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. 

Medieval Village of Sermoneta, Italy

On a hilltop, 80kms south-east of Rome, lies the quaint medieval village of Sermoneta with spectacular aerial views; far removed from the throng of summer tourists.

Surrounded by a curtain wall it is home to 9000 people and a grand 13th century castle which for over 700 years has been managed by the same family.

The medieval village of Sermoneta and Caetani Castle
The villages intriguing characteristics are the narrow and winding stairs that make up the majority of the streets of Sermoneta. Very little driving is possible in the village simply because road access is limited to only a handful of streets.

The fun part of walking around this village is that unless you live here, you don't know where it leads you.  Each time you think you reached the end, another narrow winding set of stairs presents itself.

Throughout it all Trinity charged on like a little trooper.  No amount of too deep, too high, too narrow, too anything kind of stairs were going to deter her from tackling them.  And if, just if, things got a little tough Aunty Annie and Uncle Alex came to the rescue.

I can do it mummy
Ooooh just one more step.
How many more to go??
Rescued by Aunty and Uncle
The central piazza had three outdoor cafes, where shots of coffee, nice cold beer and juices were enjoyed.

With some intrigue and a great deal of respect we observed four sexagenarians (or thereabouts) dismount their bicycles.  Fully decked out in cycling gear with possibly the greatest pair of legs I’ve seen on men of their age, they seated themselves beside us for a cool drink.  My aunty with very little shame approached the cyclists and requested to have their photo taken.  With aplomb, the cyclists primped themselves and gladly posed.

Coffee, beer, juice and ice cream time
Just check out those legs.... va va voom
The nearby pottery shop, whilst small, was very prettily presented with locally made products.

This chair would look great in a cottage garden
This platter may not be overly functional but it sure is creative

Sermoneta was full of surprises, vistas and great Italian coffee.  On a quiet summer’s day, the peacefulness of the village was delightful, the architecture ancient and the company divine.

To any traveller visiting Italy, spare a day in Sermoneta and lose yourself in a village that began five years before Christianity, making it approximately 2016 years old.

Castle Caetani