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July 19, 2013

Venice at Night

The song that inspired me during the travels, La Vie En Rose, was played by the orchestra in front of Caffe Florian right before we called it a night…Sweet memories!  
Thought you might want to play it as well…

The square at night is aglow with live mini-orchestras and friendly visitors enjoying wine and the sounds of classical music.  I felt like I was stepping back in time as I was listening to the classical sounds and absorbing the beauty I was surrounded with.  In one corner is Caffe Florian built in 1720 known to be the first and oldest existing cafe in Europe.  It is one of the popular landmarks in Venice with a wealth of history and a collection of 18th century art.  Some claim Casanova stopped here for coffee before fleeing Venice. Whether a tale or true, got the point!  Not so surprise, it is pricey for a small cup of coffee but it is all worth for the experience!

Steps away is St. Mark’s Basilica

The side of  Basilica next to Doge’s Palace exit

The Tower at the Square

The architecture that surrounds the three sides of the Square.

 Grand Canal

A shot during a late night stroll along the Grand Canal with empty streets 
and the echo sounds of footsteps with guided street lights and bright moon. 
The choppy water signals the presence of breeze. 

Beautiful Venice at night sans the gondolas, an unfamiliar place yet so serene…

Do come back next week and I will show you the palaces along the Grand Canal.

Mary Ann

A Novice Account: Soap Making 101

I am not an expert, but I am always willing to try some new recipes. Soap making, ooh~that’s a different story. But may I say I am an expert try-er. That’s not a word you would find in a dictionary, but for the sake of blogging, let’s use it!

Lavender is known to have its benefits and cure. Its soothing aroma helps alleviate insomnia. 
It is also known for its anti-septic and anti-inflammatory effects ~ for boils,
 blemishes, fever blisters, to name a few.

After visiting the lavender farm,  I was inspired to experiment some simple recipes I found online.  I am also a visual learner, having a video demonstration does help but I applied some variations.

Most of the ingredients I used (including herbal oils) came from the Lavender Farm.
 You can check online for a variety of products.

(photo taken at Lavender Hollow Farm)

Rose Clay

Lavender-Rose Soap Recipe

For Infusion:
1/4 C Lavender Flowers
1 C Water
Simmer for 10 minutes, lightly covered and let sleep overnight

3 C glycerin soap or castile soap
1/4 C infusion of lavender flowers
Add 1 1/2 teaspoon lavender oil (may use in place of olive or almond oil as shown on video)
1 1/2 teaspoon rose oil
Colorant (Rose Clay - to give the pink look)
Steel cut oatmeal (optional, as shown on video) 
Dried lavender flowers and rose buds for decoration topping

Combine melted soap base and all the herbal ingredients, stir slowly in low heat until blended.  Pour into molds and cool.  

To get an authentic look, use a loaf mold (available here) or you can find it in Amazon.
For glycerine soap base or castile soap, just type these words in your search bar to choose a variety of products available online.

Though above recipe is the modified version of the video instructions, watching this video helps me understand the principles of soap making! Have fun!

July 12, 2013

Lavender Heaven in California: Lavender Hollow Farm

July is the peak of lavender season in Provence and I was just there two months early and missed the experience of the Lavender season. Yap, how can I not know that!? A tad of frustrations overcame when I found out about  Lavender Hollow Farm in Escalon, California. It is only a few hours drive from my place and only open through the month of June.  Lavender Hollow Farm has an array of lavender products that are locally produced. Aside from the lavender fields,  it boasts a sprawling garden of summer blooms.  And for you avid crafters, they offer a lavender wreath making class!

Trying to get my model to pose with the lavender bouquet ~ my little Grectchie seems to love the grass better and got distracted by the wide grass field!

Mary Ann

July 11, 2013

Top it up with a chicken wire cloche

From the hardware stores to home boutiques,
whether it be used for construction or to fence a poultry livestock, from walls to our kitchen table, 
this metal piece has so many uses.  At home, the hexagonal shaped line 
adds the rustic art and gives a country vibe .
Chicken wire cloche here;  Mossy terracotta saucer here


via pinterest

July 07, 2013