all my hope, in the truth of your promise

851331330_6356460066996446078.jpg

No amount of mental preparation could have prepared me for how cold it is here, yet no amount of mental preparation prepared me for the peace I have found here either.

In the last 2 hours before my flight, my heart was beating too quickly, my stomach was in knots, and I couldn’t help but ask myself repeatedly – am I really doing this? Am I really leaving for 4.5 months, when even 5 weeks could make me so homesick? And then I caught a cold in the plane and ended up being sick before I even arrived.

And yet, it has been lovely here. Despite the cold (weather) and the cold (in my nose), it has been so quiet and peaceful and – I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s not a huge, intense emotion, neither extreme excitement nor great fear; just quietness and stillness and peace.

Today, I decided to head out into the snow and look for the Madonna Della Strada Chapel. As my boots crunched through the snow and the wind blew snowflakes into my eyes and my breath blew out in little clouds, I happened upon this beautiful sunset by the lake. It was muted, delicate, ever so gentle and slight – but it summed up how I was feeling so completely. There is great beauty to be found in majestic, intense sunsets where the colours are so rich and deep that you cannot help but stare; but sometimes, there is even greater beauty to be found in what often goes by unnoticed, unless we really look.

When I finally reached the chapel (after staring at the sunset and the lake in awe), it was empty except for an organist. I only knew he must have been there because the chapel was filled with the sound of his playing – how fortunate, that I should step in at just that moment! And the chapel was 100x worth the cold walk there.

851308897_13856309490373758618.jpg

It has been only 2 days (and who knows how I will feel tomorrow?) yet I am overwhelmed with grace, because I know that this gentle (almost invisible) peace could have gone by unnoticed if I’d let myself be busy and go about doing as much as I can. Yet, He has given me eyes to see and a heart to look – as St Ignatius would say, to find God in all things.

Oh, so much grace, I cannot even :’)

hello from 台中

2014-05-18 19.05.25-1

I’m feeling really blessed to be surrounded by so many lovely and kind people and for this opportunity to have such a wonderful adventure for the next seven weeks. I’ve only been here for two and a half days but already so many things have happened and everyone has been super nice.

  • Late night ice-cream run with my roommate for the next two weeks
  • Cooking dinner with my host family
  • Meeting so many cute students in the jr high school I’m attached to
  • Receiving a whole bunch of Taiwanese food and snacks from them (including bubble tea!!!!)
  • 7am walks to school
  • Jamming with my ukulele
  • Meeting a 7 year old artist who gave me his very first drawing
  • Getting a whole bunch of postcards, photos and a roll of washi tape from one of the students
  • Finding out that there’s a catholic church nearby

I also made a video to share my past travels with my students /// posting it here for you guys to watch too:

I’ll be posting regular (ish) updates on adventuresofdenise.tumblr.com and on the hashtag #adventuresofdenise on Instagram! :)

New York

In July, we had a summer programme in Yale before school was going to start, and on one of the weekends, some of my friends and I took a short trip to New York! Here is my adventure in photographs:

20130727-IMG_9318

20130727-IMG_9339

20130727-IMG_9348 20130727-IMG_9366

20130727-IMG_9368 20130727-IMG_9377 20130727-IMG_9432 20130727-IMG_9440 20130727-IMG_9456 20130727-IMG_9495 20130727-IMG_9516 20130727-IMG_9539 20130728-IMG_9558 20130728-IMG_9576 20130728-IMG_9589 20130728-IMG_9599 20130728-IMG_9604 20130728-IMG_9608 20130728-IMG_9617 20130728-IMG_9624 20130728-IMG_9629 20130728-IMG_9633 20130728-IMG_9644 20130728-IMG_9661 20130728-IMG_9663 20130728-IMG_9669 20130728-IMG_9684 20130728-IMG_9689 20130729-IMG_9690 20130729-IMG_9696 20130729-IMG_9697 20130729-IMG_9732 20130729-IMG_9733 20130729-IMG_9746 20130729-IMG_9751 20130729-IMG_9754 20130729-IMG_9756 20130729-IMG_9778 20130729-IMG_9802 20130802-IMG_9881 20130802-IMG_9885 20130802-IMG_9904 20130803-IMG_9927 20130803-IMG_9930 20130803-IMG_9932One item off the bucket list!

Good things come in little packages

lp-1 lp-2lp-6

Some weeks ago, I was craving pancakes. So were my friends.

And thus was the birth of a pancake hunting adventure. Our hopes high and stomachs determined to be satisfied, we set off to a happy cafe called Little Pancakes!

lp-3 lp-4 lp-5The interior of the cafe was both cozy and spacious, and the menu… I would have bought everything if I had 5 stomachs. (Sadly, I don’t… But I guess that means another trip here hehe!) After much deliberation, we decided on:

lp-8Strawberries or Me ($8.50) for me! It came with fresh strawberries, strawberry jam, maple syrup, and strawberry icecream… And 10 tiny pancakes! It was soooo adorable and totally delish.

lp-10This is what I did – layered different toppings with each other! Mixing and matching, creating different combinations was super fun (and a little messy, but a totally worthwhile mess)!

lp-7Gimme Smore Oreos! ($8.20) for my friend, where she basically had melted marshmallows, oreos, maple syrup and cookies & cream ice cream to layer with her pancakes to create pancake smores! Pores? Smancakes? (Okay they don’t sound appealing) BUT DON’T LET THAT FOOL YOU, they tasted so good!

lp-11Just look at that hot, hot mess. Oh, life. Oh, love. Oh, goodness and awe and wonder in one bite.

lp-9My other friend got Going Nutella For You ($8.20), and she got a treasure trove of hazelnutty chocolate goodness: Nutella, chocolate sauce, chocolate/hazelnut cream wafers, chocolate ice cream and maple syrup. The pancakes she decorated were soooo good that I ate them before I could take a picture (oops).

lp-12 lp-13This place was a real delight to visit and chill at, with gr8 service, gr8 ambience and gr8 food PLUS gr9 company (cause that’s even better than gr8)!

If you would also like to have yourself some spiffy little pancakes, hit them up at 200 Upper Thomson Road, #01-04, Thomson Imperial Court, Singapore 574424. It’s near Marymount MRT on the Circle (yellow) Line and there’s lots and lots of other good food in the area too, like Old School Delights! You can also check out their Facebook page here.

Cakes in jars

In the midst of a group of flats in Everton Park, there lies a rare and beautiful gem: That of the cake in a jar, in a little shop called Grin Affair.

2013-06-10 12.48.01This cafe sells a large assortment of jar cakes, with toppings and ice cream, fillings and cake all mixed, matched and layered.

2013-06-10 12.26.45 2013-06-10 12.27.13On a beautiful sunny day, a friend and I took a stroll and ended up here. We got Hazelnut ($5.50) and Strawberry ($6). It was an amazing experience of heaven on our tongues and in our tummies. (/ * v * )/

2013-06-10 12.40.14 2013-06-10 12.29.06They had a total of 12 different combinations on the menu, and it was so, so, difficult to choose.

2013-06-10 12.28.48 2013-06-10 12.39.42 2013-06-10 12.29.23The shop was really adorable, with really pretty decor – watercolours, wooden furniture. The only disadvantage was that there wasn’t a lot of sitting space, but luckily, we were the only customers at that point of time!

2013-06-10 12.39.33 2013-06-10 12.40.33 2013-06-10 12.40.49The cake that we ate here was really good, with great ambience and a really pretty interior. Plus, the cafe owner was really friendly and even helped us wash our jars because we wanted to take them home!

2013-06-10 12.41.23 2013-06-10 12.47.55If you’d like to visit Grin Affair, they are located at 3 Everton Park, #01-77A, Singapore 080003, which is a short walk from Outram Park MRT and also reachable by several buses! You can also visit their website here.

Cards and kittens

2013-06-06 16.39.54

If you like cats and stationery, you will LOVE this shop. Hidden in the dreary looking Bras Basah Complex, Cat Socrates is a tiny shop full of treasure.

2013-06-06 16.42.33 2013-06-06 16.40.22 2013-06-06 16.43.08 2013-06-06 16.40.16The exterior of the shop is vintage, homey and just plain pretty. I love how they have so many tiny details, yet manage not to be overly cluttered. Also, look at all those exhibition/performance posters – perfect for inspiring the bored soul. :)

2013-06-06 16.39.28 2013-06-06 16.28.42 2013-06-06 16.39.07Their cashier/counter is just cray cray, but omg I could spend hours just looking at all the pretty photographs and decorations. And look! WASHI TAPE. If you’ve read some of my other posts, you’d know that if there’s one thing I’m crazy for, it’s tape. Tape and stickers.

2013-06-06 16.23.37 2013-06-06 16.33.17 2013-06-06 16.33.12 2013-06-06 16.25.05 2013-06-06 16.24.23They also have a super huge collection of pretty cards and postcards, and they’re really affordable from as low as $1 for a postcard. If I could, I would probably have bought a whole ton of these hehe. Plus, there are so many styles and designs to choose that there’s definitely something perfect for everyone (unless you’re someone who only likes ugly things booo).

2013-06-06 16.22.03 2013-06-06 16.28.55 2013-06-06 16.26.53They also sell all sorts of cute totes and bags, and even adorable vintage clothes! I super love the ‘Oh my deer’ tote! * v *

2013-06-06 16.27.16 2013-06-06 16.26.59Of course, as with every gift/stationery/cool shop, they also had a lovely selection of notebooks, diaries and planners.

2013-06-06 16.27.56And oh my gosh, super adorable cups. I love the one with triangles! I can totally imagine having some lemonade or apple juice in it. Yum.

2013-06-06 16.26.29 2013-06-06 16.25.41They really sell tons of knick knacks. Basically anything pretty, cool or artsy. :)

2013-06-06 16.26.01And oh, ribbons! The next best thing after tape and stickers. And these were cotton ribbons, soooooo gorge.

2013-06-06 16.25.22 2013-06-06 16.25.51Lastly, they also have lots of pretty posters. Paper AND cloth! With wisdom and wisecracks to beautify your home.

And my favourite part of all…

2013-06-06 16.37.09 2013-06-06 16.37.33ADSLKFHD;LSH LOOK AT THE SHOP CAT. His eyes are just. Wow. Beautiful. And he was so friendly too! (Well, I think it’s a guy. Not sure. Oops.)

2013-06-06 16.43.24If you want to drop by and give your eyes a feast, Cat Socrates is located at  #02-25 Bras Basah Complex, 231 Bain Street, Singapore 180231. You can also check out their website here!

Old School Delights

2013-05-16 13.22.02The last 2-3 weeks have been a crazy blur (because of the haze. okay bad pun hehe) with back-to-back camps, a family getaway, and random meetups with people I love, cause I’ll be going off to college in less than a week’s time.

One of the little cafes I visited was Old School Delights, a prettier version of my primary school canteen, and full of nostalgia and good food.

2013-05-16 11.58.33You make your orders by writing them down on a little whiteboard (So genius right, they’ll never forget your orders!). My friend and I ordered a happy selection of food and drinks and had a mini feast.

2013-05-16 12.08.02The average price for one dish is about $5-7 if I remember right, and it’s totally worth it because the food is really quite tasty! :) We had macaroni soup, nasi lemak and a lot of chicken (yay!). For drinks, I had Barley with something (I forgot) and it was suuuuper yummy and refreshing, and my friend had a Bandung Dinosaurus (something like that, it was also really nice)!

But of course… the best part of every meal is:

2013-05-16 12.53.36DESSERT. Just look at this beauty. Chocolate fudge cake. Oh yum. It was heaven. Really. Words cannot describe the immense joy and satisfaction one would experience with just a bite of this cake.

I can already taste it again.

2013-05-16 13.20.09 2013-05-16 13.21.28

At the counter, we were greeted with a pleasant surprise – one of our favourite bible verses on the register! * v * ANDDDDD, we got to write our names on their new set of menus – totally leaving our mark behind.

2013-05-16 13.22.08If you’d like to have lunch here, Old School Delights is located at 215M Upper Thompson Road, Singapore 574349. You can check their website out here!

P.S. I’m terribly sorry for the bad photos, all I had was my phone cause I forgot to bring my dslr out. :(

An epic, curious brunch

2013-05-21 14.12.47

So a few days ago, I went on a brunch date with one of my friends to this charming little place along the Singapore River, Epicurious (hence the title of this post). It was kind of hard to find, or maybe I just have a terrible sense of direction.

2013-05-21 12.58.38 2013-05-21 12.58.232013-05-21 13.50.07

The interior was all vintagey and there were drawings (probably done by kids) stuck on the walls, making the place all homey-feeling. Hehehe.

2013-05-21 12.49.14

We had vodka, best thing to start the day with, right? Hahahaha, but really, they served us iced water in these bottles. Just. Too. Adorable.

2013-05-21 13.02.49 2013-05-21 13.03.35

My friend had earl grey tea (I forgot the price) and I had some homemade pink lemonade ($4.50). I found the lemonade a bit too sour, but well, it’s lemonade right? Maybe I’m a bit too used to the sweet kind that I usually make on my own at home! Oops.

2013-05-21 13.06.38

My friend also had the Ratatouille Omelette ($15). It was light and tasty, also quite filling I think? She said the apples tasted like apples (okay…), the toast was perfect – crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the omelette was yumz.

2013-05-21 13.06.34 2013-05-21 13.10.28

I had a smoked salmon bagel with cream cheese ($10), and this was really, really good. The bagel was lightly toasted and very fresh, with a slightly sweet taste that was so yummy I was just eating it on its own. I could live on these bagels alone forever. The smoked salmon and cream cheese filling was rather generous, and also tasted really good. All in all I was pretty satisfied, hehe.

2013-05-21 14.03.14

Adorable salt and pepper shakers.

2013-05-21 12.58.52

I think they also sell stuff that you can take home, like jams and stuff.

2013-05-21 13.50.15 2013-05-21 14.11.52

The shop had seating both inside and outside and we didn’t have to wait to get a table, although that’s probably because we went for a weekday brunch. They have all-day breakfast on weekends! I really love all the tiny things they used to decorate their cafe, detailed but not cluttered.

If you’d like to drop by, the one I went to was at #01-02 The Quayside, Robertson Quay. You can also check out their website here!

Have a happy middle-day-of-the-week! :)

A trip to Dempsey Hill

2013-05-21 20.02.22A week ago, I went on a mini-exploration to Dempsey Hill with one of my friends, before going to the NTU ADM grad show (more about that in another post!). Okay, I didn’t really get to look around that much cause we didn’t have a lot of time but I’m just going to share a few of the bits and bobs I got to see! :)

2013-05-21 20.44.54This is the first thing we passed by, a cute butchery (?! I never thought I’d describe a butchery like that) and there were these cows outside with all their, uh, parts labelled. So adorable, right?

2013-05-21 21.29.28We popped by Ben & Jerry’s for some ice-cream, the best solution to a hot day (that is, everyday, here in Singapore) and it was really yummy despite them kind of cheating us. The interior and exterior were both kind of vintage and old-fashioned, and all in all it was a nice place to chill at.

2013-05-21 21.28.35After that, we just walked around aimlessly for awhile, and came across this little patch of garden with a fountain and a tiny merlion. And we saw several small shops and a pretty (?! I know..) bar:

2013-05-13 17.10.15

2013-05-21 19.48.19

2013-05-13 17.11.00

We even saw a fat, lazy cat. I like cats.

2013-05-13 17.12.14

2013-05-21 21.50.04

2013-05-13 17.15.15

It’s a really quiet, beautiful place to go to. Kind of feels a little haunting, but aye, I’d like to go back and explore the whole place properly. It’s like a tiny town all on its own, separated from reality. Oooh yes, and I want to visit the White Rabbit too (that’s a restaurant there)!

Maybe you can buy happiness

2013-05-13 09.55.17

Yesterday, my friend and I decided to visit this sweet little shop, buried beneath the run down exterior of Holland Village. However, this tiny heaven, is sadly closing down its brick and mortar presence at the end of June. In any case, it was a really lovely place to visit, filled with lots of happy things!

2013-05-13 09.52.09Since they’re closing down, there’s a sale going on from now all the way until June 30, with 30% off everything in the shop! Trust me, when I stepped in, I could already feel myself willingly (or maybe unwillingly) emptying my bank account. Oops. :p

2013-05-13 09.50.23 2013-05-13 09.37.30They sell all sorts of gift and stationery items, from bags to stickers, from extremely adorably packaged tea to lots and lots of washi tape. Which is the main reason why I went there. To um, yknow, add to my constantly growing collection. Just look at the massive amount of tape they have… It took me forever to choose (if only I could buy everything!), but in the end I managed to narrow my selection down to 8 rolls (and even that is already quite a lot…). Yeah, just 8 rolls.

2013-05-13 10.19.46These are the ones I got, and now my collection is almost doubled! Hehe, the little happy shop definitely made me happy… And if you’d like to drop by, here’s their address (until 30 June 2013, after which they’ll just be an online shop!):

2013-05-13 10.21.46I like how they describe the stuff they sell as happy practicalities. It makes me feel better about spending my money there, cause I totally needed all those rolls of tape, yknow?

Hehe.