6 EASY TIPS FOR HOME MAKEOVER

Nowadays I get excited just thinking of doing a makeover in my home. The prospect of a home makeover used to overwhelm and stress me out, but that is all in the past. Whereas before I focused on planning everything perfectly with the result that nothing happened, I now take a more relaxed approach. I have realised that I do not need to have everything before I start redecorating. I take time to collect/buy things of quality that I really like and which bring me joy.

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In the blog today, I would like to share with you some easy tips that will help you decorate any corner of your home:

  1. Photographic prints. Decide whether you want “one-big-statement photo” or several photos on the wall. Alternatively, you can lean the photo(s) against the wall and layers some black and white photos.

  2. Plants. Place a few small plants on the top of chest drawers or shelves, or a big plant on the floor. Look for easy maintenance plants. My favourite ones are: Fiddle Leaf Fig (needs lots of light and just a little water), snake plant and succulents.

  3. Other items. Here is a sample of other items that can add to the beauty of your home: candles, rattan baskets, coffee table books, stack of fashion/decor magazines and table lamps. 

  4. 3M command strips. To stick the frames onto the wall, I recommend 3M command strips. I have used 3M in my previous two homes when I moved to different countries, and it has worked like a charm. Just ensure that your walls are properly painted so the paint won't come off as easily as when you take off your face mask :). 

    I rotate things in my home a lot, so I like to use removable stickers to decor my wall and 3M has been my best friend. It is strong and easy to remove. You can find it in hardware stores or the 3M online shop. 

  5. Try different positions on the wall by simply holding the photo. Once you have decided on a specific spot, use a pencil to mark your favourite spot on the wall. And before you know it, voilà, the photo is up on the wall, perfectly aligned.

  6. Add other items into the scene. You don’t need to display all of the suggested items together if you don’t have enough space or if you want it to be a little bit minimalistic. Play and move things around until you are satisfied. 

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Memory of Australia

 Image by  Jo and June .

Image by Jo and June.

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Cactus

Photographic prints, Argentina 2015

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El Estaño

 Image by  Jo and June

Image by Jo and June

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Lofty and Dry

Photographic prints,Argentina 2015

Now you have the tools and inspirations to decor your home. One corner at a time! no more excuses, it is time to take care that little corner of yours to finally look inspiring to you. You will thank yourself, I promise, it will give you better days. Let me know how it goes in the comments below.

White Walls Say Nothing

I got that title from a travel I did in 2015 to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I joined a graffiti walk arranged by Graffiti Mundo. I highly recommend for you to join if you plan to visit the city and interested to know a bit about the story behind those graffitis that liven up the city. 

In Buenos Aires, where you will meet the most genuine and friendly people (my experience!), one foreign artist admitted that to do a mural or other work on a wall will normally take longer time than in any other place, but he always loves doing it, every time. The reason is that the people in the neighbourhood will stop by, asking questions, offering some food, a mate tea (a traditional tea in Argentina), discuss or argue about the painting he is about to make.

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Some street art is political in nature and tells you stories of what the country faces/ faced during particular periods of time. Others may focus on showing the love of a certain football club, be dedicated to a musician, or something like that. And some are filled with secret messages that are only understood by the artists or certain groups.

I liked most of the murals/graffiti pieces I saw, but some I didn’t understand. But the idea to paint boring empty walls with meaningful and beautiful art that makes you stop, look and think is a great way to liven up a city. :)

Here are some samples of the street wall art I saw during my stay in Buenos Aires, Salta and Mendoza, Argentina.

 The artist, Pablo Harymbat, was born in 1977 in Buenos Aires, Argentina and began painting graffiti in the 1990’s. - graffitimundo.

The artist, Pablo Harymbat, was born in 1977 in Buenos Aires, Argentina and began painting graffiti in the 1990’s. - graffitimundo.

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 Haydée Mercedes Sosa (9 July 1935 – 4 October 2009), known as La Negra (literally: The Black Woman), was an Argentine singer who was popular throughout Latin America and many countries outside the continent.

Haydée Mercedes Sosa (9 July 1935 – 4 October 2009), known as La Negra (literally: The Black Woman), was an Argentine singer who was popular throughout Latin America and many countries outside the continent.

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The artist, Franco Fasoli aka “Jaz” studied and worked in scenography at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, and studied painting with Jose Marchi, Nahuel Vecino and Diana Aisemberg. He is recognized as one of the first major graffiti writers to begin painting in the streets of Buenos Aires in the mid 1990’s. He explores identity, on both a personal and cultural level, in pieces that feature hybrid creatures, which are part man, part beast. - from the blog of graffitimundo.

The white head scarves worn by Argentine mothers (Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo) whose children were "disappeared" during the Dirty War of the military dictatorship, between 1976 and 1983.

 These are the Argentine mothers, some already passed away, who were at the Plaza de Mayo still protesting. I took this picture in 2015.

These are the Argentine mothers, some already passed away, who were at the Plaza de Mayo still protesting. I took this picture in 2015.

The pub/ restaurant where the owner once asked some of the artists to paint his restaurant with their arts and the owner gives some space on the backside of this place as a gallery where they can showcase their arts.

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Isn't it interesting to know some stories behind those graffitis? I learned a little bit history of Argentina in a different way just from the walk.

 

Top 5 Things to Do in Shanghai

 Cathay Theater. One of the few historic 1930’s Art Deco-style cinemas that is still open until now. Print is available as a photographic print in  my shop .

Cathay Theater. One of the few historic 1930’s Art Deco-style cinemas that is still open until now. Print is available as a photographic print in my shop.

 

I have lived and worked in Shanghai for more than two years and, of course, during this time I have cultivated my ‘corner nests’ (a.k.a. coffee shops, restaurants) in various places and I have my favourite areas to walk around and take photos in.

If you are planning to visit Shanghai for a short time and would like to have some inspiration of easy and simple things to do in the city, read on. Well, even if your stay in Shanghai is a long one, you can easily do any of these things at your leisure.

1. Eat Breakfast/Brunch in Egg or in Tomatito

I would recommend going to Egg (eggshanghai.com) for a simple but excellent! breakfast. Try out their Spring Shakshouka or Bacon Egg + Cheese plus their cappuccino with cashew milk. Yes, I order more or less the same thing every time I come there. Of course, you can try some other things in their menu. I’m convinced everything is delicious.

For brunch, preferably with friends, I’d recommend Tomatito (tomatitoasia.com). As you might have guessed already, this is a Spanish restaurant and it’s all about tapas. Apart from the tapas, I’m sure that you will also love the space and ambience - you almost think you are in Europe. If you are there during winter, no need to worry; this place will keep you feeling warm and cozy. Excellent to spend time to read a book or to have a chat with friends.

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 Find more Cherry Blossom of Shanghai photos under Spring Flower Collection as photographic prints in  my shop .

Find more Cherry Blossom of Shanghai photos under Spring Flower Collection as photographic prints in my shop.

2. Go for a walk in Former French Concession area, visit Tianzifang or go to The Bund

Walking in and exploring the Former French Concession is one of my favourite pastimes. Heritage buildings (including the Cathay Theater above) are everywhere, the streets are lined with big, beautiful maples, and cafés and restaurants abound. I don’t feel comfortable recommending any particular street or streets to visit since the entire area is a gem waiting for you to explore.

Visit Tianzifang, This place has transformed itself from legacy residential architectures and factories into an artsy area housing bars, cafes, crafts shops, design studios, galleries and boutiques. But don’t get me wrong. There are still some residents living in this area, something which adds charm to this place. It is located in Lane 210, Taikang Road. If you take a metro, get off in Dapuqiao Station Exit 1.

 Waibadu Bridge. Black & White Photographic print available in  my shop.

Waibadu Bridge. Black & White Photographic print available in my shop.

For the Bund area, if you start from the ‘main spot’ where you face the famous Pearl Tower, walk to your left (northwards) towards the Waibaidu Bridge. This bridge is famous for wedding photo shoots, so you will be sure to capture some of that if the weather is not too hot or cold. 

3. Coffee in Shanghailander

In fact, Shanghailander is really is my ‘corner’. It is just 3 minutes from my place and I spend most mornings there for my cappuccino and a Danish Chocolate. It is almost like a ritual; I need their cappuccino to make my day :) It is tucked in close to the intersection of Wulumuqi Nan Lu (Wulumuqi South Road) and Zhaojiabang Lu (Zhaojiabang Road).  

4. Do your Manicure & Pedicure in Flower Finger

Don’t forget to bring along your man to join you for a pedicure or some other treatments. Everybody needs to give some love to their feet. The place I go to is on Wulumuqi Lu 344 (near Fuxing Xi Lu (Fuxing West Road)). And they normally offer you a tea mixed with flavour of fruits, or you can serve yourself. I love it.

5. Have a lunch and dinner in two of my favourite French restaurants, La Creperie and La Petanque. 

When I first visited La Creperie, I wasn’t convinced that a galette could constitute a proper dinner, but I promise you it does and it is good stuff! My favourite one is Les Poulains, finished off with the dessert of Le Sextant. Hmmmm..!. It is located at 1 Taojiang Lu near Fenyang Lu (lacreperie.com.cn). 

Another fantastic French restaurant named La Petanque is located at 139 Tai’an Lu near Huashan Lu. It is a small restaurant with a familial ambience and a great, kind and caring owner. For starters, you will find choices of tapas-like dishes, all of which are excellent. (Don’t miss the Clam!) Then, for the main course, try anything - everything is delicious. 

Wait! One bonus tip on things to do in Shanghai, because who doesn’t need a massage? For this, my go-to place is Zen Massage located at no. 1 Wuyuan Lu, near Wulumuqi Lu, lane 210. Enjoy the 90 minutes (because 60 minutes is just not enough) of aromatherapy massage with your favourite oil.

I hope you get busy soon in trying some of the things above. It is genuinely the list of places I love. It’s totally unsponsored and something just for you. Because, why not having some readymade tips handy? And mix this up with your own findings in the incredible city of Shanghai. If you liked this post of “Easy travel tips” and would like me to do more, then let me know! 

All photos above are available as photographic prints in my shop.

 

Travel Diary - Argentina part 2

 

It took roughly 18 hours from Buenos Aires to Salta – the distance is around 1,500 km. We took an overnight bus and both of us managed to sleep quite comfortably. There was plenty of leg space and the seats could be reclined almost 180 degrees.

Argentina is the eighth largest country in the world, almost 3,000,000 square kilometres, and we had limited weeks of vacation. This meant we had to decide on a couple of places to visit; it would be impossible to ‘do everything’. We decided to start off with Salta and the northwest because my husband had been there before and he had only fond memories.

Argentina’s northwest is lofty and dry, and sits against the beautiful backdrop of the mighty Andes. Nature works magic here with stone; strange, wonderful, tortured rock shapes are visible everywhere. And the puna (altiplano or Andean highlands) and its fauna need to be experienced in person.

Quebrada de Humahuaca. The photo above is available as photographic print in my print shop.

Colorful traditional handicrafts, indigenous communities and Inca ruins give the area a definite Andean feel, so does the animal, llama, that I saw (and tasted for the first time!). Coca leaves are sold openly and legally. It is part of the culture to chew coca leaves mixed with bicarbonate of soda to assist breathing at higher altitudes. The mixture is also said to combat fatigue and hunger.

During our stay in Salta, we went to a museum named: Museo de Arquelogía de Alta Montaña. Honestly, this was the first time I read and saw some videos about the Inca culture. When we visited the museum, the well preserved, mummified body of one three children discovered at the peak of a volcano, Llullaillaco, in 1999 was on display.

The Incas practiced what some may consider bizarre custom of sacrificing children of royal lineage or higher status to appease the Gods and ensure safety and fertility. Sacrificed children were buried on some of the Andes’ highest peaks. Llullaillaco is 6,739 meters high. It is not clear whether some of the children were actually buried alive!

It was a bit eerie to see the mummy, but I didn’t have any nightmares afterwards. ☺ It was not allowed to take pictures in the museum so I’m not able to show you what it looked like. If you want to know more, visit the website.

After exploring the city of Salta for a couple of days, we rented a car and headed north up to the Quebrada de Humahuaca for a number of days. We made the small town of Tilcara our base for daily excursions.

Now let me share with you some pictures of the magical, awe-inspiring nature in the northwest.

 
 

El Hornocal

Roughly 25 km up a winding gravel road from the town of Humahuaca at an altitude of around 4,200 m is the Mirador del Hornocal, a viewpoint from which the splendor of the Serranía Hornocal can be seen.

The colored limestone formations are simply amazing. It is best to visit in the afternoon when the sunlight intensifies the colorations. It was a bit cloudy when we went there, but nonetheless indescribably beautiful. And it was quite chilly, only around 8-9 degrees Celsius.

The Mirador del Hornocal is much less visited than the well-known, easily accessible Hill of Seven Colors (Cerro de los Siete Colores) in Purmamarca. The Hill of Seven Colors is fantastic, but bleaks in comparison to the Hornocal, at least according to me.

 

The photos of the mountain and the cactus on the right are available as photographic print in my print shop.

 

Salinas Grandes

The salt flats of Salina Grandes are located on the puna at around 3,500 meters above sea level. Salt is mined here for human, industrial and animal consumption. I cannot describe the salt flats and the surrounding landscape in words, but let me give it a shot: amazing, incredible, dramatic, endless, powerful, extreme, awesome, mind-blowing… And I’ll never forget walking around on the salt flats.

 

Travel Diary - Argentina part 1

 

The start of my holiday to Argentina in 2015 was all but smooth. The drive from my apartment in New Delhi to the airport and the arrival in Argentina turned out quite stressful, or I can say now, a little adventurous.

One of the tires of the car that took me to the airport was punctured just 15 minutes after I left my apartment, and it was 1 am in the morning. The spare tire was broken, so there I was, by the street in New Delhi at 1.30 am in the morning with the driver, trying to find another taxi… We eventually found a taxi, which basically “flew” me to the airport. He was fast!

Argentina is very far from India. The total trip for me was around 29 hours with 2 stops; in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I arrived super late in Sao Paulo. Instead of having 1 hour and 50 minutes to get to the next flight, I had only 20 minutes!

I ran like a gazelle, dressed in my winter clothes (it was winter in India) in the warm airport of Sao Paulo, where it was summer. Reached the gate out of breath, sweating…but I made it. Phew!

The problem with that kind of short connection is that the luggage is not always able to run as fast as the person making the connection. And sure enough, after a long waiting until the conveyor belt was basically stopped, and my luggage hadn't arrived, I went out to find the baggage claim office to report about my missing luggage. Not a fun feeling at 11.30 at night after such a long trip. It was also quite warm in Buenos Aires that evening.

The next day, Saturday, I was not really sure where I was, a real jet lag, and I really missed my toiletries. I bought some new clothes, a pair of sandals and some toiletries. Over the first couple of days, I also started to hear all kinds of stories of missing luggages that will come after 2 weeks and started to accept the idea that I might travel Argentina without my bag, and I slowly let go of my luggage..

We changed our plan a bit, instead of leaving Buenos Aires for Salta on Monday evening, we decided to go on the next day just to give another chance for my bag to arrive in Buenos Aires. And we decided that whether I have my luggage on that day or not, we will go ahead with our plan to go to Salta (around 1700 km Buenos Aires).

 
 

On Tuesday morning, I did my routine, calling the Argentinian airlines. And this time the answer was a bit different. “We have your luggage, we will deliver it this afternoon”. said the guy on the line. “You have my luggage? Are you sure?” I asked the guy with excitement. “Very sure. Is your backpack a bright blue one? it is just few meter from me. let me check again…yes this is yours”. “I will pick it up in the airport now, since I am going to leave for Salta in the evening”. I told him, I was very happy.

And there she was my “smurf” blue backpack… standing in front of the counter of baggage claim. You see, I bought this backpack only for this trip. I was all smiling. Never been so happy to a see a luggage.

With all the travel I have done (almost to 40 countries now) This is the first time I ever lost a luggage and of course the first time that I didn’t have my carry-on luggage for such a long trip, everything was on that luggage/ backpack. All of a sudden that backpack and what inside it become more precious than anything else.

And now that the drama of luggage was over we spent the last afternoon in Buenos Aires before we were off to the bus station, we visited the famous cemetery in Buenos Aires named Cemetario de Recoletta.  

Visiting this cemetery was a bit special. It is like visiting a house complex. The individual cemetery is decorated in different way. I was not comfortable to walk around here. Mostly because I was able to see the coffins! Nevertheless, I must say this was a beautiful cemetery.

And in the evening we were on the bus on our way to Salta, which I will write about on my next post, Travel Diary - Argentina Part 2.