Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Vietnam: First Adventure of the Year

I've been in Vietnam for two weeks with my co-workers for a company outing. We started out with eight people in Hanoi, went down to the central region and then went back to Hanoi to meet the rest of the company. All the while, we're working full-time. I guess it's one of the perks of working remotely-- we can travel while working (even though it's not entirely convenient). 

Hue's Imperial Citadel

Hoi An Ancient Town

Tran Quoc Pagoda in Hanoi

Boating in Tam Coc river in Ninh Binh (Yes, the man uses his feet to row.)

Cruising in Ha Long Bay

I've slept at seven different places the past twelve nights (that includes sleeping in a train, in a bus and in a boat), ate at the roadside more times than I can remember and have drunk liters of amazing Vietnamese coffee. Even though I have horrible eyebags and odd tan lines, and my skin is breaking out, Vietnam has been a great experience. I'm leaving later at midnight and I'm pretty sure I'll miss this place. I'll share more about my trip during my next posts.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Valar Morghulis

Valar dohaeris.

Finally got to use my broad paintbrush once again

I'm heading out of town tomorrow with my backpack (and my co-workers) so no painting and baking for me for the next two weeks. Yikes.

Monday, April 13, 2015

First Foray into Fondant

This is my first fondant cake. I made it last weekend. It was tiring as heck and very messy too but I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

I made a sakura fondant cake because I've been seeing so much cherry blossoms on my news feed recently.

I cannot describe how difficult it was to cut the first slice of this pretty cake lol.

Sunday tea time with iced chai milk tea

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Paint, Cook, Brew

Made a few paintings over the long weekend:

yay galaxy!

I call this the watercolor sushi series. On another note, I need to practice my hiragana.

Because I've been seeing too much sakuras in my news feed

Last Saturday, I didn't have enough time to bake but I wanted to whip up something a bit more special than usual. Since I still had some leftover homemade anko (sweetened red bean paste), I looked for a dorayaki recipe and made some. The cakes didn't end up evenly-colored like the ones I've tried in Japan but they tasted good nonetheless

Dorayaki: Doraemon's favorite

I also bought a box of chai tea so hurray for homemade chai lattes!

Yesterday, I bought some Monterey Jack cheese to use for grilled cheese sandwiches. This morning, breakfast was grilled cheese with caramelized balsamic onions. Yum! I'll be experimenting with more grilled cheese sandwich variations over the next days.

Finally, a painting that Agents of SHIELD fans will understand:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Just Keep Painting

One of the principles we're taught during kendo training is to keep pushing forward. When you make a mistake, keep pushing forward. Act as if nothing happened. However, make sure that you do better in your next attempt, that you don't keep repeating your mistake, and that you continuously improve yourself.

Now, one of the things I really love about kendo is that I am able to apply many of its principles to everyday life. Case in point: painting. 

I don't consider myself *that* good when it comes to art. I mean, I know a bunch of people from the College of Fine Arts and certainly my art is a far cry from theirs. Also, come on, there's a reason why I studied engineering haha. Nevertheless, I keep pushing forward. I keep painting and making art because I like it and it makes me feel better. And here are some of my works recently:

Three days worth of backlog in my watercolor diary

I also made an attempt to paint my favorite hero these days: Peggy Carter. You ask me why she's my favorite? Well, you have to watch the Agent Carter mini-series to understand. (It's just eight episodes and it's amazing; you will not regret it.)

You see, we rarely get female heroes and I love Peggy because she's super smart, she can beat the crap out of guys heavier than her, she doesn't give up despite the misogyny in her male-dominated job, and she protects the man she loves (Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America) although she lost him eventually. I also love that Peggy is portrayed like a real person. She's tough as nails but when things get too difficult to handle, she also knows how to cry. Plus, she fights wearing red lipstick, a-line dresses, and high heels. Now, I guess, that's ultimate girl power.

It's like a grade school student's work but I'll keep painting anyway.

I painted flowers too.

And just today, after watching the latest Arrow episode, I just had to write the quote that stuck to me.