Day 78 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful to be in the first French wedding I've ever Attended."

Along with Marie's sister, I'm the photographer of the wedding. It started with the legal ceremony at the City Hall which is just 5 minute walk away from Marie's grandparents' house. I felt the priviledge of coming into the City Hall for the first time and could have the access in front to shoot the beautiful wedding. :)

Marie and Cedric at the City Hall
Greeted by sprays of lavender seeds once outside

Then we moved to Marie's grandparents' beautiful house for l'apero at their amazing garden.

I was especially fascinated by the idea of simply dipping the wine bottles in the garden stream to keep them cool.
And then we went to the Parc de Villeroy for some photoshoots. Obviously I'm not in most of the photos, but I'll post those which I was. :)

Marie & Cedric's wedding
Romeo - Marie's youngest son
With the grand Rolls Royce

In the evening we had dinner at a cool restaurant where Vincent -- out of the blue -- said to me: "Will you marry me?"

Day 77 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful to be in Paris today for Marie's wedding."

In 2001 I might have said that I'd never come back to Paris again ever. But that was the dark time when nobody understood one word I said and food always came to me wrong. Now the hunger days are over and this Paris experience is ought to be a lot better one.

It was a 6-hour journey, more or less - by car from Strasbourg. And I spent most of the time sleeping on the back seat while Vincent was driving (and smoking and smoking again). We arrived at Vero's before sunset and had lovely homecooked dinner. I didn't know that I had to sleep at Marie's tonight, though; while Vincent went with the boys. Wedding is tomorrow and it seems that they have to keep it traditional by sleeping separately until the big day comes. Ha!

Anyway, I will have to sleep at Romeo's bed -- Marie's youngest son -- and I already banged my forehead onto the bunkbed.

Not sure what was so special about the jacket, but everyone seemed excited.

Day 76 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful to have found the kitchen as the warmest place during colder times."

As opposed to how I'd feel in Indonesian kitchens -- bloody hot while cooking -- French kitchens are the most comfortable place at Vincent's mom's house. It's warm, it smells like good coffee; that's just the first place I go to once the sun is up. 

Day 75 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful for having arrived safely in France."

There's a difference of 20 degrees celcius in temperature, but it's good to be back here! :)


Day 74 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful for the approved Schengen States visa."

France, I'm coming!!! Again.

It was such a nice early birthday present.
Day 73 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful for having been pampered at the famous Rob Peetom Bali last weekend."

My good friend, Annerie, was staying at our place last weekend and she invited me to get this cool makeover at Rob Peetom's. Upon arrival we were greeted with a glass of cappuccino and a little biscuit, only later to be served with a glass of cold white wine as the girls were polishing my nails. Then I was brought to the hair wash room, which overlooked a green view of paddy field. As I hit the chair and relaxed, it vibrates and gave my back and legs a light massage. At the same time, the friendly hairdresser massaged my scalp.

I looked pretty that night, with blue nail polish and curly hair. The latter didn't stay for long since my super straight hair refused the curl and the wind conspired with it to return it to the straight state. But it was a good good night. :)
Day 72 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful to have finished editing Max' photos that I took last month."

Actually it was already done almost instantly after the photo session. But I only focused on the few chosen ones now since the files were saved in the PC (not the laptop) and we hadn't fixed a place for the PC until just before Vincent left for Thailand. :P

But I'm happy it's done. I posted some on Facebook and some others in my photoblog.

Here's some for this blog. :)
Day 71 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful that I found this funny song."

You've gotta love this song!!! Not only that finally men seem to be subjected to skin-revealing sexy objects (or subjects) instead of women, but the way it is expressed really appeals to my humour. It makes me smile every single time I watch it.
Day 70 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful that the manager of the villa is very accommodating and helpful."

I suppose it's already his job description to be accommodating and helpful, but I've lived in Bali long enough to have met the so-called managers who simply can't care less.

But Wayan is nothing like that. He's young, polite, helpful and he can do many things, too. As a manager, he's not as diplomatic - as in giving much selling value of this very villa - because he's too honest to the clients (us). But that makes me respect him, despite the so many daily problems we encounter in this new place. Instead of defending the villa for its other good qualities, he admits its shortcomings and tries to fix the problems.

If only the other Balinese/Indonesians were like that. :P
Day 69 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful that Annerie and Laura already left the house when the water problem struck."

Every new place has its own problem, no matter how comfortable it looked the first time you saw it. So does my house. After the leaks in both bedrooms were temporarily closed, now the water was not coming out. We'd find that in the middle of doing dishes, taking a shower and doing some private toilet stuff. Alas, for the latter business since we couldn't help not having it, we'd have to take a pail  - sometimes two or three - of water from the jacuzzi. Hah! If someone ever asked me again what the jacuzzi was for, I'd happily provide them with this fact that it supplied emergency toilet water if your only water source wasn't coming out.

Anyway, it happened in the evening and I was already tired from entertaining my guests this morning and working on my articles afterwards. I just SMS-ed the manager about it and I'll just see what he's going to do about it tomorrow. But it was good that it only happened after the girls left. It would have been so embarrassing if it happened before.
Day 68 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful to have Annerie staying over for a night with her friend, Laura."

It's time for a girl's day (and night) again!!! Annerie pays a visit today bringing over Laura, one of her close friends to the south. They're staying the night at my place today and leaving tomorrow back to Candidasa. With the sad windy, rainy, stormy weather the past three days, I thought it would be nice to be surrounded with nice people (Annerie, Laura and my sister Ita).

So we dined, we shopped (this one allocated waaaaay much more than the other activities), we gossiped, we karaoked (can never escape from this as long as you're with Annerie) and we drank champagne! Yes, Annerie brought a bottle of champagne and the three of us (my sister not joining) toasted for 3 different celebrations - based on what each of us was grateful of at the moment. Swell!

As if Mother Earth knew that these girls wanted to go out too, she stopped the rain and the scary wind and brought a bit of sun back to us. The view at our parking place was so gorgeous today I just had to stop and photographed it.

It's a beautiful day.
Day 67 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful that I haven't done the ceremony I wanted to do for Mouche."

Not sure why. But Vincent's absence makes me keep thinking about Mouche. How I wanted her to move with us here. How she would be happy to finally have her real garden to play. There is another stray cat here that seems to be comfortable staying in our place. The thing is, it's a stray cat. It steals food and it poops everywhere.  I wish it was Mouche.

We were planning to make a little ceremony for Mouche, keeping half of her ashes at home and the other half spread onto the sea. But we haven't got around to do it, due to the so many things we had to do. Travelling and moving taking place in the same month is a real work, I tell you. So, this is what I do every morning and afternoon: burning an incense with lavender smell next to Mouche's ash pot. I never really got it what was the importance of burning incense. But it calms me down and hopefully her too, wherever she is.

I still miss her heaps. Even more when my only distraction - Vincent - is not here.
Day 66 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful that I have an open kitchen and living room now, that making food photographs with natural light is not an issue anymore."

I'm not a sweet tooth. But today I wanted brownies so bad. And guess what, my new place is strategically located near Bali Buddha, which allows me to buy some baking stuffs or ready-made fresh baguettes! So I gave it the first visit today and found some cashew nuts offered in very reasonable price. I took a pack and went back home to make my most-savoured brownies.

I found it really fun to cook in this house! The kitchen is freaking small, but since it's in the same room with the living room/dining room, overlooking the garden, it didn't feel that small. What's great too is that I can make nice photographs with the abundance of light coming in from the garden. Look at some of the photos below I made on the making of the brownies.

Not bad, right? In my other houses, I would be very, very lucky if I could get photos that weren't blurred. The other way to do it was by using flash, but I personally don't like it. It'd just make the photos go bleh...

Anyhoo, if you're interested in trying out this brownies a la Carla, check out the recipe here.

Day 65 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful for having Ita at my place while Vincent's gone."

So, because of the grateful project, I had to put the positive side of something even when I was so negative. :P

I was negative because:
Not even a week after Vincent was back from France, he has to go again for 2.5 weeks to Thailand and Vietnam for work. We haven't even enjoyed the garden together. We haven't even enjoyed the jacuzzi together. He hasn't even contributed in the unpacking task - though perhaps he never would if he stayed. :P But it was really annoying. I haven't been able to sleep well in the new house. Yes, it's nice and all, but it's a new bedroom, a new smell, a new space, new everything... Vincent was as annoyed because he was really tired from everything and he wanted to bond with the new house, too.

There was another negativity that didn't concern us. My sister, Ita, was kicked out of her boarding house (kos). THAT was familiar and rude. I had that too once with my first kos. They just kicked me out just like that because they had another tenant that was willing to pay higher for the room. And just the day before they were still smiling wide to me as if nothing was wrong. MONEY IS EVIL, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! And greed is consuming Bali and its people. SHAME!

However, that event forced her to find whatever kos she could find within days upon her arrival from her Christmas/New Year holiday in Surabaya so that she could dump her things there and I'd offered her to stay at mine instead while Vincent's gone. Win-win solution: she's got a place to stay and I'm not alone in a house I don't feel attached to yet.

So yeah, we're looking forward to fighting again. :D Well, that's what she and I do more than anything else. But better that than be lonely.

Here's Ita at the Jacuzzi.
Day 64 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful that Vincent was Staying Another Day."

Why would he have to leave, right? He was just back not even a week ago.

Well, he has too. Work calls! Pffff...

The company he works for is sending him to Thailand and Vietnam for 2.5 weeks. Sigh. Anyway, nothing I can do about it. But I was just annoyed that it had to be now. If it had been next week, it would have been better.

The good news is: he's supposed to leave today, but it's postponed to tomorrow morning. YAY! Such a good timing because this evening it rained so very, very hard that we found leaks in both bedrooms! He made a call to the owner and insisted that it would be fixed tomorrow before he left for Thailand. And I can enjoy the snuggle for another few hours. ^^
Day 63 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful to have my retractable clothesline installed."

Even before moving, this retractable clothesline I found at Ace Hardware already attracted me. I thought it was such a good way to hang clothes under the sun without having the big physical look of the clothes dryer. The new house is small and we hardly have any space for storage. I had to give away some big furnitures, paintings and printed canvas photos when we moved. To buy a new clothes dryer that I couldn't store anywhere but at the garden was silly. I mean, the biggest attraction of the house is the garden, why would I want to disgrace it by placing a clothes dryer, right?

So I bought this retractable clothesline. It's simple to use and you can hide it when unused - which is most of the time. I think this is one of the best inventions this decade!

The Retractable Clothesline from Ace Hardware
The nice, helpful manager of the villa helped me install the clothesline. Now I can dry the clothes easily and enjoy the smell of the fresh drying clothes mixed with the freshness of the garden smell. How nice and convenient.

Day 62 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful that I've come to appreciate tea as one of the greatest things in life that give me comfort."

I used to hardly notice the existence of tea. I always grew up with it, though drinking tea had always been optional instead of compulsory. But since I spent slightly over a year in Tegal, a sleepy town in Central Java whose biggest produce is tea, I put more appreciation to it.

It's clearly that town that changed my mind. It's definitely the strong fresh smell of the tea that attracted me to it. It was probably because I had no better option, since buying water cost me money while plain warm tea was free in any restaurant. I didn't realise it back then I was already hooked to tea.

It was only after I left Tegal that I came to miss tea. And the widely-sold, super practical teabags were no longer enough. So I've ventured every shop and supermarket for the real tea leaves to brew. Fortunately in Bali you can get almost everything.

This morning, I'm enjoying my solitary with a warm cup of plain tea. No sugar.

Life is good.
Day 61 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful to be waking up to the sounds of birds and to the magnificent view of rice fields and mountains as I open the bedroom window."

After over 4 years living in Bali, I finally feel like I'm living in Bali. :)

Day 60 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful for my first-ever, most beautiful little garden."

The new house has some nice features that I love... such as the wooden second floor, the thatched-roof style, the smart dining table and the spacious bathroom. But the centre of the attraction is really the garden. I've seen huge gardens with swimming pool, etc. and my garden is far from huge. But then big doesn't always mean beautiful. Big gardens that feel empty suck a lot. But small gardens with careful planning and care make the perfect ones. I'll say no more and just let the pictures speak.

Yeah, I'm that one lucky girl.
Day 59 of 365 grateful days project:

"I'm grateful that we've managed to move to the new house today, despite the terrible, terrible hangover."

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope the year 2012 brings you lots of happiness and success in whatever you do. :)

Second of all, who in their right mind thinks that moving to a new house right on the first day of the year is a good idea?

US. Vincent, especially, but also me for agreeing to it. And of course, we were so damn wrong.

But the timing couldn't have been worse. We just arrived from our travel just a few days before we had to move. And if we'd have stayed longer in the previous house, we'd have been charged daily rate. So for the New Year's eve this year, we planned not to party. We planned not to go home early in the morning like we usually did. We planned not to drink too much to celebrate it. We wanted to be sober and excited as we entered our new beautiful house. After all, we were all tired - Vincent from the jetlag and me from packing things into the so many boxes.

But none of the plans worked out. Naturally. Greg called to invite us to have a small celebration at his place with one other couple. Vincent said we would just go there, have one drink and go to celebrate New Year's eve on our own, just the two of us. That never happened. :P

Don't get me wrong, it was a nice gathering with nice people. I enjoyed it very much. However, when we went home at 3 (still earlier than usual), we were absolutely drunk. And dead. And nobody heard the moving guys ringing the bell at 11 AM. They tried to call me three times and I only answered the last ring. Then it rained.really.really.hard.

It must have been a sign.

Vincent was so sick he couldn't get up. So we asked the guys to come back later when the rain stopped.
They did go, except that when I felt better at around 2, they refused to come back because they were out enjoying the New Year's holiday. Perfect. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

My maid called another moving company, and we were lucky to get one that worked on 1 January. We agreed on a price, which was a lot more expensive than our previous guys, but we just couldn't wait until we could be in the new place.

It was drizzling during the move, Vincent and I were both sick, we arrived at the new house and the manager wasn't around to open the door and give us the key to the gate. We couldn't even get into our own new house! Yes, you can laugh now.

So.... we were stranded outside of the villa for at least half an hour, or maybe it was an hour, until someone handed in the key. Alas, the loading and unloading process only finished at around 8 PM.

We thought we were dying. And starving. So Vincent wanted to order some pizza. I was ready with my phone to order it until...

"What's our address?" I asked him.
"Shit. I don't know," he said.

And after half an hour waiting for the SMS reply from the owner of the villa about the address, Vincent gave up and said, "I'll find something to take away."

Dinner was at 10.