24 December 2011

Christmas Spirit

by Silvia Hajas

May the Chrissie tree be filled with pressies.
May the table be filled with yummy treats.
May the day be filled with sunshine and breeze.
May the gathering be filled with family and kin.

May love be bestowed a plenty.
May children squeal with delight.
May health and prosperity come knocking.
May this day be everlasting.

May this Christmas be a time to rejoice,
A time to forgive,
And a time to forget.

For life is precious,
Life is short,
Life is a mystery
And nothing should be left unsaid.

Come together, hug and kiss
Make up, let go, don’t miss a beat.
Say I love you every moment,
Forge renewed relationships today and tomorrow. 

22 December 2011

Three Little Red Reindeer

This poem was especially written for some dear friends in Melbourne.  It has been adapted to resonate our sentiments to all our wonderful friends in Australia.

Three Little Red Reindeer
by Silvia Hajas

Three little red reindeer
Named John, Silv & Trin
Took off for Singapore
Looking for a shindig

We left behind loved ones
And many cherished memories
Yet they're all especially remembered
As the festive season nears

A wish to celebrate with them
As done many times before
May not be afforded
For many years more

They may be oceans away
But never far from our thoughts
We wish everyone a wonderful Christmas
Filled with love, cheer and joy.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 

19 December 2011

From New Adventures Come New Friendships

by Silvia Hajas

There once were a trio
Called John, Silv & Trin
They went off on an adventure
To a far off place called Singapore

Leaving wonderful siblings and great friends behind
They moved into Costa Del Sol
With five pools and much more

There they made friends
That may cause some confusion
For they’re citizens of the world
No matter the conclusion

They’re South Africans and New Zealanders
And Slovaks and Canadians
And British and Indian
And Aussies and Russians

But let’s not go far for the trio are no different
One is an Aussie, the other Romanian
Making the third a Eurostralian

You put us together and we are a great mix
Living in the tropics of Asia that can’t be missed
Poolside drinks and great conversation
Makes for this mob an awesome compilation

Where to from here?
It is most unknown
But for now we’ll just enjoy
The new friendships formed.

So to our expat friends
We thank you for your friendship
And wish you a Christmas
That’s especially magic. 

14 December 2011

Sliced Fish Fillets with Brown Rice

This concoction that I made up reaps with health benefits.  Firstly, a regular intake of fish provides you with the omega-3 fatty acids helping your body to function properly, it is high in protein building, maintaining and replacing tissues in your body and lastly it is low in fat.  General recommendation is a twice weekly intake of fish (just mind the ones high in mercury).

Secondly, brown rice is high in fibre which keeps your digestive system running smoothly.  The nutritional value in brown rice is the outer layer (known as the bran layer), which is stripped when the rice is milled to produce white rice.  By stripping the bran layer, the carbs in the white rice become simplified providing you with a boost in energy but at too fast a rate.  Some people may feel like they are getting a sugar rush.  By sticking to brown rice which is rich in complex carbs, your sugar level will raise more slowly and over a longer period of time, giving you a more balanced and steadier energy flow.  As a result of this more measured approach, you will feel fuller for longer reducing the need to snack.  Brown rice is also packed with vitamin B, manganese, selenium and iron that can help with heart diseases, digestion and constipation.  If you're not too keen on brown rice then either mix it with basmati rice, use wild rice or just plain basmati rice. 

Now, my cooking is not strong in flavour so make sure that before you serve, it meets your taste bud requirements.

Sliced Fish Fillets with Brown Rice (Serve 4)

1T oil
1.5C brown Rice
4 fish fillets (approx 450g), frozen or fresh, halved lengthwise and then sliced (defrost if frozen)
1.5C frozen mixed vegetables
1T fish sauce
1T light soy sauce
1 onion, finely chopped
1tsp crushed garlic from jar
1tsp crushed ginger from jar
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground coriander


Cook brown rice according to packaging instructions.

Heat oil in non-stick frypan or wok on medium heat.  Toss in garlic, ginger and onion.  Fry lightly then add the cumin, coriander, fish sauce and soy sauce.  Cook for a further minute.

Add frozen veggies and stir-fry on low for a couple of minutes, then toss in the fish and stir-fry until the fish is cooked.

Add the cooked rice and gently mix it all.

Serve and enjoy.

Jingle Bells

by Silvia Hajas

Jingle jingle all those bells
As Christmas nears
We can all tell
The shops are filled with decorations
Cheer and joy on all our faces

Santa letters have all been drafted
Off to north pole they are blasted
Elves are busy wrapping presents
Santa GPS’s the addresses

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen
Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen
Shine their hooves and stretch their legs
Waiting for the mighty marathon to commence

Awesome gifts for awesome kids
Throughout the world you’ll hear them squeal
So take the time to enjoy it all
Be happy, merry and laugh lots more 

08 December 2011

Polliwogs Play Centre & That Lengthy Walk Home

With delight we attended a 2nd birthday party today at Polliwogs Play Centre on East Coast Park's beachfront, Singapore.  It is a terrific indoor centre comprising of obstacle courses, ball pools and awesome slides.  It has been nearly a year since Trini has played in a play centre so this opportunity was a great experience for her.  The rope tunnel was quite challenging for her little feet, making her work on balance, concentration and a "steady as she goes" approach. The pink corkscrew slide whilst not particularly long, it was certainly fast even for adults.

Balance Beam.
Rope tunnel about 2.5m off the ground.
Super-fast corscrew slide.
From here we braved the Singaporean hot and humid weather and chose to walk home, approximately three kilometres, mostly in the shade.  We passed the time singing nursery rhymes, jumping over cracks forwards and backwards and checking out the red dots on the maps that said "You are here". Trini loved each map and with her little finger tracing the grey footpath that directed us home.

Pitstops along the way included climbing breakwater barriers, admiring the ships, taking turns photographing, twirling and sharing the Pokka carrot juice we picked up along the way.

Makes me think of Rose on the bow of 1996 Titanic movie.
Mosaic totem poles at the Seafood Centre, East Coast Park.

As we are nearing home, so is Trini nearing the end of her strength.  Time for refreshments and a rest at the East Coast Lagoon hawkers market.  Our favorite "juice man" at stall 35 mixes a great, cold and freshly squeezed mango and orange juice.  With princess puzzle in hand (a gift from the birthday party), Trini rests her little feet, quenches her thirst, tops up her sugar and tackles the jigsaw puzzle.

Mango and orange juice, freshly squeezed.
Fitting the last 3 pieces of her  new Princesses
jigsaw puzzle.
A bit of play time before our final part of the journey.
With the weather threatening to open the skies, we finish up at the hawkers market and walk the remainder of our 20 minutes trip with me mostly carrying Trini.  Whilst I really didn't want to get caught in a Singaporean tropical downpour, we still managed snap to a couple of pictures along the way.

I particularly liked this ship.  It was so red, my favorite colour,
it was just begging for a photo.

Just some gorgeous, uniform trees found in East Coast Park.
So we finally made it home, showered and settled down for a coffee for mum and jelly shots for Trini (jelly shots = small individually packed jelly popped into Trini's mouth whilst she's lying on her back.  Daddy thought it would be a fun activity when he showed it to her the first time and since then all jelly are had as "jelly shots").  It was a lovely day spent with my girl and we would do it again, regardless of how tiring (maybe I'll just take Trini's bike with me next time as a back up) but we had fun turning something so simple as walking into a mini-adventure. 

Trini having her jelly shots and off to watch Disney movies.

05 December 2011

I Miss You

This reads like a love lost but the ever-present romantic that my brother is, this poem just tells me that whoever he holds dear to his heart, he will not let go of and will keep on hoping that in the end love shall win above all else. For love and hope must be kept closest to our hearts, as they create the wonderful memories that we take with us to the end of our lives.

I Miss You
by Alex Hajas

I miss the way you hold my hands
I miss the way you hold me tight
I miss the way you look at me
But most the way you make me feel

I miss the way you kiss my lips
I miss the way you stroke my hair
I miss the things you do for me
But most I miss to see you sleep

I miss the way you hold my arm
I miss you walking by my side
I miss your presence in the night
But most of all when I wake up

I miss the vision of who you are
I miss the strolls we take at night
I miss the kiss that says goodnight
But most the one that wakes me up

04 December 2011

Singaporean Sunday with Friends

There is never any shortage of activities to undertake in Singapore be it athletic, cultural or just plain fun.  One thing we do know is that as expats in Singapore we want to explore every inch of this beautiful country.

Of course it is that much more enjoyable in the company of friends.  So to share our Sunday experience let's begin with breakfast.

Now John is a brekky specialist whether it's crispy bacon with eggs and hash browns or as simple as toast and jam but today's breakfast is a delightful Spanish omelette consisting of panfried potatoes, capsicum, onions, peas and eggs.  Joining us for breakfast are Marc & Lindsay from our neighbouring condo.  Both are South African born, NZ citizens living as expats in Singapore, having a jolly good time just like us.

Stomach full we are ready to be cultured today and take off for the stunningly refurbished National Museum of Singapore to view a collection of Impressionists artworks.  However, not before Marc & Lindsay devour a five layered chocolate mousse (each layer has different quantities of cocoa), John and I fight over the chocolate cheesecake and Trini demolishes her own red velvet cupcake, along with a round of cappuccinos and tea.

The Impressionists exhibition from D'Orsay Museum, France presents 140 artworks from artists the likes of Gaugain, Van Gogh & Monet.  Personally the icing on the cake for this exhibition is seeing Van Gogh's stunning Starry Nights painting, which I have only ever experienced in print format and let me tell you, it is a superb painting.

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh [1888-89]

Halfway through the exhibition, we took a rest in the interactive space where Trini along with John, Marc & Lindsay created their own work of art featuring Lightning McQueen and Mater from Pixar's Cars movie, a purple Brachiosaurus, 2 pink aeroplanes, Camilla & Charles lookalikes, a gigantic yellow flower and a pink heart. 

The modern artists with the completed artwork [2011]

From here we moved onto the Museum's permanent exhibitions being the:
  • Fashion Gallery depicting Singapore's fashion style between 1950 and 1970.
  • William Farquhar's Collection of Natural History Drawings.  William commissioned locals to illustrate the diverse flora and fauna of the Malay Peninsula in the 1800s and amassed a spectacular collection of 477 drawings which have over time and through Mr GK Goh's efforts found their way back to Singapore.  The complete set has been donated by Mr Goh to the Museum.
  • Food Gallery representing 10 iconic dishes, Singapore's street food culture and its diverse and cross-cultural origins.
  • Photography Gallery portraying 100 years of Singaporean life through family portraits and albums of old photographs.
William Farquhar's Durian (aka King of Fruits). Tastes like a rich custard
but has a phenomenonally strong odour that many find offensive.

Watching roti pratha being made in the Food Gallery got Marc's taste buds running a muck and a visit to a roti specialist at Parkway Parade was underway.  By now the typical monsoon season is at hand with tropical rain aplenty but that did not deter us from hopping on a train and then a bus to get to the Mall for some roti (forget the taxis they were nowhere to be found).

In the Mall's foodcourt, John and Marc order cheese roti, egg roti and plain roti. Totalling 12 rotis we left not a morsel in sight.  By this stage it's 7pm and Trini has passed out.  Good ol' daddy works off the roti by carrying Trini and all of her 17kg by heading back to the bus stop because the taxi stand is chockas and booking one is impossible.

Since it's still raining and the bus stops near Marc & Lindsay's condo but not ours, we do a pitstop at their place for a Rooibos tea which is a popular South African tea.  A delightful flavour that to me was a cross between herbal and normal tea, it has no caffeine in it, it's filled with antioxidants and has low tannin levels.  Eventually we brave the weather and make our way home with our own box of Rooibos tea courtesy of our friends.

A long and busy Sunday, we now satisfactorily sit back on our lounge suite with a glass of Red Gum Vale Shiraz Cabernet.

So if you live in Singapore and you feel like being cultured, do check out the Museum's travelling exhibitions.  You never know what might be on display.

29 November 2011

Thai Prawns & Pumpkin Curry

A special thanks to my friend, Ruth, for sharing with me this delightfully yummy, quick and easy recipe.  My husband promptly advised me that he wants a return visit of this dish, next week is soon enough and my daughter added a slight twist to this curry by adding a tablespoon of live yoghurt to it.  Trini may have confused the dish with the Chicken & Potato Curry that has an Indian slant to it but we followed suit, added a tablespoon to the curry ourselves and quite surprisingly it added another dimension to the flavour of the dish, so it is now added as an optional extra to the recipe.

My first exposure to Thai food was a result of our 2001 holiday in Thailand.  I especially remember ordering my first curry on Phi Phi Island.  Starting with a milder version, in order to train my taste buds, over the years I have grown to appreciate the lovely flavours and aromas of Thailand.  I still don't eat extremely spicy dishes making this recipe perfect.  Take the fresh chilli out of the equation and it is easily enjoyed by non-spicy enthusiasts.

If you are a super spicy enthusiast and you are not sweating profusely enough then grab the chilli flakes from the cupboard and you should be right as well. 

A nice crisp white wine complements the dish beautifully.  

Thai Prawns & Pumpkin Curry

1T oil
1 large brown onion, sliced
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 pkt Thai red curry paste or 2T if using a jar of paste
400g pumpkin, peeled, cut into 3cm pieces
1T fish sauce
270ml can light coconut milk
1 long red chili, deseeded, thinly sliced (omit if children are eating the curry)
500g frozen prawns (fresh use 800g green king prawns peeled and cleaned [1kg in shell])
1 bunch of young asparagus cut in half (fresh beans can be used)
steamed rice, to serve


Heat oil in a large saucepan or wok over medium-high heat.

Cook onion and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes or until onion is softened. Add curry paste. Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.

Add pumpkin, fish sauce, coconut milk, half the chili and 3/4 cup cold water. Simmer for 12 minutes or until pumpkin is just tender and sauce has thickened slightly.

Add prawns and asparagus/beans. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or until prawns are cooked through and asparagus/beans tender.

Top with remaining chili.

Serve with rice.

Thai Prawns & Pumpkin Curry
PS: Thank you Ruth for the recipe.  Look forward to testing out a new one.
PPS: Bec, if you haven't made the Chicken & Potato Curry yet, then do this one first.  It is positively yummier.

26 November 2011

Saturday Morning in Singapore

I live on the east coast of Singapore, surrounded by park to the south, condos to the east and west and some more condos to the north.  What makes this location spectacular is the scenic view I have from my lounge room of the condos' facilities (five swimming pools for starters), East Coast Park and the Strait of Singapore sprinkled with maritime vessels.

East Coast Park (ECP) is a 15km stretch of tree-lined walking and cycling paths.  Particularly popular on the weekends with west and north coast residents sojourning here for a day trip, the ECP is a fitness fanatic's paradise.

Singapore may at times come across as a sleepy city with little happening during the day, of course discounting the shopping sprees taking place at nights, however, what a person like myself (I am not a morning person) may not see is the vibrant and bustling early hours of ECP.  It starts around 6.30am when walkers, cyclists, inline skaters or runners hit the pavement.  The fishermen are already at it on the nearby pier and the photographers are taking advantage of the morning light.

During one of those rare sleepless nights, I hit the pavement myself at 6.30am, camera in hand, water in the bag and the pier as my destination.  The pier is bustling with athletes, walkers and fishermen.  The sun is slowly rising on the horizon, the air is mildly fresh and every two minutes a plane is preparing to land at the nearby Changi Airport.

It's 6.30am with the sun rising on the horizon,
Singapore Airlines preparing for landing and the vessels still resting.

My favorite views are the maritime vessels.
Maybe because it conjures images of adventure on high seas.
7.00am on the East Coast Park.
Half hour later I leave the pier and as I walk along the ECP I come across a group practicing Tai Chi and preparations for a charity walk underway.  Hundreds of people of all ages patiently wait for the walk to commence and help raise funds for the Home Nursing Foundation.  The 3km walk may not seem like much but given that a large proportion of the walkers are senior citizens, it is certainly a great way to start the morning, whilst doing something for the community.

They were very smooth in their practice
Volunteers arriving to the event.
Having fun whilst waiting for the event to start.

Ready, set, go....
...and off they walk.
As the morning awakens, the sand castle beach is empty and the hawkers market is a ghost town till late afternoon. Yet the runners are out, the cyclists are pedalling whilst trying to work around the throng of people gathered for the charity walk and the carpark is full.

Each weekend grand sand castles are built here
for all to enjoy and participate in.
East Coast Lagoon Food Centre (aka hawkers market).
Hard to imagine that by 7.30pm this is not just bustling but usually
the several hundred seats are fully occupied.
Looking good.

Pedal away sweetheart...

So the streets may be quiet during the day as locals stay out of the heat and humidity but come the morning and many are out and about exercising, photographing, fishing and generally enjoying the early morning tropical weather. 

Bayshore Park Condos seen from the ECP.

25 November 2011

Chicken & Potato Curry

Most of us procure an image of Indian cuisine when the word curry powder is mentioned in a recipe but according to Wikipedia curry powder is actually a Western invention.  Popularised in the 19th-20th century, original blends of curry were largely available until the 1960s-70s.  The increasing demand for Indian cuisine made it uneconomical to maintain original blends and so a standardized version was born.  Typical ingredients are: coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, cumin and red pepper.  The McCormick brand in my pantry also includes: black pepper, bay leaves, celery seed, nutmeg, cloves, onion and ginger.

I have never cooked much with curry powder but an unfortunate purchase of 1kg of chicken fillets that were already thawed (an unusual practice I was not aware of until my shopping was delivered home) meant that I could not freeze the chicken as I intended and it needed to be cooked.  Scrambling around my kitchen to see what I could make with it, I came across a Chicken & Potato Curry recipe amongst my collection and all I was missing was the curry powder which I picked up at my local mini-mart.

We were pleasantly surprised with the end result, especially since we wound down the curry so Trinity could eat it as well.  Needless to say, the food was polished off the plates and we had a rare experience of eating a home cooked meal.

Chicken & Potato Curry

1T olive oil
4 large coliban (washed) potatoes, cut into 2cm chunks
1 large brown onion, halved and thinly sliced
1T curry powder (1 tsp if kids are eating or people who don't like spicy food)
500g chicken thigh fillets, trimmed of excess fat, cubed
1C vegetable stock
½C water
1C frozen green beans
1C frozen peas or mixed veggies (whatever is in your freezer)
Live yoghurt
Roti or naan bread to serve


Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add potatoes, onions and curry powder and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. (A non-stick pot is easier to cook in as the curry powder won't stick to the pot.)

Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add stock and water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add the beans and peas/mixed veggies and cook for a further 5 minutes. (Add a little more water if the curry gets too thick.)

Prepare roti/naan bread following packet directions and serve with the curry and yoghurt.

Enjoy the meal with a cold and crisp white wine.

09 November 2011

Lego Hero Factory Rookies' mission to save Hammer (aka Julian Kallis)


This short story was written for my nephew's 10 birthday. A huge Lego Hero Factory fan, Julian, creates and recreates characters and stories between his Hero Factory and Ninjago collection.

Lego Hero Factory Collection

The Short Story

In the grand city of Makuhero a small team of Hero Factory Heroes, namely Breez, Surge and Furno are dispatched to undertake a most dangerous mission. Leaving their beloved home, they hyper-jump through space into a new galaxy, blazing fiercely towards planet Earth to save a young rookie known as Hammer (aka Julian Kallis) from excruciating torture and possible elimination by a mysterious, fierce and powerful villain.

You see Hammer has talents distinct from the other Heroes. He is a black belt in Taekwondo, master swordsman as taught by Spinjitzu Master, expert in multiple weaponry, lightning fast and a shapeshifter. His extraordinary talents are desperately wanted by many but even more so by the mysterious villain Black Phantom.

Unfortunately for Hammer he was tricked into a trap by Black Phantom and was captured and imprisoned. Black Phantom is wanting to force slimy green and sludgy power stealing liquid into Hammer to extract all of Hammer's talents for his own use. This will give him phenomenal cosmic powers across all known star systems and will wreak havoc upon anyone who stands in his way.

However, Hammer is a tough rookie and has been able to withstand all sorts of tortures inflicted by the Phantom but the question is how much longer can he take it? The moment Hammer was captured, a distress signal was transmitted back to home base. Each Hero also has a proximity alert device built into their armour and the moment that Breez, Furno and Surge entered into the atmosphere the Hammer was alerted to their presence and then he knew.... he had to last just that little bit longer.

In the meantime the trio Heroes were preparing their shuttle for landing procedures as they entered Earth's atmosphere. As they honed in on Hammer's distress signal the trio launched their individual pods and zeroed in on Phantom's evil lair in assault formation.

Not to be outdone the Phantom instantly alerted by the oncoming attack dispatched his own team of villains. SplitFace, Thornraxx and RawJaw geared up with their weaponry and plenty of bad attitude charge towards the entrance of the lair and ensue into a battle of ginormous proportions.

A blaze of fire with bullets flying, swords clanging and robots wrestling, the villains and the good guys give it all their might fighting to the last breath. Breez is hurled against the rocks, as Surge and Furno struggle to hold off the fierce and powerful villains. But good must prevail because losing is not an option.

So Surge and Furno lay down some covering fire forcing the villains to leap for cover, buying the precious time that Breez needed to recover and act on her next strategic move. Stealthily creeping around the rear of the villains, with her mighty sword drawn above her head Breez came crashing upon them slashing left and right. She knocked out Thronraxx with her sword and as RawJaw was distracted by Breez’s sudden attack Furno took that moment to unleash a fury of silver bullets upon him and destroy him forever. As the battle comes to an end with the Heroes winning, SplitFace becomes more and more enraged, so much so that he short circuits himself and crumbles into a heap of Lego bricks.

Sensing that the trio are nearby to save him, Hammer summons all of his will, all of his power and all the knowledge that he gained through his years of training and breaks free of his restraints, smashes through the iron gates of his prison cell and charges towards the control centre where Phantom is watching his henchmen’s downfall.

Finally Phantom and Hammer face-off, circling each other. And here the final battle begins...

No weapons, no trickery, just good old fashioned hand to hand combat. Well almost. Hammer is a Master of Taekwondo and Phantom is a Master of Jujitsu. A roundhouse kick to Phantom's head is delivered with lightning speed that catches the villain off-guard but only slightly disorients him. In retaliation Phantom grapples Hammer to the floor and hooks his legs around Hammer's neck in a stranglehold. As they are grappling on the floor, Hammer executes a jumping, spinning, special extraction move, landing on top of Phantom in a classic death from above strike, forcing the Phantom to crash heavily into the ground. Phantom realizing that he can't possibly beat the Hammer, resorts to his tiny whipper-snapper pistol hidden under his cloak of darkness and shoots Hammer in his torso, dazing Hammer long enough for Phantom to make a dash for his escape pod.

Just as Phantom makes his escape, Breez, Surge and Furno barge through the doors of the control centre finding Hammer slightly wounded and a little dazed but otherwise in good spirits. Together they return to their shuttle and make their way into outer space, returning home to Makuhero.

Upon their arrival they are greeted by the High Council of Makuhero congratulating them on their successful mission. Hammer is then taken to a private Taekwondo party, just in time to celebrate his 10th birthday.


Over and out....

Col. John, Lt. Silv and Corp. TJ

Hammer (aka Julian Kallis)

24 September 2011

Tribute to a newly Christened baby girl named Sophia

I have had the honour and privilege of participating in a most wonderful christening recently that has left its mark on my heart.  My brother, Alex, christened Sophia on the same date and month as he did Stephanie and Sebastian (Sophia's siblings) five years prior.  As part of the proceedings, I prepared little Sophia for her ceremonial immersion in water and afterwards had the pleasure of dressing her in her christening outfit.  She was cute as a button.

The celebrations at the Melbourne Acquarium was filled with fun, good food and even better company, along with the fish and crocodile.  Thank you Millan family.


If you were an angel, 
you'd be wearing a halo upon your lovely head.

If you were a cherub, 
you'd be rosy-cheeked with wings.

If you were a fairy,
you'd be sprinkling fairy dust, weaving beautiful magic.

If you were a twinkling star,
you'd be shining bright in the night-sky.

If you were a princess,
you'd steal all our hearts and hold us in the palm of your hand.

But Sophia there are no If's.
You are not just one of these you are all of these.

You are mummy's angel and daddy's cherub.
You are my fairy and Nono's star.
You are Stephanie and Sebastian's special little sister
and everybody else's princess.

You are God's delightful creation,
filling your home with love and laughter.

Journey through life with everlasting wonder.
Cherish every minute with your family.
Hear your mum and dad's words of wisdom.
Forever adore your brother and sister.
Look after your Nono as he will look after you.
And I will in turn watch over you from afar.

Love, hugs and kisses.

Nono Alex, Silvia & Sophia

10 September 2011

My brother's birthday tribute to his niece

Happy Birthday Trinity

You run riot with our hearts
I think you know it and you hide
You test mummy and your dad
And when you lose you run to Anne

Neither I or Auntie Anne
Will say no to what you want
And I'll be making complex plans
To convince your mum and dad

You've barely turned the ripe old 3
And I'm recruited to fight for thee
For every no your mum will say
A look from you and I'm in stance

I didn't sign up for this you know
And I do see it in your eyes
The look that says oh Uncle Alex
You are just putty in my hands

I'll be hammered for years and years
I'll be in trouble with your mum
But what can I say dear Trini
One single kiss and I was thine

So being older in the know
I will tell you how it will go
When Auntie Annie is stopped by mum
To me you look and start to run

You hide behind me; don't say a word
And I will weather mummies storm
And when the rain has passed us by
You come out with a sunny smile

She'll forgive in her due time
We both know she will be fine
She'll blow a gasket two or three
But that's what mothers do with kids

So Triny dear I have a plan
Stick by me and we will get
All the things your heart desires
If not from mummy then from me

Happy Birthday it's your third
Let's run riot cause it's your day
And if they tell you to behave
Not today after all it is your birthday

Uncle Alex
Lets see what you get up to...

A birthday tribute to our daughter

Dear Trinity

You are the fairy tale story we dreamed of weaving
You are the masterpiece we knew we could paint

You are a princess in the making
With eyes that sparkle day and night

Your voice is a musical symphony
We love listening to all day

You are the shining star that brightenend our world
You are the final piece in the jigsaw of our lives

You are now 3 and that is just the beginning
Of the adventure that we are anticipating dreaming

Happy Birthday Our Gorgeous Girl

We love you BIG much!!!
Mummy & Daddy

07 September 2011

A tribute to my brother for his birthday

Dear Alex

You are my brother
My friend
The one I toss ideas with
Debate subjects
Talk with for endless hours
And drink copious amounts of coffee

You are the person I love hanging out with
Seriously thrashed me at backgammon
Walked 17km just for the sake of it
Had a magical day with in Rome
And wiled away the hours with heartfelt banter about life

You are the comedian in our lives
Always having us laughing wholeheartedly
You love with all of your heart
Accept everyone just the way they are
And today we have the chance to remember and celebrate you
By wishing you a very Happy Birthday

We love you brother with all of our hearts.
John, Silvia and Trinity

Image courtesy of my 3 year old daughter.

03 September 2011

A letter to daddy for Father's Day

Why would I play with anyone else,
when you are the greatest playmate I could ever have.

How could I not love you the way I do,
when your kisses and cuddles are just the very best.

I know sometimes I have selective hearing,
but it’s impossible to ignore you for long.

You patiently guide me through my mistakes,
forgive my tantrums and dry my tears.

You save me when the dinosaurs chase me and
build Megablok towers for me to crash.

You run with me to school,
jump over ‘raging rivers of death’,
hang me upside down, and
splash with me in the diving pool.

You taught me how to ride my scooter, catch a ball, and
paddle in the swimming pool.

You showed me that jam tastes better
when it’s scooped out of the jar with my finger.

We have done so many things already,
I can hardly wait for more.

You are the best of the bestest daddies, and
I am one lucky little girl.

I want today to be a special day for you,
have lots of doughnuts, and
reminisce about all the fun we have together.


I Love You BIG Much!!!

My world of needlecraft

I began my lifetime affair with needlework 22 years ago when an acquiantance introduced me to Needlecraft in Gosford, New South Wales and I ordered my first tapestry canvas of a Geisha girl. Six months and numerous hours of stitching later, I accomplished my first project.

For 21 years the Geisha girl hung proudly in all the homes I lived in. She has been reframed three times, each time to reflect my changing tastes and perhaps maturity. The final frame has a Japanese influence which suits it much better. Today, Geisha is resting in storage whilst I live abroad.

Truly inspired it did not take me long to find the next project. With red as my favorite colour you can imagine that I couldn't resist the Spanish dancers Rodriguez and Carmen. Stitching Carmen's dress was so much fun. With each stitch sewn the red, orange and yellow were weaving a most wonderful kaleidoscope of colour. The monotonous background colour was certaily the least fun and took a while to get through. It was difficult to maintain momentum but persistence and a desire to see them completed was sufficient to keep me going.

Both are approximately 19 years old and for at least the last 16 years they have been waiting for classier framing. One day it will happen.

For my 21st birthday my aunty from Italy sent me a tapestry canvas with wild horses in pastel colours. Having just completed three tapestries in very bright colours, I found the Wild Horses a bit boring. It sat in my cupboard for a year before I decided it was time to undertake the project and off I went.

What I did not anticipate was the length of time it would take to complete. Given that I could only work at nights and the colours blended together under yellow light, I found the project difficult and at times frustrating. Eventually I realised I had to pen mark the outline for each colour so I could work more quickly and efficiently. Once I completed the easy colours such as the black and browns, I started taking it with me on the train during the day. An hourly train ride to work each way under natural light eventually helped with finishing the tapestry.

It took me five years to complete but I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome and whilst I never intended to keep it, for 13 years it hung in my house until its recent storage.

About half way through I desperately needed a break from the pastel colours and completed a small tapestry with red roses on a black background. It was just what I needed to freshen me up and return to the Wild Horses.

Several other tapestry projects were made over the years as gifts and unfortunately have no record of them but at some point I switched to cross-stitch. Now any cross-stitcher out there would know that one must be committed, have great vision, an eye for detail and the patience to count and recount the chart, the stitch placement and the quantity of stitches. Where tapestry is easy because the image is printed on the canvas, counted cross stitch is another kettle of fish. I will leave the cross-stitch tales for another blog.

So fast forward to 2010, several cross-stitches later and a desperate desire for an easy project. In my brilliance, I chose a Seaside Cottage with thatched roof and cottage garden for my Aunty's birthday. A timeframe of eight weeks seemed reasonable and I placed the order with Fox Collection not realising that the project would have a bumpy start.

I prefer cotton floss over wool when working on tapestries (except for cushions due to wearability). So to my dismay when I received the canvas, I had the listing for Anchor wool. I use DMC floss. So imagine my attempt to convert Anchor wool to Anchor floss to then convert Anchor floss to DMC floss. I searched and searched on the net for conversion charts and came across a few but once converted nothing matched or worked.

In the end I picked up my own collection of DMC floss and matched it myself. It was a great way to use up some of my excess threads and with trepidation I soldiered on and hoped it would work out just fine. The outcome was a pleasant surprise, particularly since I finished it with two weeks to spare.

I have touched on many different crafts: jewellery making, photography, latch hook, paper tole, scrapbooking, however, tapestry and cross-stitch remain my true constants.  Needlework gives me peace and quietens my mind, whilst accomplishing an end result.

02 September 2011

Fashion at ION Orchard Shopping Mall

ION Orchard is one phenomenal building. An architectural and futuristic delight, it opened to the public in 2009 with 300+ stores across 8 levels of shopping space. It is by far my favorite shopping mall on Orchard Road (my favorite in all of Singapore is The Shoppe at Marina Bay Sands but that's another blog). It caters to everybody from the top end down.

The upper floors of ION Orchard abound with luxury brands the likes of Armani, Ferragamo, YSL, D&G, Valentino, Miu Miu, Max Mara, Dior and Burberry, to name a few.  The store displays are beautiful as expected with doormen at the ready to welcome the shopper inside.

The lower levels are designated to retailers for mainstream shoppers mixed in with food courts, my favorite coffee shop the Coffee Bean and access to the nearest train station.

A portion of the ION Orchard Shopping Mall

Launched by Manny Mashouf, an Iranian-born American in 1976, Bebe has an international presence with three outlets in Singapore.

The brand’s objective is to create merchandise that is playful and sensual for the contemporary woman. True to its objective the clothes are gorgeous, designs are gorgeous, fabulous quality and the prices are great averaging between $150-$200.

You can find anything from workwear, to sportswear, casualwear and eveningwear along with bags, shoes and accessories.

New season's maxi-dress

Karen Millen of England

A UK established company since 1981 it started with a loan of 100 sterling pounds to manufacture and sell shirts to friends. Today, Karen Millen spans five continents, a long way from its humble beginnings.

Karen Millen is synonymous with elegance and style. Catering more towards the 35+ the clothes are ready to wear from all day to well into the evening.

Whilst the store is not large, the clothes are cleverly sectioned into complementary colour schemes with matching shoes and handbags. A dress with matching bag and shoes will set you back approximately $1,000.

The colourblock collection seems to be very much a Karen Millen signature.  Designed to have a "look at me, look at me" wow factor the green, blue, white and black combination is very English and very classy.

Colourblock Collection

Check out the website www.karenmillen.com. It really is worth the effort.


What a lovely retailer. It’s colourful and lively with anything from smart casual to work to trendy to cocktail. If you are visiting Orchard Rd you can either pick one of the three Zara stores or visit all three.

Zara has a superb business model where new merchandise is delivered to stores bi-weekly, thereby freeing the stores from disposing of any unpopular items instantaneously. With ongoing fresh stock the shopper will always find something new to add to their wardrobe. As Alina of ViaStyle put it “Zara has the ability to commercialize the runway trends in less than two weeks from sketch to store... The store staff are trained to give instant feedback to the design team on what is selling and what is not. The non-selling styles are pulled out the next day and replaced with a new style! Incredible!”

Considering the excellent quality and the range of merchandise available I was surprised at how well they were priced. The average garment price was under $100, whilst many of the shoes were around $200.

What I also found interesting is the quantity of male staff in the female section of the store. They looked smart and efficient and each staff member seemed to be interested in their jobs. Now there’s a first.

I loved the red and white polka dot wedged platforms and the cream floral peep toe platforms. The inner padding made both platforms surprisingly comfortable.  I did however need to hold onto something in order to get into these incredibly high platforms and I am no stranger to stilettos.

I found a beautiful orange maxi-skirt which really needed a tall slender girl to carry it off. The only drawback was that it was too sheer. On a sunny day .... well you can imagine. It was nicely priced at $90.

A couple of hundred metres down the road was an even bigger and better store. Across two levels and substantial space, this Zara was even better at displaying and organising their merchandise. The various designs were easily accessible and readily available for viewing without needing to lift a finger. This store was much more aesthetically pleasing with a better segregation, organisation and coordination of their merchandise.

The men’s department catered from the youthful trendsetter to the stylish yet still modern corporate flyer. The collection contained anything from cargo shorts and polo T-shirts to shirts, pants, suits, shoes and bags. Much of the collection allowed the individual to step into any tropical paradise or just plain summer and be right at home.

A visit to Zara is a must. If you are not in Singapore, never mind, Sydney opened a few months ago with a sensational three storey establishment, measuring at 1400 sqm in its famous Pitt Street Mall and Melbourne’s Zara has an even larger retail space in Bourke Street Mall.

If neither Australia or Singapore are your location, well Zara is found in over 400 cities across all the continents. Now that is a global powerhouse and a far cry from its 1975 start in Spain.

Cream floral peep toe platform $179
Orange maxi-skirt $90
Mohair sweater with elbow patches $90


This retailer is perfectly designed for the slender and petite woman.

With Japanese imported fabrics and local designers, Southaven carries a lovely collection of sophisticated female apparel. These nicely structured, soft and elegant garments are targeted for the 20-30s along with a terrific price range of just under $100 each.

What was evident in the designs were the small details either in the waistband of the skinny hipsters, or the slight side gather at the hem of the three-quarter pants, or the soft ruffle that draped gracefully on the v-shaped dress.

 A great store to draw inspiration from when putting together the non-casual part of your wardrobe.

It requires a particularly small frame to carry
these pants off


Who doesn't know Guess?  My local shopping centre in Melbourne had one but I never checked it out and by not knowing the price range in Australia, I cannot compare with Singapore. However, I thought that $100-$200 was quite reasonable here.

This particular Guess store had a great window display and I felt compelled to enter and see more. I was not disappointed. Great fabrics, soft, summery and girly garments, pretty bustiers, fresh youthful designs with a hint of modern country. The typical Guess handbags were in abundance but what I liked the most was the milky-white, straight-cut, braided neckline, viscose dress with these great strips of fabric bunched together to make up the short sleeves. It was a simple dress that made a great statement. I could see it worn at a christening or engagement or cocktail party, really any after 5 event. It just needed a slender shaped woman to carry it off. The price of $170 was even more surprising.

Viscose dress $170
I seem to mention "slender frame" a lot but this is relative to the country I currently reside in. Singaporeans' thin and petite physiques reign supreme at 90% of the population.  However, at 170cm and Australian size 12, I managed to purchase a lovely full length summer dress, Guess shoes and Charles & Keith handbag.

Nichii dress $49 
Guess clogs $65 as featured in
"Shoes, shoes, fabulous shoes" blog (Jun '11)
Charles & Keith handbag $60

  • All prices listed are in Singaporean dollars.
  • With the exception of the first and last three photos all other images are courtesy of the world wide web.