2# Throwback Travel- New York: Big Bus from Midtown to Brooklyn (day 2)

On day two in New York, we did the most touristy thing you can do, the Big Bus tours. I usually prefer walking tours, but when you have a baby and the weather is a bit drizzly this was easier. We got to see so much more than we would have on foot since the city is just so massive. The Big Bus tours are only offered for 1-3 days. Of course, we wanted to save money so we went tried to do four bus tours and a cruise two day. We still did shopping, dining and sightseeing on foot on the same days, so its definitely doable. Today we did the Downtown, Brooklyn and Night tour loops. We also visited the Financial District, Battery Park and 9/11 Memorial.

Since we had a big day ahead of us we need a big breakfast. My hotel did have complimentary breakfast, but I preferred not to dine there since the food was very processed. The healthiest option they had was Quaker Oats, but I was aware there was a class action against them. I preferred to explore some healthier breakfast options near my hotel. I found Le Pain Quotidien (Bryant Park location). They offer pastries, artisan breads, jams, eggs, steel-cut oats and more healthy breakfast options. Their bread is made traditionally with organic stone-ground flour and most of the other breakfast menu options are also organic. They have a large selection of organic jams and other condiments that are also free to use. Octavia and I had boiled eggs with a selection of breads and jams and soy cappuccino. The staff were so lovely and brought Octavia some extra bread to chew on.

Downtown Loop Bus tour

We began with the Downtown Loop, which we did in two parts that day. We took it from the 5th Avenue Midtown (3), all the way to City Hall Park (10), which covered Midtown to Lower Manhattan. The bus goes right through the middle of the island, so we saw districts of Nomad and Greenwich Village, Spring and Canal shopping strips and all the important law buildings in the Lower Manhattan. From the second level of the bus, I was able to get better views and photos of buildings. I listened to all the commentary from the guide with the earphones. The guy on this part of our tour was pretty entertaining and one of my favourite guides.

We got off the bus at City Hall Park, where we saw our first squirrel. It was so cute and much tiny than I imagined. We also saw Black Lives Matters activists, but it was pretty quiet at that time of the morning. We did some retail therapy at Century 21, which had great deals on designer apparel. I found some great bargains for O and myself in our short visit. What I really loved is that they had a petite section for short people like me, so I found a couple of great dresses that were cut correctly for my height.

World Trade Centre

Next, we made our way to the World Trade Centre district to see the 9/11 Memorial. One of the most noticeable buildings we saw as we were walking up was the Oculus. It is actually the World Trade Centre train station, designed by Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava. Next, we saw the sky-high buildings that were adjacent to the twin towers. To think that twin towers had been taller and then to see the space for the memorial was amazing. The memorial does have an eerie feeling, despite the crowds of people. It makes you remember how crazy that day was and reflect on the tragedy and where we were at the time of the event. I was actually in Athens on my first trip to Europe with my parents. We were in shock and weren’t sure if we would finish the bus tour and be stuck in Europe for months. It seems silly now to think that, but that feeling that we weren’t safe from such a distance was very real. I regret not going to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. I wasn’t that interest to visit it on this trip, since celebrating my birthday. Next time, I hope to go see the museum.

Financial District

We visited the Financial District for lunch and take our next tour bus. It was nothing like I imagined. The roads seemed so narrow with this sky-high buildings and it was also pretty quiet. I did see the Charging Bull of Wall Street, which was in a peculiar position, on a bit land between two roads. I could not get near it, there was way too many tourists taking photos. I have a photo of it below, from the Bus tour, it was still busy.

For lunch, we made a stop for one of the best lobster rolls in New York. This was very exciting because in Australia, lobster is super expensive and usually served in a fine dining restaurant alongside vegetables. Luke’s Lobster has various locations in NYC, across the US and Japan and Taiwan. They offer Maine-style seafood rolls, chowder and bisques using fresh sustainable seafood. They also have vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free options. On the day we visited, it was pretty busy, with local workers stopping in for a quite bite. We ordered a few different seafood rolls to share, including crab, lobster and prawn, which came with a crab claw and a large pickle. Considering I was dining with people who don’t like seafood, they all loved it as much as I did. Even little O, who was excited to try all the new flavours.

Brooklyn Loop tour

From the Financial District we took the Brooklyn Loop at the Battery Park stop (29). By this stage the heat had finally broken and it was quite drizzly. Luckily the bus offered plastic coats for those like me who wanted to still sit on the top deck.

The tour took us along the southern shore, which runs along the East River and through China Town. We then took the Manhattan Bridge, which gave us great views of the Two Bridge area, as well as the East River and Dumbo, Brooklyn. In Brooklyn, we saw one of the few fuel stations as well as a strange suspended car park. Brooklyn wasn’t exactly what I expected. However, we only saw a little snippet of it, since we only went as far as the Grand Army Plaza, and then turned around and went back over the Manhattan Bridge. It did take a slightly different route on the way to Battery Park, past Seaport and the Charging Bull.

Battery Park

After that tour we were eager to have a break, so we got some cold drinks from Starbucks and relaxed at the Battery Park. This green space is 37 hectares and sits on the southern-most top of Manhattan. There are quite a few monuments in the park, as well as the Pier A Harbor and an abundance of street food vendors.

Downtown Loop tour

We then took our third bus tour, which is actually the second half of the first bus we took that morning. We got on at the Battery Park stop (29) and travelled along the west coast, all the way through Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen and Time Square. By this stage, we were all toured out, but it wouldn’t be our last bus for the day.

Urbanspace Vanderbilt

For dinner, we wanted to go somewhere near our hotel for a quick bite before the night tour. So, we stopped in at Urbanspace Vanderbilt. This is an amazing food hall, with rotating concepts and diverse cuisines. I really needed to eat some vegetables and wanted to make sure Octavia had someone healthy as well. It was so hard to choose, but I settled with Two Tablespoons, who offer vegan and vegetarian veggie bowls and rice paper rolls. They use mostly organic and locally sourced ingredients and avoid using any heavily processed ingredients. I ordered the Shanti Express, which included a chickpea stew, quinoa, curried Cauliflower and a  kale and Lentils salad. It tasted fresh and fragrant, it was healthy and it was satisfying.

Discover NYC by Night tour

The very last tour of our day was the complimentary evening tour. It began at M&M’s World Stop (37), just a block from Time Square. It was so crowded and hot. I felt like I could barely breathe. Since they were doing construction under the road, there were large pipes pumpkin hot air to the road level, making the streets even warmer. After quite a wait we got the last bus off the night. This bus took us through Time Square, Midtown, China Town, Little Italy, Lower Manhattan, across the Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn, Soho, Greenwich Village and back up to Midtown. Although we saw a lot of we had already seen today, it was definitely different by night. The stories were different and so was the city.

So reflecting back on a big day of Big Bus tours, I think it was totally worth it. I love tours that talk about the history and culture of a city. I normally prefer to do my tour by foot, but this bus tour allowed us to see so much in short amount of time and get to know some of the places we would be visiting. Was three bus tours in one day too much? Well as you can see it was a pretty cruisy day. We still have the Uptown loop and Circle Line Liberty Cruise on day three, which we did on day 3.

1# Throwback Travel- New York: Midtown (day 1)

Back when I began this blog, I had only travelled to the USA for the first time a couple months before. At the time I was still figuring out what I wanted to write about and I only really covered the food and Florida Diseny Parks on this trip. Our travel stops included New York, Washington, Boston, New Orleans and Orlando (Disney). Since then I have written extensively about my travels to Europe, Japan, Singapore and Scandinavia. So I thought it was time to revisit my travel adventure in the USA, since I am planning to go back in the next couple of years. I have found so much family across different states, so my next trip will be focused on places like Connecticut, Detriot, Colorado, LA, Miami, Ohio etc. I would also love to revisit some of the cities I have already seen and do some of the things that I have missed.

Today I will start with our first stop, New York City. This was the place I was most excited to visit and was the perfect place to celebrate my 30th. We spent 7 days in New York and out itinerary was full to the brim with tourist attractions, shopping and yummy food experiences. As I mentioned, I only wrote about the food in New York, so you can read my previous posts Eating through NYC and review of By Chef Chloe restaurant.

Midtown

Marco, Octavia, Sally and I arrived on a warm summer afternoon in August. First thing we did was check into our hotel, without our suitcases. Since we had flown from Brisbane to LA to New York, there was some mixup and didn’t receive our suitcases until the next afternoon. We looked a little dishevled but were so excited to be in the most amazing city in the world.

We stayed at the SpringHill Suites, in Midtown Manhattan, which was quite a good location. Its a short walk from Bryant Park and 34th Street shopping strip and had a great view of the Empire State building. It is also within walking distance from Time Square and Central Park. As soon as we were finished checking in we set off to explore. We made our way towards Bryant Park and found the large streets to be pretty calm. I was expecting to feel like a sardine, but it really wasn’t that crowded.

Our first stop was the beautiful Bryant Park, which was just as I imagined a green space in New York would be. It is 38,860m square space between 40th and 42nd Street in the heart of Midown. On the day of our visit the lawn was closed, but there were plenty of chairs to sit and take in the greenery against the backdrop of sparkling towers and blue sky. Bryant Park hosts lively programs through out the year, including cultural events, classes, kids programs and winter activities. There is also plenty of food kiosks and cafes here. So matter what time of year you visit, its worth making a stop at Bryant Park.

We continued through Midtown, down 41st St and 7th Avenue towards Time Square. Now we were passing through bustling streets with flashy billboards that I was expecting. Along the way we met a friendly police man on horseback, which was very exciting for the kids.

Theater District

Eating in the US was a bit of a worry to me, as I was still breastfeeding at the time. So I tried to look for as many organic, minimally processed and GMO free food options that I could find. Marco’s biggest priority was finding the best American burger he could consume. So I was able to comprismise with this great little organic burger joint, which is only a short walk from Time Square, in the Midtown Theater District. Smokey Burger Organic offers organic, natural burgers, with gluten free, vegetarian, wild game and seafood options. Besides burgers, they also offer fried sides, salads, soups, shakes, sodas, juices, and smoothies.

I ordered the Young, Wild & Free Deluxe Burger which had a ground salmon patty, mango, citrus aioli, caramelized onion, lettuce, tomato. Marco and Sally had the Smokey Burger with ground double beef patties, yellow cheddar, chipotle sauce, caramelized onions, wild mushroom, lettuce, tomato. We also had a side of Sweet Potato Fries and Onion Rings. Everything was really delicious and satifying. The perfect meal for our first night in New York.

After dinner we checked out the famous pedetarian intersection, Time Square. It was so light up with bright billboards of products, brands and broadway show, and bustling with so many tourists. We were just so overwhelmed that we nearly missed the famous Red Stairs, which sits upon the TKTS ticket booth. In the heart of Time Square there are lots of costumed characters, who offer to take photos with you for a tip. They were a bit pushing and we only got photos with them because my mother-in-law happy agreed to get photos, thinking they were free.

Time Square is pretty amazing to see as a first time visiter, but as the days went on I found it to be a tourist vortex. It was very hard to get out of when you are passing through, because it was so crowded. Its extremelly touristy, but it also has plenty of entertainment, shopping, dining options, and of course Broadway. So any first-timer or tourist need to make a stop in Time Square and see at least one show on Broadway. We saw a few shows, which I will explain further in a future post.

That bring us to the end of our first night in New York City. On day two we did the tourist buses and Finanical District, to see 9/11 Memorial.

Have you been to New York? What did you think of Midtown and Time Square?

Life update: Ancestry DNA

Its been a while since I’ve given an update on my life. Between motherhood, university internship and a bit of a rough patch, I haven’t had time to reflect much. I have now graduate from my Museum Studies program and finally have some time to catch my breathe and focus on writing a bit more.

So something I have been wanting to write about for a while was my Ancestry journey. For my birthday last July I bought a Ancestry DNA kit. Genealogy is something I’ve always been interested in, and I was curious how ethnically Italian I was. I am also a big believer in eating for your ethnicity. Since I got my results, I have been able to trace my family back several generations in various towns, uncover family secrets and found relatives all over the world.

DNA results

Before buying a DNA test, I did a bit of research on which company to go with. I found that Ancestry seemed to be the most accurate and have quite a large sample size.

After sending away my DNA to Ancestry, I received an email that my results where in. So when I logged in I was able to see my DNA story and DNA matches. My DNA story has changed since my initial results. The reason being is that your DNA doesn’t change, but the sample size and algorithm that is used to assess you DNA will change. Ancestry uses Autosomal DNA, which represents both one’s maternal and paternal segments of DNA. According to their website, their DNA test targets your most recent family history of the last 100 to 1000 years. You do your DNA with other companies that focus on paternal or maternal lines, called Y-DNA and mtDNA, which can focus on the last 10,000 to 50,000 years. However, when searching for relatives and using historical records to trace back family history, I think Autosomal DNA is sufficient.

As you can see below, that the majority of my DNA is Southern Italian. This was broke down further to idenity Calabria the place of origin, which you can’t see in this image. Caucasus was next, which is modern Persian empire. Then there is a touch of Middle Eastern and European Jewish. I was pretty astounded to find that 26% of my DNA came outside of Calabria. I wasn’t sure if this was because invaders had intermarried with the local population, or because a group of my ancestors resettled in Calabria at some point in the last 1000 years.

I was pretty excited about my results, which represented a crosssection of Mediterrean and Middle Eastern countries. There was no big suprises of rogue ethnicities in my family tree that I wasn’t aware of. Considering my grandparents are all Calabrese, I doubted it would be the case.

My results also put to bed a family legend on my mother’s side. My mother’s brother was told back in the 90s by a ‘genealogist’ that their surname, Gualtieri was of French origin. He sold him a family crest and told him that we descend from a French king named Gualtier. This king was apparently exiled and relocated to the south of Italy where he changed his name to ‘Gualtieri’, married into a poor family and lost the family wealth over generations. This was immeidately grasped by my mother, who had a conversation with an old Calabrese man years before in the cheese factory that she had worked in. He told her that her father family was orignally from the north of Italy and had came from France. Clearly none of this is true, otherwise I would have a trace of French or Northern Italian DNA, which is distinctive to Southern Italian DNA. Additionally, the surname Gualtieri is a common surname found in the area that her parents are from and originates from the Papal States. There is no known history of this story either, which lead me to believe it was a lie. A more plausable explanation for the story from the man in the cheese factory is that my mother’s had two great uncles, who immigrated to France and Piemonte. This man may have been from the same town and would have known them or her family.

Another, falsehood that I had be told growing up was that my father’s family is Greek. Their surname is Greco, which does mean ‘the Greek’. However, this surname origins from Tuscany and is one of the most popular surnames in Italy. My mother also believed that my grandfather’s family has a more Greek bodyshape, being long in the torso and short in the legs. My results show no Greek DNA. Additionally, I have been able to trace the Greco name back eight generations in the same town, which dispels this belief. It is possible that their town had originated from had Greek settlement in the distant past, as many towns in Calabria had. However, there is no reason why they would be more Greek my other ancestors.

Updated DNA Results

About two months after I received my results, Ancestry did a massive update. Everybodies results had changed based on a new algorium. I was really surprised that my results had changed so much and now focused on two regions. I was now 73 % Calabrese and 27% Turkish/ Caucasian . I was confused how I had such a significant percentage of Turkish/Caucasian, but not surprised that I lost my Middle Eastern and European Jewish regions. However, when this conversation topic came up on a Calabrese Genealogy Facebook group, it was apparent that no matter how ‘Calabrese’ we were, we all had signigicant amounts of Turkish DNA. This is most likey due to the fact, that during the Middle Ages Ottoman pirates raided Calabria and other parts of Southern Italy. This birthed the italian expression “Mamma li turchi!”, meaning “Oh mom, the Turks!”. Nevertheless, I am proud of my DNA results and I imagine I had a doppleganger living 100 or 1000 years ago, living a very different life to mine.

Have you done a DNA test? What company did you use?

Where you surprised by your results?

Book Review: Magical Dawn (Magisk Gryning)

I’ve had Magical Dawn sitting on my shelf for so long. I bought it near two years ago when I ordered Hanna’s first three colouring books. Since I was waiting for Hanna’s two newer books, I thought I better go back to her third book and try out it.

Magical Dawn (Magisk Gryning) is by the Swedish artist Hanna Karlzon, published in 2017. I have had the pleasure to colour and review in her other books, Daydreams (Dagdrommar), Summer Nights (Sommarnatt) and most recently Smyckeskrinet (Jewelry Box). Each are just as gorgeous as the next and have a distinctive theme which flavour Hanna’s unique style. With the exception of Smyckeskrinet, I have the English editions of Hanna’s colouring books, since they are much easier to get hold than the original Swedish editions. I haven’t compared the books in great detail, but they are pretty much the identical.

This book has a musky pink hard cover with an black and white design with gold foiling. The beetle on the cover can be found inside the book, but is framed a little differently. The paper is a high quality and off-white in colour. The pages are double-sided and there are 96 pages to colour.

The line art in Magical Dawn was

This is not my favourite of Hanna Karlzon’s book, simply because its extremely hard to choose one over another. It is probably my favourite if I have to compare it to the first three though. The designs are intericate, interesting, and inspired the wonder of magic. I coloured eight pages in this book and used alot of blue and purples. I guess since these rarer colours found in the natural world, they inspired a sense of magic to me. I also did a video flip through, which included all of my completed pages. Any new pages coloured in this book in the future will be added to my Magical Dawn gallery page.

The Title page is always my most dreaded page to colour in all my books and this one was no different. I was really nervous about colouring those smokey essences and all those stars. I am not convinced I pulled it off either. I went crazy with the white gel pen to cover the black lines. In the end it all came together, but I think I will have to find a new technique for stars and smoke. This this page I used Polychromos pencils and a variety of gel pens.

This Rocker Witch was not a picture I would normally gravitate towards and I really didn’t like the design when I first saw it. However, I wanted to try to make something beautiful out of it and I am pretty happy how she turned out. I put a lot of work into her skin and hair and I was able to appreciate her unconventional beauty. Probably the hardest part of this picture was colouring the owl, as the design was very detailed and not very lifelike. I tried to use some inspiration from a real owl for texture and colouring and was surprised it came out looking relatively decent. I decided on a black ink background, to give the central image a bit of pop. I used Prismacolor pencils, a white Uniball gel pen and black Tombow Brush pen.

The Starwalker is another picture that I have seen done a few times and found really intimidating. There was just so much background and so many little stars to colour. I decided to try a galaxy background using Polychromos pencils, white Prismacolor and white gel pen. It started off really great from the right, but soon enough I lose my rhythm, so its a bit streaky in some areas. For the main design, I used Prismacolor pencils and a white gel pen. I find those Prisma’s blend a lot better so they were ideal for blending the colours in this turquoise-purple dress. My inspiration for colours scheme is from this anime fairy (not sure of the artist).

The Stardust Hourglass is a quick page, to practise magic dust. I was going to do a background, but then I wasn’t in the mood for experimentation. I’m very happy how the stardust turned out. I found using a bit of neon pink really helped give life to do the sky/electric blue dust. I used Prismacolor pencils, as well as a white and silver gel pens.

The Serpent Sorceress is another page I have seen done so many times. I just loved her gaze and her beautiful face that looks freakishly like Angelina Jolie. I really wanted to do this page in bright red, get away from the blue and purple hues. I didn’t turn out how I originally imagined, which is probably a good thing. I spent a lot of time doing her skin and I was inspired by this gypsy-inspired model. I find it really difficult to do darker skin tones, the skin can get a little streaky and a bit patchy. This wasn’t so apparent until the page was completed. Other than that I am happy with her hair, eyes, lips, jewellery and snake. I also tried something a little different with the background stars, but still not convinced it was the best technique. I used Prismacolor pencils, white and gold gel pens.

This picture reminded me so much of Emerald City of the Wizard of Oz, which was my inspiration for colour scheme. I used mostly Polychromos for this page, since they have plenty of interesting greens. I only used a few Prismacolors to blend for lighter shades, as well as gold and white gel pen. It turned out pretty close to what I intended so I am happy.

My very last and favourite picture of the bunch is the Blue jewelled moth. It didn’t stand out as an uniquely magical design, so I wanted to use blues and purple-pink to inspire a sense of fantasy. I chose gold, soft and bright blue, fushia, purple, brown and peach colour scheme. I am really thrilled how it turned out. For the main design, I used Prismacolor pencils with a bit of white gel pen for details. For the background I started with prussian blue, light blue and grey Mungyo Watercolor crayons, activated with water. The background turned out pretty terrible, so I used alot of Prismacolor layers to get it looking more like a galaxy sky. I then used a white gel pen for stars, which gave it more pizzazz.

You can purchase this Magical Dawn or Magisk Gryning from:

9# Colouring update: New Books

Hi everyone, I recently bought a few more books I wanted to share with you. I haven’t actually bought anything new in a while, as I have been trying to colour in the books I already have. However, the heart wants what it wants.

Before I show you my goodies, I’ll just let you know what I have been up to in regards to colouring. So I have been working in my Hanna Karlzon books more recently. As you would have seen my last book review was Jewelry Box and soon to see, in Magical Dawn. I am just in the process of organising my book review, which will be out soon, with about 7 completed pictures. Next I will start some work in my new Karlzon books, I just haven’t decided which one to start with yet.

Seasons by Hanna Karlzon

Not long ago I had a discount coupon on Book Depository and I noticed Hanna’s new book was soon to be released. So I decided to order it, as well as Seasons, since it was the only one of Hanna’s books I didn’t have. Seasons was realeased back in 2017 and was preceded by Jewelry Box.

I thought my favourite one of Hanna’s books was Jewelry Books, but I was quite also pretty impressed with Seasons. This book takes us through all the season, from Spring to Winter. You can pick whatever season you are currently experience or another you would prefer and have fun with traditional seasonal colours (or something else entirely). I also love that this book includes so many seasonal occasions themed pictures, such as Halloween and Christmas. I’m will probably do a review of this book next, so stay tuned.

Spirit Animals by Hanna Karlzon

Spirit Animals is Hanna’s latest colouring book, which I had on preorder. It just arrived and I am in love. I won’t say too much but yes its pretty and again total different to Hanna Karlzon’s other books. One big difference I noticed was that most of the single pages correspond directly to the adacent page. So although they aren’t two-page spreads, they can be treated as such if you want. I can’t wait to get tucked into this book as well, and a book review will follow soon.

The Fashion Through Time Colouring Book

This next book is one that I picked up at the Reject shop for about $4. Although its was cheap, it’s still pretty great. It takes you from Western Antiquity all the way through to the glam of the 1960s fashion. Although it mostly Western fashion, there are a few other cultures represented as well. I just loved the art so much, that I probably will colour a few and do a review when I get a chance.

Mungyo Watercolor Crayons

I mentioned in my last colouring book review, Smyckeskrinet (Jewelry Box), that I had recently bought these watercolor crayons. I saw them on Colouring with Olivier channel and experimented with them in Jewelry Box. I am still getting accustom to using them, but I have used them again in Magical Dawn and will continue to in my other Karlzon colouring books. They are pretty cheap and a fun medium to use to fill in backgrounds. Best of all they don’t bleed through and don’t cause the paper to buckle much.

Have you bought any new books lately? or the ones I have show you today?

Book Review: Smyckeskrinet (Jewelry Box)

This book review is on one of Hanna Karlzon’s most recent colouring books. I bought this book when I was in Sweden last year. I finally got around to colour some of these beautiful pages. I am really loving her books right now and intend on colouring through my other Karlzon books, while I wait for her lastest release.

Smyckeskrinet is Hanna’s fifth colouring book, which came out in 2018. It also cames in an English edition, Jewelry Box. The format of this book is the same as the rest of her books, which you can see from my other reviews of her first two books, Day Dreams and Summer Nights.

This book has a limestone green cover with an black design and gold foiling. The design on the cover doesn’t appear in the book, but has some similar elements that you will find inside. The book format is hardcover, with high quality off-white paper. The line art is on double-sided and there are 96 pages to colour.

This book is consisent with Hanna’s style, however it is themed is Edwardian house and its garden. Similarly to her other books, there is a large variety of beautiful girls, animals, flowers, jewels and inanimlate objects. However, these designs have an old world twist that makes this book quiet unique to itself. Consistent with the title, many of the designs are adorned with jewels, which gives the images a very anique feel. There is also quite a variety of images which take up entire pages, majority, or have quiet blank backgrounds, so you colour within the confines of the designs or make an elaborate background.

This is probably my favourite book of Hanna Karlzons so far. I felt the line art was more intricate and I loved the cute animals and beautiful headdresses. I wanted to experiement a little more then I usually do in Hanna’s books, so I have used quite a few different mediums to give you an good example of what works on this paper. Below I have included a video flip through and photographs of all my completed pictures in this book so far. Any future pictures will be added to my Smyckeskrinet (Jewelry Box) gallery.

The Name plate page was the last page I coloured since it was the one I was most worried about. I initially didn’t want to go with traditional colours for the peacocks, but when I started researching the various colours of their feathers I decided there was plenty of tones I could use to make them very pretty.

The main design was all coloured in Prismacolor pencils and a little bit of white gel pen. As for the background, I used Mungyo Watercolor Crayons. I had already experiemented with these crayons in this book and I was pretty happy with them. I used a combination of purple and light green crayon and activiated them with a water pen. I then went over the crayon with Prismacolor pencils. It did come out a little streaky, but overall I’m pretty happy with it.

I did the Jewelled Bettle and Garden Goddess as a two pages spread. I started with the goddess, which I wasn’t sure I really liked when I first saw. But I really wanted to try and make her beautiful and bring out all the aspects of her floral headdress to make it more volumious.

I used Prismacolor pencils and it took me quite a while to lay them down, so that she looked more three-dimensional. I think thats really the key to perfecting my colouring, the more soft layers the better the result. Then I decided to quickily do the Jewelled Bettle, since I used most of the same colours. I also used some white and yellow gold gel pen to bring out some of the details. I am not entirely happy with how I used them on the round and tear shaped jewels, but they do look better then left black.

Next I decided to try out a background that I had seen recently in a video on the Youtube channel Colouring with Olivier. I had actually purchased the Mungyo Watercolor Crayons after watching Oliver’s video review of them. I bought them off Ebay and they are quite an inexpensive alternative to Neocolor, which is very popular at the moment. I really loved Oliver’s Cracked Wall Background, so after watching her video I tried to recreate this myself for this two page spread. I used black, brown and lime green crayons with a water pen to activate. Intitally I went lightly with the crayon on the paper and activated it, then added extra color by wiping the brush directly on the crayon. Afterwards I used a sharp black pencil to add in the cracks. I am extremely happy how it turned out. Although its not perfect, it looks great overall as a two page spread and is quite a quick background to achieve. Another great thing is that the crayon didn’t blead through and there was minimum buckling on this paper.

The Jewelled Kitty-cat was a picture I feel in love with straight away. I used Polychromos pencils with some white Prismacolor to blend and white gel pen for sparkles. Something I always have difficulty with is whether I do the background or objects first. Only thing is background take so long that I sometimes feel less passionate about the overall picture by the time I finish it. The only downside to doing the opposite is that the pencil can stain the background and it can be difficult to erase. Luckily when using Polychromos you do’t have these problems so much. Unlike soft pencils like Prismacolor, they don’t smudge very much at all. They do requite alot of soft layers to get a vibrant color and not to ruin the tooth of the paper. I also like to used the white Prismacolor to blend and remove white speckling, which you can also do with other pastle soft pencils. Anyhow, thats pretty much how I got the depth to the sky and other objects, which really enthused me to use my Polychromos pencils a bit more.

The Black Swan Princess the first picture completed in this book, which I did back in September last year. It was dedicated to the late and great Katrine and which featured in my 7# Colouring Update. I used Prismacolor Premier pencils, white Posca pen for highlights and a black Faber-Castell Artist Pitt pen for the background. You can refer to my previous post for more details.

The Jewel Carriers was one of the last pages I coloured. I wanted use an Autumn colours palette, with bright oranges and deep blues. Since I was using Prismacolor pencils. I started with the background first, before don’t the flora and fauna. I really wasn’t happy with my color choice and wanted to give up on it. But once I added in the white gel pen and completed the pictures I didn’t mind it as much. Its not so pretty but it really packs a punch to your eyes.

This Astro goddess portrait is a relatively small picture and didn’t requite a background, so it was a nice quick one. It’s a really good design if you want to practice doing skintone and hair. I took my time, trying to give her skin a more deeper complection, which is more difficult for me on larger scale. I used Polychromos pencils, so I had to be very careful to be to do soft layers, but I think I am improving in not making such harsh lines on the face. I love how she turned out. I am not so happy with my background. The black lines on around the stars were too strong and don’t look much better with the gel pen. I think I need to find a new solution to this dilema.

You can purchase this Smyckeskrinet or Jewelry Box from:

Nordic Trip

It’s taken me all year, but I have finally finish writing about my fastastic Nordic Adventure. This spontaneous three week vacation, covered varies places in Norway, Sweden, Estonia and Finland. We explored large city metropolises, small coastal and inland towns, as well as parks, museums and natural reserves. We only scatched the surface of what the Nordic nations have to offer, but I hope it inspires you to visit this part of the world.

Below I have included links to all the posts in this travel series, incase you missed some. If you have any questions feel free to leave a message below and I would be happy to help as best as I can.

Norway

Norwegian Road Trip

Sweden

Finland

Estonia

Finnish Road trip

Finnish Roadtrip: Savonlinna to Porvoo (day 6-7)

This is the end of my Finnish Roadtrip and Nordic Adventure. Since this only covers and a half days I combined it all into this last post. One this day we departed from Savolinna, made a stop in Lappeenranta and arrived in Porvoo. We only stayed on night in Porvoo before making our way back to Helsinki for our flight. I am so happy we made this last stop, because I really loved exploring Old Porvoo.

Savonlinna

We woke up to a beautiful site out of the window of our summerhouse cottage. It was so nice to feel like we were walking up in the middle of nowwhere. It was so quiet and serene, but we need to get up and going to start our last day.

We arrived inn Savonlinna’s town centre for an early morning breakfast. Today was Monday, so we expected that today everything would be open, meaning an end to our Midsummer nightmare. I would have loved to spend time walking along this main shopping drag and also visiting Linnankatu to see the arts and handicrafts. However, we were up quite early and nothing was opening for another hour. So we had to decided if we waited or kept going to our next stop Porvoo.

We didn’t see a lot open for breakfast, but we did spot Herkku Pekka. This bakery offered a range of sweet and savoury pastaries, quiches, sandwiches and cakes. All of which looked delightful for three hungry people. I had the Salmon, Egg annd Salad Crossiant and Perunapiirakka. Marco just had a Crossiant and a coffee and O had a sweet Finnish pastry for the very last time. All the pastaries were freshly made and delicious.

So we decided to keep driving to Porvoo, which was going to take about just under four hours. This was the longest stretch of this Finnish roadtrip so far, so we were eager to get it over and done with.

Lappeenranta

On our way we stopped for morning tea in Lappeenranta. This town is about about two hours from Savonlinna. If only we had more time we could of visited its multiple attractions, but time was off the essence. We only stopped at the bakery, Kesämäen Leipomo Oy, which is somewhat of a workers stop. I read that they had a speciality, Liha-Piirakka, which is a savoury donut filled with meat and rice. Marco was more interested in trying the Hevosenkenkä maidoton (milkless horseshoe pastry) and Viinermukki laktoositon (lactose free apple donut). I don’t know if we ordered wrong or we were expecting too much but the were ok. We may have been happy with some jam danishes. However, on the bright side, most of this stuff was either vegan or lactose free.

Porvoo

Porvoo is the second-oldest town in Finland and was the perfect end to our Finnish roadtrip. This historical trading town was established back in 1380. The Porvoo Old Town is paved with cobblestone, lined with with colourful wooden houses and the waterway features Red shore warehouses, which once held exotic delicacies from distant lands. If you like to wander through bohemian and antiques stores and sample sweet delicies then this is the place for you.