Mother’s day weekend was the perfect occasion to escape life in London and to head back to the countryside. Alex has the cutest nieces and nephew who are my favourite subjects to photograph – mainly because they’re not camera shy yet 🙂

Seriously, adults are so boring to take photos of!

And as it’s creepy to post these on instagram – I assume this is why no one likes my bebe photos – here are the pics of my favourite little dumplings. Have you ever seen so many blue eyed babies!

Life, Photography

Happy Mother’s Day

Image
Fighting a hard battle, everyday.
Life

Fighting a hard battle, everyday.

My first thoughts on naming this post was – “Screw you 2015!”

I know… and I said this year was going to be better than last.

A month ago, I lost my mum to cancer. She was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 1/2 years ago, and on the 11th February 2015 she passed away in her sleep, two days after being discharged from hospital to come home to her family. She was 46.

A week after my mum passed away, I spoke at her funeral. I spoke of all the things I loved most about her and I forgot all about that horrible disease that stole her away from me. It didn’t deserve to be there that day. A week later I went back to work and that morning would be the first time in two weeks I would cry.

Last week, we celebrated my younger sister’s 13th birthday, and last Sunday it was Mother’s day in the UK. Why am I writing about this? Because this is me dealing with my hard battle, everyday.

I haven’t really told many people, I didn’t tell people when she was ill and now that she’s gone, it’s even harder to tell people now that she has died. The saddest thing about it is that you realise everyone has been hurt by cancer, and yet it’s still not normal to talk about it.

When I found out my mum’s cancer was back last summer, it felt like I was crying all the time. I would feel guilt and sorrow seeing her deteriorate, seeing her slowly become unable to do all the things she wanted to do. In her last month, I lost count the number of times she longed to just ride a bike and how jealous she was we all could. I joked about getting a child’s seat for the back of my bike.

Joking about my mum’s situation helped me deal with it a lot. My mum had a great sense of humour, extremely witty which towards the end became quite light-heartedly morbid (if there ever were such a thing). We were quite open with the fact that she would die soon, and that matter-of-fact attitude allowed us to joke in ways that could seem inappropriate. In her last month I spent everyday with her, and one of the last things she ever said to me was that she was ‘so sick of me’. I kept smothering her with kisses and hugs, she joked, but it was her way of saying thank you and our way of acknowledging what was happening. I still joke with my siblings about all the silly things my mum did and what she would do if she was here.

I’ve also watched a hell of lot of Disney films. Doing so definitely falls into the ‘denial and reverting to a child-like state’ method of coping, but it let me be in a cocoon for the first two weeks, and I needed that so I didn’t have to mourn yet. A lot of my relatives went immediately into a hyper-organised, keep themselves busy mode, and that works for a lot of people as it allows you feel useful at a time you feel extremely useless (at least that’s my interpretation). That didn’t work for me at all! In fact, the thought of being busy and proactive just made me want time to move slower and made me feel very stressed at the thought of it.

Now, I’m back at work and I need to be in my ‘normal’ routine. Although I would still prefer to do nothing and just hide in bed all day, I find different ways of coping with how I feel. I eat lots of junk food (couldn’t say I’d recommend it :P), I make time to look after those around me (especially my younger brother who was particularly close to my mum), and I also make more time to be with my friends. One of the hardest things about caring for a family member who is ill, is that often that comes at the expense of spending any time with other people. In a way, looking after and spending energy on different people i.e. my friends, feels like a good way of coming to terms with the loss of my mum. If I could even put into words how that makes sense, I would. But it just makes me feel better.

I wanted to write this post not only because I believe writing can be extremely therapeutic, but because something that is helping me to cope is by knowing about and being able to empathise with other people’s experiences of loss. Sometimes just knowing that someone is reacting in a similar way, that you might think is unusual, can make you feel better in a small way.

Standard

A piping hot bubble bath and alone time 🙂

ihwz62a

Life

Things I appreciate Friday ♥

Image
Photography, Travel

New York: my top tips and making the most of a 4 day trip

When my favourite person, Beth, asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding last year – I screamed yes! When she told me it would be in America – I screamed again and then clicked my heels in a perfect musical-worthy fashion!

I was only 18 the first time I visited the States and had just finished college. I was working at camp for the summer (which pays pennies) and traveling on my own. So I knew visiting again this time, I had to make the most of it. I finally had money to spend, was old enough to party and had made friends from my travels (and camp) that I couldn’t wait to meet up with.

My first stop – New York City!

14415008356_8fe91c1a6c_k

Objective: See everything in 4 days and still have enough money for 3 other cities.

When to visit:

1. Weather

Low season:

Winter can be beautiful in New York as it gets covered in a frosty magical layer of snow. Personally, I think it looks dreamy, but with snow comes cold and wetness. A dream of mine is to see the Christmas tree at Rockerfeller – touristy I know but a must in my eyes. Best way to sight-see is wear layers, as the same with London, you’ll be constantly in and out indoor attractions and their super warm heating. Visit Uniqlo (my fav) for light weight layers that are easy to stuff in your bag and avoid any backache if you’re spending an hour or two in a museum! I have this in fuschia pink *heart eyes*. Temps average between -5°C and 7°C from Dec – March.

Mid season (aka shoulder season):

Spring means warm-er weather, but you’ll still need those layers. This is a great time of year to visit and avoid peak school holiday times and the expensive hike in prices that comes with it. As it begins to hit June, this is optimal weather in NYC! I have traveled twice to New York at this time of year, and the weather ranges from cardigan weather to short shorts* (optional). It’s also right before the city becomes a sweaty, sticky mess! As it’s still not summer holidays, what better time to make the most of all the outdoor attractions (flea markets, beaches, Central park, hipster food markets…) there are in the city while still avoiding majority of the crowds. Temps range from 7°C to 26°C (Apr – June), and 10°C to 24°C (Oct – Sept).

High season:

Summer in New York. Although I have already been quick to label it as sticky, there is something special about summer there. People come out of shadows where they’ve been hiding from the cold and wet, and here is when you see the city alive and at its busiest! There’s theatre in the parks, rooftop cocktails, ice cream at Coney island, cycling in Central Park, afternoon tea down the most beautiful roads of Manhattan and of course, 4th of July fireworks. Temps fluctuate between 20°C and a toasty 30°C.

2. Sport seasons

Charge!! Add oil!!! #NYMetsgame #firstphotobomb! #nowstalgia

A post shared by Yentl (@yentlmusic) on

Another thing worth noting when choosing what time of year to visit – what sports will be on when I’m visiting? Generally speaking, sport seasons in NY tend to be…

Basketball – Oct til Apr

Football – Sept til Dec

Baseball – Apr til Sept

Ice hockey – Oct til Apr

My top tips:

IMG_2873

This however is too friendly..

1. People are friendly, as long as you are super friendly too. Yes, they’ll laugh (or die of shock) when you say please but that’s not how they find out you’re a tourist. Trust me – they already knew – but the please and thank you’s will go a long way. Out of all the places I visited in the States, New York has always been the friendliest/most helpful, contrary to what I’ve heard.

2. People-watch all day long. I don’t know why but New York is made up of the most glamorous, loudest, busiest, hungriest and economically-divided inhabitants I’ve ever seen. It’s also where all the crazies are. And I’m not saying it as an insult, I always have the best time in New York and there’s a reason why everyone wants to live here.

3. Eat everything. You will never be so blessed to be in such an epicentre of good food, go out and try all the classics! Then try all the new foodie trends (hello home of cronut). Watch Man vs Food for inspiration – a must before traveling to any American city.

People are not lying when they say portion sizes are huge! Okay, in New York there is more control that some states, but it’s really true that you can get away with sharing a meal. My friend and I did when we went to Katz Deli (who can eat that much?) which also turned a $20 sandwich into an affordable one. We did find that some brunch-eries served smaller portions than say, a local diner.

4. It’s okay to not plan anything to do for one day and see where the day takes you. New York is one of those wonderful cities that things to do/see just seem to appear. For instance, one trip I reaaally wanted to visit Carrie’s house from SATC, and my friend and I chanced upon a once-a-year-only flea market. While flea markets get a terrible rep in Europe, the ones in New York are actually affordable and I found the most amazing vintage Mulberry holdall from the 80’s (I still couldn’t afford it, but it was a gem nonetheless).

5. If you have to pick one sightseeing tower to visit – pick Top of the Rock. Hands down, don’t even question it.

DSC06594

Look at that view!

6. If you’re in NYC for more than 4 days, purchase a 7 day metro card. I know it’s $30, but for even 4 days that’s the same price as 3 journeys per day. As a budget traveler, this was a life saver and a valid alternative to getting a yellow cab. Yellow cabs are still affordable compared to London, but it still adds up. Plus, the subway is 24 hrs! Which gives you even more hours to make the most of your pass 🙂

How to plan your trip:

Since I couldn’t really remember much of what I had done the first time I went to NYC, my list of things to do was huge. I was also travelling with a friend, so combined together, both our lists became endless.

I recommend when starting to plan your trip, just writing a quick list of all the things you want to do there and that if you didn’t, it would make you cry. I mean it! The mere thought of it has to make you cry. Great, focus on those things because you then use those to start building your itinerary.

I knew that while in NYC, I had to:

1. Visit the 9/11 memorial

2. Visit the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock

3. Go to a baseball game (didn’t matter which one)

4. Eat at Katz Deli

5. Go to the Natural History Museum

6. Visit a flea market

7. See Carrie’s apartment

I then wrote a list of all the other things I would love to do, followed by a list of maybe activities. I then scoured the internet for 3 or 4 day itineraries and used them for inspiration as well as a guide as to what attractions are near to each other etc.

Here was my ‘final’ itinerary:

photo

It looks like a lot right? In reality, we didn’t get to do at least 1/3 of the things on my itinerary. But what it did do, was give me inspiration and a guide of where to start, and at least the flexibility to move afternoon’s of activity around if the weather fails you!

What I also love doing (and it seems like extra effort) but I make a note of minimum expected expenditure for each day. If I know entry costs will be $XX for this day, then I am more likely to know how much money to bring each day. I landed back in the UK having spent exactly within my overall budget (as of course I put in a buffer of $300~ to be flexible) and I had done/bought everything I had wanted to without the stress of overspending once I had got home. I also wrote how long it took to get to somewhere from our hotel. Now this is extra geeky, but it was a lifesaver when the weather unexpectedly changed from gloomy to roasting, and I knew I had enough time to run back to the hotel to change before meeting friends later that afternoon.

Another top tip – use Google maps to ‘star’ or save restaurants or attractions. There’s tons of free wifi if you know where to look, and often you can log in to find places nearby that you’ve already looked into visiting.

But that’s my basic itinerary – ask me a question on any of the places I’d visited!

Standard

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Serenity.”

Water always makes me feel peaceful. There’s something about still water that evokes a sense of serenity.

DSC07319

This is a picture was taken after I had spent the day sightseeing in Seattle, and I was walking back to my friend’s place. It was really hot that day, and I was walking down a long built up road, when Lake Washington suddenly appeared in an opening between two buildings.

Photography

Serenity

Image

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Shadowed.”

DSC03477

Does this count?

To me, this is my favourite way to use shadows. Although technically it’s more about the light to manipulate the feel of the picture..?

I couldn’t resist taking spooky photos after spending the afternoon carving these at work (back when work was all fun and carving pumpkins)

Photography

Shadowed

Image
Life

Introduce yourself

Funnily enough, I think this may be the topic that I’ve actually written most about!

I started my blog a little over a year ago, I had just graduated and was embarrassingly unemployed. Starting a blog felt like a logical thing to do, and it felt a lot better than doing nothing.

I used the blog as a form of therapy, I’d started writing about my situation and how it make me feel. I also wrote about things I baked (once), films I’d watched (once also), but mostly about the food I ate (yay!)

I would love to connect with others who are, or were once in a similar situation. Life is hard but sharing experiences with others makes it feel a whole easier. There are supposed to be thousands of other young graduates out there struggling to find a job, wanting to maybe start a ‘career’ (does this even exist – who knows?), but I felt like the only person I knew who was actually facing this. How it is that everyone I know has a job? A well paying one at that! I hoped blogging would help me reach out and support/learn/grow with other people in my situation.

I’m hoping this year to more successfully integrate blogging into my everyday life. I have really struggled with setting myself realistic goals as to what I wanted to achieve with my blog and how often I would post something!

I welcome anyone who relates to anything I’ve said – I can’t wait to meet you!

Standard

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “New.”

Sequin bow adorned on the great wall of china

Sequin bow adorned on the great wall of china

I am submitting an old photo in contemplation of something new – great huh?

My contribution is all about the new year, and the new me.

I’m excited about 2015 because I have committed myself to making the most out of this year. The photo I’ve chosen represents me when I was happiest because I was out there and doing things!

Life

Photo challenge ~ New

Image
Life

Happy 2015!

And see ya later stupid stinky 2014!

Yes, I truly mean that. 2014 was the worst year of my life and it was all my fault.

WHY??

1. I worried too much

I worried far too much about what other people were doing, and what the consequences would be if I made certain life choices – and in the end – I didn’t do or decide anything! I didn’t go for a job I actually wanted (and was still jealous of everyone else’s) and it took me until the end of the year to accept that spending a ridiculous amount on rent for an amazing apartment is frivolous but it makes me SO HAPPY!

2. I didn’t give myself any goals or challenges

I didn’t strive for anything or even decide on anything that I wanted to achieve last year – so I ended up not achieving anything. And it’s the worst feeling.

3. I wasn’t selfish enough

And lastly, I didn’t dedicate enough time for myself, and I didn’t make enough selfish decisions. I also spent 2014 thinking about what everyone else wanted or needed from me, which is great, but not when it comes at the sacrifice of my own needs. You can’t make anyone else happy, if you aren’t making yourself happy. You just end up feeling resentful.

I actually have a long mental (and physical) list of things I want to achieve. Some are big lifetime dreams, others are far smaller and I may not be able to achieve all of them this year, but here is my list in progress.

1. Learn how to drive

2. Join a sports team

3. Open a savings account and save at least £5,000 this year

4. Redecorate two rooms in my mum’s place

5. Plan myself bi-weekly Chinese lessons with my amazing friend/tutor

6. Run 10k (I have never been able to run more than 3k eek)

7. Plan a trip and help my Uncle visit my family in Singapore

8. Start upcycling more clothes!

9. Go on a volunteering holiday

10. Visit Bath and Stonehenge Lake District!

11. Blog at least twice a month

12. Eat less meat and eat more Japanese-y

13. Finish a book each month

This list is to be revised, updated and added to. How will you make the most of 2015?

Standard
Photography

Photography 101: Water

One of the most beautiful places in the world, in one of the most congested, polluted countries in the world.

Jiuzhaigou!

I’ve wanted to travel here ever since I first heard about the beautiful five colour pool. A mythical bright turquoise oasis in the middle of a mountainous forest.

I usually always shoot landscape, and very rarely feel comfortable shooting portrait unless the subject becomes out of frame by shooting landscape.

P1120769

How amazing is the reflection in the water? I chose this angle, because it really elongates the reflection. However, I think if I had the chance, perhaps I would think about framing the picture better, perhaps re-think the focal point of the image, rather than having the bush in the way, see how I could use the reflection on the water to draw the eye’s attention to something else.

P1120771

And so the reason for shooting portrait for this shot, was I wanted to be able to capture more of the curve/shape of the mountain and its reflection. It created more of a pattern or symmetry than I was able to capture shooting landscape.

Standard