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Inspiration Wednesday Weeks 19-21

So something surprising and unprecedented has happened... I think I'm completely ready for the movers to come tomorrow and it's still a few hours before midnight! Given a little bit of extra time, I thought I'd do a quick update to share the most recent pages in my inspiration journal.

First up, week 19 - this uses some painted underpaper that's covered with places where I cleaned off my brushes, etc... The stencil is from Andrea Matus deMeng, and the stamped sentiment is from Tim Holtz. (My book is really thick and uneven, so the photo isn't blurry, my stamping was just a bit wonky.)

Inspiration Wednesday 2015 - Week 19 - Gwen LafleurFor week 20, I followed pretty closely with the sample since the colors and motifs were right up my alley. (Teal and circles!) I drew the circles with a compass and just painted the lines. You can tell I was rushing, but it was still fun!

Inspiration Wednesday 2015 Week 20 - Gwen LafleurFinally, I just managed to squeeze in the time to finish up week 21. This uses a few stencils by Seth Apter along with lots of molding paste, collage, and a few layers of glaze and paint.

Inspiration Wednesday 2015 Week 21a - Gwen LafleurI was having a lot of fun just playing with building up texture, so I took this one a bit further than the sample. Here's the view with the inclusion flipped over to the other side:

Inspiration Wednesday 2015 Week 21b - Gwen LafleurThis last one is probably my favorite of this group... I also quite enjoy the library card catalog card (thank you Donna!) for a book called "Where Are My Bears?" I made sure that you could still read that part. ;)

So with that, I think it's time to finish up a few more things and get some sleep! The rest of this week is going to be very crazy. Tomorrow is packing day (I'm seriously skeptical of the claim that they're going to be able pack my entire apartment in one day... have you seen my studio? Or my kitchen?) and then we load the truck and I'm off to drive 1,300 miles southwest. I'm feeling quite antsy about getting this all moving, and I'm excited to start my new job next week and start setting up my new house. That's definitely one of the more fun parts of moving! For me, at least. Anyway, I'll see you on the other side!


StencilGirl: Stenciled Paper Beads

Hi everyone, just popping in to let you know that the first post in my monthly blog column, "Gwen's Gems," is up on StencilGirl Talk! (I didn't come up with the name... I'm just trying to live up to it! lol.) This month I'm sharing how to make the stenciled paper beads that I used for my Art is You Stamford trades, plus a bonus project where I made a paper bead bracelet.

Stenciled Paper Bead Charms - Gwen Lafleur
Stenciled Paper Bead Charms - Gwen LafleurHead on over for a tutorial and more photos!


Library of Memories Masterclass

Last week I had the privilege of attending Art is You - Stamford where I had the opportunity to take several amazing classes.  The first of my classes was a 3-day masterclass - Library of Memories with Seth Apter. I'd always heard wonderful things about his classes, so I was really excited to get to take one myself. It did not disappoint! If anything, it was even better than I'd anticipated.

The morning of our first day was a group expedition to New York where we got to do a little shopping and see some of the sites. We took the train into Grand Central and then spent most of the time in or near the Garment District - M&J Trimmings was like heaven! (I was too busy shopping to take many pictures... LOL.) We also found beads, paper, and spent some time shopping for metal findings to take back and use in our projects. It's probably for the best that I didn't know about some of those shops while I still lived in Branford - it would have been dangerous!

This is one of the few shots I got - we were in the basement of a very cool Japanese bookstore across from Bryant Park.

Japanese Bookstore ShoppingBack in Stamford, we got to work on our projects. The main goal of the 3-day class was to build and complete the box, as well as assembling the handmade book and then hopefully at least getting a start on it. There was such a great vibe in the class. There were twenty of us, and it was so fun to see the evolution of everyone's projects! Here's a quick little shot that Patty got of Donna and I during our second day of class:

Seth's Masterclass 3

After our last day of class finished, there was a mini exhibition for all of the projects in each of the masterclasses so we could see what everyone else had been working on. There was so much wonderful art made in these classes! We went around oohing and ahhing at all of it. Of course, I still think that our class was the best ;)

Patty, Seth and I(Me, Patty, and Seth.)

I kept working on my book pages a few evenings in the hotel after class was over, and have pushed to finish it at home before I move this week - I didn't want to lose my momentum since I know once I get fully into moving mode, it's going to be a few weeks before I'll be able to really get back into the studio.

In any case, I finished and so with no further ado, here's my completed project.

First up is the front cover of the case that we made:

Library of Memories - Cover 1 - Gwen LafleurI haven't done much of this type of collage and assemblage, but I'll definitely be doing it a lot more from now on.

Library of Memories - Cover 2 - Gwen LafleurDifferent pieces of metal, findings, paper, book covers... all kinds of fun things found there way into this project! I found that carved face on our expedition into New York.

Here's what it looks like after you open it up:

Library of Memories - Inside 1 - Gwen LafleurThe left side was more collage with just a few bits of assemblage type work. I really loved blending lots of different styles and types of materials into a single piece. (One of the women in class told me after it was over that she'd watched me making this and didn't think I'd be able to pull it off. Once it was finished though, she loved it! She thought it was very Bollywood. Not quite the vibe I was after, but I'll take it!)

Library of Memories - Inside 5 - Gwen LafleurThe right side of the case cradles a little handmade book. We actually brought in our own book covers and made a new book from them. I used a vintage copy of Kenilworth by Sir Walter Scott. It had some cool debossed areas on edges of the cover that you can still see under the collage.

Library of Memories - Book Cover - Gwen LafleurHere's a view of the completed book so you get an idea of the layers on the cover:

Library of Memories - Book Cover 2 - Gwen LafleurMoving to the inside pages... I used some wrapping paper printed with Turkish patterns for my end papers. The pages themselves were all originally just kraft cardstock. I started working on them in class with what I had and what I liked - initially there was no rhyme or reason to what I was doing, I was just looking for things that would look good together and keeping in mind some of the tips Seth gave us in class for making the pages.

Library of Memories - Book Page 1 - Gwen LafleurI started out doing the patchwork technique that Seth showed us on a few of the pages. This one has a few other bits collaged on top, rubons, liquid pearls, and a bit of stenciling on top.

Library of Memories - Book Pages 2-3 - Gwen LafleurI mainly worked on the foundation of the pages first and then went back and added most of the words later - I had pulled out a bunch of French vocabulary cards thinking I'd use them in one of my other classes, but I ended up liking them here better. The page on the right was a tipped-in transparency. I had a whimsical moment where I decided to add this soldier stamped on vellum (an old Stampington stamp that I've had for years.) I went back and colored him in with colored pencils and used a tiny piece of a stencil to make him talk. It seemed fairly a propos and now he's one of my favorite parts of the book.

Library of Memories - Book Page 3 - Gwen Lafleur

Library of Memories - Book Pages 4-5 - Gwen Lafleur

The "hope" didn't get added until toward the end... I thought it fit nicely with the sentiments on the tag. As for where the inspiration for THAT came from, I couldn't tell you... not quite my usual thing, but it worked! More stenciling and rubons on the top layer here.

Library of Memories - Book Page 5 - Gwen Lafleur

Library of Memories - Book Page 5b - Gwen LafleurI just randomly pulled the image on the left hand side from some Japanese block print book pages that were in my stash. All of the pages were built in stages - I didn't work on any of them from start to finish. I really like how well it all integrated into the book as I kept working, though!

Library of Memories - Book Pages 6-7 - Gwen LafleurThe right hand side images are from a quarter repeat hand-carved stamp that I made a little while ago. It's painted with acrylics with some other detail work on top.

Library of Memories - Book Page 7 - Gwen LafleurI'm going to say that I totally planned the way everything lined up through the opening even though I didn't.

Library of Memories - Book Page 8 - Gwen Lafleur

Another random Japanese block print - I initially used it because I thought it was cool looking, then I found this sticker in my stash that said "Eyes Wide Open" and I thought it fit my Samurai so I went with it.

Library of Memories - Book Pages 10-11 - Gwen Lafleur

Library of Memories - Book Page 11 - Gwen Lafleur

Library of Memories - Book Pages 10-11b - Gwen Lafleur

I love all of the flaps and folds - the interactive aspect of this project was very fun!
Library of Memories - Book Pages 12-13 - Gwen Lafleur

I don't usually like to use red as a main background color, but it ended up working pretty well here, I think.

Library of Memories - Book Pages 14-15 - Gwen Lafleur

Aesthetically, this ended up being one of my favorite spreads in the entire book. Again, totally by chance. I had the different pieces that ended up on the left-hand page on my desk and they kind of fell on top of each other. I would probably never have put them together on my own, but I love how it turned out!

Library of Memories - Book Pages 14-15b - Gwen LafleurI stenciled "Time" with one of Seth's stencils and embossed it with gold. (For those who are interested, all of the stenciling I did in my book was done using his stencils.)

Library of Memories - Book Pages 16-17 - Gwen LafleurFinally, the last page and the inside of the back cover. The flap on the right was painted red and then I used another hand-carved stamp and heat embossed it in gold. You can't tell in the photo, but the texture is very cool!

Library of Memories - Book Page 17 - Gwen LafleurThat's it! My completed project, and one of my favorite things that I've worked on in quite a while. I'll be back soon to post the projects from my other classes.


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...

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

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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 :)