Strawberry Shortcake or Pumpkin Patch

When I was a young working adult, I was introduced to Strawberry Shortcake.


My ex boss’s daughter was everything about Strawberry Shortcake and that has nothing to do with fruits or cakes but toys and clothes.  The original design of Strawberry Shortcake and her cat, Custard was done in 1979 by Muriel Fahrion during her time as a greeting card illustrator at American Greetings‘ Juvenile & Humorous card department.  During the 1980s, Strawberry Shortcake became a huge fad for young girls throughout the United States and beyond.

How I enjoyed dressing my wee girls (both born in the mid and late 80s) as Strawberry Shortcakes then.

When my son was born in the 1990s, my favourite brand was OshKosh B’Gosh dressing him into a cute lil’ boy in bibbed overalls.

In the news recently, Pumpkin Patch, once upon a time, a runaway success story is going into liquidation.

At its peak in 2007, the kids’ fashion label founded by New Zealander Sally Synnott was valued at $830 million, with hundreds of stores across the globe.

Nine years later the clothing empire is worthless, with its receivers unable to find a white knight willing to take on the basket case of a company after it was placed into administration, owing $76 million.

– quote NZHerald-

The above are just one, two, three of the many famous kids brand in the market.

Are you into labels and brands?

Living in poverty vs being poor


I have seen children in parts of the world living in poverty with no food, no clothes and they cannot afford to go to school.  People living in poverty are extremely mobile because they have almost nothing to their name and are able to move everything they own from one shelter to another.  Many may even be homeless.

When I migrated to New Zealand, I found out that many people are ‘poor‘.  Despite the government’s financial assistance through Work & Income which give benefits (from housing, unemployment, childcare, sickness and more), some people are still ‘poor’.  Some are poor and struggle to put food on the table and yet can afford to have a big television and Skytv.

People can be ‘rich’ yet poor.  Rich in assets and poor in cash.  Some people are poor because they spend everything they have quickly.   When their budget runs out, they cannot afford to pay their rent or food until the next benefit or pay cheque comes in.

ANZ’s survey in 2012 revealed that New Zealanders were saving around 2 to 3 per cent of their take-home pay whereas Australians were saving 9 per cent and many in Asia were saving 12 per cent.  There is little wonder why there are many ‘poor’ people in New Zealand (and around the world).

Everyone knows that New Zealand is a developed country but not many know that almost 305,000 (that’s 28% of) New Zealand children spend their childhoods living in poverty.  These children live in cold, damp, over-crowded houses, they do not have warm clothing, their shoes are worn, and many days they go hungry. A life of poverty can lead to poor performances at school, not getting a good job, having poor health and falling into a life of crime.

Is being ‘poor’ a choice?

As a young child, living in poverty definitely isn’t.

However, those who are ‘poor’ have made a mental decision to accept their situation and have chosen to stay there.  They may not even mentally ‘know’ they have chosen to live the way they do, week after week to wait for the day the money (benefit or pay cheque) comes in and then spend it on ‘wants’ rather than ‘needs’ only to be broke again before the week is up.

Most rich people were not born rich.  They made a choice to make a difference and work hard, be it from young or a break through any stage of their lives with determination and goals.

A decision not to change is a decision to remain the same.

Being born poor is not a choice but to stay poor is a choice !

What are your views?

Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.
~Norman Vincent Peale





via The Daily Post – Mind the Gap
– The distance between idea and execution can be a source of frustration or of inspiration.

What earthquake did to our beautiful places

Earthquake, earthquake go away !
Why did you hit us when we did nothing wrong ?

I am still so dazed over the severe 7.8 quake that hit North Canterbury last Monday.  In any one tiny moment, a sudden turn of events, one’s life could change forever.

You can follow my journey here for the once beautiful Kaikoura.

The quake aftermath.  Images credit to all relevant sources.

The drive heading north from Kaikoura on State Highway 1 in New Zealand's South Island.


The drive heading north from Kaikoura on State Highway 1 in New Zealand’s South Island.

Rock lifted above sea level by Monday's earthquakes on State Highway One near Kaikoura. Photo / Supplied

Rock lifted above sea level by Monday’s earthquakes on State Highway One near Kaikoura. Paua exposed by the earthquake on the coast near Oaro, south of Kaikoura.

Parts of the uplifted coast look like an alien world.


Parts of the uplifted coast look like an alien world.

Damage to buildings on Wakefield Street, Wellington.


Damage to buildings on Wakefield Street, Wellington.

Even our capital city Wellington is not spared and Hutt Valley residents had to evacuate their homes.

These are only a few shots of the damages.

With sadden heart, let us pray for all the families involved in this disaster and the whole nation of New Zealand.

(Prayer credit Laura Yap).

Protect your children
Bring peace to the frightened
And swift recovery to the injured.
Father God, we ask for the earth to still
And the water to rest around New Zealand,
Blanket the people in your Holy Spirit
And give them strength
Thank you, Father.



A friend who’s a Chef cooked dinner for us last night.  A nice and hearty three course meal of asparagus tart with sesame halloumi cheese, beef steak with gourmet potatoes and finished off with crème brulee.


Clearly there was no fish in the menu but for some reason amongst the table topic was ‘fish’.  An Australian guest talked about some Australian catfish eating mice.  How gross is that.

The Malaysian Chef talked about White (or Silver) Pomfret being a prized fish for all occasions in Malaysia and Singapore.

The host from Borneo proudly introduced Empurau as the most expensive edible fish in Malaysia, native only to Kapit, Sarawak in the island of Borneo.  Empurau is a kind of carp prized for their rich, delicate flesh and firm texture. Empurau get their unique taste from a diet of special fruit that falls from trees into the rivers.  They are sold from Ringgit 400 to 1000 per kilo.  The Borneo Post recently reported a giant Empurau was sold for RM7,900 (approximately USD2,000).  If you doubt it, click here and check it out.

Because the Chinese character for fish (yu 鱼) is pronounced the same as the Chinese character for surplus (yu 余), the fish symbol is frequently used to symbolize the wish for more in the sense of good luck, good fortune, long life, children and all things good.  The word for “fish” yu is a homophone for “abundance” and “affluence”. 


In Chinese cuisine, fish is served whole rather than steak or fillet form.  If you are served fish, make sure not to flip it over to get to the meat on the other side, especially in smaller villages and communities that rely on fishing.  The Chinese believe that flipping a fish on dinner table means that a boat will capsize.

This one-word prompt (Fish) is indeed a big topic.  I could go on and on writing all for the love of FISH.

“Fush and Chups” anyone? asked a local Kiwi.

Vietnamese Mint

Vietnamese Mint

Despite the common name, it is not exclusively native to Vietnam and nor is it even remotely related to the mints.  Vietnamese Mint has pointed leaves which are darker than standard mint.  They are sometimes lightly variegated with a dull dark red.  Vietnamese mint, also known as “Vietnamese coriander”, “Cambodian mint” and “laksa leaf”, has a strong flavour, and as the name suggests, is used a lot in Asian cooking.  It also boosts the taste with noodles (soup) dishes.

The Vietnamese name is rau ram, while in Malaysia and Singapore it is called daun kesom or daun laksa (laksa leaf).  In Thailand, it is called pak pai.

The leaves have a pungent lemony flavour, quite distinct from other herbs and spices. In Malaysian cuisine, the leaves are used to flavour laksa, a spicy soup noodle dish.

I was first introduced to this mint through a friend.  I treasure this mint so much that I freeze them for future use.  Besides using them for laksa and curry, I added them to tea leaves making my own brew of Vietnamese Mint tea.

For some reason, these very fragrant herb is not easily available in our local nurseries and plant barns.  I took some cuttings from my friend and managed to get some roots on a couple after putting them in water.  Fingers crossed I may be able to grow my own Vietnamese Mint soon.

Vietnamese Mint contains antioxidants and vitamins C and A.  They may be use to treat indigestion, stomach aches and swelling.

If you have never tried this herb before, I strongly encourage you to give it a try.  It has got such a distinctive taste that you will ask for more !

vietnamese mint1.jpg

via Daily Prompt – Vegetal

Two clowns running for president

While the two clowns run for president, the Canadian immigration website crashes as Trump moves closer to victory.

Not only that, “Move to New Zealand” has begun to trend on Google.

Who’s winning?  Numbers, numbers, numbers !

Clinton vs. Trump

Who’s visiting the 2016 presidential campaign websites? While “site visitor” may not equal “supporter,” the stats are still revealing.

Check out the demographics of individuals who visited or over a 90-day period.

trump vs clinton

via Discover WP – Numbers

All about garlic

You Are Most Likely Consuming Bleached and Chemical-Loaded Garlic from China Exported Worldwide.

There are so much negative news about Chinese garlic that I have given up buying China grown garlic.

Chinese garlics are normally sold in meshed bags of $2.99 each of approximately over a dozen bulbs  as compared to USA or New Zealand grown garlic selling loose at around $26.99/kg.  A bulb of New Zealand garlic is around 40grams.


The key words for me on any food product packaging (especially garlic) is “Made in New Zealand” or “Product of New Zealand”.  “Made in New Zealand” still keeps me on high alert as this can easily mean they imported the garlic from an overseas country (China, for instance) and have simply crushed them and bottled in New Zealand. “Product of New Zealand” states it is a NZ food, grown in NZ, and this is the only label that keeps me happy.  I also happily buy USA garlic which are often a bit smaller than NZ grown garlic and selling around $24.99/kg.


Chinese garlic is very mild compared to NZ. It lacks the burn and true garlic taste. There are no roots on the Chinese garlic, they have been sliced off, whereas NZ garlic will still have roots attached. This from a garlic grower: “Chinese roots carry infected soil and quarantine regulations the world prohibit the introduction of soil organisms on produce.”

Garlic is grown globally, but China is by far the largest producer of garlic, with around 19 million tonnes (42 billion pounds) grown annually, accounting for over 79% of world output. India (5.2%) and South Korea (1.7%) follow, with Egypt (0.9%) in fourth place and the United States (where garlic is grown in every state except for Alaska) in tenth place (0.7%).  This leaves 11% of global garlic production in countries that each produce less than 2% of global output. Much of the garlic production in the United States is centered in Gilroy, California, which calls itself the “garlic capital of the world”.

In fact I have always bought Chinese garlic till the switch over this year after reading all the posts on facebook about the chemicals found in Chinese garlic that turned me off.  I use a lot of garlic in my cooking and although the cost of  USA and New Zealand grown garlic are perhaps five times more than Chinese grown garlic, it isn’t like we are cooking a whole garlic dish (if you know what I mean).  Garlic are just merely seasoning in that sense so using a dearer and more superior and healthy product does not necessarily mean you will burn a huge hole in your pocket.

For the green fingers, perhaps you may want to grown your own garlic.  I tried but failed so garlic stays in my shopping list.

Check out this link on the 13 Surprising Benefits of Garlic.

Do you buy China grown garlic?

Humour shots from angry neighbours

I started the day reading the local daily and found these humour shots.

If you live in a shared house or an apartment building, it’s quite likely you hear your neighbours moving around from time to time.

Sometimes though, they can be just a bit too noisy – a habit that can drive people to post a passive aggressive note, post-it, or printed sign to express their frustration.

Photo credits The Poke via NZ Herald.

Chaotic Fireworks


A single shot

that releases

lights in the dark sky,

forming shapes of flowers,

made up of millions of sparks,

glittering randomly for seconds,

bringing chaos to the otherwise night sky,

something only fireworks can do.


Via Daily Post Chaos

View original post


What is “Kokoda”?

Would you have related that to food?

As per Wikipedia,

Kokoda is a station town in the Oro Province of Papua New Guinea. It is famous as the northern end of the Kokoda Track, site of the eponymous Kokoda Track campaign of World War II. In that campaign, it had strategic significance because it had the only airfield along the Track. In the decades preceding, it had been a foothills settlement near the gold fields.

The name ‘Kokoda’ was well known to many Australians after World War Two.

If you goggle “Kokoda recipe”, you will see that Kokoda is in fact a dish of raw fish, a Fijian dish made from freshly caught fish.

I have no idea how this dish got its name, perhaps from the town, Kokoda or perhaps the Pacific War soldiers were fishermen as well and invented this dish.

This fish is cooked by marinating in lime and lemon juices and often served as salad. I was introduced to this dish by someone whom I was close with.  Born in Fiji but grew up in England, he loved and learned to prepare this dish so when families get together, we would always have this much-loved Fijian specialty.

If you wish to find out more about this dish, please click here to This Island Life’s explanation of this delicious fish salad. – photo credit to This Island Life –



Here’s another simple recipe, courtesy of our celebrity chef, Nadia Lim.



Photo by Tamara West


Ratings: 5.0 / 5 FROM 2


I could eat bowls and bowls of this refreshing dish that reminds me of being at the beach and on holiday. It relies on having very fresh fish available, so ideally you are a fisher, or know one! The acid from the lime/lemon juice “cooks’’ the fish flesh without heat, firming up its texture and turning it an opaque white colour. I think trevally is the best type of fish for this dish.