Sunday, June 21, 2009

Flower Class

Wrist Corsage

Dome Rose Posy

Bridal Bouquet with Calla Lilies

I have been taking flower classes since May. The Dome Rose posy by far the most difficult one because we had to visualize the whole process from a reversed angle.

The front of the posy, as seen, was actually the top from where we had to create the dome. All the while, we had to balance the three roses which hung vertically down.

First, we had to choose three rose buds, place at an angle in the foam, then wire to steady them. Next, we pick the biggest bloom and put it in the middle as our focal point. Actually, when we were making the posy, the rose was on top.

I totally blanked out the first few minutes, when the teacher said we had to measure the length of the other roses and foliage to make the posy into a perfect dome. I was so glad that after a few stems, I got the hang of it. Another challenge was that the foam break apart easily, so we had to be pretty accurate as to where to put the stems.

We ended up standing up and stooping down to see if the posy was rounded for two full hours. I was tired, but happy to have learnt yet another technique.

Monday, June 15, 2009


I have been dying to write this post. The past week, I have stayed up till 2 am, sometimes 3am to watch every Finals game. I woke up at 8am this morning to watch Game 5 of the best of 7 series. Lakers were leading 3-1. Just one more game.

Lakers and LA fans were devastated by last year's humiliating defeat by the Celtics, they lost by 39 points at home court. It was a defeat the Lakers vouched to avenge. Ever since the Lakers nailed the Western Conference Finals this year, we were waiting for a comeback, one that would silence all the cynics.

Could Kobe Bryant win a Championship without Shaq? Today, Lakers rule, Kobe rocks and Shaq drools. Today, Lakers took Game 5, 4-1, to take the NBA Finals Championship. During the playoffs and finals games, critics said Kobe was so focused on winning the Title, he had a permanent scowl on his face. His daughters called him "Grumpy" after the 7 dwarfs. Today he smiled, a broad grin.

As the Lakers players donned their championship caps, Kobe's 2 daughters came out in their gold Lakers dresses with mom, in Lakers purple. You could see the relief and the exultation on his face. Playing as he did, he was the Finals MVP, but he did not forget to give credit to his teammates. Kobe has matured. It's not a one man show from before, it's team work.

Derek Fisher, the only other player who had won 3 championships with Kobe back in 2000-2 was tearing up when he was interviewed. He said that winning this time around meant a lot, because they had been on the highest and seen the lowest. To have comeback from the lowest and be on top again is truly amazing.

Incidentally, this year's NBA theme is "Where Amazing Happens". "Amazing" was sung by Kanye West.


Sunday, June 14, 2009


Hugh Jackman was not a familiar name in my peripheral knowledge of Hollywood stars till I watched the Oscars presentation. He was the host of that night. There were a lot of criticisms about the Academy shouldn't be spending an absurd amount of money on the presentation, in accordance with the economic times.

The decoration was subdued compared to the past Oscars. Against the backdrop of this blandness though was true talent. Hugh Jackman cracked a couple of jokes setting the mood of the night. He quipped about the past roles he'd played in, and he said the most challenging one was him, an Australian, playing an Australian, in a film called Australia. Then he sang, in a Broadway style for 5 minutes. I was awed. Boy could he sing!!
Australia was a movie about the lost generation of aboriginal children in Australia. These were children born of white fathers and aboriginal mothers. These "creamy" kids would be taken away from the aboriginal mothers and kept in schools run by churches, aiming to assimilate them into the white people and cutting their roots as half aboriginals.
Nicole Kidman, always elegant, played Lady Ashley. She came to "down under" from England to find Lord Ashley, who had invested in a cattle ranch, dead. Hugh Jackman was the cowboy sent to meet her and take her to the cattle ranch. It was hilarious when poised gal met tough guy and Nullah, the creamy child.
The film was funny, wistful, romantic and epic in scale and it attempted to tell the story of the lost generation against the backdrop of a love story and a war. In the end, I think the movie accomplished what it set out to do, to bridge the wrongs done to the aboriginals. In 2008, the Australian government apologized for what she has done to the lost generation.

It's a beautiful movie.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Amazing Grace

In June 15th's edition of Time magazine, I came across a really heartwarming story about a 65 year old retired detective, Yukio Shige, scouting the three spots on the Tojinbo cliffs for suicides. If he finds someone, he would say "hi" and talk to them. A lot of times, the people he talk to would "burst into tears" and he would gently lead them to his "office".

He would serve them tea and oroshi-mochi, a sticky rice usually eaten only on New Year's. Shige is also a counsellor and he would listen and talk to the these people. He said that amongst men who commit suicide, it's almost universally work related, bounded by debts or unemployment. With women, it's health problems. As for youngsters, he would accompany them to their parents and make the parents "write a promise to change, and hang it on the wall".

For most of the past 5 years, he has funded his "organization" with his own savings or donations, to pay the rent of his office and sometimes help those he has "saved". Recently, the Japanese government pledged $100 million over the coming 3 years to organizations similar to Shige's. They have been petitioning for 5 years.

Japan has the highest suicide rate in the world, 23.8 per 100,000 person. Shige's reason behind serving the oroshi-mochi to those he has saved is bringing memories of loved ones celebrating the New Year's to their minds, reminding that they are not alone.

The article ended with Shige reading a letter from a man he has saved 5 years ago, thanking him for a second life. Then Shige's cell phone started to ring, the ring tone is the Amazing Grace. How great is that?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Day of the Shoot - Bridal Session

Pascale and Leigh

After taking a well deserved rest, we prepped for the Bridal session of our shoot. Zoe did a brilliant job transforming a casual makeup into a bridal one. Still the makeup was not heavy at all. I had several blooms of Gardenias and Zoe skillfully gathered them on one side of Pascale's swept up hair. As for Leigh, Zoe put a little flower on one of her two ponytails.

Then, it's putting on the dress!! Leigh was so cute with her white dress. It had a flower in front and she's the cutest flower girl. Pascale's dress was organza with a dash of embroidery, and it was pretty heavy because of the train. Zoe was a great help fixing the dress (secret) and when Pascale emerged from the room, it was "wow".

I gave Pascale the posy and Gothic did a test shot. Pascale told me afterwards that she was feeling kind of uneasy in the gown. Then she told me what made her soften up and relax. Not in a million years would it cross my mind that Gothic would say to her, "imagine the first time you looked at Leigh's ultrasound."

I did not know about this till much later, when Pascale was back home in Japan and one day we just chatted about the shoot. Gothic then said to Pascale, "just do whatever you are comfortable, but do not look into the camera". I guess that sentence really worked on relaxing Pascale. You could definitely see the softness in the photos where Pascale was holding the posy.

We had a specific shot in mind. It was for Pascale, with her back to us, turn and lift her gown a bit to show the tip of her shoes. All this time, I was guilty of giving bag after bag of snacks to Leigh, to keep her from running to Pascale. I guess poor Leigh missing her nap and was tired after so much activity made her want to run to mommy for comfort and security.

The peeking at Gothic continued and the photo above was just that, captured on camera. We had a few great photos of Leigh holding the flower girl posy. By now, Leigh could not stop looking at Gothic's camera, so the three of them sat on the sofa, with Gothic showing Leigh frame after frame of "Oh, who's that?" I clicked a couple shots away.

After that Pascale held Leigh in her arms and there were a few shots with their heads touching and Pascale smiling and looking at Leigh. It could not be any sweeter than this.

This is it, the bonding, the love. True to our theme, we did it and I could not be happier. Happy Mother's Day!!

(Photo by Gothic Heart/Artistic Direction Bonnie Wong)

The Day of the Shoot - Casual Session

Pascale and Leigh

Everything was ready. The shooting was scheduled at 1pm. Zoe, the makeup artist arrived first. Then came Pascale and Leigh. We were all anxious to find out if Leigh would find my place comfy enough to explore, so when it came to the actual shooting, she would be her natural self. First things first, lunch for Leigh, seaweed rolls. I tried to feed Leigh while Zoe did Pascale's makeup. I was so happy because Leigh let me!!

Gothic arrived with his gears and Zoe nailed Pascale's makeup, minimal and natural, with her hair set in soft curls. Our first set was on the sofa, with Pascale singing, reading, looking at a glass bowl of leaves, etc with Leigh, everything in our armor to capture the playfulness and bonding between them.

The second set was in bed, with more reading, tickling, plus Mickey. The picture above was one of my favorites. It speaks volumes of a mother's love looking at her laughing girl and the best part is that it's so natural.

By that time, smart Leigh knew that Gothic had that big black thing that kept flashing. Today was no ordinary reading and playing. She kept peeking at him when the camera flashed. He kept clicking away, but Leigh kept looking at him out of the corner of one eye to see when he'd click. We had a time out because it was too funny and we had a ball laughing.

Gothic showed us the photos he had taken and we agreed that they were good. The casual session was a wrap!!
(Photo by Gothic Heart)


Tricia Guild Designs

The first day I attended my flower class, my teacher asked me if I had brought a notebook to mark down the notes. I said that I didn't know...I felt like an idiot. Yes, although it's only a flower class, it was still a class. He then reminded me to take a picture of the notes on the white board with my cell phone before I left class....I did not exactly go hunting for a notebook, because you could get it at any stationery store.

One afternoon, I was early for an appointment, and I went browsing at a nice store. There was a stationery section, and there I saw "the" notebook that I wanted. It's designed by Tricia Guild and on the footer of every page was emblazoned with the line "Designer's Guild".

It was love at first sight. Obviously, I bought it. It was around US10. Yes, pricey for a notebook, but I love writing in it. The first section is reserved for my flower class notes. The back section is reserved for my musings, ideas that would pop up here and there for my blogs. I carry my notebook with me everywhere now. Well, it measures only 10.5 x 14.5cm, purse size and perfect.

For more on Tricia Guild please visit

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Preparation

The Embroidered Gown

The Setting

The Posy

Late April, I sat down with Gothic and asked him if he would do a shooting for my portfolio. I wanted to do a shooting on the theme of bonding, mother and child bonding. All the shots had to be natural, with no posing. There would be two settings. One would be a casual setting with the mommy playing with her baby, as they would every day. The other setting would be the mommy wearing a bridal gown with her little one as the flower girl.
Since Pascale was coming back with Leigh for a visit in May, we invited her and Leigh to model for us. I was so happy that Pascale agreed and Gothic bought the idea. I talked to both Pascale and Gothic, over the subsequent weeks, narrowing the details of the shoot leading up to the shooting day.
I was so happy that all of us agreed the photos would be clean, simple and chic. Pascale nailed the mood when she said casual would be white T-shirt and jeans. The bridal gown would be no lace, no beads, no shiny fabric. I felt that 50% of the shoot had been done.
Gothic then came to my place for a site visit and sat through the whole afternoon discussing the various angles and the lighting. When he left, he said "Great, natural lighting is abundant".
All that remained now was renting the gown, ordering the flowers for the posy, arranging the setting in my place. The day of the shooting got closer and closer. As a compulsive list maker, I was thrilled to be moving towards the end of the list.
I enjoyed the preparation process tremendously and I was so happy when everyone arrived on the day, nothing had to be changed. The gown, the flowers, the setting was all good to go. The preparation process was such a worthwhile experience. The best part was getting everyone to come together for the same idea.
(photos: top middle bottom by Gothic Heart)

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner

I have always wanted to watch The Kite Runner. I read the book last year. It was not easy reading beacuse it raised a lot of questions about morality.

The Kite Runner was about the friendship of two Afgan boys, Hassan and Amir. Hassan was a hazera, meaning flat-nosed, an inferior tribe. Hassan's father had been working for Amir's father for over forty years. Amir and Hassan were inseparable. Hassan was illiterate, so Amir always read to him and told him stories that he had made up.

Every year, there would be a kite flying tournamnent, and the last remaining kite in the air would be the winner. Hassan would always run for Amir's kites. He never disappointed Amir for he always knew where the kite would land. That year, Amir won and as usual Hassan ran after the kite that Amir had cut off as the trophy.

A couple of bullies were teasing Amir why he would hang out with a hazera. Hassan had always protected Amir when they were bullied. This time, the bullies cornered Hassan demanding the kite. Hassan refused to give them the kite because Amir had won it and out of his undying loyalty to Amir, he was raped by the bullies.

Amir hid behind the wall, saw everything, but he did not help or asked for help. One day, Hassan and his father Ali left. Then came the Russian invasion and both Amir and his father had to flee. Amir's father entrusted his house to his good friend, who incidentally encouraged Amir to write.

After they arrived in the U.S. Amir married and became a writer. One day, he received a call from his father's good friend and told him that "there is a way to be good again." Hassan and his wife were killed by the Taliban, leaving their son, Sohrab, in an orphanage in Kabul.

The secret and fact was Hassan and Amir were half brothers. Amir went back to Kabul to find his nephew. Hassan had learned to read and write. Not only did he not blame Amir, he wanted to be a good writer so he could write Amir a letter some day. The letter had all the blessings for Amir and a photograph of Hassan and his son.

Amir finally brought Sohrab back to the States and the final scene was Amir teaching Sohrab to fly a kite. After cutting the last kite, Amir ran after it, telling the reclusive and abused Sohrab that "for you, I'd run a thousand times", echoing what Hassan said to him all those years ago.

The film touched me the most when Amir read the labored letter of Hassan. Hassan felt he was not "good" enough compared to the literate Amir. In fact, it was Amir who was not "good" enough for Hassan, betraying their friendship. This is the irony of it all.

In the end, although the Amir could not undo the past, he could move on with lesser guilt. Through Hassan, he had journeyed through love, friendship, redemption, forgiveness and ultimately "be good again".

The movie is a very good rendition of the book.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Reader

The Reader

The Reader was set in Germany, when Kate Winslet, in her thirties, had an affair with a fifteen year old David Kross. The affair lasted a summer and Kate disappeared, carrying her secret. David went on to become a law student and after all these years, he finally met Kate again, albeit on trial for war crimes as a former SS guard.

As the story unfold, Kate's secret began to unravel. It began with David remembering how Kate always loved being read to every time they meet. Her disappearance, her refusal to submit a handwriting proof all boiled down to her pride and shame to cover the fact that she was illiterate. Kate was sentenced to life in prison.

As David journeyed to Auschwitz to witness the horror of the camps, you could vividly sense his turmoil on the train back. How could a woman he loved be a part of this inhumanity, but did it mean he should do nothing and see her punished, just because she wanted to hide her shame?

This was the point when both characters amended the past. David had never forgotten his love for Kate, but his conscience could not forgive her. So David became the reader again. He read to her on tape, book after book.

After twenty years in prison, Kate eventually learned to read and write. I teared up when David received a one sentence letter from Kate telling him about the book, "The lady and the little dog".

The ending was how Kate and David finally chose to face their own worst demon, guilt. The span of over twenty years finally allowed them to forgive each other, forgive themselves and gave a closure to their love affair.

I loved the movie.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Posy for Shooting

Leigh's Flower Girl Posy with Green Spray Roses and Foliage

Pascale's White Peony Posy

We invited Pascale and Leigh to do a shooting with us in mid-May. Our initial concept was to have 2 settings, one being a casual, fun one and the other a bridal one.

Since Leigh is only 2 and a half years old, I wanted her posy to be cute and adorable, just like her. I decided to go with pale green spray roses, small white flowers and generous foliage, to make it a fun posy.

As for Pascale's posy, I have chosen white peonies. Peonies are large blooms and are perfect in themselves, I added only minimal foliage to bring out the delicateness and softness of the peonies, which turned out to be the exact effect we had with the bridal shoot, delicate and soft.

The first photo is a favorite of mine and it speaks volumes, where Pascale's wedding bands are placed next to Leigh's posy. The rings speak of commitment, dedication and love, which without, there won't be an adorable and playful Leigh making the day an unforgettable one for all of us.

(Photos by Gothic Heart /Posies by Bonnie Wong)
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