rose bush

tulips Moidart


So I spent the long weekend in Bowral, in the Southern Highlands. There are two beautiful gardens worth visiting there, Moidart Garden and Milton Garden. These gardens are within close proximity to my accommodation at the Biota. 

Moidart Garden 

Moidart Garden is very English, tucked away in the folds of the highland which is part of the Great Dividing Range that spans from NSW to Queensland. The name Moidart is actually a district on the west coast of Scotland. It was built by Mr James Burns in the early 1930s.  

The garden features mature deciduous trees which provide a stunning display of autumn colours. Specimens include giant sequoia, red oaks, golden elms, chestnuts, london plane trees, copper beech, dogwood, tulip trees and cypress.

close up tulips moidart

I fell in love with the setting in front of the huge house. Graceful white tulips have been planted in neat rows in front of the residence which look like a country manor.  

sunken rose garden

Sunken Rose Garden

To the east of the house, surrounded by manicured hedges, is the famous sunken rose garden. Here a formal layout of beds bordered by box hedges, a central flowering crabapple and gravel paths provide a setting for a magnificent display of classic roses from spring through to autumn.

bluebell walk



rosebush 2

The Terraces

I enjoyed walking past blue bells on either sides of the garden. The place is very tranquil and I never tire looking at the flowers around me. There are also rose bushes that add vibrant colour to the surroundings amidst the blue bells.  

milton park

Milton Park 

Milton Park started off as a property for breeding fine cattle. It was purchased by Anthony Hordern in 1910. In 1960, Milton Park was bought by King Ranch Pty Ltd. This company was responsible for the import of Santa Gertrudis Cattle to Australia in 1952. Cattle breeders from all over Australia converge at this annual sale of top quality stock at Milton Park annually. 

The property has been converted to a hotel in 1984. The place has been refurbished and the garden has been restored to its former glory.  

tulips Milton


tulips 2 Milton

Strolling in the garden feels like what the landed gentry in England must have enjoyed doing in the 19th century. Sans parasols and calico dresses, the stroll was leisurely and everything I saw was a feast to the eyes. There was bound to be something of wonder in little pockets of the garden that is full of character. 

milton gate

The blue bell wood was like a whimsical place tucked in the far corners of the earth. It lay in the shadows of huge trees and a fallen log or two added some character to the place, replicating the scenery at the woods. 

milton trees

The rainbow lawn was dotted with colorful tulips. It was a welcome sight and punctuate the monotony of greenery with colour. 

milton property

We could have spent hours in the garden as the tranquility and beauty were therapeutic. By the end of the walk, we felt refreshed and calm. We were ready to venture to our next destination. 

New Age Tips 

Have you ever wondered why gardening is so therapeutic for many? Just being amidst greenery is an antidote for the soul. Doing mindless work like planting, weeding and watering takes your mind off your worries. Harvesting your fruit or herbs or vegetables gives you that unexplainable satisfaction. 

If you live in a unit or apartment and are fortunate enough to have  a balcony, consider starting a vertical garden. It is not only practical and utilises the amount of space you’ve got, but is also cathartic. 

If you live in a house with a garden, consider planning a layout for a small garden. Before long, you’d be into it and find deep satisfaction in growing your own plants. 

If you have neither a balcony or or space for a garden or garden visits to the highlands are not on the cards, try scoping out gardens or parks in your area and take walks every now and then. You will find that such a simple activity does wonders to your body, mind and soul. 


boiled chick peas


healthy snack

Talking about calories these days, I’m proud to say that I have lost some weight. Weighing 53.5 kg, my aim is to maintain it. Boy it is a challenge. I must say, a lot comes from being conscious of what goes into my body and having self-restraint. My goal is also to lower my cholesterol level by year end when I have my annual check up. 

I used to treat myself to unhealthy food especially on Fridays after work, to mark the start of the weekends. I’d sink my teeth into chips or juicy Big Mac. I had to have cheese in my sandwiches. Mind you, they are high calorie cheeses. I ate a lot prawns that contributed to my high cholesterol levels. 

Fast forward, I’m now mindful of what I eat. I do crave for sinful food at times, but I’m able to manage my cravings. These days, I’d prefer to have small, light food portions and feel full easily. I cringe at the sight and taste of sugary food and my taste buds have low tolerance for food containing high salt content. How does all that happen? Well, I would taking food with low sugar and salt content over a long period of time somewhat trains your taste buds to go for healthy food. 

When I trawl the supermarket aisles, I’d tune in to my radar to look for less guilty snacks. I would get enticed to Pringles and other chips on discount but my mind would go ‘How would you feel when you’ve eaten these?’, ‘What are the side effects?’ blah blah blah. Yes, it takes a lot discipline to go past these tempting snacks. 

I’d substitute Tim Tams for dark chocolate bars (70% -78%) which contain no biscuits and low sugar content, chips with corn cake crisps and hummus dips and other high salt content snacks like sweet potato crisps with boiled chickpeas and edamame beans. My taste buds cannot take milk chocolate now that I’ve substituted my cravings for chocs with plain dark choc bars or buttons. 

So, I will be going for a weekend escape to Bowral today and have packed boiled chickpeas and edamame beans for my road trip to the Highlands. 

boiled chick peas

How to Soak Chickpeas

how to soak chickpeas

I buy raw chickpeas in packets from the local supermarket and empty one packet in a big bowl. Soaking the chick peas overnight will ensure that less boiling needs to be done the next day so that the chick peas are soft enough to chew on. You will notice that the water level will reduce as you soak the chic peas for some minutes. Pour away the water and replace it with fresh water to re-soak. This is drain away the starch from the chick peas. You will notice that the colour that is drained away is dark amber. Continue to drain the water and replace it about 4 times throughout the day. Leave the chickpeas in water overnight. You will hear crackling sounds coming from the chick peas and that’s common. 

Boiling Chickpeas

Drain away the water one last time and fill a sauce pan containing chick peas with fresh water. As you drain the water away, the colour is noticeably light yellow. Pour a tea spoon of sea salt into the water and mix through. I use sea salt as it is known to be healthier than table salt as the latter has additive in it to prevent clumping. Boil the chickpeas for about 20 minutes, till chickpeas are soft enough to eat.   

For me, munching on chickpeas can be additive. I chew them away guilt free knowing it contains low calories and contains dietary fiber and protein. Chickpeas also control blood sugar levels, increase satiety, improves digestion, helps protect against heart disease and cancer and provides essential vitamins and minerals. 

Boiled chickpeas are easy to prepare and makes a healthy snack for the family. I can go on my road trip and munch on my chickpeas and edamame beans which also contain lots of fiber and protein without guilt. Have a good weekend and I will fill you in on my Bowral trip which includes visiting gardens and parks. What a great way to enjoy spring! 



                                                                                         Source: Gem Select

Today, I’d like to share with you my experiences with larimar crystal. Have you heard of this special crystal? If you have not, I’m not at all surprised. This crystal is a special one that is rare. I have been attracted to this special crystal lately as I have anxiety issues. Carrying the right crystals have helped me to contain my anxiety and stay calm throughout the day. 

On hindsight, I have always been fascinated with crystals and have gradually been collecting crystal pieces for healing and their aesthetic properties. I have collected spheres, hearts, eggs, pendants and rings as well as raw specimens. I know this is crazy but it is an addiction that not only makes me happy but is beneficial metaphysically. I do reap its benefits and I will describe in detail what each of my favourite crystal brings. 

For now, I’d like to talk about larimar and the benefits I receive from wearing this crystal. In order to appreciate this lovely blue crystal, let’s come to understand its origins. 

Origin of larimar

Larimar is a sky blue stone consisting of pectolite. It is found only in a mountainous, inaccessible area in the province of Barahona in the Dominican Republic. 

Interestingly, it is believed that Norman Rilling, a member of the U.S Peace Corps and Miguel Mendez, a Dominican found pieces of Larimar along the beach. They were puzzled as these pieces were not ordinary stones. It was hypothesized that the stones were washed up by the waves from elsewhere. However, the men then followed a river upstream and found more blue stones. Years later, the blue stones were traced to its source – in the depths of a dead volcano. The name of the stone was concocted by Mendez. It was a combination of his daughter’s name Larissa and the Spanish word for sea, Mar. Interesting huh?

It is now known that larimar is produced by volcanic movement, when hot gases push crystallized minerals up through volcanic vents. Through the process of soil erosion, some pieces broke off near the crater of the dead volcano and were washed by rainfall. They got deposited into the river and got washed by waves when the river reached its mouth. Such stones then got deposited along the beach. 

In order to mine and extract larimar, the miners must first identify the vent and dig deep, as deep as 300m into the old volcano. During the cyclone season, mining halts for the time being. Larimar for that reason, is found in small quantities and can be expensive. Local miners sustain their living from mining for these precious stone and make a better income than previously despite the risk that their job entail. For that reason, I’m thankful for their contribution to crystal collectors and those in need of healing, like myself.    


Larimar is said to enhance communication. It is beneficial to those who use their voice in their career such as teachers and singers. It strengthens the voice and soothes the nerves. It also makes one more connected with nature. 

larimar pendant

My experience 

I wore a larimar pendent yesterday and on hindsight it draws me towards nature. Here is my story. So long story short, I took a trip up the Blue Mountains yesterday. I’ve been wanting to travel to the mountains by train but have procrastinated. It took 2 hours for the train to wind its way to Katoomba, a small mountain town. 

I had breakfast and coffee when I arrived there as I was famished after the long trip. I was disappointed as the cafes I wanted to visit were closed that day. Anyway, after breakfast, I decided to window shop. I hopped into book shops and curio stores and left the shops disinterested. I then made my way to a vintage emporium. I was bored within minutes. Across the road, was Mr Pickwick’s Fine Old Books that sold knick knacks and second hand books. I stepped in, expected to be enthralled. This store has numerous good reviews on Tripadvisor. However, I ambled along its alleyways of vintage collection, clothes and books feeling dis-spirited. 


I then decided to hop onto the train and alight at Leura, a stop away. Leura is a quaint village known for its eclectic shops. Shop after shop I walked into. I browsed products on sale without interest. I guess I wasn’t entertained by crass commercialism.  I then walked out of the village after having a second cup of coffee for the day and not so fantastic banana cake. 

Bygone Beauties

Low and behold. My feelings gradually changed. I felt lighter when I saw cherry blossoms and other flowering plants along the road, flanked by quaint houses. I then unwittingly made my way to Bygone Beauties, a curio chop and cafe I’ve been to years ago that is known for its Devonshire tea and tea pot collection.  

Bygone Beauties


Bygone Beauties


Tea Pot from Bygone Beautys

I was gobsmacked. I spent about half and hour marveling at the tea set collection over the ages and from various continents. The shop layout has changed. It now has a museum corner displaying all sorts of tea pots and tea-related paraphernalia. It was amazing. When I finally stepped outside, I took in deep breaths of the fresh mountain air and the soaked in the colourful sights of flowers. I was drawn by nature. I believed that was the effect of larimar. It draws one to nature and a sense of wonder .I felt happier being amidst the trees and colourful flowering plants. That was the highlight of my day. Looking back, I wish I could see more of the mountain views and the cascades that snake their way through its lush vegetation. 

Time did not permit. Alas, I had to take the train home and jostle with the commuters.  

To determine if a crystal works for you, observe your feelings and their triggers throughout the day and record them. Identify any consistencies or disparities when using or not using them. That way, you’ll know if the crystal works for you. 

Have you got similar experiences with larimar? I’m more than happy to read about your take on it.  


stir fry vegetable vermicelli

fried vegetarian vermicelli

To prepare this stir fry vegetable vermicelli recipe, you need good vermicelli. I use chili brand for its quality. Some vermicelli gives off an awful after taste of flour but this brand is the perfect one for my noodle dishes. The trick to preparing this dish is to make use it is moist enough. This can be addressed by using vegetable stock. Another is to complement your cooking with that of the microwave to soften your hardy vegetables. This way, you don’t have to cook the vegetables for too long which takes the nutritious value away. 


1/2 packet of vermicelli 

1 large onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 bak choy, chopped

1 broccoli, chopped

4 carrots, sliced

1 packet bean sprouts

2 tbsp oyster sauce 

4 tbsp soy sauce

4 tbsp kicap manis

2 tbsp Hoi Sin sauce

250g vegetable stock

pepper to taste 

some fried shallots for garnish


  1. Pour boiling water over vermicelli in a pot till it softens. 
  2. Drain the vermicelli in a colander and leave aside. 
  3. Heat oil in a skillet. 
  4. Fry onions till caramelized.
  5. Lightly fry garlic. 
  6. Soften broccoli and carrots separately in microwave for 3-4 mins. 
  7. Then add them in the skillet. 
  8. Add oyster sauce and mix thoroughly. 
  9. Add bak choy and then the vermicelli. 
  10. Then add soy, kicap manis  and Hoi Sin sauce. Mix well. 
  11. Pour in vegetable stock to add moisture. Taste and add soy and kicap manis if needed. 
  12. Lastly, add bean sprouts for the crunch. 
  13. Add pepper to taste. 

Serve while it is piping hot. This is a great dish to serve to guests. For protein, you can choose to add fried tofu or even prawns or chicken if you’re a non-vegetarian. 



brown tomato rice

brown tomato rice


This is the first time that I’ve prepared tomato rice using brown rice. I must declare that the brown tomato rice has been a success. It tasted just as delicious and for sure it is healthier than white rice. This rice can be eaten on its own with chicken or fish or with gravy. If you don’t already know, you should use 2 cups water to one cup brown rice ratio.


1 cup brown rice

1 large onion, sliced

4 large tomatoes, diced

1/2 bottle of Provinicial Italian Tomatoes with Grilled Bell Peppers

pepper to taste


  1. Fry sliced onions till caramelized.
  2. Add tomatoes till they soften.
  3. Add Provincial Italian Tomato sauce or any bottled sauce of preference
  4. Add a dash of pepper and mix thoroughly.
  5. Once the brown rice is cooked, pour in the mixture into the rice cooker and mix it thoroughly with the cooked rice.
  6. Serve with side dishes or with gravy.


This rice is packed with all the goodness of tomato and is undoubtedly delicious. Serve it with salad, fish or chicken or pour lentil-based gravy or tomato chicken gravy over it.




fresh chili from the garden

chili flakes

We have had a bountiful harvest of chili recently and have dried some of them to make into flakes. Yes home made chili flakes. We couldn’t use all of them at one sitting so some had to be stored in the freezer as well. We just love chilies as they add zest to food. They go well with omelette, tomato based pasta, fried rice, pizza, you name it. 

chili plants

The cayenne chilies are suitable for making flakes since they are long and fleshy. They make cutting easy and the amount of flesh they have translate to a sizable volume of flakes. 


fresh chili from the garden

dried chili


How I Made Chili Flakes

First of all, the chilies were dried in the sun for days till they crisped up and turned maroon. Then, they were dry fried in a pan for 2-3 minutes to release trapped moisture. If some of the chilies get charred, don’t worry as long as they don’t get burned. Charred chilies give off that intoxicating charred flavour, if you know what I mean. 

After that, I removed the chilies from the pan and left them to cool. Once cooled, it was time to snip off the ends into a good sized bottle so they formed into flakes. 

Voila! Home made chili flakes you can get your hands on for that added flavour. You need a good amount of dry chili to fill up a bottle. Try sprinkling the flakes on pasta, pizza and tuna dishes. They taste awesome. 


pesto pasta

pesto pasta with avocado

Last Sunday, I decided to prepare pesto pasta. I racked my brains for dinner ideas and came up with pesto pasta with a twist. Simple to prepare, this dish needs quality Shitake mushrooms and fresh spinach leaves.  In my case, I happened to have some rocket leaves in my fridge so those became part of the ingredients. 

I’ve made this dish previously but have omitted some ingredients. In this dish, I have also made sure that the pasta is moist and creamy. Using a cup of pasta water prior to draining the spaghetti is a brilliant idea. It not only adds some moistness to the pasta, but also enhances its flavour. 


1 big onion, sliced

1/2 cup Shitake mushrooms 

1/2 cup fresh button mushrooms

a bunch of asparagus, sliced at an angle

1 cup frozen green peas 

handful of fresh spinach/rockets

1 small bottle of pesto

1 avocado 

handful of lightly fried pinenuts

3/4 packet of spaghetti

1 cup of spaghetti water

pinch of salt



  1. Add some salt to water in a pot and set to boil. Once bubbles have formed, add spaghetti in and boil till al-dente. Pour some spaghetti water into a cup for use later.   
  2. Add onions and fry till caramelised. Then add asparagus and mushrooms. Let the latter sweat.
  3. Add green peas and mix till cooked. Then, add pine nuts.
  4. Add pepper to taste and blend well. 
  5. Then empty pesto from the bottle into the mixture and then add spaghetti water into the mixture. Mix thoroughly. 
  6. Add in the spinach/rocket leaves and then the spaghetti. Mix well. 
  7. Add more pepper if needed. 
  8. Scoop avocado from its shell and mix them into the pasta. 
  9. Serve and enjoy.

The pesto pasta is creamy and delicious. If you are planning a healthy and satisfying meal, this is the one to consider. 

The green peas and onions add a tinge of sweetness to the pasta. This is truly a scrumptious creation. 


lower cholesterol level

lower cholesterol level


I’m on a journey to lower my cholesterol level. Flashback to January 2017…..I was shocked to discover I had high cholesterol when I went for my recent check up. My blood test showed my overall cholesterol level was 170, which is considered high. Weighing 58 kg at that time, I was far from overweight and my BMI was 22. So since weight is not an indicator of high cholesterol, I never would have thought I had high cholesterol level. At the clinic, I tried to reflect what I had consumed throughout the whole of the previous year so I could pint point on the food culprits that had spiked up my cholesterol level. Truth be told I relished high fat cheese – in sandwiches, baked dishes and on pizzas. I had my fair share of prawns – perhaps in excess. I was guilty of devouring juicy, tasty Quarter Pounder burgers at McDonald’s whenever I felt like treating myself on Friday afternoons to mark the end of a busy week. High fat in content, the meat is devilishly delicious but at the same time, it is filled with tons of salt that makes it all the more tempting. Pathetic way to end the week, I know, but could I help it when McDonald’s is just a stone’s throw away from the bus stop I was headed for? You’ve done well McDonald’s, at enticing the weak. Well, undeniably all of these added together could have raised my cholesterol level. 

What have I done to lower my cholesterol level? To date, I’ve tried to record what I eat on a daily basis. I’ve made it a point to exercise at least thrice a week on my treadmill for about 20 to 30 minutes to burn 100-150 calories each time I’m on the equipment. I’m more mindful of what I eat. This requires a lot of self-restraint, especially when I’m at the supermarket and am tempted to grab food items on specials that are not on my to-buy list. 

I’ve adopted the following strategies on my journey to lower my cholesterol level:

  1. Refrain from shellfish for a while 

For the moment I’m trying to abstain from shellfish for a few months. Temporary abstinence may be the necessary to adjust cholesterol levels, judging from the fact that shellfish may be the primary culprit. 

2.    Substitute high fat cheese with low fat ones

I used to consume high fat cheddar cheese on a daily basis. These include Coon and Bega slices as well as aged Mainland cheddar cheese blocks. These cheeses would also be included in my cooking especially in bakes and as pizza toppings. I now choose to have Kraft cheddar slices that contain low fat. They may not be as tasty as its high fat alternatives but hey, I feel less guilty in my attempts at lowering my cholesterol level. 

3. Cut down on snacks and fried food

I have not consumed potato chips and fried chicken for two months now. I’m mindful of not buying these either. As an alternative, I munch on nuts namely walnuts, almonds and pistachios that fill me up. I also indulge in dark chocolates once in a while as these are better substitutes for the sugary milk chocolates. I limit myself to a square each time. 

Mindful eating isn’t easy when there is a wide variety of food available at food courts, on streets and in the supermarkets. It all boils down to self-restraint and the desire to achieve a specific goal, in my case, to lower my cholesterol level. Currently, I am taking a nutritionist course which will hopefully help me in making informed food choices. I invite you to join my journey to lower my cholesterol level and lead a healthier lifestyle. I’m more than happy to hear from you if you are on a similar journey. Let’s embark on this together and make a head start to better health. 


Sukin Rose Hip Oil
rose hip oil

Sukin Rose Hip Oil

Rose Hip Oil comes from the seeds of a specific variety of rose, Rosa aff. rubiginosa or Rosa moschate. These seeds come from the fruit left behind after a rose has flowered and dropped its petals. Harvested predominately in Chile, the seeds contain vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids that can correct dark spots, hydrate dry and reducing scars and fine lines.

The Rose Hip Oil I’d like to recommend is from the Sukin range. Since applying Sukin Rose Hip Oil on my face, my complexion has improved. It is noticeably more radiant and smoother. Some sun spots have given way to brighter skin.  The oil glides smoothly on my skin and stays till my first face wash in the morning.

I would recommend applying a handful of drops throughout the face in the evening before sleep. Also apply on the sides of your eyes to smoothen fine lines. Gently massage the oil throughout the face till it is absorbed. Don’t disregard the neck area. Containing Vitamin A which has small molecules, the oil is able to penetrate into deeper layers of the skin and improve skin moisture.


Rich in fatty acids, Sukin Rose Hip Oil is preservative free. When absorbed into the skin, the fatty acids convert to prostaglandins (PGE), which are involved in cellular membrane and tissue regeneration. It is also rich in anti-oxidants which help prevent dryness. The beta-carotene in the oil restores suppleness and evens skin tone. Since it is a certified organic product, the following is not present:

  • Sodium lauryl sulphate
  • Sodium laureth sulphate
  • Parabens
  • Synthetic fragrances

Sukin Rose Hip Oil (25 ml) is sold at all leading pharmacies at AU$19.99.




The New Year has descended upon us again. We tend to desire a change for the better. Hence, we make new resolutions hoping to become slimmer, healthier, more beautiful, wealthier and more organised perhaps through journaling. Shops and news agencies stack organisers, planners and journals to target the planners, organisers and journal enthusiasts who are aware of the benefits of journaling. 

Typo has recently launched a 50% discount sale of selected items. These include weekly planners, journals and stationery. I purchased a handful of journals and weekly planner with the aim of being organised at work as well as continue with journaling which can be therapeutic and reflective.

On that note, I must mention a special journal containing prompts that I stumbled upon at Typo. Entitled ‘Do you ever ask yourself what if?’, each page contains a prompt starting with ‘What if….’. Interesting and creative, the prompts help the writer to reflect deeply and write about things that he or she has never thought of. Examples are ‘What if you could change your personality? What would you change?’, What if you could meet someone who inspires you? Who would it be?’, ‘”What if you could take over a company? What would it be and why?’. There are prompts that require deeper amount of thinking or even some amount of research work than others. On the whole, I feel that this journal is a keepsake and it comes in handy for those who have problems in thinking of what to write.  

Benefits of journal writing

  1. It is cathartic

Journal writing requires you to be in a clear frame of mind. It allows you to pour your thoughts and feelings which can be a healthy outlet for venting your anger, letting your emotions flow and penning your worries. In short, it is a personal therapy session.

  1. It activates your brain

Journaling makes you reflect on past events and consider your thoughts and feelings about it as well as about the people involved. It makes you delve deeper into your psyche and think about things which you may not have considered before.

  1. It helps in personal development  

By penning your thoughts and feelings, you get to understand yourself better. This comes to the fore when you flip through past entries and realise how far you have come or changed.

  1. It improves your writing

Daily journaling helps you improve your writing and the way you express yourself. You sharpen your writing skills and are more aware of word choices as you write.


When to write

The best times are in the morning before you start the day when your mind is still fresh and before you retire for the night. The latter is the time when you get to reflect of the days happenings and pen significant thoughts and events that have transpired during the day.

Where to write

Find a quiet place to journal so you can concentrate and organise your thoughts. Pen down what comes to your mind and let your thoughts flow on paper. Use that time frame and mental space to write, write, write.

You’ll be amazed with the ideas that you put down on paper and how much you have achieved or developed within a certain time frame. So if you are still contemplating whether you should start  journaling, do it Now or Never!