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Thursday, 30 May 2013

Making Cosplay Wings with Frances Foo at Brisbane Square Library

artistic photo of Cosplay wings against a green lawn, my boots and bag

Cosplay is short for Costume Play. You might have heard of huge conventions where people get all dressed up to look like anime/ fictional characters – I think I saw photos of a friend who got all dressed up for the EB Games Expo! She informs me she went as Zoey from Left4Dead. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in it for the costumes but I’m a big fan of arts and crafts, and even a bigger one of the daydreaming that I know I’ll be doing whilst making the wings! In fact, I was one of the last to finish! :P

Frances Foo is a costume designer and actor on theatre sets, as well as a dedicated "Cosplayer", entering competitions all over the world. I had a brief chat with her while she helped me make my wings – I love the creativity! There was this girl who was so into it that she cut up her jacket to get her wings to poke through the back! She was looking forward to wearing her wings home on public transport! Haha! Each to their own! I just wanted something dreamy and pretty to put in my bedroom.

Wings made - Workshop done. Check! :) 

More Brisbane Events can be found at:
BrisStyle indie Twilight Markets at King George Square, Brisbane City; and 

"Girl Clock" at Brisbane Library

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Licking our Lips for Fresh Fish at Taste Gallery, Sunnybank

Photo of Crispy Sweet and Sour Fish

Perhaps it was my lack of knowledge in making seafood at home that my body sent out signals for prawns and fish! I was craving a steamed Barramundi or a Snapper cooked with piping hot oil, ginger and shallots in soy sauce. And where do we go for this in Brisbane? Sunnybank of course! I had never been but I was very excited to look around, especially as my experience of Asian food in Brisbane has only been so so. I walked up and down a row of restaurants with my friend, crossed the road and explored the restaurants on the other side of the road. I couldn't quite find what I had in mind but eventually, I decided to try the crispy fish with sweet and sour sauce at the Taste Gallery.

The restaurant was quite popular and we waited in the queue for some time. The waiters and waitresses seemed slightly confused with the waiting order and available tables. My friend informed me that this place is meant to be similar to Chef's Gallery in Sydney. A quick flick-through the menu showed me that the Brisbane menu seemed to offer some different dishes such as Chicken with bones and dry onions as well as Duck Pot with Chinese herbs but the range of vegetable options were dismal. Asians love their vegetables so this place may not attract many Asian diners.

The vegetables we ordered ("Gai Larn", known as Chinese Broccoli) in a ginger sauce tasted quite westernised, the sauce being quite thick. However, the fish was amazing. We were able to choose fresh fish for $7 more than the menu price which we did. I loved the crispiness of the skin and the taste of the sweet and sour sauce went well with the flesh. We enjoyed taking our time picking at the fish while exchanging interesting stories. With satisfied tastebuds, we agreed we would revisit.

Other Restaurants to try in Brisbane are:
Food and Memories at George's Paragon, Brisbane;
Vietnamese Pork Belly and Prawn Pancake at Sing Sing, West End, Brisbane; and
Birthday Dinner at Beccofino, Newstead.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Thursday night is Soul'sa Night at Cloudland!

photo of the impressive looking interiors within the Cloudland Bar

I'd always heard people say that the Salsa scene was big in Brisbane so when I was asked to accompany a friend to Cloudland, one of the "world's best bars", I was intrigued enough to go along. Every Thursday, the live music starts at 7pm and free Beginner classes from 8 to 9pm. The bar is certainly something special to look at, as are the many private booths upstairs. I find that most of the dancers here are there to show off, and seem to punch/kick anyone who might be sitting or standing around! In Sydney, the dancers are certainly more considerate, maybe because they are used to less space than Brisbanites! I noticed that most dancers were doing the Cuban style of Salsa and danced in normal shoes, as opposed to Sydney where most dance in Salsa shoes. I did get to dance with one guy but I had no idea what he was doing - some shuffling thing, haha! I think if I want to get at least a few decent dances at this place next time, the best way might be to join in from the free classes! 

More Local Information can be found at:
Travelling with Translink, Brisbane City; and
Finally finding refuge in Brisbane City.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

A Good Night's Rest at the Grand Chancellor, Gold Coast

photo of room at Gold Coast Grand Chancellor

To attend a two day work conference at the Grand Chancellor, I arrived in the early morning to a surprisingly fresh and modern hotel (worlds apart from the Grand Chancellor I stayed at in Melbourne). I was impressed that my room was available for me to check into and was delighted to see that I had been given a room with a separate study/lounge! Rushing to register for the conference, I waited for what seemed like forever for the lift to arrive...

The day filled my head full of information and by the end, all the attendees (myself included) wanted to do was to return to their rooms for a rest before we met up for dinner. We all waited for the lift again and for what seemed like 10-15 minutes, and on arrival at my door, I discovered that my key didn't work so I had to return to reception after waiting for the lift to arrive again. It turns out that somebody else had been booked into my room so I had been moved to another room. They had called me and left a message but my phone had been on silent from the conference. Feeling a bit uncomfortable at being told that my luggage and items had been moved to the new room, I was presented with a packet of Ferraro Rocher and the promise of a nicer room.

Eventually, when I arrived at my new room, I was greeted with a lovely spa in the bathroom amongst the marble and soft white towelling. My luggage was there, along with my jacket but amusingly, someone had been left with a huge stack of my business cards in front of the tv. When I tried to switch on my own though, it didn't work well, and the buttons of the remote were unreadable so I had to call Reception to have someone come up and sort that out. Luckily, they arrived quickly enough that I still had a bit of time to unwind.

Later that night, when I returned from dinner, drink and a walk (at one of the many nearby restaurants and bars), I made sure to take advantage of the big spa that overlooked the television in the lounge, separated by a pane of glass. I think it's a great idea for people but something needs to be done to get the sound in the bathroom so they can actually watch movies from the comfort of the spa.

The views from the balcony were amazing at night, sunrise and at daylight. I loved the way the room and bathroom had been equipped and furnished, and the large roomy hallway and full-length mirrors away from the bed. I woke up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, ready for another jam-packed day. Be sure to stay at the Grand Chancellor if you're in town, but remember to bring your own shower cap and practice that patience when waiting for the lift!

Compare it to other Places I've Stayed at?
Setting up base camp at Frisco Serviced Apartments;
Docking at the Ridge on Leichhardt Hotel;
On an Easter Getaway at the Royal Pines Resort.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Developing myself at the Inner Fire Chakra Course from Spirit Rising Yoga

Spirit Rising Inner Fire Chakra Course Poster

With nearly three years of weekly and bi-weekly yoga classes under my belt, I craved the peace and strength it brought my mind and body. Searching online showed me that Brisbane operated on a timetable of early morning classes or ones that were too early for me to rush back from work for. But I needed something. As I had come into contact with extra-sensory experiences most of my life, I had vowed to develop my spiritual self in the near future so when I found a Chakra Cleansing course at Spirit Rising Yoga, I decided to give it a go.

Each week, Brie walked the class through different Chakras which are energy centres existing at points in our nerve pathways. She taught us exercises to bring awareness to each area so we can see how the way we developed at such a primal level has affected the way we experience life and our sense of self. I enjoyed listening to these new concepts, which connected up to Buddhist philosophies on our lives on earth being just a small portion of our total existence - everyone is at a different stage of growth. I also had my first exposure to Kundalini Yoga which involved alot of chanting of mantras in Sanskrit and different gestures/movements to change the flow of energy in our bodies. We were invited to try strange new ways of breathing, including one called the "Breath of Fire", which involved panting like a dog! it tickled my sense of humour hugely but on looking around, I realised that everyone was concentrating on their own practice, so my own wall of consciousness came down. It is meant to release toxins from the lungs and act as a deep cleanse.

One of the most interesting concepts we touched on was that it takes more courage and strength to listen to your heart rather than your head. Society teaches us otherwise, but I myself have always believed in letting your heart lead - it's riskier and the chances for greater hurt exist but who are we without our passion? The head will work out how to help you achieve your goals and we are reminded to always practice Yoga for the emotional balance we need.

I'm glad I attended this course for the first four Chakras and look forward to the next course to run through the remaining three.

lovers embracing

Healing slowly, I have forgiven you for your fear... I understand that in the long run, I will have grown in strength and I can only accept the situation as it is and trust that it will all work out in the end. I send you love, light and joy.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Free Concert with Jessica Mauboy at Roma Street Parklands

photo of Jessica Mauboy on stage at the Roma Street Parklands

Excited at the thought of attending a fun outdoors concert with music I might like, I walked up the steep road to the Roma Street Parklands. On the way there, I saw a stunning heritage windmill set amongst lush gardens and a few signs which indicated there might be a lot more to see. I vowed to come back at a later stage to have a proper look around. Guided by Google maps, I followed a couple of people who entered the gates at the same time and I was  delighted when I laid eyes on the Amphitheatre. It consisted of semi-circular rows of seating with grass underfoot, surrounding a small stage - I sat there thinking how lucky I was to be in Brisbane, to be able to experience these unique events and be so close to Internationally-known stars.

As part of the Bands in Parks initiative organised by Brisbane City Council where music from bands and solo artists are played in local parks, the Brisbane Excelsior Band started playing. They were advertised as a brass band but defied my expectations of the music. They were actually very enjoyable and featured a strong female lead, raising cheers from the crowd.

Next up, was Supporting Act Georgia Corrowa. She explained that she was part Aboriginal, part South Sea Islander, and had her family there, along with her new baby. She played her guitar and sung, whilst her brother did some beatboxing and participated in backup vocals along with one other man. I like her style of music - it's very soulful and I was pleased to hear she would be releasing her own CD soon. I love supporting local artists!

Whilst Jessica Mauboy's crew set up the stage, the audience were asked to quieten down for a wedding in the Parklands. Sprinkles of rain fell softly and I looked around but no-one seemed to care too much. I observed the audience until Jessica Mauboy arrived with a big bang! The huge speakers vibrated as she sung songs from her albums, and I was pleasantly surprised when I recognised songs I'd heard. I was entranced as I listened to the lyrics, identifying with some of it. I admired her for being able to achieve so much, bringing her music around the world and obviously doing what she loves. Up there on stage, she represented a strong independent woman.

In true Brisbane style, the rain passed and the sun came out. I'm so thankful that I didn't miss out on this event. I felt rejuvenated and inspired to carry on.

What other events do Brisbane City Council put on for us? Read:
Taste-testing and Entertainment at Asian Cooking Classes;
Visuals and Music at the Re-dedication of Brisbane City Hall; and
Ideas Fiesta at the Howard Smith Wharves.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Embracing the Buddha Birthday Festival at South Bank

Photo of Buddha Statue with Wishes Strung around him

With my recent foray into Buddhism just last year, I was interested to see that Brisbane was putting on a huge event for Buddha's Birthday. I was really interested in talks like "Froth and Bubbles (Impermanence)", "Can I have a say in my fate?", "Liberation from fear and anger", "How to avoid the misfortunes in this world of turbulence" and "Finding peace within". I like the philosophy behind it all. The day promised many activities and so it did provide.

Saturday morning, I walked over the bridge to discover a very lively South Bank. I wandered around the gift stalls, donating to blessing stalls to make wishes along the way, and arrived just in time to share in the Baby Blessing Ritual at the Courier Mail Plazza. I then participated in a meditation class with John Prescott from the BLIAQ. It was a different experience for me to be doing all these exercises to ensure good blood flow before we sat down to focus. We even walked around the room in very slow circles to enhance our mindfulness. I listened to some of the classes (where the topics were different to the page I viewed) and concluded that they didn't appeal to me. I prefer the Kadampa style, which shows you how to use it as practical advice to live our everyday life and meditation was about giving your mind some empty space, away from all of our problems.

A definite highlight of my day was tasting all the delicious Asian Vegetarian food. I wanted to try it all but there was only one of me! I enjoyed curry fish balls, siu mai and a lovely taro dessert. I rang the blessing bell, bought a little Lion string toy, and participated in the Bathing Buddha Ritual, which is supposed to send the universe a message to wash away one's inner dirt of greed, anger and ignorance, improving harmony and balance. A teahouse taught us the Art of Tea Making, and I remember pausing, tuning out the rest of the world, just to smell and taste the High Mountain tea. I went to the Art/Craft Workshop and made a little stencil cutout on red wax paper of double happiness! 

Feeling hungry again now that it was close to dinner time, I walked up and down the food fair countless times to finally decide on a bowl of Taiwanese noodles - they were amazing! The soup was so different to what I expected or tried before, offering the comfort of a home-cooked soup, and the noodles tasted like Enoki mushrooms! I savoured each mouthful as I listened to the performers on the Cultural stage!

Finally, at 7pm, there was an Official Festival Ceremony, with lion dancing and performances from Rock Guitarist Katei and Blue Dragon, a Chinese group of young men who have mastered the playing of a Diablo (Chinese YoYo). I came back the next day, after the Jessica Mauboy concert, to try more food for dinner whilst I watched the Riverside Fireworks Spectacular. I had so much fun and I walked away thinking of the three good deeds: Taking Good actions, Speaking Good Words and Thinking Good Thoughts.

I didn't know how to tell you but the family told me that you'd changed a lot since your accident. I could see it all over your face the night before I left, locked behind the bars of your own mind. I made a wish for you to suffer no more - to be released from all your worries.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Birthday Dinner at Beccofino Newstead, Brisbane

photo of beautiful hand-made pasta dish

Encouraged by my recent exploration of the Newstead area, I hopped on Google search and found Beccofino as a restaurant I’d like to try. With a wide enough range of items and reasonable prices on the menu to suit everyone, I made the final decision based on the tantilising image of what might be handmade pasta from the website. Upon visiting on a Tuesday night (30th April), it became clear why bookings aren't accepted – it’s very popular and at its current size, reservations would hinder the efficiency and numbers at which customers are served. On the first taste of my Duck and Tomato Ragu with flat ribbons of pasta, I was in heaven! The texture of the pasta and the flavour of the sauce left my mouth wanting more and friends on the table were also impressed. Not normally a fan of desserts (I’m a savoury girl!), I was delighted to discover that the vanilla bean pannacotta wasn’t too sweet for my palate as it was garnished with fresh passionfruit and the lemon shortbread biscuit crumbs was for the contrast to the incredible smoothness of the pannacotta that slid down my throat! This Italian restaurant is a definite win and one I shall be recommending to ...even the Italians!

Have I just been a romantic fool? If so, I shall be one. After all, I'd rather take chances and believe in the miracles and magic of love than be the one who denies it by overthinking or protecting themselves too much. That's how we fell in love at first, remember? We believed.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Whetting my appetite at the HomeMaker City, Fortitude Valley

photo of Furniture within the Home Warehouse

Looking for activities to fill my day, I came across the weekend notes article on The Home Warehouse having a sale. As I am passionate when it comes to property and interiors spaces, I figured I would pop in to have a sticky-beak at the style and prices, and easily hop across the road to the HomeMaker City I could see on the map. 

I loved the furniture at the Home Warehouse as the pieces reflect the rawness of nature and that is what I want for my future place - to feel grounded and connected to the earth we have been put on. Even though they have a comprehensive website, it's a whole lot more fun to go to the store to grab see ideas, touch and feel the pieces, sit/lie in them so you experience the sum of what it is. 

Afterwards, I found the Far Pavilions store really exciting! It has a totally different style - more fabrics and patterns in bold prints. There were even some quirky pieces like a velvety patchwork armchair that reminded me of the Mad Hatter and I caught myself considering whether I would add it to my collection! I took lots of pictures and sent them to my friends back home. After a few rounds of HomeMaker City, and getting inspired by paintings and other furnishings, I ended up coming back to buy two lovely Newsprint cushions! They were a creamy suede with black print and red toned feature graphics. I wanted to also buy this contemporary black and white piano painting with a whole lot of red roses strewn across it but was unsure of how I would bring it back to Sydney and whether I should attempt to lug it back on foot all the way to my apartment. 

More Recreational Activities can be found at:
On the way up to O'Reilly's in the Hinterland, Gold Coast; and
To Fishy Adventures at Sea World!