Tuesday, October 23, 2012

From Monkeys to Bad Drinks

It's only our third full day in Bali. We've hit the road again. This time we're traveling from Sanur to Ubud. Our driver and her son are pretty quite so I just look out the window. It appears to me that the roadside is on a reel. It's a movie reel that starts with an image of a food stand of watermelons and corn on the cob. It's followed by statue stores, cement, hindu shrines, piles of junk, wood carving studios, plant nurseries, snack shops, laundry mats, and gas stands. Rewind. Repeat. Stop for traffic. Rewind. Repeat. There's a ton of traffic as usual. There's a million locals on mopeds. There making bold maneuvers; like texting while mopeding...with their kids poised in front of them napping on the handlebars. The curbs in Bali are painted in an alternating white and black pattern. It reminds of the part in Beetlejuice when he turns into a snake. I wonder if Tim Burton has been to Bali. I tried to ask the driver about the meaning of the black and white, but I didn't get a real definitive answer. I think it's a language thing.....
The hotel we happened to reserve in Ubud was gorgeous; and their staff was amazing. Did we luck out again, or is Bali always this delightful? By the time we arrived we were starving. We had lunch directly across the street at Warung Enak. Every restaurant's name begins with Warung. I think it must translate to cozy little inexpensive local restaurant. In German I think it would be stübl. It'll be no surprise to you; the food at Warung Enak was perfect. By this time I was convinced that it's impossible to have a bad meal in Bali. Normally I'll refference a guide book for restaurant tips, but in Bali it isn't necessary.
After lunch we went to the Monkey Forest. It was a skip and a jump from our hotel. It's not a place I thought we'd visit. To me, the name and purpose of the forest just reeks of being a tourist trap. But since we didn't have any other plans for the afternoon we figured why not? I was pleasantly surprised. We had a blast. It may be the best tourist attraction I ever visited. (That'll teach me to make assumptions I guess.) The Monkey Forest is a mini jungle in the middle of the city that is home to over 600 monkeys. They are amazing. Walking through the forest and observing their behavior is mesmerizing and astounding. Watching the other tourists interact with them presents an equally as amazing mental trip. Many people do many stupid things. We saw a guy walking with a bag of chips; they weren't even open. He got jacked by a monkey in about 15 seconds. The monkey ran up his leg, stole his chip bag, ran back down his leg, ripped the bag open, ate a couple of chips, and then threw the rest of the bag on the ground and moved on. His boys came behind to finish off the bag. It was almost like the first monkey was more interested in proving a point than eating the chips. Hilarious. The monkeys will steal anything. I found them to be so cute, gross, devilish, and comical; all at the same time. Being so close to these monkeys; I felt like I didn't know what to do (or make) of myself. I'm pretty sure I laughed nervously a lot. As we strolled further into the forest, enjoying the scenery and the company, Phil pointed out that if you stop to listen you can hear nothing but laughter. Laughter sounds the same in any language; and there was a representative from just about every country on the planet in The Monkey Forest that afternoon. I think it's one of the happiest places I've ever been. How can you be sad around a ton of fat, spoiled monkeys entertaining the daylights out of people? I don't think it's exactly what nature had intended, but it's pretty symbiotic.
Ready for the run-down on dinner? We ate at a restaurant called Murni's. I found it in the guide book; and just had to check it out. I guess it's pretty famous. It's been around forever. I'll also add, it took us forever to figure out where it was....not close to our hotel. Needless to say, we walked there and taxi'd back. This was another meal we ate cliffside; but mountain cliffside not beach cliffside. We were on a porch about three stories up. We were looking out over moonlit treetops. Phil had ribs; he loved the ribs in Bali. I had chicken stew; another traditional dish. That evening I also ordered a glass of the local wine, Hatten. It's something I never did again. When it comes to wine I don't think I could recommend the Indonesian; certainly not over the French, Italian, German, Chilean....etc. In Bali you are better off sticking to beer and tropical drinks. In fact, that evening Phil tried to order a dirty martini. It's a toss-up as to whose drink was worse. Unlike the drinks at Murni's, the dessert at Murni's was amazing; and the waitress was an expert at upselling. By the time she was done with us we had a large bowl half full of black rice pudding and half full of tapioca with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and whip cream. It was marvelous. I could have swam in it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Silly Little Crafter...

This trick's too easy for you....
There's nothing like a picture of my bathroom, front and center on my blog, to make Sunday that much more awkward. I apologize, but I wanted to share this turbo-easy art project I completed in about twenty minutes.
The bathrooms in Germany are huge. I had a big empty wall constantly staring at me as I entered mine. I've been dying to jazz it up, but couldn't figure out how. After a few separate shopping trips I had an epiphany. I would wrap fabric around a canvas and hang it with sticky hooks. Eureka!
I'll admit, that this project was a bit easier for me than it might be for some. I am always shopping for fabric; so finding a light fabric, with an amazing print, at half-off pricing comes naturally to me. I got this material, on my last trip home, at Joann Fabrics. I think I paid $3.00 per yard. The size of your canvas is going to determine how much fabric you need.
Then there's purchasing a large canvas. The Aldi near me is currently selling art supplies. (along with produce, health and beauty products, cookies, candy, and anything else that falls off the backs of trucks) I got this canvas, that measures roughly 2ft by 3ft, for $10.00. It's not high quality, but we're not painting on it. The cheap canvases are perfect for hanging with sticky hooks because they weigh nothing.
You'll also need a staple gun with small staples. I happen to already have one. If you don't you could probably complete the project with glue, but it will take longer and be more annoying. (for sure)
Here's how the project looks right before you get down to business. You've got your fabric face down. It has been cut with two extra inches of fabric sticking out on either side. The edges have been folded over once and ironed down. This will give you a clean edge on the back that won't fray. The canvas is face down on the fabric. From here you simply staple the fabric to the back of the frame of the canvas. I recommend starting in the center of one edge, giving it one staple. Then move to the opposite edge and give it a staple in the center. Then do the two other opposing sides in the same manner. You go around the frame, stapling the alternating sides, working from the center out. (This is how the pros do it.) When you are nearly done, you'll have to tuck the corners as if you are making a bed and give them an extra staple. As you work around the canvas be sure you are pulling the fabric taught, but not too tight.
Once it is complete it is ready to hang. Below is a close up of the sticky hooks I used. They are pretty small. I would have preferred slightly larger hooks, but this was all the PX had. Buy whichever ones you can find. Stick them on your wall and hang your canvas on it. I used three hooks to keep my picture hung.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thursday in Bali..Am I Only on Day Three?

Ghzeesh! I am not being quick about these Bali stories. Thank you for your patience.

We took a boat from Sanur to the island of Nusa Lembongan. In researching this trip I realized that Indonesia consists of (somewhere around) 1,700 islands. I felt like we couldn't go all the way there and only see one. Visiting other islands is terribly easy from Bali. Every coastal town runs boats to neighboring islands. There are four islands you can access from the boats that leave Sanur, but we knew we wanted to go to Nusa Lemgongan. It is quite popular for not only surfing, but snorkeling as well.
We purchased our seats the day before. Showing up last minute, and hoping we would get a ride, would stress me out. So I made Phil commit and buy advance tickets on the fast boat. We showed up for the boat ride a bit too early Thursday morning. Just the way I like it; early not late. In the back of my mind I was harvesting a secret plan to sneak a museum trip in before the boat ride. (I know that sounds crazy but it wasn't a very big museum.) This would be something I couldn't tell Phil ahead of time; it would get shot down. In my head I knew how far the museum was from the boat dock, the time it opened, and the cost of entry. So when we had 45 minutes before the boat left, I suggested (very nonchalantly) that our time would be better spent exploring rather than sitting and waiting. Phil agreed. Then I suggested the small museum. Immediately Phil did not look so pleased. It was the house of the late artist Adrien-Jean La Mayeur, a Belgian painter who married a Balinese woman and lived the remainder of his life in Bali. I told Phil that the guide book suggested there may be some erotic paintings. He agreed to give it a look-see. (bingo) Tell a man he may see boobs and he'll go almost anywhere.
We cruised down to the museum, paid our dues, used the restroom, and that was about it. It took us all of about 20 minutes. The house was nice, but nothing major. In fact, a good bit of it was under construction. There were some paintings (which were a far cry from erotic), and original furniture, but it was not anything to write about. When you come across attractions such as La Mayeur Museum, you can't help but think tourist trap. Why anyone would list it in a guide book was a bit quizzical to me.
The boat ride, on the other hand, was worth every penny. I love being on boats so I found it terribly fun. You have to hike out into the water a bit to get on the boat; there is no dock. There were passengers with luggage. The crew literally carried the luggage on their back to keep it from getting wet, and then they chucked it on the roof of the boat. The boat had three motors and each one of them had an offering strapped to it. Phil and I were glad to see that; the boat gods would be pleased and this ride would be successful.
You get absolutely bombarded with solicitation when you hit the island. You don't even finish walking ashore and people are shouting at you to buy their tours. It was really intimidating; I wanted to bury myself in the sand. I refrained and Phil and I settled on a half day snorkel trip. We didn't surf. The tide wasn't right, and there were no waves. When the waves are “on” at Nusa Lembongan they are really “on.” They have names like playgrounds, lacerations, and shipwrecks. No thanks; they sound like they'd hammer me. I like waves with names like butter and cream puff.
So we snorkeled. It wasn't the best day for a snorkel trip, but when you're traveling sometimes you just take what you get. We got another fun boat ride out of the deal. Our driver was not very talkative, but he was nice. He gave us water, and some tips, and we had him all to ourselves. We popped off into the water and went searching the reefs of Nusa Lembongan for interesting fish, or treasures, and (of course) snakes. I had heard there are tons of snakes in the water in Bali. In case you don't know me, I hate snakes. I didn't want to encounter my first one while surfing. So I thought if I could face the fear while snorkeling, when I could see it in its entirety, I'd be better off. A couple of times I thought I saw one, but I didn't. My imagination however, was enough to keep my heart beating pretty fast. The closest we got to seeing a snake was spotting an eel. It would have to do. I got pretty cold pretty quickly. Cool water and no sun don't mix well for me. We took the boat back to shore and got lunch. Our lunch spot was seated right on the edge of a cliff. It might have even been hanging over a bit. The sea and rocks were (about) 40 ft. below us. The food was good, so was the lemonade, and they played dance hall reggae the entire time. I had fun; until I needed to use he bathroom and discovered there was no toilet paper. This was my initiation into never expecting the expected in a public restroom situation. I'm lucky they had running water. The restroom wasn't even in the restaurant. You had to walk about 60 ft. up the mountain side and around some bungalows.
After lunch we decided to brave a moped rental. The island was midsized; you could walk around it if you had enough time, but mopeding would be more efficient. We talked our moped salesman down to a third of his initial rental price. We actually ended up feeling a bit guilty for how much money we thought we saved. (We would learn later in the trip that we still got ripped off.) Driving through Nusa Lembongan was an experience to last a lifetime. Phil drove and I rode on the back. We had no helmets. We were unfamiliar with the island, had no map, and it was his first time driving on the “wrong” side of the road. I'm sure we could have died numerous times. We rode over new roads, and old roads, huge potholes, and bridges not big enough for anymore than one moped, and bridges that were tied in some spots with rope and had missing boards. We saw forests, and temples, and seaweed collections in process. I was feeling like we were getting more of a glimpse into real life on Nusa Lembongan. The moped ride ended with us sunning at a bar in big, scooped lounge chairs made from old boats. It was absolutely darling. The entire bar, and all of its tables and chairs, were only half covered in paint anymore and the decor was accented with buoys, nets, and seashells.
The boat ride back was crazy! I mean it. We could have died, for like, the umpteenth time that day. We were charging for Bali in three to four foot seas. I've never ridden anything like it; what a rush. I would liken it to a rapids ride at an amusement park, but multiply it by 20, and then subtract the seat belts and safety operator. I nearly fell out of the boat twice. Phil had to help hold me down. In hindsight it was probably not the smartest thing, but I wanted to sit on the edge so we'd have a good view of the islands' coasts. And I am glad we did because the view was mystical. It was later in the day, so I'm guessing this can make the air more dense. As we rode further, and further, from Nusa Lembongan it just seemed to disappear. The weather wasn't misty or foggy or cloudy; it was just as if the air was hiding it. The island slowly proceeded to turn as blue as the sky until, eventually, it wasn't there anymore.
When we reached Sanur unscathed we breathed relief; and began to take in the familiar smells of clove cigarettes, incense, and fried food stands. Also at this time of the evening everyone is out on the beach with their kites, which is the most colorful welcome home I've ever received.
The dinner we had that night was one of my favorites. The food was good, but that wasn't it. It was the atmosphere and entertainment. It was called Alice's Restaurant; and I recommend it if you're ever in Sanur. As I mentioned it was in a gorgeous setting; very romantic. The restaurant is part of a hotel owned by a Belgian, and it is wonderfully hidden from the road. They menu was great; with options ranging from the common to the uncommon, and in various portions. You could eat family style if you like. Once seated, you are greeted by the owner himself. He makes small talk, tells you a few jokes, and puts a fresh flower behind your ear, even if you are male. Alice's Restaurant also gives each of its customers a free cocktail to start. It warms you up and gets you ready to order an awesome dinner. The staff was terribly friendly, and all the girls were beautifully dressed. Alice's had live music that night. It's one of the reasons we chose it. It was a guitar duo from Sumatra, which is a neighboring island. They were spectacular. Like most entertainment in restaurants in Bali, they took requests. Like a mariachi band, they'd walk to each table and play what you want to hear. They were good at classic rock tunes, so we stuck to that. They must have liked Phil and I because they stayed at our table for a while. (It may have been because Phil's a good tipper, but never mind that.) They played us the Sumatra Honeymoon Song. It was the most suggestive song I've ever heard played live in a restaurant. The singer did a lot of heavy breathing. I actually got a bit self conscious. My cheeks, definitely turned red and I had an awkward laugh. When the song was over the guys explained that, in addition to being called the honeymoon song, it is also called The Chili Pepper Song. Breathing heavily because your mouth is on fire from spicy peppers was much more befitting for my prudish tastes.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Adventures of the Bazaar Kind

I definitely did not have the weekend I expected. At times I even felt like I was having the weekend from Hell. Almost everything that could have gone wrong did. I know that life, and owning a small business, are not always easy; but come on.....

   The night before I drove to Wiesbaden for the bazaar I wouldn't let myself sleep. This meant that I couldn't handle the 2.5 hour drive without pulling over and taking a nap on Thursday morning. Setup began at 8:00, but I wasn't able to get there until 10:00.
   Due to check-in complications I wasn't able to actually start setting up until 11:15. The initial space my bazaar hosts tried to give me wasn't even wide enough to fit the tables they provided; let alone any of my other displays. I took their second option, which was a spot in the Fest tent. At the moment this seemed like a much better option. I didn't know that it was going to be cold and rain all weekend.
   I had not planned a wardrobe around being outdoors in this kind of weather for three, 10 hour days. I packed my stretch pants, skinny jeans, loafers, no socks, and v-neck shirts to be in a heated hangar.
   At bazaars I have a full length mirror. It's nicer for shoppers to see their entire self along with the scarf. Fifteen minutes into setting up, that mirror got bumped and smashed all over the ground in a billion pieces. Cleaning it up without a broom, and disposing of it properly, was quite a fete. Another vendor lent me some working gloves so I wouldn't accidentally slice my finger off. After the mirror broke it seemed (probably only to me in my own head) that the other vendors were ganging up on me. I got hassled to move my car and rearrange my tables to better suit the needs of those around me. The other people in my tent were European vendors that all seemed to know one another. (I was like this little-tiny-all alone-crafter) They were laughing, and joking in German. I was silent, and cold, and sad, and I ripped my tablecloth!
   After my annoying set-up I had to navigate around the city; finding my hotel, going to Ikea for a new mirror, going to the mall for socks, leg warmers, and gloves, and feeding myself. By the end of the night I was exhausted, but this did not stop the Universe from punishing me further. I got trapped in the parking garage. It seems I was initially printed a parking receipt without a date and time. Because of this, the machine wouldn't let me pay, and the gate wouldn't let me out. There was no security guard answering the telecom; and there was no guard at the security desk. It took me an hour and the help of two different sets of Germans to free me (and my automobile) from the imprisonment. When I finally got back to my hotel (which was just a house with rented rooms) there was no parking. I drove down the street and around the corner.

And that was just on Thursday.

   On Friday morning when I woke up I had half-a-mind to pack up and hightail it home; skipping this whole bazaar in Wiesbaden thing. But I couldn't give up so easily. I arrived at the bazaar grounds at 9:30. I finished setting up, mingled with my neighbors a bit, and waited for some scarf-selling action. It never happened. I didn't sell my first scarf until 2:00 pm, and there wasn't much activity to follow.
   The bazaar ended at 7:00. In aimlessly driving around the city to find a place for dinner, I ran a yellow light. After I went through it I saw a light flash twice in the corner of my eye. I'm pretty sure that means my photo got taken for running the yellow and there will be a ticket in the mail for me any day.
   I managed to survive most of Saturday without incident. This was until after dinner, when I almost didn't have enough money to pay for my meal because I couldn't find the cash I had put in my pocket. Nor could I find my driver's license. I left the restaurant, after emptying my change purse, only to find it had begun to rain again. (Good thing my car was eight blocks away.) I ran all the way back in the rain, but took one turn too fast, on a grassy corner, slipped and fell. My entire right side was mud soaked. When I got back to my car there was no money and driver's license. In the rain, I retraced my steps two more times before confirming my money and ID were officially gone.

Isn't that wacky? It's been a while since I've been handed so many (ridiculously annoying) incidences in a row. When I eventually got home, Sunday night, I wanted to throw myself a party, for surviving. Instead I just threw myself in bed. Today, I have felt like a new woman.

 Now that my crying is out of the way I can also share all of the cool things that happened to me this weekend...

   The house I rented a room in was perfect. I picked it randomly off the Internet and lucked out. It was clean. I had my own room and bathroom, the landlady was terribly sweet, and the price was affordable. You (really) couldn't ask for more, when traveling for work.
   The bazaar had a refreshment room for vendors only. They kept it stocked with breakfast, lunch, snacks, and hot and cold refreshments. It was such a relief to be able to grab a cookie and some tea, every so often, to warm up and stay busy during the slow hours. We also had our own bathrooms. I may have died if I'd have had to use a port-o-john all weekend. Also, the volunteers working the event, the ladies of the Wiesbaden Community Spouses and Civilians Club, could not have been nicer. They were very supportive, attentive, cheerful, and helpful. They provided a warm, energetic atmosphere that lasted us through all the awful weather and lack of crowds.
   I was (absolutely) selling the perfect items given the weather. If Mother Nature was on any one's side; it was Florida Scarf's.
   For my German-language skills, the Fest tent was the place to be. I was eavesdropping as much as possible to try and understand as many conversations as possible. In certain instances, I was able to participate in conversations using German. These were the times when I really wanted to pinch myself. I would laugh, as I joked with the Polish Pottery Lady (in German) about how she gets asked the same questions all day long and she delivers the same answers. I can do a pretty good impression of an Army wife inquiring about baking dishes. I wonder why. It's probably because I'd have had the same questions if I had not heard her information over and over again.
   Wiesbaden is definitely a cool city. There are a few historical attractions; and they are pleasantly blended with great residential neighborhoods, shopping, and dining. Some of the streets reminded me of Savanna, Georgia. (I hope that isn't too random)
I had the best dinners. It would take me while to find the restaurants, and then find parking, but it was worth it every time. 
   On Thursday I ate at Taj Mahal. It was a basement restaurant under a three story office building. Random, right? Not really for Wiesbaden; they had many basement bars and restaurants with cool signs, descending staircases, and romantic porches. The Taj had great music. I was delighted when I heard an eastern version of a song I know to be played by the Gipsy Kings. My face lit up, but since I was alone I could only make a mental note of it, instead of pointing it out to a dinner date. I was seated at a table next to the door. In every restaurant I went to; I got the worst seat in the house. I wasn't surprised. A restaurant should never waste a good table on the weekend, on one person. One waiter sat me, another waiter took my order, still another waiter brought my drink, then a forth brought my warming plate and entree. I saw that last waiter twice more, because he also cleared my table and brought my check. I am wondering if everyone working felt the need to get a look at the girl who came to dinner all by herself. I didn't care. I'd probably be nosey too, if I were them. I was just content to have the attentive service in this warm, smoky, cumin scented sanctuary; far from a cold day of work and stress. I ordered Sahir Paneer Masala (I'm pretty sure I spelled that wrong) and garlic naan. It was delicious. As I ate I dreamt of owning my own Indian restaurant. It would be a room full of bathtubs. The bathtubs would be full of typical Indian sauces. Restaurant goers could bath in their favorite sauce and there would be overflowing baskets of warm naan on all sides of the tub for dipping.
   On Friday I ate at Di Gregorio's. It was situated on a hill in the middle of a bunch of old homes and large trees. It was really lovely; out and away from the center of the city. I felt like I experienced the “single girl in a restaurant” syndrome again. Di Gergorio's is one of those establishments where the diner gets a gift from the kitchen. On Friday night it was three slices of (some sort of) soft salami. As I embarked on this culinary adventure, and sampled some bread, tomato paste, olives, and house wine; I was greeted by a total of three members of the restaurant staff. What is the deal with that? Like the night before; I refused to let it bother me. For my main course I had pasta and sauce. It doesn't matter what kind of pasta, or sauce; all that matters was that it is the best pasta sauce I've ever had. Since I was out to eat, again with no one to talk to, I thought to myself how inspired I was by the sauce. It motivated me to want to work on my own sauce skills. I also thought about how singles need to eat at upscale restaurants if they are going to eat alone. The food and the atmosphere can be all the “date” one needs. Take Di Gregorio's for instance. You are in a beautiful surrounding. The food and drink are delivered with theatrics like extra silverware, plates, olive oil, and fresh ground pepper. There is lots of setting, clearing, and resetting of the table. You get surprise gift hors d'oeuvres. And if I need to mention it again; you receive a delicious entree, perfectly portioned, with impressive ingredients and multiple levels of flavor. Frankly, I'm beginning to think it's all the company I can handle. While eating at Di Gregorio I decided to open my own Italian restaurant too. It's going to be called “Cut the Crap and Just Give Me Wine, Cheese, Bread, and Maybe Something With Garlic.” (I may need to shorten that somehow)
   On Saturday I ate at Sombrero Latino. The restaurant's décor made me feel like I was Ernest Hemmingway. It was dark, with lots of wood, candle light, black and white photos, and musical instruments hanging on the walls. To my surprise I was not seated by the front door, but I was seated in the very back next to the bread and butter prep station. (the lesser of two evils) It was no matter; I still liked dinner. Instead of chips and salsa (which is what an American expects at a Spanish restaurant) you get hard (really hard) rolls served with salsa verde and mayo. Interesting combination, right? The salsa was green tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, tons of black pepper, raw yellow onion, and garlic. Can you imagine what it tasted like all together; the hard roll, mayo, and salsa?...a hoagie. I loved it! After my hoagie-without-the-meat-and-cheese appetizer, I had a burrito. It was chickeny, and cheesey, and just what I wanted; and I ordered the perfect Chilean red to wash it down.

Are you still reading this? Thank you for letting me recap my culinary explorations of Wiesbaden. It was obviously the highlight of each evening for me; whereas my days proved to be explorations more on the cultural side.
   As I said, I wasn't in a tent near any other vendor that was American (or had a current Army affiliation) Initially I was intimidated by this group of sellers. They seemed to roll in a pack and know one another; like Carnies. I felt like an outsider, like my life was too normal because it didn't consist of a mobile store that I opened and closed in a new city every weekend.
   As I got to know the vendors; one by one they each opened up to me. The conversations always ended the same way; with each of them giving me similar advice. “Don't trust anyone,” was what I received most often. Most of them have been in the business for over ten years. They know enough to be nice to one another and to share laughs; but never to share any secrets. You don't tell other vendors how much money you are making. (or have made) You don't tell them about the other shows you are doing. You don't tell them if you are staying in a nice hotel. You definitely don't tell them if it's cheap, because then it won't be there for you in the future. Talking too much can ruin your life as a vendor. There were so many rules, and codes, and stories; they had just about scared me from ever doing a bazaar again. The Internet was starting to look like a safe place.
   Seriously though; I really enjoyed everyone's company. There was Romanio. He sold Italian wine. He also traveled with an espresso maker and hooked us all up every morning with delicious, dark, strong, coffee. I think it saved my life. He also made pizza and pasta that he shared both days. I also liked Fritz. He was a German ceramic artist. He specialized in personalized steins and had a mustache that curled on both ends. He wore a fishing vest stocked with cigarettes. He had a light cigarette he smoked in the first half of the day, and a stronger cigarette he enjoyed during the second half. I am also glad to have befriended Jerry, the french soap seller who also runs a B&B in the South of France. And Mama Kotroo; a Indian Sufi who sold goods from India (like Red Saffron from Kashmir) and also is a trekking guide in the Himalayas. He told me about skiing in the Himalayas. You know I'm now going to research that! And then there was Procy. She is from Kenya; and she was just the sweetest. She sold decorative African wares, and was a perfect neighbor for me to share stories with all weekend. There was also Juan Silva, the painter from Malaga; and an older couple from Whales who sold hand carved, knotted spoons. Lastly, there was Gerard. He was Belgian with a sore back. He was as passionate about Belgium as Ludwig is about Germany. Gerard spoke French, German, English, and a bit of a few other languages. He made metal sculptures. He told me that Sarah is the most International name; it's common with a touch of uniqueness. I really liked him after he said that. Of course.
   All of the different people I engaged with were such a wonder to me. I would get so wrapped up in our conversations that I would forget about my booth with no customers that I worked so hard to prepare for. I felt like I was having a chance of a lifetime to meet these European vendors and learn from them. Selling your artwork when times are slow is tough. I need to be doing, seeing, or learning something. Standing quietly and smiling for long periods of time is impossible. I was glad for my inspiring company.

Should I do more bazaars? In more countries? For more travel? Sounds dreamy doesn't it? Maybe it does, but only for a split second, then I start to think about the logistics and I think I'm good right where I am.

After reaching the end of this tale I've forgotten all about how upset I was about the bad things that happened. Bad times, like good times, are (surely) easy-come-easy-go. This weekend I got one step closer to being able to “roll with it” and I'm so glad I did. Had I gotten discouraged, and packed up and gone home; I may not have frozen my tail off but I would have missed out on so many awesome people.

Florida Scarf lives to see another day, and probably another bazaar. For now it's back home, settling in, and posting inventory online. I hope to stay warm, dry, and out of trouble.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall Bazaar in Wiesbaden

Please Join Me If You Can....
Normally, it is difficult for me to get dressed without layering or accessorizing. Recently it has begun to get even tougher. It's Fall, and soon it will be replaced by Winter. Germany is getting pretty chilly. It's perfect timing for my last bazaar of the season. I know it seems early for bazaar season to be ending, but I'm keeping it simple this year.
In preparation for an event like this my creativity goes into hyperdrive. I can't sleep, I can't relax; all I can do is think about sewing. It's a good thing my husband isn't around to endure this. My productivity would drive him nutty, and he'd tell me I need to relax. (Actually, he tells me that anyway.) I've been making new pieces constantly for the past couple of weeks. I go into my sewing room and don't come out for hours. I make a cup of coffee (or get a glass of wine, depending on the time of day) put some music on, and get lost in the colors and patterns, and the way they look and feel. The windows in my sewing room face the front of the house. Every time the landlord or my neighbors walk by they can see me. My neighbors tease that I only live in one room in my house because each time they check, I'm in there. They also tell me not to work so hard. But my reply is that it is not work. I think it is fun. The part where I stand in front of people and try to sell them is the part that feels like work.
So what have I been doing? Well, most of my core features to the scarves and hoods are still here; warmth, minimalism, interesting buttons, recycled fabrics, vintage fabrics, and exciting color combinations. There are some new elements I've been working with too; to freshen up the inventory and give you something to lust after. I've got more furs. I've got some fabrics I picked up in Bali. 
Of course, there are a few new supplies from Germany too; mostly buttons. I've been able to make more deer antler buttons thanks to the wood shop on post. I have also been exploring new shapes and sizes in both the hoods and the scarves. But my time to prepare is quickly coming to a close. The bazaar is this weekend.

I also wanted to take this time to quickly post the new fur scarves I have made. I had a lot of interest in this style at my last craft fair. I only made two and I sold them both. I wanted to give everyone in my area (and on the internet) a chance to see them before I take them this weekend. If you are interested in one of these please contact me. I am selling each one for $65. As you may remember; the fur is from a 1930's/40's mink coat.

After Wiesbaden I will be loading the Etsy shop. This is the other part of the scarf business that feels like work. But I'll put some more music on, make a cup of tea, (for a change) and load pictures and descriptions of my creations to share with you for this season. I hope you're looking forward to me completing that task; I am. When it's all over I'm going to switch to painting for a while. I'll need a break by then, I think. I want to finish some new paintings before the new year.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bali, Our Sanur Experience

We arrived in Bali as the sun was setting on Tuesday. Wednesday was our first full day. We had no plans, but you have to have a day without plans so you can investigate and make plans. We wandered around Sanur and absorbed more of the Balinese culture. 
The curbs are insanely tall along the sidewalk. It's goofy what an effort it is to get up and down them. 
I was also impressed by the peoples love for Gingham. It's black and white gingham, and it's everywhere. They wrap the fabric around trees, shrines, sculptures, and themselves. They also love their flag. If things aren't black and white gingham; they are red and white striped. 
I also noticed spiritual offerings everywhere. The Balinese have short ceremonies multiple times in one day. They make offerings to the Gods to keep them happy. An offering will consist of a banana leaf folded into the shape of a tiny box top. It will be filled with rice, crackers, candy, flowers, incense, and a cigarette. The offerings are sold around town for the equivalent of about 5 cents, and they are placed in front of every doorway along the street, at statues, and on some cars and mopeds.  
There's a lot of stray dogs in Bali. They love to fight one another in the middle of the street. Don't compliment one of these dogs, on anything. I playfully complimented a dog on her tits and she followed us for the next twenty minutes. It was annoying. Good thing she couldn't speak , she may have tried to sell us something. 
It's also hard to not notice that the favorite Balinesian past time is solicitation. Everyone, whether store owner or not, is trying hard to sell you something. No exaggeration, when you walk down the street you must say “no thank you” every five seconds. The taxi drivers can be the worst. Just because you're walking doesn't mean you need a ride. But they don't understand that; they hate to see you travel by foot. You'd like to avoid these sales scenarios by walking in the middle of the road, but you'd risk getting mauled by a moped. It makes you thirsty.
Intermittently we'd stop at a bar, to use the bathroom and WIFI. We really lucked out with the toilets on this first day. I didn't realize how sketchy the public restroom situation can get until later in the vacation. In Bali there are only two kinds of Beer, and every restaurant, cafe, or bar is consistently out of Storm Beer. So you drink Bintang; it's what everyone drinks. It's everywhere. “If you can't escape it, drink it.” That's my motto. Bintang is nothing more than Heineken with a different label; stilled bottled in Holland. Lucky Heineken; the red star fits nicely into Bali's cultural themes.
I was also pleasantly surprised to find that so many establishments offered WIFI. This made it incredibly easy to search the Internet for our next hotel; a process I thought would be much quicker than it actually was. As it turned out we would be in Bali over three (or four) major holidays. This made last minute hotel stays a bit trickier to find. Normally it's no problem because every other building has rooms. Eventually, after a couple of beers, we were able to secure lodging in another town for future days.
After lunch we strolled down the beach walk. There's lots of pop-up food stands and souvenir tents. There's also lots of nice, and large hotels. But Bali has an interesting rule. No hotel can be built higher than the highest temple (or maybe religious sculpture) so it has kept high rises to a minimum. When a hotel can't be the biggest, they'll get pretty clever at conjuring attractions. Like this giant (and hideous) diamond that you can get married in. Could you imagine? Who would do that. I find it completely ridiculous, but apologize if you're married and that is where your ceremony took place.
They day mosied along, with each of our happy, exploratory steps, and eventually we made it to dinner. The restaurant was called Cinnamon. The food was wonderful, and fresh, and they featured live dancing. Ceremonial dancing is a very popular attraction in Bali. You can buy tickets to nightly shows with varying themes, but we never did. This dinner show was plenty for us. The restaurant had a small stage with a perfect vantage point from every table. The dancers were beautifully decorated girls from age 4 to (about) 14. It's a very theatrical dance that they put on to traditional music. They don't move around much, or with much flow to their rhythm. The dancing appeared to me more like a serious of poses the girls changed in and out of. Put together in a string; the poses were used to act out characters and events in a story. This worked beautifully with the traditional music; which to me also seemed (at first) not very melodic. Initially I only heard this music as a series of sounds and tones. As I spent more time in the country though, with the music in the background, I began to notice its tune. I was impressed with how exotic I found the dancing show. My guess is that you may liken it to being in Hawaii and attending a luau. It was a feast for so many of my senses, but for the Balinese it is simply a part of their life. It is how they express their spirituality and tell their stories. Dancing starts at such an early age for women that parts of their bodies, like their neck, eyes, hands, and fingers, seem to be structured differently than mine. They are perfect for exaggerating and creating drama on stage. 
After dinner we went back to the beach for some live reggae. I can't imagine that there is a surf spot in the world that doesn't have nightly reggae music. The band covered Bob Marley and UB40 perfectly. It's funny though; do people know how much reggae exists outside of these two entities? Maybe. Maybe they don't care. We had a wonderful time, and sang along to every song because we knew the words. During a set break the lead singer came around to entertain the crowd and make small talk. When he got to Phil and I, he asked Phil if he'd like to come up to the mic and sing a song. Phil politely declined the invitation, but he was obviously flattered.   

Thursday, October 4, 2012


OK, so it wasn't first place, but it was something.
I am proud to announce that Florida Scarf won honorable mention in the 2012 Army Arts and Crafts Contest; in the textiles division.

This is my second year entering. You might remember that last year my painting won first place. I'm really stoked to have made it to the winner circle this year too.
If you'd like to see the rest of the results from the contest, here's the link. It's worth a look. There is some really great stuff.
This winning scarf was one of a kind, like all of my scarves. Kuddos to the proud owner of this piece and anyone who purchased one in a similar style. You ladies know a prize winner when you see one.
If this announcement has reignited a love inside your soul for Flo Sca and you feel the need to shop; today and tomorrow are the last days for my Etsy Sale. After Friday normal season is in full swing and you'll have to wait until Spring for any deals.