Page 1

HOME / LIFE LOTTIE LIFESTYLE / ISSUE 5

T H E E X PAT E X P E R I E N C E

C N Y C E L E B R AT I O N

D E N I M D AY S

How it feels to navigate expat life after a year of no travel

Celebrate Chinese New Year with a pretty table and easy to make dishes

Cooler weather means denim has moved to the front of our wardrobe


S T R A I T S C L A N / Somewhere to belong.

w w w. s t r a i t s c l a n . c o m / I G : @ s t r a i t s c l a n


WELCOME

Letter from the editor

Another year begins...and if one new year is not enough for you, don’t worry, we have the Chinese New Year still to come. Double the happiness. A new year is often a time for resolutions. I haven’t actually heard many people talk about this in 2021 so it’s either that everyone is a bit flat and exhausted with life and ‘continue to hang on by a thread’ is resolution enough / or I am getting old and resolutions are for the young. I am aware it could be both. I have never been a fan of the new years resolution. It’s not that I don’t believe in setting goals or having aspirations, it’s rather I feel like this is a continuous need (at least for me) and not something I just reserve for the turning of a new year. Life is ongoing and I really believe that the best way to approach it is to adjust as you go and not wait for milestone moments before you make a change. In this month’s issue of the magazine I was interested to explore the expat experience. It is something I have given a lot of thought to in the past few months as we watched the life we knew altered so dramatically. The new year has sadly not brought with it a reprieve to our situation and I suspect travel bans, border closures and quarantining will be with us for a while yet - perhaps the better part of 2021, maybe beyond. For many of us this situation has started to take an emotional toll as we worry about how much longer we may have to wait to see friends and family again. With the rollout of the vaccination programs worldwide there is some hope on the horizon and in our new ‘Ask a Doctor’ segment, we have put the question of vaccination and travel to someone who genuinely knows - i.e. an expert who is receiving the latest information. And whilst we tackle these new realities, life here in Singapore goes on and I am an advocate of leaning in to the things that bring happiness and joy. One of those things is the chance to gather friends around a table and share a meal. And what better occasion than Chinese New Year. From a pretty table setting to a wonderful Chinese meal, we have you covered to celebrate in style. If you are new to this magazine, then welcome (possibly this should have been my opening line...) and if you are a loyal reader, then thank you and welcome back! For those of you who have followed this magazine since last year, you will see I have made a few changes. For one I have slightly tweaked the format and secondly, and quite excitedly for me, I 1


have invited some advertisers to grace the pages within. As you know I am a firm believer in presenting independent content - and that won’t change, but I am also really hoping that the next issue of this magazine will be in printed format* as well as digital. The printing of a publication requires no small amount of money so I have invited some businesses to partner with me to make that a reality. These are businesses that I really believe in and who have services or products that I know you will also love. Unlike almost all other publications, I will not be offering advertorial content to these advertisers. This is an unusual and somewhat controversial step to take and one that may ultimately be my downfall (I really hope not) as most advertisers will only spend money on an ad if they will also get some favourable content inserted within the pages of the publication as well. Fair enough. They are trying to use their dollars wisely to reach as many people in the most convincing way possible. But I want to stay independent. I want to continue to bring you content that you can rely on and trust. Since starting the blog in 2014 I have resisted all offers of sponsored content on any of my platforms and I want to assure you that this won’t change. If you like the idea of how I am trying to do things, then I need your help to spread the word of this publication - pass it on to your friends and acquaintances, take to social media to talk about it and generally drop into conversation with anyone you can “have you seen that new magazine in Singapore? It’s wonderful!” This magazine is designed for you and it is with your support that I will be able to keep it going. I hope you enjoy this issue...and Happy New Year lovely readers.

Lottie *all fingers and toes crossed 2


Table of Content

FA S H I O N

P. 7

Denim Days and Finding Comfort

E V E R Y D AY F L OW E R S

P. 15

What is fresh in the market this month

ASK A DOCTOR

P. 19

Q&A with Dr. Tsin Uin Foong

F E AT U R E A R T I C L E

P. 21

The Expat Experience

INTERIORS AND HOMES

P. 25

A Place to Call Home

F O O D A N D E N T E R TA I N I N G

P. 43

Chinese New Year

F E AT U R E A R T I C L E

P. 63

Lost and Found - my expat experience

T H E F I N A L WO R D

P. 65

The Boredom of a Global Pandemic CONTENT ROUND UP

What we are reading, listening to and watching

3

P. 67


“The golden colour of mandarin oranges is related to good luck, good fortune and happiness� A N G I E M A , PA G E 4 9 4


Contributors

FAY R E E S

Fashion: Denim Days and Finding Comfort Fay is a retail and fashion consultant, avid beauty tester and founder of her own start up which combines all three. ANGIE MA

Food and Entertaining: Let the Feasting Begin

DR. TSIN UIN FOONG

Angie is part brand strategist, part food curator of secret dining happenings and part food geek. She is the founder and chef of Once Upon A Secret Supper, a secret dining society in HK, Melbourne and Singapore that hold creative theme pop-up dinners for the foodie community.

Health and Wellness: Ask a Doctor Dr Foong is a family doctor at the new GP clinic Osler Health International. Dr Foong trained and practised in the UK for many years before returning to Singapore and serving the international community. Known for her kind, holistic approach (and always taking time to listen) she is popular with women across Singapore.

JOSEPHINE BYRNES

Styling Assistant: Chinese New Year Josephine is a cross discipline creative, devoted to the trasnformative benefits of beauty in all its domestic and atmospheric form. HESTER ABA

Feature: The Boredom of a Global Pandemic Hester is the Co-Founder of Sassy Media Group, Editor, Creative Director and blogger at Hester.co, living in Miami.

TSARA CHIAPPINI

Feature: Lost and Found 5

Tsara is a communications consultant specialising in travel and lifestyle with a focus on sustainability. Recently Co-Founded @thebigheartedit, an Instagram based philanthropic project, committed to raising funds for charities that support the vulnerable and protect the planet.


Advertising Partners

We are thrilled to have the following partners supporting Home / Life magazine

B Y FA B L E

www.byfable.com

D AYAWAY

www.dayaway.sg

MANIFESTO

www.manifestoshop.com

O S L E R H E A LT H I N T E R N AT I O N A L

www.osler-health.com

STRAITS CLAN

www.straitsclan.com

THE GREY HOUSE

www.thegreyhouseonline.com

6


S H O P L O T T I E L I F E S T Y L E / Immserse yourself in original, authentic design at Shop

Lottie Lifestyle with a thoughtfully curated selection of furniture, textiles, homewares and lifestyle products from international brands including Maison de Vacances, Dinosaur Designs, Honore Deco and Ester & Erik. With a focus on enduring style, quality and exceptional craftsmanship, each object has been carefully chosen to represent the best in homewares and lifestyle.

w w w. s h o p l o t t i e l i f e s t y l e . c o m / @ l o t t i e i s l o v i n g


T H I S M O N T H W E ’ R E L OV I N G

Lifestyle

T R O P I C A L W I N T E R / The cooler weather is upon us and whilst it may not be ‘snuggle up under a

blanket by a roaring fire’ type cold, the drop in humidity provides an opportunity to be outdoors without fear of over-heating and a chance to create a sense of cosy at home. Make the most of the cooler temperatures by spending time outside, either lazily reading a book and sipping coffee, or being more active with a bike ride or hike. These cooler days won’t last long, but they will be wonderful while they last.

2. 1.

3.

4.

5.

7. 6.

9.

8.

1 .

D RIN KING B OT T L E, Eva Solo, naiise.com

6.

S LI M BAC K PAC K , bellroy.com

2.

BOOK, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

7.

O RG A N I C C OT TO N T - S H I RT, Box Cut in Heather

3.

HAN D CREAM , Bjorn & Berries Botanist, ulotravel.com

4.

SUN GLASSE S, ‘Erika’ Raybans, revolve.com

5 .

BIKE HE LMET, Thousand Helmet ‘Arctic Grey’,

footloops.sg

7

Grey, everlane.com 8.

O RG A N I C C OT TO N C A N VA S S N E A K E R S , Veja

‘Nova’, netaporter.com 9.

LI P BA LM, Eve Lom, ulotravel.com


T H I S M O N T H W E ’ R E L OV I N G

Lifestyle

SOM M ER C L ASSI C 24 I N C H C R E A M WH I T E S P E E D 3 , footloops.sg

8


T H I S M O N T H W E ’ R E L OV I N G

Fashion

D E N I M DAYS / Dust off your favourite denim and create the perfect casual dressed up look for our

current cooler weather. And if you are looking for some new denim, the great news is with the rise of more conscious consumption, there are now many brands tackling the creation of denim in a more sustainable way. And importantly, denim lasts, so if you buy well you can wear it for decades to come.

LAURA LOMBA R D I INTERLOCK EARRINGS ,

The Fifth Collection

CLEA N SILK SH ORT-SLEEVE GR E Y G R A I N H A L F M O O N BAG ,

NOTCH SHIRT ,

Everlane

A.P.C.

N AV Y E M E R SON HI GH- R I SE ST R A I GHT L E G J E AN S,

Citizens of Humanity.

A FROS WAVY-STRAY LE ATH E R SLING BACK SA NDLES,

Ancient Greek Sandals

9


T H I S M O N T H W E ’ R E L OV I N G

Fashion

APC I N D I G O TA NI A DR E SS,

Manifesto

KAREN WALKER, NORTHERN LIGHTS BLACK SUNGLASSES

Karen Walker

NAILBERRY NAIL POLISH IN GRATEFUL

Look Fantastic

TABITHA SIMMONS SANDALS

Yoox

DRAGON DIFFUSION BAMBOO TRIPLE JUMP SMALL WOVEN LEATHER TOTE IN ECRU

Net A Porter

10


Finding Comfort WO R D S : FAY R E E S P H O T O G R A P H Y : C H A R L I E C A M E R O N

After all that we’ve been through (and are still going

kicks are made of repurposed leather scraps and post-

through), it feels somewhat frivolous to pour too much time

consumer plastics saving us from landfill.

and attention into what we are going to wear. But I would

cork and recycled rubber insoles provide all-day support

argue that contrary to frivolity, feeling comfortable (or even

but most importantly – they look stylish. And to top off

better, feeling ‘good’) in what you are wearing, can be a

those environmentally conscious credentials, Lacess donate

huge source of comfort and an important mood-lifter.

proceeds to support anti human trafficking initiatives.

With that in mind, we’ve been looking at getting back to

Two gorgeous brands doing good for the world, and if that

basics - not the “let’s all live in a tracksuit/joggers while we

doesn’t give you comfort, then I don’t know what will.

The natural

work from home” train-of-thought, but instead finding the seriously hardworking basics that, if we are going to spend our precious cash in these uncertain times, will give us some bang for our buck. Local brand Source Collections produces soft, sumptuous tees using organic cotton that is grown without the use of pesticides or toxic chemicals that can be harmful to the environment and to humans. They also use TENCEL Lyocell fibres which are derived from sustainable wood sources and recycled water. Better still, the prices are transparent and accessible with a wear-with-everything t-shirt coming in at just under S$50, allowing you to indulge in a luxury basic at a better and honest price. You can also rest easy knowing that their factories are socially certified, ensuring that no child has been involved in its production and those whose fingers have toiled to make your piece have experienced fair working hours and safe working conditions. Another basic requirement for happiness in my book is being comfortable under foot and a brand that has been on our radar for go-with-anything sneaker chic is Lacess. With a similar ‘Stan Smith’ look, Lacess from Hong Kong provides a sustainable yet chic footwear solution. These

11

Opposite page: Lacess Guiltfree Kicks for Women, available in Singapore at Zerrin Soure Collections Tencel Crew Neck T-Shirt


12


18


M A N I F E S T O / An exceptionally alluring multi-label fashion boutique that brings to Singapore an

exclusive selection of iconic designer labels that inspires minimal, tasteful dressing – for both men and women. Discover timeless classics from international fashion brands like A.P.C., Joseph, Lemaire, Maison Kitsune and Our Legacy. MANIFESTO is an iconic online and in-store destination for fashion, design and lifestyle – located at the heart of Orchard Road, in Mandarin Gallery.

w w w. m a n i f e s t o s h o p . c o m | I G : @ m a n i f e s t o . s h o p


T H I S M O N T H W E ’ R E L OV I N G

Homewares

H O M E T I M E / It’s official - staying at home has become the new going out. If last year we grappled with

the changes thrust upon us, by 2021 we have begun to accept that our homes have now become central to our work and social life for the foreseeable future. Embrace this time at home by surrounding yourself with an environment that brings you joy. Great coffee, a beautiful coffee table book, plump cosy cushions and all the essentials you need to make entertaining at home effortless.

1.

2.

3

4. 8.

6.

5.

7.

1.

V E LV E T C U SHI ON I N CAN AR D,

2.

L A C H A P E L L E CAN DL E ,

3.

JU G ,

4.

M U U TO G R I N DE RS ,

shoplottielifestyle.com

shoplottielifestyle.com

bungalow55.com maissone.com

5.

MA ISON DE VACA NCES G ING H A M PLACEM AT IN PETROL,

shoplottielifestyle.com

6.

TH IS IS H OME BOOK ,

7.

J ’ J U T E M E E T I N G BA S K E T, shoplottielifestyle.com

8.

DINOSAUR DESIG NS RESIN BOWL IN MA R B L E ,

shoplottielifestyle.com 13

bookdepository.com


T H I S M O N T H W E ’ R E L OV I N G

Homewares

14


Everyday Flowers WO R D S : K AT E G A L L A G H E R P H O T O G R A P H Y : C H A R L I E C A M E R O N

F R E S H F L OW E R S / Wondering what is fresh in the flower markets this

month? The white hydrangea’s from Columbia are in the market all year round in Singapore, but they appear to be bigger and brighter than usual at the moment so they make a great buy. The eucalyptus populus is from Italy and is brilliant quality - lovely crisp leaves that should last for weeks. The olive branches and mimosa are also from Italy, and a real treat as you can’t always find them in the markets. We are really excited to see what starts coming in from Australia and New Zealand over the next few months. Usually we start seeing shipments of huge, gorgeous hydrangeas in speckled and antique colours as they head towards the end of the summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

15


THIS MONTH IN THE MARKETS

Everyday Flowers

HOW LONG WILL THEY LAST?

HYDRANGEA CARE

GENERAL CARE

You can expect the olive and eucalyptus to

Once you buy a hydrangea, get it

Keep the water clean and fresh. Change

last a week or more - up to 2 weeks. A good

immediately into water. Don’t delay. Trim

it every couple of days. Don’t be afraid

hydrangea will last at least 1 week. However,

the stem on an angle. If the bloom starts

to chop down longer stems to create a

the mimosa is here for a good time, not a

to wilt, tip it upside down in a cool bowl or

variety of looks - little jars with small sprigs

long time so expect it to last (at best) one

bucket of water and leave it to soak with

can be just as lovely as a big display. And

week.

the flower head submerged in the water

lastly, don’t have any leaves in the water,

for an hour. This should revive it.

strip the stems so that no leaves are sitting in the water.

16


24


D AYAWAY / Launching soon in Singapore, DayAway is your online destination for booking hotel

experiences by the day. From luxury daycation packages to unique WFHotel solutions, DayAway has curated the perfect escapes for you. To stay in the know about our launch, please visit our website to sign up for our waitlist and follow us on Instagram. We look forward to welcoming you soon. Seize the day, with DayAway.

w w w. d a y a w a y. s g | I G : @ d a y a w a y s


T H I S M O N T H W E ’ R E L OV I N G

Wellness

S E L F C A R E / As the weather starts to slowly dry out, so it seems do we. After a fun and festive period of

drinks with friends and colleagues coupled with copious amounts of delicious foods (did someone say ‘cheese’?) many of us are turning back to the foundations that we rely on to see us fit and well for another year ahead...less alcohol and nibbles, and more healthy choices and activity. 4. 2.

3

1.

6.

8.

5.

7.

7. 8.

17

1 .

ME LATI CLASSI C, melatidrinks.com

6.

BO N DI BO R N , ’Colette One Piece in Marine’ bondiborn.com

2.

RE SISTAN CE BAND , Decathalon

7.

A N A S S A O RG A N I C M I N T T E A , agoraproducts.com

3.

CLASS PASS, Class Pass

8.

A S I C S C O U RT S P E E D F F S N E A K E R S , asics.com

4.

YOGA MAT, Manduka Mat in midnight, manduka.sg

5 .

COMMUNITY C OOK B OOK , Hetty McKinnon


T H I S M O N T H W E ’ R E L OV I N G

Wellness

18


Ask a Doctor Q&A: DR. TSIN UIN FOONG

I AM A DP HOLDER AND I AM WONDERING WHEN I CAN EXPECT TO RECEIVE THE COVID-19 VACCINE? AND ONCE I DO RECEIVE IT, WILL I BE ABLE TO TRAVEL AGAIN?

As a GP doctor practising in Singapore I’m very aware that the most prescient issue on people’s minds is the COVID-19 vaccine. Almost all the patients I see in the clinic end up asking about it. It’s understandable, as we are all looking forward to being able to travel again. So, what is the current vaccine roll-out situation? Firstly, the vaccine. The Singapore government has currently secured the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine however it is understood they will be purchasing stocks from other providers throughout the year. The Pfizer vaccine has been shown to have 95% efficacy in preventing COVID-19. Current data suggests the vaccine will offer protection for around 12-18 months or maybe even longer. But, we need more robust data. Data is currently being collected as Europe and the rest of the world have started their mass vaccination programmes. In Singapore, the vaccine is currently licensed for people above the age of 16, so children (at this stage) will not be vaccinated. It is also worth noting the vaccine is not licensed for pregnant women (you need to wait a month after the vaccine to conceive safely) or women who are breast-feeding, people with a history of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) and those with a very compromised immune system. The government is making this vaccine free of charge to all Singaporeans and long-term residents. This includes everyone – Singaporeans, employment/work pass holders and their dependents, domestic workers, foreign workers. Pretty much everyone, except for visitors to Singapore. The timing is not yet clear but it is being rolled out rather swiftly. It is expected that

19


ASK A DOCTOR

Q&A with Dr. Tsin Uin Foong

the majority of people living in Singapore will be vaccinated by Q2/3 this year, but this timing is largely dependent on the government securing enough doses of the vaccine. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

I know many of us are keen to book our summer holidays, but it may be worth holding off making plans and keeping a close eye on the COVID-19 situation elsewhere in the world.

1.

What about getting back on a plane?

2. Taking the vaccine will be voluntary

Airlines and destinations are going to require a traveller to hold a valid COVID-19 Certificate of Testing which shows you are not infected. It is understood that almost all destinations and airlines are going to want to see these certificates – they will become a currency for travel this year (and possibly beyond). The various airlines and destinations may have different regulations on how soon before departure the tests need to be undertaken. The COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test is a simple swab to test the presence of the virus. Our clinic is licensed by the Ministry of Health to carry out this PCR test and issue a ‘Fit-to-Fly Certificate’ digitally which can be provided to carriers and border control. It is worth noting that the results of the test will take up to 48 hours from point of swab to release of results - which is good to know if you needed to get somewhere in a hurry. These regulations are changing regularly, so always check our website for the latest COVID-19 guidelines as we have our fingers on the pulse for the international community.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is shown to have 95% efficacy

3. Current vaccination roll-out would indicate that the general population will receive the vaccine in Q2/Q3 of this year (but it will depend upon supply). 4. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is currently licensed for those above 16 years old 5. The vaccine is not recommended for those who are pregnant 6. It is advised to wait at least one month after the second dose before trying to conceive 7. Travel will likely require a certificate to indicate you are COVID-19 free

20


O S L E R H E A LT H I N T E R N AT I O N A L / A new GP medical clinic offering a different kind of

service. With international doctors in a small clinic setting, we offer the whole family a personalised experience at an affordable price. Our first clinic is now open in the beautiful surrounds of Raffles Hotel Arcade and the second is opening in The Star Vista. Visit us and Be Well

w w w. o s l e r - h e a l t h . c o m | I G : @ o s l e r h e a l t h s g


The Expat Experience S TO RY : C H A R L I E C A M E R O N

The moment that my husband and I decided to accept a

adjusting (I did a lot of crying on the phone) but that elusive

move to Hong Kong is etched in both of our minds. It was

“we will just return to Australia if it doesn’t work out” safety

a moment that cleaved our life into a ‘before’ and ‘after’

net that we thought belonged to us, was not as easy as we

and as my husband dialled the number of his boss to say

expected. Our new life in Hong Kong was not making

we would go, we knew this decision was going to change

us happy, but it was difficult to step off the path we found

everything.

ourselves on. So instead of returning home, we stayed in the expat life, transferred to Singapore and my husband began

We hadn’t asked for a transfer to Hong Kong and it had

commuting to Hong Kong for work.

taken a fair amount of persuading on behalf of my husband’s employer to get us to say yes. Over the course of a month,

After so many years now of this expat life I can no longer

we had said ‘no’ three times before we finally said ‘yes’. We

connect with what it must be like to stay in a home country -

were living in Sydney, a city that neither of us belonged to

to buy the family home and actually live in it. To send your

and it had taken some years for us to feel settled there. After

children to the school you enrolled them in at birth, knowing

many years of trying to get pregnant and suffering multiple

that this is where they will stay, along with all of their peers,

miscarriages, we finally got pregnant and had a baby - we

until they are 18 years old. To live near family. That life

had endured a difficult and sad period of our life and were

scenario feels so remote now that the idea of “going home”

now feeling happy. We had bought a family home and for

elicits a mixture of fear, excitement, anxiety and doubt in

the first time, started to look into the future with some sense

me. It no longer feels like a clear option. Rather it seems

of certainty. Our reluctance to disrupt this life we had been

like a dream version of a life I like to occasionally ponder

looking forward to for so long was palpable, but we are also

on.

adventurous in spirit, so when we were forced to give our final decision we had looked at each other, shrugged our

The arc of the expat experience is one that is shared

shoulders and said “let’s do it. If it doesn’t work, we will just

throughout our community - an initial period of letting

come back to Australia”.

go of your old life and adjusting to your new country of residence, the middle years when you feel like you belong

That was 12 years ago. Along the way we have experienced

equally in a home country and your new life, followed by a

the highs and lows of expat life. Initially it was a difficult

tipping point...where you really aren’t sure anymore where

move. From our carefree life in Sydney where we had space,

you belong and when, or if, you will ever not be an expat. We

blue skies and clean air and where we spent time together,

tell ourselves that when we have had enough “we will just go

we were thrust into a life that involved cramped apartment

home” - it is our mental rip cord, our get out of jail free card

living in a polluted city where we never saw each other.

that we keep in our back pocket incase our circumstances

It was the beginning of a new way of life, one where my

change and we want to go. But can we...? This idea that we

husband travelled for the better part of the week, working

can retain a foot in two places, in two very different possible

14 hour days regardless of where he was. It took some

lives has never been called into question more than now.

21


F E AT U R E

The Expat Experience

I have lost count of the number of conversations I have had with friends, acquaintances and on social media with expats questioning the life they find themselves in. Up until February 2020, it was all going swimmingly. Yes, we were away from friends and family whom we loved, but whenever the longing became too much or when the need arose, we would hop on a plane and be there in 24 hours or less. We had signed up to an unspoken expat contract, one where we would accept the downside of living away from family, friends and our home country as long as we could take periodic trips home and travel around the region we now called home. It felt like a fair trade and the ability to travel was the clincher that sealed the deal on this contract. Now the contract is broken and for many of us it has seriously called into question whether staying away continues to be a viable option. How long can you go without seeing your ageing parents? or your nieces and nephews, or missing milestone moments with those you love? The days are turning into weeks and months and in the blink of an eye a year has passed. What does expat life look like if we can’t travel? For most of us the desire to travel is in our DNA and the need to travel is real. We relied on it and so did our family and friends. It was the backbone of our life away. In the past year we have seen the expat community start to dwindle no doubt through redundancies and forced departures, but also in no small measure, from those that made the decision themselves - who felt that it was time to walk away from this expat life. Some were planning a move in the next couple of years and decided to just bring it forward, for others it was perhaps a snap decision - a breaking point in a year when we have all been stretched very thin.

22


Many of us are bringing the ‘maybe we should think about leaving’ statement out in the open, debating it endlessly and trying to make the various jigsaw puzzle pieces fit.”

For those of us that have stayed, the question over the

proud of - the expectation of certain freedoms, the ability

viability of our expat life continues to swirl. Many of us

for individual expression and our questioning and defiant

are bringing the “maybe we should think about leaving”

nature, are giving us pause for thought - we have grown up

statement out in the open, debating it endlessly and trying

believing in these fundamentals to life but from within a very

to make the various jigsaw puzzle pieces fit. For some, like

different culture, we can now see how some of these traits

our family, there is no single country that we call home, so

have not served our home countries well during a time of

which home country would we return to? Where would the

crisis. From afar it feels frustrating and perplexing to watch

kids go to school? Can we even get them into a school at

because the solutions that could help seem so obvious (just

this point? And what about work? Are there jobs for us?

wear the damn mask and stop going on about freedom of

Do we actually want to leave? What happens if travel opens

expression)!

up again? Would we want to leave if that happened? The pandemic has brought about a particular dilemma for expats

So where does that leave us? I would say somewhere in

to try and solve, and then there is the biggest consideration

no mans land. On one hand hugely grateful for the safety

of all, are our home countries even in a viable state for us

of our adopted country Singapore during this time - the

to return to?

fact our children are in school alone should be cause for much happiness and gratitude - and on the other hand with

From our Singapore cocoon where strong leadership, strict

a sense of displacement, of not quite belonging anymore in

enforcements and a law abiding population has meant that

this life we chose and a greater feeling of uncertainty around

we have never had to truly fear Covid for ourselves, we have

the environment in which we live. While our everyday life

watched the inconsistent and sometimes chaotic approach

is happy and ongoing, travel restrictions and the pandemics

to the pandemic from our own governments, and defiance

impact means access to the life we envisioned in our home

from our fellow citizens, with growing frustration.

countries feels further out of reach.

Some

of the traits from our home countries that we once felt

23


F E AT U R E

The Expat Experience

THE SIMPLE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO STAY MOTIVATED AND HAPPY THIS YEAR 1.

FIND YOUR PURPOSE

This is going to be different for everyone, but for me, it is about getting excited about work possibilities and throwing myself behind some new work projects (like this magazine!) and looking for ways to use my uninterrupted time in Singapore. Despite the challenges of the past year and those that remain ahead of us, there is one element to expat life that I feel sure

Afterall, it is rare to find ourselves in one place for such a long time.

we can always turn to, and that is a sense of camaraderie and understanding. We are a strong community made up of many

2. TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH

nationalities, all trying to navigate the unique complications that

I hit an absolute low point with dengue

have arisen as a result of us living away during this time. We

last year, so this year, I am looking

belong to one another and over this past year I feel that the bonds

forward to setting some specific fitness

that unite us have grown stronger still as we share a common

goals to aim for to keep me motivated

experience.

and moving forward and to help me feel

Despite all the challenges we are currently living through, I am so thoroughly glad that my husband and I took the plunge to move to Hong Kong all those years ago. It was the beginning of our expat experience and whilst it may not have been smooth sailing the whole time, it is the only life I now know and has provided more adventure, variety and friendships than I could of imagined 12 years ago.

good about myself. 3. START ACCEPTING

This is a big one for me. I had the realisation at the end of 2020 that 2021 would be more of the same. I stopped thinking I would be getting on a plane and tried to make peace with it. I am definitely mentally stronger when I face the reality rather than whistfully wish for something that won’t happen. It also has helped me with point 1 - finding my purpose for the year ahead.

24


B Y FA B L E / By Fable is a boutique stationery atelier specialising in luxury personalised

stationery and prints. By Fable’s clean and minimal aesthetic is visible throughout the brand, from their letterpressed correspondence cards to their stunning Indian ink illustrations, perfect for those wanting to add a little style into their homes and offices. As an envrionmentally conscious brand, all products are printed on FSC-certified paper and we use paper wherever possible in our packaging.

w w w. b y f a b l e . c o m / I G : @ b y _ f a b l e


A P L AC E TO CALL HOME Now more than ever our homes have become our sancturaries. With so much time spent at home now, it is worth making your house a home. See how one Dutch family have done just that in this beautiful Singaporean Black and White.

25

DESIGN AND INTERIOR

38


INTERIORS AND HOME

A Place to Call Home

39

26


40

27


INTERIORS AND HOME

A Place to Call Home

What makes a house a home? It is a subject I give quite a lot of thought to and one that I ponder when I visit other peoples houses too. It is, I believe, at the heart of what we all wish to achieve with our abodes, which is in essence, a sense of belonging. Being able to translate who we are and reflect this in our interiors, and do it with style, is not always an easy undertaking. Why is it that some homes are able to radiate warmth and personality while others, try as they might (and with all the professional help in the world) still lack personality - even if they are technically stylish? I believe the answer lies, in part, in the time it takes to create a home. The most wonderful homes are those that evolve over time, being added to along the way - where the pieces displayed reflect the occupants who live there. The beautiful Black and White home featured in this article exudes this wonderful home-like quality. Wandering through the rooms, you catch glimpses of the personality of the family who call this place home. Little details that reveal where they have come from, where they have been, the things that are important to them and how they like to live. There is authenticity to their home and it oozes style without sacrificing a sense of homely comfort.

28


42 29


INTERIORS AND HOME

A Place to Call Home

H O M E AWAY F R O M H O M E

A beautiful mix of vintage, design classics and contemporary pieces create a stylish pared back aesthetic. When combining styles, try and stick to just two or three interior styles and use the 80 / 20 rule (with the majority of your furniture and homewares belonging to one style).

30


31


INTERIORS AND HOME

A Place to Call Home

32


H O M E A S A S A N C T U A RY

Every home should provide comfort and this beautifully conceived girls bedroom does just that - with mismatched bedlinen, a Mathieu Challieres pendant light and an antique desk from the owners childhood. It oozes comfort and is both stylish and relaxed. Try and not over plan your children’s rooms, let them have some input and keep it relaxed.

33

INTERVIEWS


INTERIORS AND HOME

A Place to Call Home

34


35


36


37


WO R K F R O M H O M E

A beautiful example of how to integrate a work from home nook into the bedroom.

38


L O U N G I N G AT H O M E

A sophisticated and more grown up living area downstairs. The moodiness of the colour palette is a beautiful contrast to the light and white relaxed living upstairs. Using block colours in the same style of cushion provides just enough interest without feeling cluttered.

39


40


41


Shop the Look STYLE IDEAS

1.

2. 3.

4.

6. 7. 5.

8. 9.

10.

1. ‘Arco’ floor lamp by Flos, Finnish Design Shop / 2. Gansu Side Cabinet, China Collection / 3. ‘Lohal’ rug, Ikea / 4. ‘Edison Petit’ table lamp by Fat Boy, House of Anli / 5. Butterscotch velvet lumbar cushion by Castle, Shop Lottie Lifestyle / 6. Stonewash linen cushions in ‘Encre’ and ‘Naturel’ by Maison de Vacances, Shop Lottie Lifestyle / 7. ‘Aswan’ vase by Marmoset Found, Maissone / 8. ‘Nopi’ cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, Kinokuniya / 9. ‘Spice’ by Seedlip, Little Farms / 10. Birdcage lamp by Mathieu Challières, Smallable. 42


T H E G R E Y H O U S E / The Grey House works with you to reflect your individuality and create a

space you can call home. Each and every project requires different levels of styling and design so we tailor projects to achieve a home that meets your personal tastes and needs, within your budget. Our services focus on aesthetic and styling parameters and we assist with layouts, provide mood boards, select fabrics, furniture, rugs, lighting, accessories and create custom pieces tailor-made to compliment your home.

w w w. t h e g r e y h o u s e o n l i n e . c o m | I G : @ t h e _ g r e y _ h o u s e


43


F O O D A N D E N T E R TA I N I N G

Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year WO R D S A N D P H O T O G R A P H Y : C H A R L I E C A M E R O N STYLING: CHARLIE CAMERON & JOSEPHINE BYRNES

One of the upsides of the no travel situation in 2021 is that for the first time many of us will actually be in Singapore to celebrate all of the different festivals and kicking us off is arguably the biggest one of them all, Chinese New Year. My first proper Chinese New Year experience was a couple of years ago. My Singaporean neighbour hosted a huge party for her friends and family and all of the neighbours were invited along as well. It was amazing. Her garden was hung with beautiful decorations and tables were dotted around for each group to gather for the Prosperity Toss or yusheng. It was so much fun and there was a real sense of joy and community as we all tossed the noodles and shouted out our auspicious wishes, the words feeling foreign on our tongue, but the laughter and happiness being common amongst us. Whilst I couldn’t possibly hope to recreate anything as lavish as my neighbour (and nor quite frankly can

anyone this year with the restrictions) I have styled for you my version of a fun and festive Chinese New Year table setting that you can easily recreate at home. I had so much fun styling and shooting this and I was very lucky to be joined by Josephine Byrnes, a long time expat and talented event stylist, who brought with her all manner of Chinese crockery, including the gorgeous teapots that we used as vases. But the Chinese New Year celebration is more than just flowers and pretty lanterns, the real focus is the food. And my wonderful friend Angie Ma, has created a series of her favourite dishes for this time of year which I know you are going to love. So head to the flower markets and buy a mandarin tree, take the kids to Chinatown to find some paper lanterns, go to the wet market and buy a whole fresh fish...we live in Singapore and these are the moments we need to cherish. Gather your friends and enjoy. Happy Chinese New Year.

44


45


F O O D A N D E N T E R TA I N I N G

Chinese New Year

46


FLORALS

Decide on a colour palette. We used yellow, pink for the flowers, with a hint of orange on the napkins. Just a couple of sprigs and one or two blooms is all you need to create this look. If you don’t have a teapot to use as a vase, then use small glass jars or bottles instead. Keep flowers low so that your guests can see each other.

PA P E R L A N T E R N S

An easy, fun and affordable styling element to your tablescape. Use fishing wire to hang them at different heights to add interest. Combine sizes and colours but try and think about your overall colour palette.

GET THE BASICS RIGHT

Start with good quality table setting basics beautiful linen and napery, stylish cutlery and good glassware will always provide a great base to add fun elements to.

47


F O O D A N D E N T E R TA I N I N G

Chinese New Year

Napkins, tablecloth and bamboo cutlery, all Shop Lottie Lifestyle. Paper lanterns, find similar in Chinatown. Chinese teapots, plates and glasses, find similar at Lims. Flowers from Far East Flora.

48


49


Let the Feasting Begin WO R D S : A N G I E M A P H O T O G R A P H Y & S T Y L I N G : C H A R L I E C A M E R O N

Growing up as an Australian born Chinese, my brother and I always looked forward to Chinese New Year as it meant a banquet of delicious Chinese food, having a big reunion party with our other Chinese immigrant family friends and cashing in with lots of hong bao’s from all the ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’.

50


The feast was the highlight and the gateway for understanding more about my parents native culture who although born in China, grew up in Taiwan. Special attention was given to the symbolic dishes and best quality ingredients to welcome the new year. The fish, fruits, dumplings are all symbols of luck and prosperity and eating them on Chinese New Years eve is believed to invite them into your life in the new year. Just like Christmas, every part of China or Asia has their own traditions of the most fortuitous dishes to eat for the new year. At most Chinese New Year feasts, you will most probably eat whole fresh fish. The Chinese word for “fish” ( , yú) also sounds like “surplus” ( yú). The idea is that every year, you want an abundance of food or wealth, so that you have it left over for the next year. Dumplings represent wealth as they look like fat gold ingots which were the currency in ancient Chinese times. In Southern China, they eat longevity noodles called chángshòu miàn, which represent a long, long life. It’s customary to slurp down the noodle without chewing so that the strands aren’t severed. Round shaped glutinous sweet rice balls, and fruits such as mandarin oranges and tangerines represent family unity. The golden colour of mandarin oranges are related to good luck, good fortune, happiness. So don’t be surprised if you are gifted mandarin oranges as it is a symbol of gifting gold and good fortune. Pineapples are also popular for CNY as the word for pineapple in Chinese sounds like ‘luck coming your way’ in several Chinese dialects. The pineapple tarts, sweet cookies and candies you see during the Chinese new year period symbolise the sweet life in the upcoming year.

51


F O O D A N D E N T E R TA I N I N G

Chinese New Year

Napkins and plate, Crate and Barrel. Bamboo steamer, Totts Store. Shallow dish, Daiso.

52


53

68


F O O D A N D E N T E R TA I N I N G

Chinese New Year

STEAMED RED SNAPPER WITH GINGER AND SPRING ONION

This is a super simple and classic way to prepare fish in the Chinese style. Cooking whole fish can be a bit daunting but this method is super easy as steaming keeps the fish moist. Just buy the freshest wild fish from your fishmonger. Your fishmonger wet market is your friend. The wild red snapper was looking lovely and glossy and fresh on the day I was at the market. Or ask your fishmonger what other fresh white fish good is for steaming. If you don’t want to use of the whole fish, you can also use fillets. If you don’t have a steamer oven or steamer, use a large wok or pot, place a small low wire rack at bottom or an empty can of tin tuna something that will elevate the plate that the fish will steam on. Place a plate on top and make sure there is some space around the edges for the steam to rise. You will need a snug fitting lid. INGREDIENTS

The freshest whole white fish you can find - I used Wild red snapper but sea bass or sea bream is lovely too. Mine was about 600g which fits nicely onto dinner plate and into my wok 3 stalks of spring onions finely sliced lengthways into long matchsticks ½ inch thumb of ginger finely sliced into matchsticks 2 tbs vegetable oil 3 tbs soy sauce 2 tsp of sesame oil 2 tbs Chinese rice wine 2 pinches of salt METHOD

Wash and pat dry the fish. Cut 3 slits into both sides of the fish to let the flavours seep in and cook evenly. Heat up the steamer until water is just boiling and lots of steam has been created. Place some baking paper on a plate that will fit in the wok or pot you are steaming in. The baking paper makes it easier to lift out the steaming fish from the boiling steam. Put a healthy sprinkling of mixed spring onions and ginger on the plate. Place two chopsticks in a criss cross shape on top so that the steam gets under the fish and cooks evenly. Place the fish on top of the chopsticks and splash on the Chinese rice wine and a sprinkle more spring onions and ginger. Leave ⅓ of spring onions/ginger for garnishing later.

12-14 mins. But yours make be a bit longer, or less depending on the size, thickness or steamer. In a small pot heat the oil until very hot on med-high heat. Carefully take out the fish using the baking paper and drain out the juices. Place on a plate with spring onions and ginger. Add the rest of the ginger and spring onions. Pour on the soy sauce, sesame oil and sprinkle the salt. Pour over hot oil. It should hear a loud sizzle. Serve immediately and eat.

Steam until a chopstick pokes through the thickest part of the fish very very easily, almost sliding in. My 600g fish took about

54


55

70


F O O D A N D E N T E R TA I N I N G

Chinese New Year C H E AT S P O R K A N D C H I V E PA N F R I E D D U M P L I N G S

If there’s one dish that reminds me of my family, it is homemade dumplings. It is a family affair in the Ma household. Everyone knows their place and their expertise. Mum makes the filling with all the right balance of flavours, Dad makes and kneads the dough with his strong home DIY hands, Mum is also the expert in rolling out fresh dumpling dough. My Dad and I furiously fill and shape the dumplings like workers in a Chinese restaurant and the rest of the family gobble them up immediately after serving. Making and rolling the dough from scratch takes quite a bit of practice and technique so this is a cheats recipe where you can use pre-made dumpling/gyoza wrappers either from the supermarket section or the fresh noodle stall at your local wet market. I get really amazing homemade-style quality thick white dumpling wrappers from the fresh noodle stall at either Empress Market or Ghim Moh market and then freeze any that I don’t use for next time. Dumplings are my ultimate quick ready made dinner as they freeze really well and take less than 10 mins to cook straight from frozen.

INGREDIENTS

half so it becomes a semi-circle. Press the edges along the whole way to seal.

Approx 24-28 pack of premade dumpling wrappers 500g of fatty pork mince (approx 25-30% fat) don’t use lean pork, it won’t be juicy ½ cup of finely cut Chinese chives called Jiu Tsai (avail at all supermarkets or wet markets) ½ inch finely grated ginger root using a microplane ½ tsp salt ¼ tsp white pepper 1 tbs sesame oil 2 tbs Chinese cooking rice wine 2 tbs Standard Soy sauce (not dark) ⅓ cup of Chicken broth (homemade is best as gelatinous but bought ok too) Bowl of a little water for moistening the dumpling wrappers. This will be the glue. For dipping sauce mix 2 tbs soy sauce, 2 tbs vinegar, some finely chopped ginger and chill oil if you like

There are lots of different ways to fold a dumpling. I find the easiest method is to make little folds and pinching and sealing into a crescent moon shape as you go. Place your finished dumplings on a plate and cover with a damp tea towel so they don’t dry out as you work. To pan fry, heat 1 tsp of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan and heat on med-high heat. Place the dumplings in the pan until browned on one side - about 3 minutes. You want them to be crisp on one side only so there is no need to turn them. The next stage is steaming them by adding ¼ cup of water to the fry pan. It will instantly steam up so be careful. Place a snug fitting lid to the pan and reduce the heat to medium to steam and cook evenly. When the water is nearly evaporated and a toothpick comes out clean when you stick it in a dumpling, take the lid off and turn the heat up to med-high to crisp up the bottoms again for about 2-3 mins. Serve immediately as dumpling are at their best when they are hot from the pan. Serve with dipping sauce.

METHOD

Mix pork mince, chives, seasoning, stock etc all together very well. It should be a pasty consistency. Let it sit for at least 20 mins to let all the flavours seep in. Fill the dumpling wrappers with about 1 teaspoon of the pork mix. You may need a little less or more depending on the size of your wrappers. Make sure you don’t overfill otherwise you won’t be able to seal the dumplings. Using your finger, moisten the top semi circle of the wrapper with water and fold the wrapper in

(If you prefer your dumplings steamed with no crispy edge, then heat water until just boiling in a bamboo steamer or steamer. Place the dumplings on parchment paper and steam for about 8-10 mins. You can use a toothpick to check if cooked). To freeze, lightly flour a tray and place the dumplings on it. Then store in a sealed container or sealed plastic freezer bag. To cook from frozen add more steaming time and check if cooked with toothpick test.

56


57

72


F O O D A N D E N T E R TA I N I N G

Chinese New Year S M AC K E D C U C U M B E R S A L A D

This is the simplest vegetable side dish that is garlicky, sweet, salty and slightly acidic. I like to add a bit of chilli oil but it is optional.

INGREDIENTS

1 large or 3 small japanese or lebanese cucumbers ½ tsp salt ½ tsp sugar 2 garlic cloves finely minced 2 tsp light soy sauce 1 tsp Chinese vinegar 1 tsp sesame oil Optional: ½ to 1 tsp of chill oil

METHOD

Cut edges of cucumber and on a chopping board smack the cucumber all the way along with the flat part of a large chopping knife. Cut into diagonal bite sized pieces and put in a small bowl with a sprinkle of salt to release some water. Let it sit for 10 mins and then drain off any water. Add other ingredients and adjust to taste. Marinate for at least 30 mins before serving. You can also keep in the fridge until eating a few hours later.

58


F O O D A N D E N T E R TA I N I N G

Spring Onion Pancakes

59


F O O D A N D E N T E R TA I N I N G

Chinese New Year S P R I N G O N I O N PA N C A K E S

These delicious, fragrant fried pancakes aren’t traditionally eaten on Chinese New Year but our whole family loves them including the grandparents right through to the little kids. The fragrance of the spring onion with the salty, crispy golden pancake bread is heavenly. These are traditionally street snacks made with pork lard which tastes amazing but in the interest of not clogging my arteries, use coconut oil or vegetable oil. You can pre-prepare them earlier until snail stage and them roll them out just before pan frying.

INGREDIENTS

2 ½ cups of plain flour ½ tsp salt ¼ cup of boiling water ¾ cup of room temperature water (extra water if needed)

into a a rectangle shape. You want to roll until the dough is very thin. The thinner you roll it, the more layers you will get. Aim to roll it about 2mm thick. Spread the oil/flour paste on to the rectangle of dough leaving a 1cm border. Scatter a small handful of spring onions evenly. Sprinkle with 2-3 pinches of salt and sesame seeds.

1 cup of very finely chopped spring onions (slice them in half lengthwise, then slice finely into half moons) For the paste: 4 tablespoons of coconut oil (or vegetable oil) 4 tablespoons of flour ¼ tsp salt 2 tbs sesame seeds Extra salt for dusting

METHOD

In a mixing bowl combine flour and salt. Add hot water and mix with chopsticks to activate the gluten. Next add the cold water. If still dry add a tsp of water at a time until the dough just starts coming together and is not too sticky.

Using your fingers, start to roll the long end closest to you. This is like rolling a swiss roll. Roll it very tightly, slowly and evenly ensuring no air gets trapped. Once you have rolled the dough, pinch the ends lengthways to seal the edges so it doesn’t come undone. Curl and roll the dough into a snail-like circle shape, tucking the end into the back. Rest them for at least 15 mins to relax the gluten. You can place them covered in the fridge with some cling film until you are ready to roll them out and fry. When ready, using a rolling pin, roll out the snail shape out until about 4-5mm thick. If stacking the pancakges on top of each other as you work, make sure you use parchment paper or cling film to separate them. You can freeze them at this stage and then defrost before cooking.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 mins to activate the gluten. Lightly oil a clean bowl and place your dough in the bowl to rest. Cover with a clean damp tea towel for 1-2 hours.

If cooking straight away, heat up 1 tsp of vegetable oil in a nonstick pan to med-high heat. Place rolled pancake in the fry pan and fry until golden and crisp on one side, and then flip. They are ready when both sides are crispy and golden. Use a spatula to flatten and crisp the pancake. Continue with the remaining pancakges.

Mix ingredients for paste and set aside.

Serve piping hot.

Divide dough into 8 pieces, roll into balls and cover with a tea towel so they don’t dry out. Lightly oil a silicone baking mat or a large piece of baking paper on a large chopping board. Using your hands, roll the ball into a long snake and thenusing a rolling pin roll out the dough ‘snake’

60


61

76


F O O D A N D E N T E R TA I N I N G

Chinese New Year

P I N E A P P L E TA R T S

Recipe by Angie Ma from Once Upon A Secret Supper Makes about 80-100 pieces Pastry 350g butter (room temperature) 100g (5 tablespoons) condensed milk 510g plain flour 2 egg yolks Pineapple Jam 500g of ripe pineapple flesh (about 1 medium sized pineapple peel and cored) 1 cup of sugar 2 tablespoon of lemon juice 10 cloves Egg Wash 1 egg yolk 1 teaspoon of condensed milk White sesame seeds for decoration Put the pineapple chunks into a food processor and pulse until you have a rough puree (you are looking for some texture to the puree as opposed to something completely smooth so go slowly with the food processor and keep pulsing until your get a rough puree). Place the rough pineapple puree and cloves in a saucepan on the stove and stir over a medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated (approx 10-20 minutes depending how juicy the pineapple is). You want the mixture to be moist but not wet so that it doesn’t make the pastry soggy.

the flour, continuing to mix until the mixture becomes crumbly. Turn off the mixer and use your hands to squeeze the crumbly pastry into a ball (this will take a minute or two - at first it will seem too dry and crumbly but as you squeeze and knead it into a ball it will transform into a soft dough). Once you have a smooth round ball of dough, pinch small amounts of the dough into 10gram pieces (for consistent shape and size weigh each little pinch of dough as you go) and form each piece into a round ball. While you work keep the dough moist under a slightly damp tea towel. Once you have all your little dough balls ready, you can start making the tarts. Take a little dough ball and place it in your palm. Gently flatten it using your fingers to form it into a round disk about 6cm in diametre. Make the edges of the disk a little bit thinner around the edges so it is easier to curl into a ball. Place approx. 1 teaspoon of pineapple filling on the centre of each pastry disk. To wrap it, pinch opposite ends together and over the pineapple jam in the middle and then do the same with other two opposite ends until you have enclosed the pineapple jam. Gently start rolling the dough between your palms to achieve an even smooth ball. Place on a lined baking tray and glaze with egg wash and sprinkle a couple of sesame seeds on each ball. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until the pastry is a light golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Store in air-tight container. For a gift, put them in an airtight glass jar with some red ribbon for good luck.

Add the sugar and lemon juice and continue to stir continuously until the filling develops a deep golden colour and is thick and sticky and coats the back of a spoon. (Tip: Put a small plate in the fridge and smear some jam on it to check for the right sticky and jammy consistency, if its not jammy, keep it on the stove a bit longer). Keep stirring and be careful to not let it burn. Taste to see if the filling has achieved the desired sweetness. Take off the heat and allow the pineapple filling to cool to room temperature then place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This will make the filling easier to handle. You can make the filling ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. When you are ready to use it, remove the cloves. Method for the pastry Preheat oven to 180°C. Cream the softened butter and condensed milk in an electric mixer. Once combined and creamy add the egg yolks one at a time, beating between each addition. Slowly add 62


F E AT U R E

My experience of becoming an expat

Lost and Found S TO RY : T S A R A C H I A P P I N I

Humans are by nature creatures of habit, Edgar Rice Burroughs so profoundly encapsulated that characteristic when he described how “we fall naturally and easily into the manner of customs which long usage has implanted ineradicably within us”. So the very essence of becoming an expat, a person living outside of their native country, shakes us to the core. All of those decisions made subconsciously regarding day-to-day life suddenly become obsolete, redundant and for a while you feel lost. Thats how I felt when I found myself and our family 6765 miles away from home in our ‘new home’ at the beginning of March last year. We had moved and all of a sudden, I didn’t know how to live anymore. That sounds dramatic because obviously I knew how to keep us alive, but I felt lost in this new country I found myself in. Moving to a new country creates a strong feeling of displacement and confusion and it takes time to figure out how everything all works. For a long while and still now I miss being certain of ‘my places’ those places that in London brought me a joy and comfort and a sense of belonging.

Moving away from the place you know the most to somewhere totally foreign forces a survival mode and brings out a robustness that perhaps you’d never acknowledged be-

63

fore. Coming here has made me understand myself better. I know what I like and what I don’t. I find some of my eccentric British quirks stick-out in an Asian setting but just knowing and appreciating where you came from gives you an inner strength. You are a product of where you grew up and no one can take that from you, although whether you want to leave some of those less appealing idiosyncrasies behind is another story. Despite the challenging moments I can’t help but think this move has been the shake-up my husband and I needed in our lives. Life can move quickly, especially when you get into a routine of climbing the career ladder and/ or having a family. In a blink of an eye toddlers are suddenly teenagers and you’ve been doing pretty much the same thing for a decade or more. Now there’s nothing wrong with that but if you have a slight hankering to see what else life can offer then moving countries is one way to add adventure to a life that may feel stagnant. Not only does it open your world to new cultures and customs, but you open your hearts to meeting and making new friends who bring something different and fresh. That’s not to say it’s not lonely at the beginning, as you seek out these new people, and sure you might not become the best of friends with everyone you meet but when you do make a connection it feels like a little win. Isn’t life all about little wins?


F E AT U R E

My experience of becoming an expat

I’ve found we’ve been more adventurous since moving here too (being in lockdown for a few months will probably do that to anyone) but in terms of exploring and getting up and out we’re so much more up for it as a family. At first it was a way to find our bearings but even now our weekends are more filled. Whether it’s the weather or the proximity to the sea but days are now spent wandering around nature reserves, building sandcastles by the shoreline or swimming in the pool. Despite a rocking start, I know in time our children will be settled here and it’s a wonderful place to bring them up. The world-class attractions from the Art Science Museum and Singapore Zoo to the S.E.A Aquarium have been frequented far more in 10 months than their counterparts in the UK in four years. The weather allows for year-round exploration and outdoor play. There’s also a gentleness and safety to Singapore that allows for greater independence from a younger age and allows us parents to feel slightly more relaxed. The standard of education here is also universally impressive. We can’t help but feel a little envious of some of the opportunities they will have especially the gift of the opportunity to learn Mandarin in a bi-lingual setting. What’s also great is the chance for them to meet and play with children from all over the world broadening their capacity from an early age to respect differences and see themselves as a global citizen.

So despite being creatures of habit, we do have the capacity to forge new ways of being. Humans are very capable of adapting and lives can be enriched off the back of it - even when you felt you were already full. A journalist I once met told me that a decade of living in LA had made ‘her life feel longer’ and that stuck with me. Also, if opportunities come our way surely, it’s our responsibility to make the most of them considering we only have one life. Although I felt lost at the beginning of our move, I am now slowly finding my footing and place and the family are getting there too. I’m also already beginning to build up a collection of my ‘new places’, such as a restaurant overlooking stables and lush vegetation that reminds me of my childhood growing up in the English countryside, a little spot in Dempsey for the best green juice and a place to collect my thoughts, and a taste of London at the English House. Things aren’t perfect yet and it’s definitely a work in progress but it’s something we’re enjoying working towards and I’m looking forward to finding my new places of joy and comfort in Singapore – the places that make me feel like I belong.

When the day comes allowing us to travel once more, living in Singapore will open up this side of the world for adventures. Early on in my communications career I was lucky enough to visit the Fast East and Southeast Asia for business. Now we have the opportunity to take our family back to the places that left a special place in my heart, from the mystical sight of the limestone karsts in Phang Nga Bay, Thailand or the vibrant neighbourhoods of Shanghai. What is more, we’re closer to those places that we’ve always wanted to explore whether its trekking through Bhutan or exploring the Komodo National Park on a yacht in Indonesia, these places aren’t a 12-hour flight anymore rather a short hop. Even visiting Australia to catch-up with a brother I haven’t seen in years doesn’t seem as arduous anymore, four hours to Margaret River and then be in the heart of wine country is a very attractive option (we haven’t met anyone who hasn’t recommended this trip). I think the earnestness of exploring and packing it all in also comes from the uncertainty of how long you have in the place. Some expat contracts may only be for a certain amount of time before you have to move on again, unfortunately some finish unexpectedly early or the lure of home or a desire to spend time with ageing relatives becomes too strong. You come with the intention to stay two to three years, but we have met many who are still here a good decade and some later, showing the benefits outweigh the challenges. As someone who is still here twenty years later mentioned to me, ‘moving back to the UK is unimaginable now, we have such an amazing lifestyle that we wouldn’t be able to replicate back in Britain’.

64


T H E F I N A L WO R D

The Boredom of a Global Pandemic

As the months passed, I found myself occupying a strange, drifting place. My sense of ambition has completely deserted me since the beginning of Covid. My career, which has always been in media and design, suddenly seemed deeply frivolous and superficial, and it’s kind of a bad time for job-hunting, especially if you can’t network or go to events.”

65


The boredom of a global pandemic S TO RY : H E S T E R A B A

Serial expats thrive on change. To the extent that I think many of us are secretly running away from something, or even trying to run away from ourselves. When I tell my husband I’m addicted to packing my suitcase and leaving one life behind to step into another, I’m only half joking. While moving to another country or city can be highly stressful and bloody hard work, there’s also the exciting opportunity to discover a new world and to reinvent yourself. To create a new life. To meet new people and to correct any mistakes you feel you made in your last move. After five pretty major moves (four international and one interstate) I’ve definitely learned the lesson that wherever I go, there I am. But I’ve never felt this as intently as during the Covid pandemic. Without the usual rhythms of expat life, with my career on pause, and stripped of my “hobbies” of travelling and eating out, what’s left? Well, basically the life of a US soccer mom, without the planned sporting activities. In other words, I’m a bored housewife. Back in January 2020 we made the decision to cut our time in New York short and move to Miami. The benefits of the move were manifold: we could buy a house with a garden and a pool, enjoy year-round beautiful weather, end our days of commuting on the subway, and put our girls in a great school. We’d also benefit from the fact that Florida has no state tax (hence why the orange-cheetowho-shall-not-be-named loves this state so much). Win, win, win. In February, we headed to Miami to house hunt, and ended up placing an offer on a home after just 48 hours of looking. When we arrived back in New York after our trip, we were a bit horrified by what we had done. Why had we acted so irresponsibly? We should have waited a while. Seen more options. Done more research. The house we had bought was still being finished, so we planned to see out the rest of the school year in NYC before moving to Miami in June. Experiencing Covid in NYC was awful, so we were thrilled to arrive in Miami and throw ourselves into doing up the house and garden, and get our girls settled in school. I was lucky to have one friend from my Hong Kong days living in Miami, and the new moms I met at my kids’ school were friendly and welcoming.

completely deserted me since the beginning of Covid. My career, which has always been in media and design, suddenly seemed deeply frivolous and superficial, and it’s kind of a bad time for job-hunting, especially if you can’t network or go to events. I’ve signed up for lots of remote volunteering, but aside from some days of (poorly) driving voting kits around Miami for a congressional candidate who ended up losing her seat in the election, I get no callbacks begging for my assistance. I take my kids to school, I exercise and tidy the house, I do the grocery shopping online and shop online. I doom-scroll endlessly, and know way too much about American politics. I’m deeply aware of how lucky I am, and feel horribly guilty if I let myself get down, or too bored. I read a lot, I meditate, I garden, I walk the dog, I buy flowers and arrange them. I play tennis. I check the Bloomberg vaccine tracker every day, and think a lot about when things might go back to “normal”. I was so thrilled when Biden was inaugurated! Such a wonderful day! But nothing really changes in everyday life. No change. Every day is pretty much exactly the same. I experimented to see whether posting pictures and videos of myself doing boring activities on social media would make them feel more fun. To see if living a more examined life would suddenly cast the reading and the gardening and the chores in a more thrilling light, or at least if it felt motivating. But the answer is, not for me. I waited for creativity to spark, as it’s supposed to do when you’re really bored. But mine seems to have spluttered and gone out. I’m trying to learn how to just sit and be with the lack of change. It’s a semi-spiritual practice I didn’t seek out or ask for. I’m trying to appreciate that most change happening in peoples’ lives these days isn’t positive change. I’m trying to feel grateful for the lack of negative change in my life. Grateful for the status quo. I’m peaceful, I’m safe, I’m luckier than most. I still feel like a little bored kid though, squirming in my seat asking if we’re there yet. “She refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn’t boring.” Zelda Fitzgerald Maybe Zelda never experienced a global pandemic.

But as the months passed, I found myself occupying a strange, drifting place. My sense of ambition has

66


Content Roundup W H AT W E A R E R E A D I N G , L I S T E N I N G T O A N D WAT C H I N G

BOOKS

SHUGGIE BAIN BY DOUGLAS STUART /

This debut novel won the Man Booker Prize for fiction - which is a huge accolade for any author to receive, let alone one who has a debut novel. But, in my experience the awarding of a Man Booker doesn’t necessarily mean I will like the book...this novel, however, hit the mark. It is a wonderfully immersive book set in 1980’s Glasgow. It is a story about poverty, addiction and abuse but also one of the unshakeable and tender love between a mother and son. I highly recommend.

H A M N E T B Y M A G G I E O ’ FA R R E L L / As a

writer Maggie O’Farrell was always fascinated by the little-known fact that one of Shakespeare’s 11-year old twins died during one of his most prolific writing years. Taking this fact as inspiration, O’Farrell has written a breathtaking exploration of mother’s love, and how the death of a child affects the complex dynamic within a family. The power in which O’Farrell explores the visceral love between a mother and her child makes this one of the most moving books I have read in years. Clearly, Shakespeare is the name we know but O’Farrell builds the story around his wife Agnes, who was left with the children in Stratford-upon-Avon as he pursued his career in the London playhouses. Shakespeare is almost a peripheral character. There is a feminist comment made by Maggie O’Farrell in that Agnes is a fascinating, mysterious, powerful figure in her own right. Read this book – it’s a treat!

innocence. The level of investigative journalism in this podcast is exceptional and I really liked the way they pulled apart the evidence that had been used to convict him into separate episodes.

T H E D A I LY / A New York Times podcast hosted by

Michael Barbaro, with five episodes a week that are 20 mins long. It is a great journalistic podcast to keep up to date with all things making news in America (think a lot of politics, naturally). I listen to this podcast a lot, but I want to recommend one recent episode in particular “The View From A Republican Who Voted to Impeach”. It is an interview with Representative Peter Meijer of Michigan and it explains why he broke from his party in his vote to impeach. Sounds a bit boring? Trust me it’s not. Balanced, articulate and thoughtful, it is a wonderful insight from someone who was there when rioters stormed The Capitol.

GROUNDED

WITH

LOUIS

THEROUX

/

Another podcast that you can dip into one episode at a time - it is like a podcast version of Louis Theroux’s documentaries - each episode is an interview with a high-profile guest who are always fascinating. I particularly wanted to recommend the recent episode with Michaela Coel (episode 1 of the second series). Michaela Coel is the writer, producer and actor from the much acclaimed BBC series, I May Destroy You. She is an intelligent, talented and articulate guest and I loved her honesty and exploration of topics including sexual consent.

T R A C E - T H E I N F O R M E R / This is Season 2 PODCASTS

I N T H E D A R K / Season 2. I accidentally started

this podcast series at Season 2 - but I’m glad that I did. It is an investigative journalism podcast reminiscent of the much loved Serial, and it follows the case of Curtis Flowers who was tried six times for the same crime by the same District Attorney and was sentenced to 21 years in prison. He has always maintained his 67

of Trace (the first season is also very good). It is an investigative journalism podcast presented by Rachel Brown, an ABC journalist. The second season tracks the story of Nicola Gobbo and her secret life as a police informer and lawyer to Melbourne’s underworld. It is an incredible true story and if you are Australian, you will really enjoy this look back at the gangland wars that erupted during the mid 2000’s. If you aren’t Australian, but you like journalistic podcasts, I recommend Season 1 (but be warned some of the content in that season won’t be for everyone).


CONTENT ROUND UP

Reading, listening and watching

LADIES

W E N E E D T O TA L K / I am not sure what has taken me so long to discover this fantastic ABC podcast hosted by Yumi Stynes. It covers all topics related to women in a really accessible relatable way. Often covering uncomfortable subjects unique to women, the kind of ones that maybe we would like to know more about and didn’t know who to ask. I started by listening to two episodes and can recommend both - one is Perimenopause - Coming to a Uterus Near You (published 8 Oct 2018) and the other is The Secret Lives of Vaginas (published 19 Oct 2020). Just maybe don’t listen to it in the car while you are driving your kids around. This is a podcast to listen to in private.

mother in her quest to get pregnant for a second time. I loved the scriptwriting and humour in this series and if you liked Fleabag, I think this will similarly appeal.

E N O L A H O L M E S / A great family friendly

movie, probably most enjoyable for kids either side of 10. It is a beautifully shot mystery movie that is clever and fun. It follows the story of Enola Holmes, Sherlock Holmes sister, as she attempts to unravel the mystery disappearance of her mother. Great female characters for kids to enjoy.

A M E R I C A S T / BBC Presenters Emily Maitlis

and Jon Sopel dissect the latest news and analysis of American politics. If you are interested in American politics and like it presented in an interesting and conversational format, then you will really enjoy this podcast. This is a must listen for me each week.

T V A N D M OV I E S

S O N G E X P L O D E R / Two seasons with just

a handful of episodes in each, this is a Netflix produced documentary series that explores one song in each episode and how it was created. I loved Season 1 which included Alicia Keys, Lin-Manuel Miranda, R.E.M. and Ty Dolla $ign. I enjoyed all of them. Season 2 has recently been released and includes Dua Lipa, Nine Inch Nails and The Killers. If you love music and are interested to hear how a particular song came about, I highly recommend.

T H E D U C H E S S / Available on Netflix and

created and staring Katherine Ryan, the six episode series follows a ‘fashionably disruptive’ single

68


LOTTIE LIFESTYLE www.shoplottielifestyle.com FOLLOW US

@lottieisloving

Profile for Lottie Lifestyle

Home / Life Magazine Issue 5  

The latest issue of Home / Life magazine celebrates Chinese New Year with pretty table styling and some authentic Chinese dishes to help you...

Home / Life Magazine Issue 5  

The latest issue of Home / Life magazine celebrates Chinese New Year with pretty table styling and some authentic Chinese dishes to help you...

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded