Advertisements
Tag Archives: Photography

A Blonde in Beijing Becomes…

28 Jan

A Blonde in Beijing becomes…

Blonde with a Baby!

blonde with a baby

I hope you will follow me on this new journey – full of blonde motherly moments, fashion advice for the spit-up savvy, fun tips on traveling with a tot, and must-have product reviews.

Follow Blonde with a Baby!

Advertisements

Great Bump Pics from The Great Wall

25 Jan
_DFE0455-Edit

Morgan and Brett Hutchinson

From the day we found out we were expecting little Olive Bee, we joked about how one day she would reach an age when telling people that she was born in Beijing, China would seem like bragging rights. Well…since we stripped her of that joy – we thought the least we could do was take photos of her in utero on The Great Wall of China. A big thank you to photographer Diego Ferrini and to make-up artist Meili Autumn.

SM_DFE0572-Edit

Brett and Morgan Hutchinson

SM_DFE0722-Edit

Morgan and Brett Hutchinson
Photography by Diego Ferrini. Make-up by Meili Autumn.

SM_DFE0613-Edit SM_DFE0632-Edit SM_DFE0767-Edit SM_DFE0776-Edit SM_DFE0892-Edit SM_DFE0917-Edit SM_DFE0942-Edit

Please stayed tuned for A Blonde in Beijing’s big blog move….coming soon!

All images courtesy of Diego Ferrini.

Better Late Than Never: Hutchinson Visit

27 Jul
Better Late Than Never, Right?  Here is a very tardy post of our wonderful visit with the Hutchinsons last November.

What a treat it was to be able to spend time with Brett’s parents, his brother Cory, and beautiful Kara here in Beijing.  There are just some things that cannot be expressed through words or photos – which is why we love visitors.  It actually enables us to really show what our life is like in this crazy, polluted, overcrowded…but still pretty fascinating foreign land.

Unfortunately, their visit fell on an extremely busy week for Brett (which I think the majority of you, through deductive reasoning, will be able to tell by the absence of him in the photos below) which left us all missing him and forced the Hutchinsons to see China through the eyes of a Blonde in Beijing.  I am hopeful that a good time was still had by all!

In addition to celebrating Brett’s Big 4-0 at Maison Boulud, we were able to show them quite a few of the sites  – The Olympic Village, The Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, Wangfujing Snack Street, Tea Street, and The Forbidden City.  And of course – we made sure that they tried all the top foods – Beijing Duck, Din Tai Fung dumplings, and don’t forget the street meat.  (Okay – I don’t think Donna actually tried this…but Cory & Kara braved a variety of interesting delicacies – i.e. scorpions, silk worms, etc.)

As their tour guide for the week, I did my best to document the trip for them (a service I only provide for true VIP visitors!)  Here are some of my favorites…

This would be a fantastic Christmas card if Cory was their only son! The Great Wall Mutianyu – November 2011

Tom & Donna Hutchinson. The Great Wall – November 2011

How cute are they? Seriously. The Great Wall – November 2011

Tom with his D-in-L’s. The Great Wall – November 2011

Kara & Cory – The Great Wall.

Perhaps I got a little camera happy with the happy couple….

Up, up, and away! Riding the chair lift to the top of the wall.

Kara cruising down the slide. The best part of visiting the wall at Mutianyu!

Quite possibly my favorite picture of the trip. Clearly, Cory is not pleased with Tom’s choice of speed. His face is the physical definition of boredom.

Tom and Donna in front of The Bird’s Nest. Olympic Village – Beijing.

Brett finally makes it! Family dinner at Mao’s Red Capital Club. This restaurant, hidden in an ancient hutong alleyway, serves tasty food – but the main reason to visit is to step back in time and soak in a bit of “Mao’s China”.

Walking into the gardens surrounding the Temple of Heaven. We were so lucky to have such a beautiful Beijing day. A rarity to say the least.

Donna, Cory & Tom at the Temple of Heaven. Beijing – November 2011

Temple of Heaven – Beijing

I would say I was trying to be artistic…but perhaps Cory is just too tall! I still like it though. Temple of Heaven – Beijing, China.

A tiny Donna at the Temple of Heaven. It is terribly difficult to capture an image with no other tourists. I didn’t crop the original for this very reason. I love the emptiness of it. Temple of Heaven – Beijing, China

The beautiful and extremely old Cypress trees in the grounds that surround the temple. Temple of Heaven – Beijing, China

Tree Gazing. Temple of Heaven Grounds – Beijing, China

Another potentially great Christmas card if Tom and Donna only had one son and also decided to adopt a random blonde from Murray, Kentucky… Temple of Heaven Grounds – Beijing, China

Old school online dating?? We stumbled upon a mass of middle-aged, local Chinese men and women in the gardens surrounding the Temple of Heaven with dozens of papers like these taped to the ground. After chatting with a few of them, who were actually willing to talk with me in Chinese – I was able to learn that they were all there to find mates for their children. These “papers” are actually dating profiles including personal details such as height, age, and occupation. Some even go so far as to say if they are home or car owners. Amazing!

Okay…so this is obviously Cory, not Brett. But for those of you who truly know Brett…you know that this is an impersonation of his “intense face”. Complete with the drumming of the fingers. Nice tribute, Cory.

The Forbidden City – Beijing, China

Kara & Cory – Forbidden City, November 2011

The Forbidden City – Roof Tile Detail.

The Forbidden City – Beijing, China

Tea Tasting on Tea Street. Somehow I didn’t snap a picture when they put Kara to work separating proper tea leaves from the bad ones…what a missed opportunity. I have a feeling that her daily wage might be more than they are used to paying.

This is the coup de gras of photos from the trip. Apparently, my harassing comments to Tom about the fact that of all things to bring to Beijing, he packed his “Turkey Trot 1997” t-shirt hit a nerve. His response to my torment was to jokingly wear it under his sport coat for Brett’s birthday dinner and party at Maison Boulud. Loved it. He did change – although I think I would have preferred him like this.

A Bump in Beijing: Weeks 22-25

25 Jul

We are certainly progressing in the “bump” area!  For those of you who requested new shoes each week…I hope you are not disappointed.  If you commented on the fact that my hair grew bigger in each photo during weeks 18-21…I am sorry but my thin, baby fine hair is pretty much maxed out with the teasing and “Big Sexy” aerosol hairspray.

Only 15 weeks to go until we meet our little Olive!

Check out Weeks 18-21 for a “Bump Comparison”!

 

Best Laid Beach Plans…

22 Mar

Just as I sit here in our apartment, looking out onto the pollution filled Beijing skyline – I am supposed to be sitting next to my marvelous man with a glass of something sparkling in hand, aboard a plane bound for Sanya.  Specifically, Haitang Bay.  Specifically, see below.

But as it has a way of doing from time to time…life got in our way.  So, I decided to distract myself (from the cold…the smog…and our annoying neighbors’ cigarette smoke that permeates the hallway and seeps under our door – sorry for the bitterness of this beach deprived blonde) by writing about glory days of beaches past.

So onto to something much more marvelous…like Mozambique!

The Bazaruto Archipelago of Mozambique was the perfect way to end our 3 week stay in Africa.  It was all sand, sailing, seafood, and fun in the sun.  Even my third degree burns (see: A Burnt Bride) couldn’t put a damper on this to-die-for island.

Brett enjoying a local brew while taking in the sites of the island via an open air jeep.

Our home for the week in Mozambique was one of the 16  lovely villas at Azura on Benguerra.  From the service to the activities to the natural beauty of these undiscovered beaches, Azura lived up to all of our expectations.  Which – as my husband (I am sure will agree) are quite high…

TRAVEL TIP:  For other South Africa bound honeymooners…there are many travel companies that will push the Seychelles for “end of the trip beach time” – BUT the islands of Mozambique will provide all the luxury with half the cost.  Although…that will probably change as their popularity grows – so book fast!

Our Villa

Sailing around the archipelago.

Footloose and Fancy Free

Deep Sea Fishing Success!

Our Catch of the Day!

Enjoying our catch of the day by candlelight at a romantic table for two on the private beach. Perfection.

On a positive note…we are in the process of rescheduling our beach time trip.  For now – the departure date is set for two weeks with an alternative destination: The Maldives (thanks to the recent non-stop flight offered by Mega Maldives Airlines).  Fingers crossed.

 

Blyde River Canyon…A Bit Belated

19 Mar

The Beautiful Blyde River Canyon

As it always does…time has slipped through my fingers once again.  Not only have I not posted anything in regards to China lately, I haven’t posted  – well…anything at all!  So, I thought I would step back in time for a moment and finish sharing the tales our adventures in Africa this past October.  It was brought to my attention that I never wrote about the Blyde River Canyon or Mozambique.  Two places that definitely deserve recognition (and high praise…Nick Cage style).

Stealing a kiss at the top of God's Window on top of the Blyde River Canyon

From Camp Jabulani (where I left off…see the following link for details:  https://ablondeinbeijing.com/2011/12/27/its-all-about-the-elephants/) we traveled to the Cybele Forest Lodge and Spa – a Relais & Chateaux property nestled in the woods of northern South Africa.  The lodge is perched 3,000-feet above sea level amidst Mpumalanga’s forests, mountains and meadows between White River and Hazyview. Owners Rupert and Barbara Jeffries have transformed the original hunting lodge they bought in 1979 to a cosy, yet stylish retreat. There are twelve quaint cottages and ours had  the added advantage of our own heated swimming pool!  It was divine!

Brett standing in God's Window at Blyde River Canyon

During our two nights stay, we took all of our meals in our room at the dining table or poolside on the patio.  It was the ultimate in privacy.  We did leave the room…twice.  Once for a couple’s massage and once for a helicopter ride through the canyon, complete with a stop at God’s Window for a champagne picnic.  Needless to say, it was a very strenuous 48 hours.

Champagne picnic at the top of God's Window

Heli Silhouette

I honestly had never heard of the Blyde River Canyon (the 3rd largest in the world – not to mention that it is a GREEN canyon) until we began our research for the trip.  I am so glad that we made the decision to venture off the beat and path to see this side of South Africa.  It was completely unexpected, and is mostly highly recommended.  I don’t think it is possible to truly capture the beauty of this magical place with unprofessional photographer hands (like ours), but I  hope that our pictures capture enough of its essence to encourage you to visit.

One of many waterfalls falling through the Blyde River Canyon

Our fantastic pool. We did have to watch out for the monkeys though! Little thieves that they are...

Thank you Cybele Forest Lodge & Spa for such a rejuvenating stay!  Just writing and remembering has relaxed me…and well, distracted me from the hazardous pollution of Beijing.  Literally.  The “pollution-o-meter” recommends staying in today.  So – Blyde Blogging it is!

Ice Fishing???

24 Feb

Only in China can you find two men “ice fishing”, on a Wednesday afternoon in below freezing temperatures from a shallow, trash-filled stream in the middle of Beijing.  With cold fingers and a red nose, I watched them for quite some time.  Unfortunately – but not surprising at all…there was no catch of the day!  Love the dedication, Zhong Guo Nan Ren!

Today = 2 Years in China!

28 Dec

Two years ago today, Brett and I (along with 700 pounds of my clothing) boarded a plane in Newark bound for Beijing.  To celebrate this exciting anniversary, I would like to share photos from our Chinese Wedding party from this past August.  I think you will see that I went all out to play the part of a Chinese bride (short of dying my hair of course!)

Brett and Morgan Hutchinson

Brett and I knew that we didn’t want to host our Beijing wedding celebration in a Western style (for those of you not living in Asia – that means that we didn’t want an American or European style venue…it does not mean that Brett and I were considering a Wild-West Hoedown).  When in China, right?   So when we stumbled upon Gui Gong Fu, a restaurant famous for its history, as well as its imperial cuisine, we were sold.  Housed in the former residence of the Empress Dowager’s little brother, Gui Gong Fu set the perfect backdrop to our Chinese wedding party.  Although we didn’t hold a actual ceremony (we saved that for just he two of us in South Africa – see Chitwa Chitwa: Part 3 for more details) we did host a traditional Chinese, family style dinner for 150 of our dear friends and colleagues here in Beijing.  It was quite a feast! Luckily, Brett and I went for a tasting before hand as I don’t remember us sitting down long enough to eat any of the meal on the actual night of the party.  Between visiting each table to drink a shot of Mou Tai (Chinese liquor) with our Chinese guests and being toasted with Champagne by our Western guests…there was little time to do anything but “Cheers!”  Thankfully, I do remember being giving a bowl of rice by the lovely Connolly sisters to coat my tummy with something.

Here is the evening in pictures.  It really was such a memorable night.

Cocktail Hour. Explaining this concept to a very traditional Chinese restaurant was no easy chore. Passed hors d'oeuvres is just not the local way of doing things at a Chinese Wedding. In the end - they got it! Brett and Morgan Hutchinson

Costume change! While it is actually a Chinese custom for the bride to change from her red dress into white...I didn't need an excuse for a second dress!

Notice the size of Brett's Mou Tai glass. We are no fools! The smaller the glass...the less you have to drink! By the way...I am holding my wine glass, NOT my Mao Tai glass.

These little Chinese women can drink! Look how she is showing off her empty glass. Bottoms up!

Thank you to all of our friends in China for celebrating such a special time with us.  Thank you to Michael and Natia Davitiashvili for joining us, two great friends from New York who just happened to be in town and gave their only Saturday night in Beijing to us!

While I am in “thank you” mode…Thank you Beijing for 2 very exciting years.  We have had our moments…and let’s be honest, I have certainly “hated” you from time to time – but overall it has been loads of fun.  You have brought me dozens of amazing new friends and countless once-in-a-lifetime moments.  Most importantly though, you have given Brett at I the opportunity to share a life-changing experience together, and for that I will be forever grateful.  Xie Xie!

All images courtesy of www.sweetvision.com.  The same amazing photographers who did our engagement photo shoot.  Click here to have a peek.

It’s All About the Elephants

27 Dec

Safari on Elephant Back - the famous Jabulani himself to be exact!

At Camp Jabulani, a Relais & Chateau property located in the private Kapama Game Reserve, everything is elephant.  In fact, there wouldn’t even be a Camp Jabulani without the inspiration of a tiny, 4-month old baby elephant whose herd was forced to abandon him when he got stuck in the mud of a silt dam.  It took over year (along with the help of a sheep named “Skaap” who acted as a surrogate mother) to nurse the little guy back to health.  After baby Jabulani (his name means, “rejoice”) was healed, numerous efforts were made to release him back into the bush.  He was not having any of it.  These humans were his family now, and he had no intention of leaving them.  Luckily, or as they say at The Camp…”fate stepped in”.  Just five years after rescuing Jabulani, it was discovered that 12 Zimbabwean elephants needed a new home as the farm they currently lived on had been seized by war veterans.  These ellies would have been collateral damage if it hadn’t been for the rescue efforts of the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre and what eventually became the Camp Jabulani that exists today.

In my opinion, this type of operation could have easily become a “cheesy” petting zoo type experience.  On the contrary, Camp Jabulani is quite the opposite.  It is a true luxe safari experience.  With its 5-star quality lodges (each with private pool),  beck-and-call service standards, on-site spa, and let’s not forget the gourmet food that blew us away at each meal.  Seriously – the food is incredible…edgy flavors, beautiful presentation, and to top it off – the chef shares her recipes!  Although, last I checked they don’t sell Wart Hog or Antelope at any of the markets here in Beijing – so it might be a while before I can actually test any of them myself.

Brett and I truly loved our time spent at Camp Jabulani.  Safari on Elephant Back was a completely different experience.  You really have a bird’s-eye view of the bush – not to mention the tranquility of it all.  Plus, watching the elephants have their “play time” in the watering hole and visiting the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre to play with baby cheetahs were unforgettable moments.

Even though this little baby is too small to take guests on safari just yet, she likes to join the herd so she can stay close to her mamma. Nature is so precious.

The ellies play!

Just a second after I snapped this shot...the little ellie lying on his side lost his footing and crashed into the water. It was equally hilarious and heartbreaking. More incredible though - was the way that the entire herd rushed to the little one's aid.

There are more than just elephants at Camp Jabulani. Expect to see all of the Big 5 as well - from elephant back if you are lucky!

Wild dog! Check out that crazy hide.

It was all I could do to stay in the jeep! I just love giraffes.

We figured out that if we ask for the biggest ellie - we could ride on safari together. Much more fun! BTW- safari on elephant back was much more comfortable on my burned back than bouncing around on the primitive paths in a land rover jeep.

These little wart hogs have no fear. OK maybe...it was me that had no fear! They are so ugly they're cute - and I just had to get a closer look. If you look closely, you will see that they are actually on their knees, snout to the ground searching for food. Hungry little buggers, right?

One gorgeous sunset + my gorgeous husband = perfection.

Our view during Camp J "sun-downers" - what South Africans call cocktail hour. Stunning.

This beautiful surprise set-up was waiting for us after the sun-downers. The five-course meal to follow was also to die for, and it put both of us into a fantastic food coma.

On our last morning at Jabulani - before leaving for the Blyde River Canyon, we visited the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre. These two charming cheetahs were rescued from the wild after injury.

Playing with a cheetah cub born at the center. This cutey will be trained to live in the wild by older cheetahs who split their time between the wild and the center. That's right - these smarty pant cats have realized that when things get too tough in the wild...they can take a vacation to a place where humans provide them shelter and serve them food and drink. Brilliant.

Shortly after this picture was taken, this little kitty had to be put into "time-out". He became a little over zealous and started to climb on my back. Under normal circumstances - no biggie, but with 2nd and 3rd degree burns from the fire-pit fiasco...it was a less than ideal situation. In the kitty's defense, our ranger did tell me that if I stayed in one position for too long, the cubs would want to climb on me. I suppose I was just too distracted by their cuteness to keep track. Wouldn't you have been?

Up next: Our voyage to the Blyde River Canyon  – the 3rd largest canyon in the world and it is completely green and a spa retreat at Cybele Forest Lodge.  Stay tuned!

A special thank you to the team at Camp Jabulani for an incredible South African adventure!

A Burnt Bride

23 Dec

After our ceremony in the wide open bush (see Chitwa Chitwa Part Three for more details) we were taken to a surprise location for a romantic wedding dinner for two.  Tucked away in the quaint courtyard of the lodge and centered around a roaring fire-pit, the crew at Chitwa, once again amazed us with a perfectly picturesque setting.

A lovely wedding dinner for two!

Within a few minutes of being seated, we began to hear a rumbling of strange noises…drums…unusual calling sounds – and then they appeared!  An authentic tribe of African dancers to perform for us!

These dancers were no joke. Completely in sync with their moves and their chanting. Incredible!

Then…they ask us to join in the fun with a special serenade for us to have yet another first dance (officially our fourth!).

Then the party really got started (before dinner of course…I mean why not?).  The leader of the group called out to all with a loud party cry!  I have never heard anything quite like it.  I hope to hear it again some day!

African Style Congo Line!

This is when things started to go south…Actually – when they started to go DOWN south…down in flames really…

The photograph above was the last picture taken at our African Bush Wedding Celebration…why you might ask?  Well…moments later when my feet actually came back down to earth, they were completely twisted and intertwined with my wedding dress – which caused me to lose my balance ,and I fell flat on my back into the FIRE!  That’s right…at that very moment I became A Blonde Burnt Bride in the Bush!

Luckily, the tribe leader and Brett were able to pull me from the flames in record time.  Thank God.  Do you know how much aerosol hairspray I use?  I would have gone up like a nuclear bomb if my entire head of hair had hit.  I did lose a few locks – but the real victims were the dress and my back.  “Sorry” to our future daughter (or maybe a, “you’re welcome” is more likely in order) wearing your mother’s wedding dress will not be an option.

Thanks to Shannon – Dr. Shannon that is – lodge manager, wedding planner, and burn unit warrior extraordinaire – things turned out much better than they could have.  The lodge had all the tools and equipment necessary, and she had the skills to treat my wounds (2nd and 3rd degree burns) just as a hospital would have (which was hours away BTW).  Note to self: avoid dancing around fire-pits when miles away from medical care.  In fact: avoid dancing around  fire-pits all together.

The shock of it all (and let’s be honest the Champagne probably helped the cause) allowed me to power through it for a bit.  Truth be told, I remember laughing about it at first.  Thinking…you silly blonde you.  What a hoot!  That hoot turned into serious hurt within about 30 minutes – leaving our lovely wedding dinner uneaten and a beautiful 3-tiered pink wedding cake uncut.  (Silver lining…wedding cake for breakfast for the rest of our stay at Chitwa Chitwa.)

Back in our room, the smell of singed skin, scorched silk, and burnt hair (sounds lovely for your honeymoon night right?) filled the air.  Shannon was in and out throughout the night checking and/or changing the dressings on my back and arm.  Let’s just say – it wasn’t an ideal situation for romance.  That and the fact that they gave me some crazy pain killers that knocked me out….  But – it does make for a great story now, right?  Frankly, even if this entry has bored the pants off of you, I hope you will at least lie to me.

The picture above was taken a few days later when we were finally near a pharmacy on our way to another lodge.  The pharmacist prescribed an antibiotic and Silvadene creme (this stuff works miracles).  My arm had nothing on my back…but my back just looked too gross to show the pictures.  I would like to report that 3 months later – things are looking much better.  I will most likely have permanent scars – but at least Stefan du Plessis got a lot of pictures of me in a backless dress that day.  Plus, I know how much worse this could have been.  I thank my lucky stars (i.e. God) every day, and I am more than happy to LIVE with scars.  And truthfully, the happy memories of that day way outweigh the burnt ones.

Images courtesy of Stefan du Plessis – South Africa Photographer.

%d bloggers like this: