some figures on it) and my date tag. The peacock was from a stencil that I roughly drew and then cut out of thin chipboard - I'm pretty pleased with how well it worked! I added words and texture with Seth Apter's Past Present Future stencil. I wish you could see the shimmer of the gold paint from the photos - it's so cool in person!

IW2015 Week 16 Closeup - Gwen LafleurNext up, week 17. I will shamelessly admit that I copied Donna pretty exactly - I used the same paint colors and just followed along because I loved hers so much. My stencil was different - I didn't have hers, but used the Bubbles stencil from StencilGirl and it worked perfectly. I liked all the different techniques in this one - molding paste, gel transfer, and the ways that we did the shading on the bubbles - very fun!

Inspiration Wednesday Week 17 - Gwen LafleurFinally, last week's challenge - week 18 - was mostly just acrylic painting in our journals with a focus on not over-thinking things. This is probably my favorite challenge so far - I absolutely love it! I mentioned it on Instagram in my original post, but I think that means I need to do more of this type of thing. Life is much more crazy than usual right now - travel, assignments, job hunting... but I need to do more of this asap! I'm itching to pull out a canvas.

Inspiration Wednesday Week 18 - Gwen LafleurAnd because I love it so much, close up pictures of either side of the spread:

IW2015 Week 18 Closeup 1 - Gwen Lafleur
IW2015 Week 18 Closeup 1 - Gwen LafleurAnd with that, time to get back to the next item on today's To-Do list while I enjoy our afternoon thunderstorm :)

StencilClub: September Inspiration

Hi everyone, I'm just popping in to let you know that I've got a project I'm sharing in today's group inspiration post for the new September StencilClub stencil kit.

Here's what I came up with - going with this month's theme, I'm calling it "Hidden Messages." It's a 10"x10" mixed media canvas.

Sept2015-StencilClub-Mixed-Media-Canvas---Gwen-Lafleur-sm1There are a few in-progress shots over on the StencilGirl blog, as well as more inspiration from the rest of the creative team. I hope you'll stop by and check it out!

Typepad on Pinterest: Gwen Lafleur

Wow... what a surprise! 

Typepad Blog Shout-out

Big thank you to Typepad for the shout out on their blog! I guess this is the part where I tell you to follow me on Pinterest ;)

Did you know Typepad is on Pinterest? It's true! We love pinning and repinning great content from Typepad blogs in every genre, and we're always looking for great, inspirational content. Are you on Pinterest? Drop your link in the comments, and don't forget to follow Typepad right here! If you're not on Pinterest yet, check it out - it's a great way to promote your blog and connect with others!