06 December, 2013

A Very Merry Finish

"City sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style
In the air there's a feeling of Christmas
Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner you'll head, you can hear." 

Silver Bells - Michael Buble 

There was nothing more I wanted then to experience a white Christmas. To wake up on the 25th with a sheet of fluffy snow covering the roof. To drink hot chocolate by a crackling fire and wrap myself in bundles of clothes to walk in the snow.

The last time I was in Korea was in December 2009. All I wanted was to have a white Christmas. I wished and wished and wished for it to start snowing every day of that week. 

I woke up on Christmas Day only to be disappointed.  No snow covering the city, no snow falling. It rained that day and I was so excited that it may have been snow.
It wasn't. 

When it did eventually snow in Korea, I took all the wishing back. It was absolutely freezing! I learnt that I had a very low tolerance for cold weather. I couldn't stay outside for more than 5 minutes! 

It always looked so fun, romantic and beautiful in the movies. But I think I will leave the fantastical image of a white Christmas to the screen. 

In fact, this year I will be doing the complete opposite. I will be spending my Christmas with my family in tropical Queensland. Leaving shortly after I return from Cambodia, to stay with my cousin. 

I know that we are still a while away from Christmas Day, but I am feeling extremely festive as I write this. 

There is nothing better then popping on delicate fairy lights, lighting a couple candles and listening to the silky voice of Michael Bublé.

Tuesday was also my last lesson of floral art. The past couple of months have gone by sluggishly. However, I am surprised that I have already completed two months of the class.

It will be strange not going to the classes every week and coming home with flowers.

As well as doing a Christmas inspired table centre piece, we also had a little party at the end. It was a very lovely way to finish off such a challenging, interesting and at times therapeutic course.

Here is the base of the arrangement with a guard on
top to secure the Oasis sponge in place. 

Miniature Monstera

Dyed Singapore Orchids

Red Anthurium: waxy leaf flower.

Ginger. Yes this is called ginger. This acted as the focal flower.
This is actually a part of the Ginger we all know. 

This is Spruce/Christmas Tree. 

We started off by placing the Spruce around the sides of the Oasis.
It is a little hard to describe the placement of each segment but you
can see in the photo that mine turned out to look like an awkward
spider. It was suppose to be in an oval shape. We then placed our ginger
right in the centre of the arrangement.  

We continued to place the Singapore Orchids onto the sides of
the Oasis. Directly above the Spruce. I am not sure if I did mine correctly
but at this stage it just looked more and more like a mess. 

We added the Miniature Monstera leaves on either side of the Ginger.

We completed our last arrangement by adding White Lilies (which are going to be massive when they bloom),
the Red Anthuriums, acorns and baubles. Even though this was not my favourite arrangement, I loved having
free reign at the end to place the additional pieces together. This is the final front shot of the arrangement. 

This is what the arrangement looked like from the back. Even though this was a very strange looking creation,
 the extravagant colours and textures of the arrangement excited me. Whenever I walk into the house with my
arrangements, I can tell when my mum is really impressed, or when she is just trying to encourage me.
But this week she was over the moon with the final product and thought it was very festive.

These are some cute cake pops, that a lady in the class
made for our Christmas party. I had never tasted
them before. They were unexpectedly extremely moist and sweet. 

Here is a shot of some of the snacks that were brought, with the teachers'
beautiful arrangement in the centre. 

So from my keyboard to yours, I wish you all a very, very merry Christmas!

Enjoy this holiday however you like to do it. If it is just listening to Bublé and sitting in a fairy lit room like me, or going all out with turkey and jam.

I used to think Christmas was all about presents. And I still get excited over them.

I remember getting scolded by my Aunty one time because I was asking that many times if we could open the presents. I don't even think we had started eating dinner yet.

I used to wake up at the crack of dawn and organise my family's Christmas presents into piles. And just sit beside the presents, waiting and waiting until everyone else woke up.

I am not going to lie... sometimes I tried to carefully peek into the wrapping to see what mum and dad had gotten me. I was never really successful though, because I was too afraid that I was going to rip the paper and wouldn't be able to fix it.

One year I even dressed up as Santa, stuffing a pillow in my shirt. I passed all the presents around to my family, using a relatively deep voice. I thought I had so much power in that moment.

I find equal, no... maybe even more joy in buying and giving gifts. I get very excited if I know I have put effort into what I am giving to someone.

I can hardly refrain myself from telling that person what I have bought them. I haven't really had that much money this year, but I kept a large portion of it for Christmas presents.

I get so excited and nervous when someone is opening my gift, because I want them to like it as much as I do. The notion of giving and receiving gifts is one of my 'love languages.'

The gifts do not need to be extravagant. I genuinely much rather a thoughtful and loving token. But of course a big present won't be turned down.

I am going to make this Christmas not focussed on gifts and giving. But to use it to truly appreciate everything that surrounds me.

To fill this time with family, friends, joy, laughter, food, drinks, sun, the beach and and whole lot of other generic things.

30 November, 2013

Claire in Wonderland

For the past six months or so, I have been helping out at Meriden High School with their production of Alice in Wonderland. 

Along side two beautiful and talented drama teachers, I ran through scenes with a small number of the girls during that period.

It is so amazing what sitting in the background (most the time) and watching something beautiful come together can do for you. It was honestly an amazing time.

I am so grateful for all the girls I was able to work with. Watching them grow time and time again as actors and as young ladies was wonderful to see. 

This opportunity I was given made me feel more confident in my creative abilities and valued. It was humbling feeling needed. And an absolute honour being a part of a breath taking production.

I remember the first time one of the girls called me by my name. I was worried that no one would even remember who I was by the end of it.

It was at Meriden's HSC showcase. One of the girls chirped, "Hi Claire!" This small moment meant so much to me. Just the fact that the girls noticed me was something amazing.

Throughout my time in the rehearsals, I realised I had lost something. My passion for theatre and performance. Drama has been one of the things I focussed on all throughout my schooling life.

It was my outlet and was "my thing." The one thing I always enjoyed and had confidence in.

However, during year 12 I lost my passion for drama. I pretty much gave up. I put a very poor effort into the subject and couldn't seem to restore my passion for it.

In the end, Drama did not even count towards my ATAR. I had just done an average job in the subject. I was not the best, I was ordinary.

This was devastating for me. I placed part of my identity in being good at drama. So when it didn't end up counting towards this one score that defined my achievements for the end of schooling; I was gutted.

From that moment on I gave up on the romance I had with theatre and performance. Gave up on any idea of performing, directing or teaching it.

I didn't think I was good enough. I thought that I shouldn't even try to pursue anything in that area because I would fail anyway. I had failed, and I didn't have the right to make it "my thing" anymore.

I am glad I thought that way though. Because now I can honestly and confidently tell anyone who is waiting for their marks that; your HSC make does not define who you are.

Having a minor role in this schools' production made me realise that I still love everything about performance and theatre.

I love the sometimes boring and repetitive rehearsals. I love running through scenes. I love seeing the production come together at the last minute. I love the buzz before and after the show. I love theatre.

And no matter how much I tried to push it away, thinking that I wasn't good enough; theatre will always be something that drives and excites me.

I here by challenge myself to maintain my passion through the new year. To expose myself to much more dramatic literature and performance.

No matter what occupation I end up in, I will never again let a petty HSC mark distort what I truly enjoy.

I am extremely thankful to the two lovely ladies that let me help them in the small ways that I did. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to find my lost love.


I am a worrier.

A worry wart, stress head, an anxious person; whatever you would like to call it.

In primary school, when I received an assignment that was due at the end of the term, I would tell my mum we had to buy cardboard that afternoon so that I could start planning.

I was one of those kids who said they couldn't go out because they had to study, and truly meant it.

I used to pack about a month before a camp, because I was that excited to go and worried about leaving something at home. However, I would end up needing the things I had packed in my bag and I had to unpack it every day.

Even organising events with friends was a stressful situation. I would have to think about every possible thing that needed to be thought about before I felt confident leaving the house.

Somewhere along the track I went from being an organised person to being a stressed and anxious one.

I was accelerated in Mathematics. Which meant that I did year 9 and 10 Maths in one year, so that I was able to complete the HSC for it in year 11.

Now I am not saying this to boast. I am saying this because, on my first accelerated Maths exam - trigonometry, I failed.

Actually failed. This was devastating for me. I had never failed anything in my life.

From this point on, Maths and school became the focus of my life. I worked myself so hard but seemed to be getting nowhere. It was disappointment after disappointment, exam after exam.

Sometimes I would fail other times I would actually pass. But as the exams moulded into one another, it all began to feel the same. I began to call myself a failure.

Year 11 was the most stressful year of my life. It may sound stupid but I was putting that much pressure on myself that I didn't even notice what the stress was doing to me. This was until I was approached by one of my teachers.

It was my drama teacher - whom I am still close to now. She noticed that I was struggling. She probably didn't know exactly what it was, but she saw something that I couldn't.

She asked me if I was willing to see the school councillor to talk about my stress/anxiety. She was concerned that I was putting too much on my plate.

I was shocked when I heard this. Me? See a councillor? I thought that from that moment I would be a leper, an outcast. I would be one of those people who went to see the school councillor!

I realise now that it is very normal and healthy to seek help. And it was a big deal for me to accept that I needed it. To accept that maybe I was not coping as well as I thought.

And if it wasn't for my kind hearted drama teacher, I would have never realised what I was doing wrong. And I am eternally grateful for that.

It was only until I started seeing the school councillor that I realised I needed to learn how to let go of things. To deal with my stress positively, and to accept that sometimes I can not do everything and that is ok.

Because the fact was, I wasn't enjoying my life.
I was 17 and not enjoying myself.

It turns out that year 12 was the best year of my life. Although there was much to stress about, and there were dramas here and there, I finally let go a little.

I had fun and made wonderful friendships that I will treasure forever (I sound like an 8-year-old.)

This year, I have continued learning how to let go and to enjoy my life. Now you might think it sounds silly that I have to try to enjoy myself. But I have gotten into the bad habit of self sabotage.

Where I fill my mind with negative thoughts, which creates false messages I believe about myself. This in turn leads to placing limitations on what I do and what I think I can achieve.

I always believed that I was a worrier. And a worrier I would be forever. I was someone who stressed and couldn't deal with high pressure or new experiences because I was unable to cope.

I was unknowingly limiting myself because I thought there was nothing I could do about it. I accepted that I would worry. That I would fail. That I was too timid and scared to try new things.

It turns out, I was wrong.

I will be leaving next week to go to Cambodia. I am doing a short two week trip through an organisation called Real Gap. Traveling with a group of people, who will all be strangers.

Now if someone told me back in high school that one day I would be going on a volunteering/site seeing trip to Cambodia by myself, I would say they were crazy!

Even at the beginning of the year I would have never thought about traveling on my own. I thought I had seen enough. I thought that I would be happy going to University this year. But I was wrong.

I am both excited and anxious about traveling alone. I can not wait to meet new people, and to explore a different culture. I know I will come back with a thirst to travel more.

I still worry, and I don't think I will ever stop. But the fact is, that I now understand it is something I have to work on, and something I have control over. It doesn't have to get the better of me.

I'm not exactly sure what I am expecting from this trip, but can not wait to be shocked, thrilled, and energised by the world that awaits me.

After a very mediocre year, I am so glad that I have been able to end this one with something big and exciting. To finish with something that I can be proud of and remember for years to come.

Knowing that I go into the new year with a more confident and adventurous spirit, expecting amazing things to happen.

There are now five days until I board my first plane. And I still haven't packed my bag.

I am a warrior. 

25 November, 2013

Flower Overload: Floral Art (Wk 5 & 6)

There are only two more weeks until I finish my floral art course.

Yes I know... some of you may be disappointed that you won't be seeing anymore flowers on my blog. Others will be glad because you want me to write about more interesting things. 

I never really understood the appeal of receiving flowers. I would much rather a guy spend his money on buying me dinner then on a bouquet of flowers.

Why? Because I've never owned a vase to keep them in and I knew that they would die within a week or so anyway. Plus... food is great.

My mum always used to say - flowers are a waste of money. And this is true in a way. They are expensive for such temporary things. To me this is another luxury. An unnecessary pleasure.  

However, during the past couple of weeks I have been surprised to see how much I have gotten out of these delicate plants. An overall appreciation. 

An appreciation because of the gratitude and reflection I have received through having a new arrangement in my house every week. 

Flowers act as representatives. They can symbolise; love, celebration, joy, encouragement, life, beauty, happiness, laughter, gentleness, elegance, and the list goes on. 

When you receive a beautiful bouquet you can't help but to feel instantly uplifted. Having a moment when you mirror the flowers - you feel loved, joyful, beautiful, happy etc. 

So please take this post as my gift to you. Enjoy the flowers in their eternal captured beauty. No matter how hard, tiring, boring or overwhelming last week may have been, take a breath. Have a moment.

Week 5. 'A frame, flat back arrangement.' 

In week 5 of floral art, we learnt how to make a flat back arrangement. As the name suggests, the flowers are created to have a flat back so they can be placed against walls and in corridors etc. 

This was another awkward arrangement to make, because I didn't really know if my end product looked unique and interesting or just plain random and wild. 

The flowers we used were; Snapdragons, Amaranthus' and Banksia. 

 The final product, ribbon and all. I call this one... sprouting beauty?

Week 6. 'Medium size arrangement - The Dome.'

In week 6 we created a medium sized arrangement. The vibrant flowers we used were; yellow Gerberas, red roses, and Leucadendrons.

"Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy" Anne Frank

20 November, 2013

Happy Birthday To Me

Hip-hip hooray, 
it was my birthday.

One day rolled by,
one year older oh my!

nineteen, nineteen
what does this all mean?

I am now Nineteen. Yes I am young. But there was something about the number nineteen that sounded so much more older than being eighteen. Doesn't the number 18 just make you cringe? 

Wild kids running about, screaming at the top of their lunges, abusing their drinking freedom and creating havoc. That is the typical image of an 18 year old right?

I was under the impression that once the 15th of November rolled by, I'd magically be transformed. Taken out of that category. 1 year older = respected and matured. 


And then the year after I would be 20! And oh boy that is when life starts right? When it gets serious and I have to knuckle down because I have hit the 20s?

These impressions I have had are stupid.

I didn't mature overnight.

And I have to remember not to limit myself because I haven't reached a certain age or milestone in my life. Life doesn't begin when I hit my 20s, or when I score my 'dream job' or when I get married.

I find myself wishing for the next few years to flash by quickly so I can be at a more certain, mature point in my life. But I can't make that happen.

I have to accept that life will always have uncertainty. There is no point standing on the side lines and waiting for the years to pass me by.

Every moment I will experience, every person I will met, and every conversation I will have, will be important.

Even in my late teens, it all counts. So on that note, here is the start of my life as a 19 year old. My very extended birthday weekend: 

Thursday     14.11.2013

After working at Noggi and helping out my mum with her tutoring business; we had a family dinner at 'Bakehouse' in North Strathfield. 

As we got out of the car on the way to the restaurant, I had a sudden childish urge. I asked my dad to give me a piggy back ride across the street.

This little moment made my night. In the brief moment that he carried me, I felt safe, child-like and free. Not really caring if I looked ridiculous. Sorry if I was heavy dad! 

After dinner we dropped by to Cheeky Chocolate and I chose two desserts to act as my birthday cake. The 'Raspberry Bomb' and the 'Lime Tart.' 

When we got home, we did the usual 'Happy Birthday' singing, blowing out of the candles, and presents. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable night being spoilt by my family. 

Friday     15.11.2013

My actual birthday. I woke up with lovely texts from close friends and the usual overwhelming brief Facebook messages. It's the one day of the year when everyone suddenly remembers you exist. Leaving you (most of the time) half hearted, generic "Happy birthday" comments.

This may look very strange to most of you. But it is a Korean
tradition to eat this soup on your birthday. The english translation
is - seaweed soup. So I had this for breakfast.

My birthday was quite average. I worked all day at Noggi, then with my mum in the afternoon. I was so exhausted by the end of the day, but as soon as I got home I started getting ready for the night.

It was my friend's 18th birthday party, and it was great that it fell on my birthday. Since I didn't really want to do anything big for my birthday this year, it was nice having something to go to in the evening.

I was able to dress up and see my friends, which was really great. I ended up having a lot of fun at the party. I enjoyed catching up with friends, eating, drinking, dancing and laughing excessively.

I don't usually find myself liking the 'party scene' so I was pretty surprised that I had that much fun! I Definitely allowed myself to be a little more immature than usual, but it was almost liberating.

I think I deserved to let go a little for once. Because hey, I am 19 after all.

Happy Birthday Nick! You always manage to make me
laugh and Thursday night was not an exception.
This beautiful girl (Lauren) is one of the best friends a girl
could ask for.  I couldn't survive without you my dear.
Another one of my amazing close friends - Christie.
I am so grateful to have gotten closer to you this year.

Saturday     16.11.2013

On Saturday, before my dad left to go to Korea, my family went out to Yum Cha. It is not the cheapest option for lunch (if you are hungry) so it is always a treat for me when I go.

In the afternoon my mum, my sisters (Kirstin and Caitlin) and I made our way into the city. This was going to be the second half of my birthday present from mum and dad.

It was a one night stay at the Novotel Hotel (this was way too much for a 19th birthday present!) I have been so exhausted for the past couple weeks, and especially after Friday night, I felt like I was about to drop.

Being tired and surrounded by the wet weather dampened my mood. But I wanted to show my mum that I appreciated everything that she was doing for me on the weekend. So I tried to enjoy myself as best as I could.

We spent the afternoon walking around the city, looking at the christmas lights in the QVB and doing some shopping. It was quite a rainy and dreary day but mum pushed on with her plans.

We visited the Sydney Eye Tower (Centre Point Tower), which included a very entertaining short 4D presentation and a 40 second elevator ride to the top. To a view over looking Sydney.

Even though it was quite cloudy, we still has an awesome view from the Observation Deck. After enjoying the view for a while we slowly made our way back to our hotel.

When we got back to the hotel we decided to go for a night swim. To our surprise it was an outdoor swimming pool. And it was still raining. The pool was heated but it was still not very pleasant to be in.

Mum and Caitlin seemed to be enjoying themselves, but I was pretty uncomfortable sitting in the luke warm water, while the cold light rain fell awkwardly on my face.

So after a short amount of time we decided to get out of the pool.  We hopped into hot showers and made our way back to our room.

After getting changed and having hot cup noodles Caitlin and I lay in our beds and watched TV while mum gave us face masks. It was a very relaxing and girlie night.

We also ordered some late night room service. It was the first time that I had gotten room service before. Very exciting stuff!



Sydney Eye Tower

Sydney Eye Tower

View from the top

Facials and what not 

First time room service! 

Sunday     17.11.2013

Just as I disposed my daily contacts on Saturday night, I realised that I hadn't brought my glasses. So I had to accept that I would be unable to see the next morning.

Little did I know, mum still had more places for us. Even though it was raining down on Sunday the plans still went ahead. I successfully spent half of the day partially blind.

If you very poor eye sight like me, you will know how difficult it is to go about your day without glasses or contacts. It was horrible. Everything was so blurry.

Despite my inability to see, I still enjoyed the day. We had breakfast at Badde Manors on Glebe Point Road. I scoffed down a beautiful Vegan breakfast along side with my usual soy latte.

Then we spent the rest of the morning wandering around Glebe Street Fair. Where stalls upon stalls were set up along the strip.

Despite the cold and rainy weather, there was a pretty good turn up. All the locals were out trying to enjoy the fair and support the stall holders.

Walking around, disoriented because I couldn't see anything, I had to get very close to all the things I wanted to look at. Caitlin suggested I use the camera on a phone to see my surroundings.

This worked! I could see everything clearly while looking at the phone screen. However, I could only do this when it wasn't raining. And of course I didn't want to make people feel awkward, thinking I was taping them.

I ended up getting a beautiful travel journal that I will use when I go to Cambodia, and a criss cross white skirt. Thank you so much mum!

Soy Latte. No sugar (I am trying to cut down.) I usually
get my coffees in take away cups because I have something
against latte glasses... not sure why. But they forgot
to put mine in a take away cup. Hmmm not happy Jan. 

This is a picture from Beginning Boutique of a model
wearing the same skirt that I got from the markets.
Sometime you can get lucky at Glebe Markets
and get clothes like this cheaper than the retail price.

I was not planning on making a big deal out of my birthday this year. I didn't really want to draw attention to myself.

But I was pleasantly surprised with the weekend I was given. And I am so blessed to be loved and appreciated by my amazing friends and family.

Thank you to everyone who played a part in making this birthday a special one.