Mix of Kuta Beach with some Cross Stitch & Hip Hop

One of the children, Tony, is working as a surf instructor at the nearest beach so we promised him we would take a lesson last week. We had breakfast as usual with all the children at 6 am, said goodbye to some of them as they went off to school and took a taxi over to Kuta Beach. We found a Starbucks (so I could get my soy milk!) and met the nicest Aussie man named Peter. There are so many Australian people here! We ended up chatting with him outside on the terrace for an hour as he filled us in on some Bali tourist tips. He even introduced to his two “adopted” Balinese children. Peter also helped us locate a Balinese cell phone so we could call our families. He told us to give him a call if he ever needed anything and to pay him a visit when we come to Australia. So glad we met him.  We then headed over to the beautiful beach and had a great rest of the morning. Surfing, sun bathing and of course getting harassed by the locals on the beach coming up every five minutes or so to make sure we indeed did not want to buy a sarong, a towel or receive a pedicure. We’ve gotten very good at haggling, Bali style, which basically means they look at us assume we are dumb Americans and charge 150% more than what the article actually costs. 10,000 Rupia is equal to $1.25 American dollars. Most things don’t cost more than 50,000 Rupia. Taxis, sunglasses, meals etc. It’s all wonderfully inexpensive. We’ve been back to Kuta beach a few times now bringing some of the children along with us. We took them out to lunch after, lunch costs us $25 for four people. The children thanked us profusely after we arrived back at the orphanage. They are so amazing.

The kids are so polite and thankful for anything we give them. I of course brought tons of DMC threads and embroidery floss with me and dole more out each day. They get so excited  and gobble up the threads, thanking me over and over again.  Even the boys faces light up and get busy making bracelets and anklets, using manly  colors of course.

Last week I taught the children how to cross stitch. It was only our first lesson and they definitely seemed to be able to pick it up. I just had them do practice stitches using DMC Mentor Kits – cute little kits that DMC makes that has everything you need to complete your cross stitch project. Aida fabric, needle, embroidery floss, instructions and a chart. I taught them how to find the center of their fabrics, stitch rows of cross stitches, start their threads and end their threads. It warms my heart when I left the orphanage tonight to steal away to an internet café and I see them in circles stitching away and chatting happily. Each time we leave at night, which during the week we limit to once or twice a weekday, we get cries of protests, “Where are you going Ali-son and Mell-in-Da?!” I love it here.

We had a wonderful weekend in a place called Ubud, about an hour north of Denespar where we are staying. It was an amazing weekend, we met so many interesting people, spoke of philosophy, politics, religion. Saw the monkey forest, rice paddies, batik painting and weaving, a Balinese fire dance…so much more. We were fortunate enough to make some new friends that had motorcycles and they took us around each night so we could see all of Ubud. More details and pictures coming soon from this weekend. We may or may not have broken into our hotel the first night when we arrived back at 5 am to a locked hotel gate, details later.

Despite the fact that we barely slept this weekend – we arrived Monday early afternoon and dove right in to our classes and activities with the kids. I held a painting and drawing class with these amazing water color, colored pencils and chalk sets donated by Jerry’s Art Supplies and acrylic paints donated by Plaid. I handed out print outs of fish and underwater creatures (thanks Moma B for the idea! My mom happens to be the best art teacher in the world, really though) the kids loved it and had a blast drawing their selected sea creatures out and coloring them in with craypas, pencils and water color paints. I showed them shading and blending techniques, how to use water colors which they loved, how to blend craypas, and how to shade and get depth by building up color using colored pencils. I tried to sit with each child individually and walked them through how to best sketch out their fish and plants, looking at the basic shapes and drawing those out and then going in afterwards to fill in the details. The artist sets from Jerry’s were so great to have, the glitter paints from Plaid were also a huge hit with the girls. The kids had such a blast using the new supplies, they were very special gifts. Thank you Jerry’s Art Supply and Plaid! You made these kids day!

Mel held a Hip Hop dance class last week to the song of Push It. The girls loved it and were able to get most of the moves down pat. They also learned how to tut and we were impressed by how easily they picked that up too. Yesterday after art class Mel taught a ballet class to the song from Lion King, a fun free style ballet dance. She had received lots of donations from dance companies and handed out ballet slippers, jazz shoes, tights, leotards and t shirts for the girls courtesy of the sponsor Free Style. Mel was interested to see how eager they were to learn different styles of dance, not just hip hop snince at first she thought they may only be interested in that. The girls take to corrections and listen. Its so cool to see them learn with their eyes and helps us reinvent our teaching styles to better appeal to different senses. It really re-defines the term visual arts.

We are both having an amazing experience here teaching the kids, but I think we are the ones getting taught the most. Ubud post coming soon!

PS more awesome friendship bracelets are being made each day 🙂 I may try to set up an Etsy store for them,

~ Alizea

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Crafting 101

I can’t believe I have been here in Bali almost a week – time has flown! It’s been incredible immersing myself into another community within another culture.

First things first, I have started to teach the children basics. Basics of needlepointing and basics of painting.

Today at the Jodie O’Shea Orphanage we had our first needlepoint lesson. We used DMC Pearl Cotton size 5, DMC Tapestry Needles and beautiful hand painted canvases from Beth Gantz Designs. I taught the children the basic Continental Stitch and the Basketweave stitch. It was an interesting teaching experience, I really had to show them each one by one in order for them to really understand. After giving them some individual attention they picked it up very quickly! Even the boys got into it!

Sri Wani was a fast learner and finished her heart already.

I’m amazed at how excited and eager the children are to learn something new. It took some a while to get the hang of it but they didn’t give up. Now many of them are happily stitching away in their rooms. Thank you again to Beth and DMC for donating the supplies


The day before we did a small painting lesson for the smaller ones while the big kids were at school. I started them with something basic and used these awesome Peal & Stick stencils from Plaid and paints and brushes donated by AC Moore. I taught the kids about colors, primary vs. secondary, complimentary colors. I  also showed them how to shade and blend. It was a lot of fun.

The stencils were so easy to work with and made the project so easy! I placed them back onto the plastic sheets so we can reuse them.

More to come soon!

~ Alizea

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Jodie O’Shea Orphanage

Mel and I landed safely in Bali – despite the recent earthquake that occurred hours before we flew out. I awoke Wednesday morning to a slew of worried text messages from loved ones. turns out the earthquake occurd 1000 miles from Bali and our fights were a bit delayed but nothing too bad. All is well.

We arrived in Bali Friday, after traveling for 3 days. The adorable children at the Jodie O’Shea Orphanage greeted us with dazzling smiles energizing us til a whopping 9 pm of play time and games until we crashed in our beds. We both awoke at 6 am the next day revitalized and refreshed and have completely adjusted to the time difference ever since. Too easy. So wonderful.

The children here are so amazingly self sufficient. Both Mel and I are amazed each day as these kids shower and dress themselves each morning, take care of each other, play with each other… We will begin our programs starting tomorrow. I am teaching art and Mel will be teaching dance. Our wonderful sponsors can be seen on the right hand side of the blog. We thank them very much for their generous donations! The children will be thrilled. We have boxes of supplies that were delivered right to our volunteer room. So far the bubble wrap was enough in which the supplies were wrapped in and provided hours of fun for the children. We had an impromptu friendship bracelet making session last night. Courtesy of our friends at the My Friendship Bracelet Maker using DMC floss. The children were thrilled and have been seen scattered around the orphanage all weekend making colorful bracelets. I have three more of my own to add to my wrist thanks to Yunis, Adi & Cece 🙂



sampai nanti!

~ Alizea

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Backpacking Checklist

It’s official. I have mentally prepared myself for the fact that I am leaving in 1 ½ weeks for a 2 month trip to southeast Asia. It’s going to be a transforming experience, sort of like life will never be the same again. My adventure starts at the Jodie O’shea Orphanage in Bali. My friend Mel and I applied to teach programs at this orphanage that highlight our skills and passions so that we can make a difference in these children’s lives. I will be teaching an art program & Mel will be teaching dance. I know working with the kids will be an incredible experience and I have some big plans on what I can do to help make these children’s lives more fulfilling. After a month at the orphanage Mel and I will set off to explore the surrounding countries. I cannot contain my excitement for this upcoming trip any longer. I am consumed by it. When I go out at night to meet friends I find myself thinking as I pack up my purse – do I really need this lip gloss? No, leave it behind. It’s all about consolidation and bringing only the necessities. I have started to gather my supplies that I will be bringing. Having been on a few backpacking excursions before I speak from experience, but I do not claim any expert advice.

1. Superior walking shoes – Easy Spirit E360 Reinvent. I put a lot of mindful thought into which would be the best sneakers/hiking boots to bring with me. I finally found them and who would have thought that they are from Easy Spirit. Their new 360 shoes are stylish and so comfortable – best thing about them are that they are super lightweight. Great for backpackers since, well everything we bring is going on our backs. When I want to wear sandals that day I’ll hardly feel a thing with these guys hanging from my pack. Despite what people say about Easy Spirit shoes – I give them the seal of approval.

I took them on a test hike the other day and they held up better than I expected. I figured the rubber sole wouldn’t protect my feet well from feeling the rocky mountain – I could feel  the rocks a bit but it was not bad at all. These did not have a great grip on the slippery mountains and rocks also so be careful.

2. Silk Sleep Sheet. This will be a great traveling companion and will give you some peace of mind from biting insects & any mystery stains left behind on your hostel bed.  I got mine from Terra Vista. Make sure it’s a mummy style so it fits under your pillow and that it is 100% silk, bed bugs can still bite you through cotton. Of course it had to be turquoise and tie dyed. I would have made one but time is of the essence.

3. Passport Holder. Pack your passport, extra passport photos, license, credit cards, phone & money in this and wear it around your neck under your clothes at all times – even when you’re sleeping. I’m making some this weekend and will post photos and a tutorial soon of how I made them! If you’re not feeling crafty pick one up from Etsy they have a lot of cute ones.

4. Compass – Something small and simple for knowing which direction to turn at an intersection when you are looking at a map. The small round ones with the pin found in the camping section of department stores work great.

5. Smart Phone – It’s a good idea to bring your phone with you so you have access to your email, web & music. Bring headphones! I just purchased the new Droid Razor and am obsessed. Do not use your phone for making calls. I recommend buying a prepaid phone and giving that number out to your parents, friends and the US embassy Safe Traveler Program* see below.

6. Digital SLR camera. Because I will be blogging on my own blog and my company’s blog – I really need my nice camera to get those beautiful shots. I am also bringing my 75 – 300mm lenses to capture those small hands creating beautiful creations. I’m bringing some expensive items with me on this trip that I wouldn’t normally bring. I have to be extra careful.

7. Poncho. I like the backpackers cascade long one from Campmor. It has an extension flap at the back hem to cover your pack.

8. Liquid Bandage & a first aid kit. Pick it up at your local drugstore.

9. Journal. You’re going to be so grateful that you wrote down your memories when you first experienced it when its fresh in your mind. These are great too for writing down itineraries and bus schedules.

10. Stainless steel water bottle. Clip it on the outside of your pack.

11. Other important items I will also be bringing are: bug spray containing Deet, sun screen, Iodine water purification system, toilet paper in plastic bags (many countries don’t use toilet paper particularly where I’m going) feminine wipes & baby wipes work well too, travel towel, additional passport photos – very important this will save money, time, and headache when you cross borders and apply for visas on arrival; you can get an entire sheet made at printing shops for cheap, sink stopper and small bottle of wool wash for doing laundry in your hostel sink, torch light with extra batteries, Duct Tape really no explanation here, travel plug adapter – keep it simple and get an all in one adapter.

*One last item to cross off your list. Register with the US embassy Smart Traveler program. All US embassy’s in each country offer it. You can easily create an account for yourself and log your entire trip itinerary including all the hostel addresses and phone numbers that you will be staying at. You can add an unlimited amount of emergency phone numbers and email addresses also with this program. I highly recommend it for all US citizens.

Sampai jumpa!

– Alizea

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