Category Archives: Laura Blinkman

Pulp Fiction

I often have people telling me that I look like their cousin, neighbor, best friend. I have a very common look I suppose, because this happens to me all the time. Just last night, while playing Bunco, a new friend told me I looked just like her best friend, who also happens to have the name “Laura”.

My friend from Minnesota left me a note yesterday that my drivers license photo looks like Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction. This totally made my day! What a great compliment, right? Although I think Coach Tim (he was the boys football coach when they played in Stillwater) is off his rocker.

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I say why stop with Uma? I also look like Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Katie Holmes.

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Once I was told I laugh just like Demi Moore. And I don’t care what you say, I love Kris Jenner and her spunk. My mom has that spunk, and I do look exactly like her! Here’s a great photo of my dear momma throwing a snowball, probably at my dad!!

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Lastly, a great photo of Shane and Cale when after a football game! This one’s for you Coach Tim!!

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Two Snakes in One Day!

Can you believe it??!! I saw TWO snakes in ONE day!! And I didn’t have a heart attack!!!

Well, maybe my heart was pounding a bit. Okay, I was terrified.

Here’s the story: I was with my Singapore BFF Jacki and I were off on one of our weekly adventures. (Jacki is a Philly girl and has the exact same personality as me, except she swears more.) Each week we take a day to try something new in Singapore, and each time we find ourselves in some type of unforgettable situation.

Last week we met at Starbucks, decided to walk to the Peranakan Museum, but we got lost, we were so busy chatting & giggling, the we walked the wrong direction without realizing it for about 30 minutes, and ended up having to take a taxi to the museum. Neither of us knew anything about this place, all I knew was that I loved their pottery. So, we took a guided tour of the place, which was fascinating.

I found this sign interesting, their expectations of the girls. Practically from the day the girls are born, they are taught how to be good wives, and their marriages were planned & arranged starting when they were about 8 years old, with the ceremony when they are about 15 or 16 years old.

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This is a photo of a small part of a large tablecloth that was displayed under glass. It was absolutely gorgeous. I have always enjoyed crafting … embroidery when I was a young girl, making garden art, and recently, I have become obsessed with crocheting. But this beadwork was nothing like I have ever seen or can imagine someone making!! This picture doesn’t do it justice.

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“A million glass beads make up this tablecloth, and is the largest example of Peranakan beadwork known. It’s original design shows various European and South American birds and flowers, with only a few Asian species. Parrots and macaws stand on branches with butterflies and dragonflies hovering nearby. The tropical hibiscus and pineapple can be seen along with the many European flowers. The combination of pink and yellow on a turquoise background is characteristic of Penang Peranakan beadwork. During the 12-day Peranakan wedding, the family would decorate the table with prized pieces of silver and porcelain, as well as gifts and, of course, food.”

There were displays of their beautiful pottery, which is known for the pastel colors, painted on the inside and outside of all the pieces.

Now, flash forward to this week: Jacki and I decided to check out a local pottery place, where they sell the Peranakan pottery. This stuff is gorgeous, and we both hoped to pick up a few pieces as souvenirs.

This is where we saw the snakes. Granted, this place is on the edge of Singapore, and there is lots of green space (jungles). In fact, there is a sign nearby that explains what to do if you see a snake, or a wild boar (yes, there are wild boars here!).

http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/environment/story/5-things-about-wild-boars-singapore-20140729

But never actually thought I would encounter a snake, let alone TWO in one day!!

After Jacki carefully parked her car (she’s not a very good parker, not nearly as skilled as me) and we were walking through the lot, sure enough, my hawk eyes spotted a snake slithering across the gravel road we were walking on. After nearly hyperventilating from shock, and searching frantically for my phone so I could take a pic, we realized that the nearly 2 foot long snake was in a hurry, and off it went under some thick greenery where it disappeared from sight.

So exciting!! We continued on into the outdoor pottery store, where we giggled and laughed about finally seeing a snake, still a bit nervous on edge. I mean, this is an open air store with stacks and stacks of large crocks laying around. There could be more snakes anywhere. Bigger snakes. Maybe huge snakes who were not in a hurry. And were hungry.

Well, we quickly forgot about the snakes, as we were happily hunting for some good finds. Here are some photos of the Peranakan pottery:

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Anyhow, they next thing I knew another customer was pointing to a basket on the floor, about 4 feet from where I was standing, and sure enough, there was a snake in it!! It was quickly swished out of the basket and away from me and the other customers. I was nearly breathless with shock, hanging onto Jacki, who was equally traumatized.

No, I didn’t get a picture of that snake either.

And there you go, two snakes in one day!! Last night I was telling this story to my friend, Uncle Lim, a local Singaporean, who insisted that seeing two snakes in one day is good luck. I think what he means is

“if you see two snakes in one day and live to tell about it, then you are lucky”.

http://www.peranakanmuseum.org.sg/home/home.html
http://thowkwangclayartists.wordpress.com
http://www.themarthablog.com/2010/07/visiting-a-dragon-in-singapore.html

Human Body Experience

The Science Center Singapore recently had an exhibit called “The Human Body” and from the little I had seen and heard about this temporary exhibit, I just knew I had to take my kids to experience this.

It was quite interesting, to say the least. It all began with a journey down the food tube:

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And yes, you were then swallowed alive!

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You literally climb into the mouth to begin your journey through the human body! I nearly peed my pants laughing, this was so funny. After traveling down the esophagus, then we were in the stomach. Next we found our selves in a pulsating lung, and in the picture below, here I am in the blood stream!

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After trying to keep up with Maria, Shane and Cale, who didn’t find this exhibit nearly as funny as I did, I found myself pushing my way out through … you guess it … the bum!

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Only in Singapore my friends. Only in Singapore.

Oh, wondering what the next exhibit will be? I saw this sign while standing in line for our tickets, and yes, I do believe that I will be taking the kids to this one as well.

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http://www.science.edu.sg/Pages/SCBHome.aspx

Happy Birthday Daddy!

So blessed to be with my dad on his 75th birthday!

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He’s been the Mayor of Zelienople Pennsylvania since 1996! And for years prior to being elected Mayor, he served on the town council. 100% volunteer, no perks, no benefits. For a few years he was President of the Pennsylvania Mayors Association. He knows everyone in that state, oh yes he does!!

Here’s my sweet momma selfie, because behind every great man, there is a great woman!

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Of course we spent a good portion of the day at a swim meet.

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This is Shane in 60 years …

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!

Bangalore, India

Trent travels all over Asia for his work.  He leaves Sunday evening and returns on Friday evening.  He regularly travels to Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and India.  Some of these places he loves and enjoys (Hong Kong) and some others he doesn’t care to go to much.

As you know, this girl really loves to explore, meet new people, and find adventure.  I would LOVE to travel with Trent on his trips, and I finally convinced him to take me with him to India.

Two months in advance I applied for my Visa to enter India, I was so excited!!  We were planning to spend nearly a week in Bangalore.  The kids had school, and Leny would look after them while we would be gone.   Just to get a Visa into India was $350 Sing dollars! Wow!

The only part of this trip that I was not looking forward to was the flight, as only two days prior to our departure the flight from Malaysia went missing.  Kuala Lumpur in only a few hours away from Singapore, a little too close for comfort for us ( yes, Trent regularly flies in and out of KL).  Most of the hubbies here in Sing travel all the time as well, and the fear from that missing flight rippled throughout the expat community with lightening speed.  I was not looking forward to our 5 hour flight across the Indian Ocean, the same path the lost flight was suspected to take.

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Thankful for God’s traveling mercies, we landed safely around 1 am in Bangalore, and from that moment when we left the airport, I was completely in love with India.

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Trent was working all week, locked up in meetings from morning until late at night.  I spent my days exploring this colorful country.  My first day there I walked.  I walked and walked, and then walked even further.  I would wander into local shops,  stand on a busy local corner and people watch, grab some fresh fruit or a piece of corn from a stand on the street, just soaking in the bright beautiful colors of these people, their happy chatter, their playfulness.

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The next two days I had a private tour arranged with a local gal, Kaveri Singh, who owns and operates Bluefoot Tours.  I immediately liked Kaveri, with her warm smile and friendly nature, we immediately became friends.  Kaveri took me to the places that tourists don’t normally get to see, the things that only the locals know of.

 

First up, on our way out, she had the driver pull over, as there was an old lady sitting along the side of the highway that she wanted me to meet.  Our driver backed up on this major roadway, which in itself was exciting.  We hopped out of the car, and Kaveri spoke to the old lady in her language, while I stood nearby.  It turns out the lady is a psychic … actually her parrots are the psychics.  But the lady was visibly upset, as one of her parrots was confiscated that morning by the Wildlife Commission.  Her other parrot was at home, and next thing I knew, she was in the front seat of the car with us and we were taking her to her home.  When I had Kaveri ask how old she was, her response was “60 to 70 years old”, which I though was hysterically funny.  I just couldn’t believe that this little old lady, who was obviously high from something that she continued to chew on, would just climb into the car with complete strangers.

Once at her home, I sat on the floor with her, and her parrot was released from it’s cage, and it proceeded to pull out (tarot) cards, which the old lady than read for me.  It was fascinating, especially since it was done with three different sets of cards, and I had the exact same reading each time.  My fortune was 2/3 good … and 1/3 not so good.  The old lady advised that we go to the black magic temple to have a spell done.  ???  What!!!

 

 

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Next up on the agenda was visiting a meditation temple, drinking fresh coconut milk straight from the coconut,

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visiting a shop where I chose my own silk and printed it with print blocks and ink (usually done for saris, but I did two table runners),

 

 

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we had lunch at a local coffee shop,  a visit to a snake temple (India used to have 400 lakes, which bred all kinds of diseases, so the lakes were filled in, displacing all the cobras.  So in order to keep the cobras happy, there is a temple devoted to them, to honor them and keep them happy).

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Kaveri took me into the slums, where she helped to found Janakiram Layout, organization to empower women by teaching them crafts and selling them, ultimately helping them to break out of poverty.  The women organize themselves … some babysit all their children, while others collect tetrapak containers from the garbage, clean them, cut them, and then they weave them into beautiful bags and baskets, and then they sell them to make income for their families.   I bought two purses, gave one to Leny, who loves it.  We both carry our “garbage purses” and get compliments on them everywhere we go.

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When we were leaving, Kaveri noticed that there was a pile of their scraps and tetrapak waste that was thrown back out into the garbage.  She went right back into the girls and talked to them about it, the cleaning up has to start somewhere, and couldn’t they think of a better way to dispose of their rubbish rather than just toss it out the back?

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The day I was there, an expat lady from the Netherlands,  living in India,  was there teaching the women how to use a sewing machine.  If the ladies could learn to do their own sewing, then they wouldn’t have to outsource the final sewing on their purses, and would make more per money.

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Next we visited the KR wholesale flower market, where loads and loads of fresh flowers are brought in every morning.

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The flowers are then weaved into long garlands, which are then cut and sold.  Every single flower is sold by the end of the after noon.  I was stunned to learn that this happens every single day!!  Thousands and thousands of flowers each day!  The Indians use the flowers to decorate the entrance to their homes, temples, their cars, cows, oxen, everything!

Everyone knew Kaveri, as they all wanted to talk to her, as she just had a sweet baby girl two months earlier.  Everyone wanted to see pictures of her baby!

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We visited a cemetery where we watched a funeral,

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visited the black magic temple that was in the cemetery …oh yes I did.

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I visited the black magic temple.  And it was very creepy.  Kaveri told me that the leaders of this temple have to be female.  So if a male wants to be part of this, yes, they castrate themselves. Not kidding, they castrate themselves.  Kaveri gives me a quick look around, shows me the “tree” .

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The story of the tree is that, say, for example,  someone at work is getting promoted over you, or your rival in swimming is always faster than you.  Then you take something personal from that person, say a tie, or hanky, or goggles, and bring it to the tree, tie it on, and then bad luck will fall on that person.  Instead of praying that you will do better or be faster, you instead pray for bad things to happen to your opponent.  Yikes.

Then I noticed that there were dogs and goats everywhere.  Well, to be fair, there are stray dogs everywhere in India.  But here in this black magic temple, the goats and dogs are sacrificed, yup, right here.

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Then the head person, she cast a protective spell on me … by lighting a piece of paper, dropping a lime and stomping on it, then throwing a raw egg into the graveyard.

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I wasn’t sure if I wanted to laugh or cry, and before I knew it, Kaveri had me back in the car and on our way out of the cemetery, before the “zombies” could catch us (the cemetery workers who came to our car window to beg for money)

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Tomorrow I will add some of my favorite photos of India!  This country and it’s people are so colorful, it’s a photographers dream!  To end this blog post on a good note, please click on the following link to learn more about the Janakiram Layout of Bangalore.

http://csa.christuniversity.in/php/csa_contents.php?contentid=ODI=&captionflag=S

Crazy for Cronuts

Ever hear of a cronut? Well, a cronut is only the most delicious pastry you could ever taste. Its a croissant donut mix, and it’s heavenly. Fortunately for me, they are sold at a nice Italian bakery not far from our place. Unfortunately for me, they must have about as many calories as a big mac.

The first time I went to this bakery, with my friend Scott and his mom who was visiting from Richmond Virginia, I also ordered an iced tea to go with my Nutella cronut. They asked, “with or without ice cream?” I’m thinking, ice cream?? In my iced tea? Well, that’s a no brainer, of course WITH the ice cream! I was a little unsure about this, but always ready to try something new, I was excited to find out what this “ice creamed iced tea” was all about. Well, it was a normal iced tea, with a large scoop of lemon ice cream, and as it melted, it sweetened & flavored the tea! Fantasic!!

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So if you live in Singapore, you must search our Brunetti’s in Tanglin Mall, and get yourself a cro-nut!!

Link to Cafe Brunetti in Tanglin Mall: http://www.brunetti.com.au/Singapore
Here is a link to read more about Cronuts: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cronut

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The ‘Buzz is in a contest!

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I don’t normally do contests and ask for votes.  But, here I am, asking for votes!  Let me tell you why ….  

I was invited to share “Blinkman Buzz” on a website for Expat Blogs.  Once on that site,  the buzz was then a featured blog, and from there I was invited to participate in a blog contest!  The category had to be a Top 10 list about your host country.  Now, even though I don’t do contests, there was no way I wasn’t going to participate in this one.  

You can read my entry by clicking on this link:

http://www.expatsblog.com/contests/791/top-10-things-i-miss-the-most-from-america-perfect-singaporean-substitutions

 

Read my entry, and if you like it, leave me a nice comment (has to be longer than 10 words to count).  If you are on Facebook or Twitter, please share and tweet!  The blog with the most comments, shares and tweets in the next four day  …. wins!!  

Why do I want to win?  well, being competitive in nature, I just want to win at anything and everything I do.  It’s just how I am wired.  But at the same time, I am really proud of this blog!  It is a lot of fun to keep this diary of our lives while we learn to navigate living in Asia.  Mot of you don’t know that my first major in college was journalism!  Yes, I wanted to be a writer!  I kinda sorta lost that dream somewhere along the line, and I guess this blog has rekindled that dream.  

Anyhow, if you are so moved, please check out my Top 10 list.  Just click on the link above, it’ll take you right to it.  

oh, my first major was journalism (who knew you would have to read so much when you wanted to be a writer?) then  I switched to accounting (wasn’t detailed enough … I mean, why do all the totaled numbers in each column have to match?), then finally landed in Hotel & Restaurant Management (I really love to cook & eat, so the culinary classes were perfect for this girl)