Built on mountains, Hong Kong is a city with few open, sprawling, forever expanses of flat greenness.
Public parks here are just different than in the States. Just different. This also means that hobby gardening is sporadic. So, when you find someone willing to dig their own dirt and haul it from the boarders of China up to the fifth floor roof-top garden of their studio’s building. You go see it.
Hello HK Farm.
It’s cute. It’s small. It’s organic. And it also hosts the Chinese bees associated with HK Honey. Remember the candle making workshop we enjoyed some months back? This visit to HK Farm included a blue print, or Cyanotype, art/bag making workshop, hosted by Martin Cheung of Shanghai Street Studios. (Love these guys.)
Using a non-toxic mix of special mumbo-jumbo crystals and the sun — we had fun among the bees.
I’m not placing any bets.
…on what the girls will be when they are grown. But I can’t help wondering.
Teddy has given me a project to support her first art gallery. I’m to buy canvases and paint so she can do a series of paintings. She wants to set up a stand in the lobby of our building to sell her work. Perfect balance of artist and business-woman if you ask me.
It’s been pretty clear from early on that Ava might want to be a singer. She sings in the shower. When we’re out walking. In the grocery store. But Teddy and Perry have banned her from singing in the taxis anymore.
Perry is kinda a jack-of-all-trades. She enjoys doing lots of things, but a recent poetry reading at school has me imagining a life presenting – anchor woman maybe? Of course, she’ll script everything herself.
Damn this is gonna be fun.
photos by Ian Taylor
Honey, we’re making bee’s wax candles. I’ve been excitedly waiting (yeah, I really just said that) for this workshop. Hosted by HK Honey and Shanghai Street Studios, this was such a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.
Michael (a designer from London-town) met up with us at a park near the studio in Yau Ma Tai. He showed us a few of his favorite shops in the neighborhood, and then up some flights of stairs to Shanghai Street Studios we went.
One of the studio features that makes it so special are the original wooden partitions that divided 800 sq. ft. into bedrooms and living space for an entire family when it was a residence. And we complain if there isn’t enough closet space.
Upcycling was also a focus, as we reused many containers while making our candles. Below, Ava is carrying a delicate tea cup Michael purchased at an antique shop, and Michael is melting the bee’s wax in a large ex-tea pot.
It smelled so wonderful – fragrant honey – in the studio, that some of the local bees visited us while we were working.
Gma had just arrived in HK the night before, I’m sure she was a bit jet-lagged, but didn’t show it during the class. And we certainly gave her a very local Hong Kong experience for her first time outside of the US.
All the students (about 8-9 in the class) chatted, and then the best part – basil-honey tea and warm, honey cake for everyone!
HK Honey + Shanghai Street Studios
Our first official Chinese New Year in all it’s authenticity is over. A bit of a bust. Crummy weather topped with Hub’s ‘this-is-why-I-try-not-to-breath-on-airplanes’ flu really put a damper on our cultural exploration.
FYI, HK is a ghost town during CNY. Many shops are closed for at least three days, while almost all of China travels to spend time with relatives. “No way,” and “are you kidding,” and “maaan,” were my replies to repeated media reports about the number of travelers and trains crossing China during the ten day holiday. Make no mistake, there are a lot of people in China my friends.
Meanwhile, HK’s Tourist Board lined up all sorts of city-wide festivities. Open-air gift markets–didn’t attend. Traditional lion dance parades–we snoozed and loosed. And an international New Year festival with dance and float entries from all over Asia–maybe next year. Our first and biggest Chinese holiday of the year, and we stayed home watching re-runs of the re-make of Battlestar Galactica.
Thankfully our building ended the 10 day holiday with a party. Here’s the breakdown.
Waiting for the Lion Dance to begin (with a friend in the building).
We were thrilled with the traditional Lion Dance!
The building staff grilled Chinese treats for everyone.
Building maintenance helped hang the offering for the Lion.
The Lion dances in your apartment bringing good health and prosperity for the new year. He takes the veggie and Lai See offering and ‘eats’ it, while you’re supposed to catch any vegetables that fall from his mouth for additional good luck.
Drummers helped with the excitement, and then it was time for pics with our friends.
KUNG HAI FAT CHOI!
The girls getting glitter and glue on your floor rather than mine? I’d pay for that. Wait, I have paid for that! A month ago it was an art class making cards. A few weeks ago it was floral jamming at Tallensia Floral Art. And I paid again. This time it was an ornament workshop at Mirth. And they were all worth it.
Benefits of these workshops? They’re equipped with the proper tools. The space is suited to the activity. And they’re structured. Unlike a craft session at our casa–I’m trying to cook, or trying to find something to fill in for floral tape, or just want some quiet time. It gets chaotic, disorganized, then we lose focus and interest. And then there’s still the mess to clean.
Mirth hosts some really nice workshops for kids, this was our first. But first let’s talk shop, their shop.
Sweetness in an old 1960s wooden stool factory. A wonderful selection of kid things, me things, gift things, art things, fun things, sassy things, furniture things. And they’ll whip up a little latte for you to sip while strolling through the many wonderful displays. You will certainly want to stroll so not to miss a single detail.
Now the workshop. It was situated in the store, so there was wonderful kid-energy happening in the space. It was perfectly suited for the girls, a felt Christmas Tree. Everything was prepared and ready the moment we arrived. And we now have these charming little trees in our flat. Can you say O Tannenbaum?
Mezzanine Floor, Yip Kan Street (last building on the left), Wong Chuk Hang (Aberdeen), Hong Kong // 852.2553.9811 // Daily 10:00-6:00
Finding kid things to do in Hong Kong has been an exercise in digging. Okay, there are the beaches, hiking, parks. The one billion malls. I’m looking for things that don’t involve sunscreen or packing snacks and an extra change of clothes. And yes, the mall outings require at least one of these things.
So I have two words for you. Floral Jamming. And three more words, Tallensia Floral Art.
Seriously. This little floral shop has all the right ingredients. Nice location. Small and cute. Chartreuse. And a charming, sweet shop owner, Lowdi. Every Sunday, she hosts a Floral Jamming session from 3-6pm. Tea is served, and then Lowdi gives a quick overview about creating a centerpiece and roles of different kinds of flowers/plants. Then like a buffet, you walk around and choose your pot/vase and flowers. Floral jamming ensues.
The girls loved it. We’re already planning floral jamming birthday parties. Lowdi hosts many kinds of interactive flower experiences for all ages. Just give her a call and she’ll have it all ready! Tallensia, of course, also makes wonderful floral arrangements for any occasion.
Tallensia Floral Art
G/F, 6C Tai Ping Shan Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong // 852.2239.4300 // 2pm-9pm Mon – Sun
Floral Jamming from 3pm-6pm every Sunday
Perry’s Hong Kong wish list item number one. To have a traditional Chinese tea. I know, totally sweet, right? Today we started our search with Lock Cha Tea House.
We cut through the Admiralty MTR station to get to Hong Kong Park (our version of Central park). Just after entering the Park, we reached the tea house, a very sweet building, with a tea museum next door. Jealous? We enjoyed vegetarian dim sum with our White Rose White Tea.
Lock Cha is on the tourist maps. But don’t let that hinder your tea time. You can learn about tea and tea service, or enjoy traditional Chinese music with your tea and dim sum (schedule). Charming traditional setting with ornate, dark wood dividers and screens. And of course you can buy blocks of tea, tins of tea, banana leave wraps of tea, etc. Everything reasonably priced.
And yes, we did walk through the museum too. Lots of tiny tea pots to be seen.
It was wonderful. Mostly because of Perry.
Lock Cha Tea House
Main Shop // UG/F, 290B, Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong // t: 2805-1360
Tea House // G/F, The K.S. Lo Gallery, Hong Kong Park, Admiralty, Hong Kong // t: 2801-7177