Local Heart, Global Soul

January 3, 2012

The Beautiful Beasts of the Sea…

The dishes on offer at the Silver Shell Cafe are amazing… Luxurourous in fact… Himself is heading towards the seafood section, but with shell fish allergies I am more enamoured with the little beasts photographic qualities.

This post delightes me solely in a visual sense… the layer of ice upon which the morscles rest appears as a shimmerling blue background to the brilliant colours of the crustations and the blue/ green rims of the mussel shells (or are they Paua?) are a one of the beautities of nature.

I love food, I love taking photos, this post is one where I endevour in a very ameatur way to do both justice. Enjoy!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

December 30, 2011

An In-Depth Look at the Pools…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’ve mentioned that the swimming pool at the Shangri-La Rasa is one of the main attractions for us and our kids while we stay in Singapore.

The layout consists of a dedicated kid pool area complete with slides and a water play area and then a bigger pool area with a seperated shallow area and a deeper pool.

For Himself it’s nice to sit in the shade of one of the umbrellas inbetween slapping sunscreen on the kids and supervising the antics in the water and sometimes he’s joining in the fun and swimming too.

Since crutches and wet tiled pool areas don’t mix well, I have stayed on the periphery and after taking a few photos and watching Kiwi Daughter and Little Mr. do some tricks in the water (Little Mr. showing off his new found confidence at putting his head under that water and Kiwi Daughter doing backwards handstands) I retired back to the room to put my foot up and rest for a while each day.

The Kids have made friends with a friendly and ultra helpful pool lifegard called Joseph who has helped supervise the kids when Himself has had to return things to the room and who has been teaching the kids more about water safely.

Joseph is great with kids and could even get a distracted Little Mr. to listen to the pool rules and some advice when Himself failed. (We think that the secret is also that Joseph’s official looking Lifegard uniform impresses Little Mr. no end, and to him Jospeph is the equivalent to the “Pool Policeman”… and we all know how Little Mr. holds emergancy service personnel in absolute reverence).

Let’s take a look around the Rasa’s pool area…

(OK…now the “snow” that WordPress puts onto the Christmas season posts looks a little strange.. oh well never mind).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The only time the kids were a little disappointed was when a tropical thunderstorm came overhead and the pools had to be closed for fear of lightening strikes. Still, since they spent many happy hours per day in the pools at other times, they were hardly hard done by.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

December 29, 2011

Giving Kids a Better Reception…

The Reception area of the Rasa Sentosa has also been upgraded, but the layout is essentially  the same in that it is still open plan. At first I thought this might be a disadvantage because it’s so hot and humid but the huge area is easier to navigate with bags and kids and everything is easily accessible both in fine weather and when it rains so I’ve grown to like the open plan idea.

Let’s take a look around…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Completely new is a the addition of a Kids Club, parents can register their kids here  as a complimentary service during your stay, and the children can stay for a whole day or for  part of the day and a small team of staff have a whole host of activities to entertain the children.

Our kids used it for only a few hours whilst we were busy organising things with our Singaporean friend on the phone and it was certainly easier than trying to keep a boisterous Little Mr. quiet so that we could concentrate on getting phone numbers etc.

It appears that some of the Kid’s Club days are themed, Circus and Pirate days appeared on offer complete with pirate dress-up clothes.

Our kids went on a scavenger hunt where in teams they had to solve clues in order to hunt for hidden markers around the grounds. They grumbled when we dropped them off saying it sounded boring but excitedly repeated every detail once they were back so apparently it wasn’t nearly as boring as they made out.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 28, 2011

The New and Improved Rasa…

Filed under: Accomodation,PHOTOGRAPHY,Reviews,SINGAPORE,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa Hotel was closed for a whole year in 2010 so that it could undergo a massive renovation of the rooms, pools, restaurants, convention rooms etc..

Two years ago when we last stayed here I took you on a tour of the hotel  and now that it has been refurbished, let’s take the tour again so that we can see  the changes they have made.

Most noticeable to my eye are the changes in the rooms themselves,  not only has the interier décor been updated but there are many small touches such as the  “Do not disturb button”  that you just press if you want to sleep longer: this lights up a small light outside the door so you will not be disturbed by housekeeping staff,  you no longer have to hang the paper ticket on the door and there are ceiling  fans in the room in addition to the air-conditioning in the rooms which we find more comfortable.

I had my crutches with me, and the use of a hotel wheelchair, but I still found it easier to take the photos in fits and starts, so these photos have been taken at different times of different days whilst we were in the hotel.

Let’s take a look around…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 27, 2011

Trying Not to feel Guilty for Five Star Indulgence…

Filed under: Accomodation,PHOTOGRAPHY,Reviews,SINGAPORE,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We have arrived in Singapore and checked into our hotel the Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa on the island of Sentosa.

Usually we do cheap accommodation because after all,  “a bed for the night is a bed for the night” and in the morning you pack your bag and go out and do stuff, or move on to the next location but this is the one and only time where we have various reasons for wanting to break our usual frugal habits.

First is that although we love Singapore, many of the city hotels have small swimming pools perched on rooftops…  fine for a quick dip but play area for small kids can be either limited or non existent.

These pools also are usually geared towards adult swimmers so we can expect the regular rectangular ensemble with shallow end / deep end and a few deck chairs.

Finding space for extended kid pool playing has eluded us so the Rasa Sentosa first of all offers a massive amount of kid space by comprision.

Space in Singapore is comparable to “space” in  The Netherlands, both countires have limited land area and high population density so finding a hotel room with two double beds, or a double or two singles is neigh on impossible.

What’s expected is that you book two adjoining rooms, but that’s not cheap either and in our case it comes with an added problem: we have travelled with our kids since they were three months old, without exception, getting them to sleep in a strange room alone has been our biggest “fail”.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Even if we get them tucked in for the night, the daughter who would easy snore on even if a plane crash landed  into our street at home suddenly becomes the kid going pitter patter into our room, crying to be near us… not just once but several times a night.

Little Mr. appears to have inherited the same radar and is as bad, they usually do not syncronise these nocturnal visits, but leave to you to wearily begin the nodding off process before their sibling starts the ritual parent sleep interruption process.

Clearly we need to wait until they are a little older before we can have success in this area.

Until they are older, what we really want is a hotel family room where you can have two double beds, Himself and I in one and the kids in the other…

…but it’s standard in small European (and Singaporean) hotel rooms to have only the possibility of a double and a single in the same room and often there is actually no physical space for a sofa bed that pulls out into a double.

It’s also not hotel policy: they want you to book  adjoining rooms instead.

Our stays in Singapore started out as 8 hour stopovers at the airport, but for the last six years we have had a wonderful Singaporian friend with who we love spending time and so our stopover wish list has grown and with it, the length of time needed to do everything we want to do.

Often we don’t even go sightseeing, we just get a bottle of wine and some nibbles,  return to our room after enjoying a meal somewhere together and lounge around on one the beds until late, catching up with all the things that have been happening and planning future trips together  whilst the kids snore softly in the foldout bed next to us.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Rasa is one of the few places we could find that offers us a family room where we can get a double bed and a double sofa bed in one room… so this is our second wish granted.

Thirdly, after a 14 hour flight anf a seven hour time difference our kids are often wide awake in the wee hours.

Seriously awake in the serious wee hours… bright and chipper from 1.45 a.m. onwards and wanting to play and shout and be loud. Little Mr processes a “loud voice” that seems to be the speciality of small boys…

…even his attempt at a whisper could wake the neighbours three doors down.

The Rasa has something that seriously few other hotels in Singapore has to offer:  a beach about 1.7 minutes walk away on the other side of the pools.

Himself has been known to be on the beach building sandcastles at three or four in the morning with Little Mr,  since both share a similar penchant for mega early rising…

Kiwi Daughter and I are both night owls and are usually the late risers in the family.

Whilst both Himself and I abhor rampant commercialism, anything “branded” and living to excess, we do figure that if you work and save  very hard  for these trips, then for a few days every few years we should maybe  leave the slumming behind and indulge ourselves just a little.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We don’t have ipads, x-boxes, MP3 players or Playstations, we don’t  gamble (unless you count one lottery ticket per month) We don’t smoke at all, or drink or eat out much at all (except when we travel) Nor do we have expensive tastes in clothes, shoes, accessories or household goods.

We try to give more than we take when it comes to our dealings with people, the community, and the planet.

We also save hard and budget all year round,  have zero debt except  mortgage so maybe a little  indulgence isn’t too bad every few years.

Five star hotels are not usually our kind of thing, but here in Singapore, after 14 hours in the air and facing another 10 hours flying ahead of us, this kind of relaxation is an excellent way to combat jetlag too.

It’s still very early in the morning when I took these photos and the dawn light is not the best… but we have a great room with a shower and a bath, a patio that leads directly out to the pool area and space for one large double bed and one smaller pull-out double too.

Perfect!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 26, 2011

Please Make Sure your Seatbelt is Securely Fastened and your Tray Table is Stowed for Take Off…

Filed under: SINGAPORE,THE NETHERLANDS,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

Kiwidutch has a confession to make:  While you have been enjoying a virtual tour of Germany courtesy of  the massive stash of photos stored on my hard drive, I  have in recent months and weeks, been organising medical permission  to travel to New Zealand.

Now, with said permission gained,  in recent days Family Kiwidutch have been commencing their global travels.

Ah ha! Yes indeed, we are still on the move as you read this. You are packed securely into my camera bag ready to join me in the air, on the road or on any other form of transport we may encounter.

You, as a virtual tourist (fortunately) weigh nothing more than the few kilos of my laptop and I promise you that your travels with Kiwidutch will be turbulance free, completely without jetlag  and not cost you any additional cent other than the ones you already pay to connect to the internet.

Do however fasten your seatbelt because I hope as usual to show you many wonderful things as we  transverse the highs and lows of this slightly less usual trip to my other “home”.  Like migrating swallows we are migrating temporarily towards warmer climes, and heading out of the beginnings of a Dutch winter into the beginnings of a New Zealand summer.

We get to spend Christmas and New Year with family and friends, but also need to inspect earthquake damage on our Christchurch house and support family and friends who’s  nerves, homes and businesses have suffered greatly in the last year due to the five big quakes and the nine thousand plus aftershocks.

Our journey starts of course at Schipol Airport just outside Amsterdam…  Ready for take off?  …We are!

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

Mountains far below, somewhere over the Indian subcontinent or south west Asia… (about  10 or 11 hours into our 14 hour flight)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

We arrive at 6:00 a.m.  and head towards our hotel as the Singaporean dawn is breaking… and while everyone here is rising to greet the new day, we are about to head to bed for a sleep.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 25, 2011

Christmas is All About a Very Special Birth… The Miracle of Life (and the Distorted Facts)

Filed under: Funny,Kids and Family,LIFE,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Today is Christmas Day and millions of people around the world will be celebrating it whatever way suits their style and traditions best.  Of course not all people observe Christmas, but for people of  the Christian faith it is one of the most  important dates in the calendar year.

I’m sure that not just the birth of Jesus, but all impending births and the the miracle of Life have inspired many misconceptions and mirth because of misunderstandings of the events in progress by children.

I remember the story told by my New Zealand Grandmother:  in generations past it was not uncommon for young children to be farmed out to live with other relatives when a new pregancy became really obvious and the children were only brought back once the new arrival had been “delivered” by the “stork”.

Naturally at this time the Facts of Life were a taboo subject and little or no information was given in explaination as to where babies actually came from at any  time in many families.

My Grandma once recounted how one of my uncles asked where his new baby brother had come from and when he was told that they had got him  “from under the cabbages”  he horrified my Grandfather (a very serious veggie gardener) by cutting off a whole row of cabbage heads  because he was “looking for another brother”.

Even sadder was that he got punished for doing so, even when the error had been on the part of the parents and what he had done,  he had done in innocence and childish ignorance.

Luckily these days we are far more enlightened and I have been having “the talk”  with Kiwi Daughter on the “Facts of Life”.

To be honest I had been dreading it, thinking it would be an embarrassing topic to explain, and Yes, when she was four, it was, but mostly that was because it’s so hard to know how to phrase things in a very simple way and four year olds have a habit of asking questions at the most inopportune moment and in a manner that throw you completely off guard.

Now that Kiwi Daughter is ten, and trying to ask intelligent questions, I’ve been surprised about how easy it’s been to just sit and have “little chats”  with her.

A very good  friend of ours is pregnant and this impending event has been the inspiration for some very interesting conversations with our children as they see her tummy grow bigger.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Little Mr’s. reaction: “Does that mean you are having a little kid?” (well we don’t think he means the baby goat variety, but baby human-being sort) so,  “Yes“…

The conversation thereafter flowed simultaneously on two completely different levels, Little Mr having a rather edited version of the facts about babies than Kiwi Daughter who is almost 4 years older.

Kiwi Daughter asks about her own birth (natural) and Little Mr. his, (emergency caesarian section for medical reasons) so he knows that he quite literally came out of Mama’s tummy. He did however think a bit and all of a sudden he asked ” What do they do with the left over  bit of tummy“?

(yep…  you got me there, would have suited me fine if they had taken it away and not just sewed it up).

Kiwi Daughter on the other hand has in recent months had sex education at school and she and I have been having some in-depth discussions at home about all the upcoming changes that puberty will bring.

Most of these little chats stem from questions that she has, where obviously the exact and precise deails were not made clear, or if they were she didn’t  get it.

All of a sudden she started to giggle, and then she confessed that she had been quite shocked when it became apparent in the lesson that whan a lady has a baby, that her big stomach doesn’t instantamously just deflate the second the baby exits.

(After two kids, sigh, I wish)

… the look on her face and the question “Is that really how it is Mama?”  I said Yes, that’s how it really is, the Mama’s tummy slowly stretches and grows as the baby gets bigger, and then after the baby is born it takes time for all the muscles and skin (and a lot of exercise) to get back to the way they were before.

It transpired that Kiwidaughter had visions of the process being as simple as blowing up a balloon and just then letting the air rush out afterwards…

hmmm…  … jet prepolsion birth anyone?

The wonder of a new soul arriving into the world should be a happy event every time and for me each and every new baby is a Mircale of Life… complex, amazing, beautiful, full of promise, potential and hope…

Be it the Christ Child or any child, I hope that we keep true to the values of trust, honesty and faithfulness in all things and that we also learn to look at life though the innocent, delightful, wondrous eyes of a child… and giggle a bit and have fun too.

Whatever you believe (or maybe not, since that is a very personal choice) I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and whatever your day brings, I hope that your day today is spent with someone you love.

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2011

The Surprise that Now isn’t, ….and Ones That Definitely Were…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I was  going to surprise you all in a few days by taking you on a new  Kiwidutch “tour”.. one that we are on at present as we have headed to the Southern Hemisphere to  spend Christmas with family and friends.

I’ve been preparing the posts and photos already with just a little time delay… but yesterday that  surprise went out of the window when we were overtaken with bigger surprises of the Mother Nature variety.

In the tour sequence you will eventually arrive in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, but we are already there on 23rd December 2011 and this is the day that Himself, Kiwi Daughter and Little Mr felt their first earthquakes.

No one could have missed them because they were huge… There were a whole swarm of rather major earthquakes early afternoon, (a.m. if you are in the Northern Hemisphere)  the first one was a BIG rolling  and rumbling one of about 20 seconds duration while I was trying to hang out laundry in the back yard (I had a seat next to me to hang onto) but during the quake  I was desperately trying  instead to grab the crutches and go find the kids…

… I didn’t have much success until the shaking stopped.

Kiwi Daughter  was alone in the downstairs bedroom starting to draw pictures and Little Mr. was upstairs taking a plate back to the kitchen, R.  was at the bottom of the stairs. Both kids got the fright of their lives.

Himself  had finished painting the fence at the house we own in Papanui  with my cousin P. and was in the rental car on his way back here… he’s never felt a quake before so he didn’t actually realise he was in one, he thought there was something wrong with the steering and was trying to pull over, but the car didn’t want to respond …

…then it all got ok again so he drove on and he only realised it must have been a quake when he saw hundreds of shoppers being evacuated into the car park  of the big Mall at Northlands…

Himself   was also  still in the car when first aftershock hit a few minutes later but was back with me comforting the kids when the next big one hit a while later so it was the third big one  that he actually “felt” as his first real earthquake.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 The house where were are staying is solid as  a rock but the fridge went walk-a-bouts, the Christmas tree toppled and some stuff in the garage tumbled all over the place.

Nothing serious, though, no liquefaction and no real damage. Electricity stayed on which is more than can be siad for large swathes of the city especially in the eastern suburbs.

Yesterday Friends of our had a BBQ planned for tonight and said Please still come:  it would help everyone most if they all carried on as much as possible as normal.

We went and had a good time, Little Mr was clingy and scared but played outside with Lego in the end… I keep feeling wee shocks and don’t mention it to the kids, no big ones last evening while we were out though but there is every chance of something above 5 magnitude in the next few days.. that’s been the pattern every other time.
They come in clusters.

Turns out that there was another big shock that happened  early evening but we were’in the car on our way to our friends place on the other side of the city and amazingly didn’t even feel that one.

(Fortunate actually because Little Mr was rather distressed by the end of the afternoon and Kiwi Daughter was also a mess but was  just hiding  the fact significantly better).

The friends where we went for the BBQ lost a fishtank (but saved the fish) and gained more cracks in their already badly damaged home, Thanking God yet again that everyone is ok and trying to laugh, but this cluster will be the last straw from some people who thought things were calming down finally since there hasn’t been too much for a while now… whooooooo,… short sharp jolt shook the house as I typed that last sentence.

Lots of people injured by stress accidents… car prangs, panic and heart attacks etc no deaths that I know of… Sumner and Redcliff suburb  reports look like more cliff came down, (we were there three days ago) big evacuation of residents in the area below, liquefaction in the east of the city is bad and power is off for about 1/3 of the city… it always seems to stay on ok  in the area where we are and luckily hasn’t gone out for any  of the big quakes so far.

I emailed  friends and family last night:  ” We expect things to be unsettled for a .. whhooo another shock, and a rumble..still going …  gonna be an interesting night, I’m not scared but the light is on as I type in bed… might be a different story half asleep and in the pitch dark 🙂
Then we will see exactly how big a wimp I really am”. 

Damage reports are still coming in…some red stickered buildings marked for demolition (were cordoned off) have come down yesterday afternoon,  it seems we will know more tomorrow… whee another kick… rock and roll!

Kiwi Daughter is in the double bed next to me, Little Mr is  sharing with Himself in the double in the other room…  she just slept through the lot. So far so good. No peep from the boys room either… even better. Little Mr. (now a.k.a. Little Mr. Limpet) will take some calming down he’s really on edge.

My Aunt and uncle who live in two streets down from where we  are staying have more breakages as stuff exited the cupboards this afternoon and are quite shaken up (we drove round to see if we could help out)

whooo more rolling ….. oi, and a thump… still going maybe 15 seconds, but just a  little one, feels like a boat docking at the wharf and coming alongside the dock way too hard.. we are just missing the water bit.

The house is making creaking noises and there are so many smaller rumbles that I’ve lost count,  but they are just hiccups rather than the coughs of the big ones. …better sign off and try to sleep (yeah right)” 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kiwi Daughter said yesterday afternoon “ok I’ve felt earthquakes now, we know what it’s like, Can we switch them off now?” (sigh) with around 10. 000 aftershocks since the 7.1 quake in  September 2010, everyone here in Christchurch is just wishing it would be so easy.

We have emailed family and friends back in the Netherlands so they know we are ok. We have two scared kids but we are fortunate… they get to go back home to quake-free Nederland after our holiday, we are staying in a house that has been 98% damage-free  though all the quakes that have hit Christchurch so far and  Himself and I at least feel totally safe.

We have friends and relatives who have been on the phone as soon as the system was back up to check if we were ok.  Even the neighbours of the house where were are staying, knowing that we are not locals, came to check that we were ok within a minute or so of the first shake. Community spirit is alive and well here.

This morning the full extent of damage is coming to light, the whole family Kiwidutch was jolted awake this morning at 06.30 a.m., frightened kids just wanted to stay close.

I’m sitting on a bed having a rest and catching up with a rush of email and I’m not telling the kids that there are little tremors  going on almost continuously at some moments. If you aren’t in a quiet spot and being still,  then you don’t feel them.

My heart goes out to everyone who’s lost power, got liquefaction, more damage and traumatised kids,  they have the physical and emotional mess to deal with just days before Christmas and Malls, supermarkets and businesses all over town are still closed this morning as staff clean up the wreckage of fallen stuff and they loose revenue too since the customers can’t come back until places have been cleaned up.

Family Kiwidutch have much to be Thankful for… we will help out here wherever we can, but to everyone, and especially the people of Christchurch, have a  SAFE  and Happy Christmas.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 23, 2011

Quick, Easy, Simple, Gorgeous and Delicious Christmas Tray Treats your Kids can Whip up in a Jiffy!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Himself and I had a friend babysit our kids at her house whilst we sneaked out to the shops to “help Santa”  bring in some surprises for Christmas Day.

When we came back later to collect the children they surprised us with a lovely treat:  her son and our two had been busy in the kitchen making some wonderful little Christmas tray treats.

Simple ingredients, easy to make and looking amazing!

These little Christmas “puddings” are not “puddings” at all, but are really just mallowpuff biscuits, partly covered with melted white chocolate, and topped with New Zealand “lollies” (sweets/snoepjes/candy) in the form of  gummy spearmint leaves and a Jaffa.

Since these were presented fully-made and as a surprise, I didn’t get the chance to photograph the seperate ingredients, but here are links to photos that should shed some light on what the ingredients actually are .

Mallowpuffs are described as “Light fluffy marshmallow sitting on top of a shortcake biscuit, covered in luxurious milk chocolate.”  and you can see a picture of them here:  http://www.griffins.co.nz/by-name/mallowpuffs

Spearmint Leaves are a soft-ish chewy gummy type sweet, tasting (naturally enough) of spearmint and shaped like a leaf.  Here’s a link to a photograph: http://www.lollyworld.com.au/pascall-spearmint-leaves-2kg-bulk-nz-lollies-624.html

And Jaffa’s are a classic New Zealand sweet that all Kiwi’s know and love, they are little balls of chocolate covered in a hard orange candy shell : http://www.shopnewzealand.co.nz/en/cp/Cadbury_Jaffas_140g

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Ingredients:
– Mallowpuffs
– White Chocolate
– Spearmint leaf lollies/sweets/ candy
– Jaffa lollies/sweets/ candy

Method:
Cut the spearmint leaves in half (lengthwise) , melt the white chocolate, put into a piping bag (or sturdy plastic bag with a corner snipped off) and pipe  it onto the top of the mallowpuff biscuits (cookies).

Then place the spearmint leaf pieces into the choclate and top with a jaffa for the “berry”  in the centre.

My friend melted the white chocolate and supervised the piping, her 11 year old son cut the leaves in half with a sharp knife and my 10 and 6 year olds made a little production line with the 11 year old to assemble everything.

They made a grand effort and doesn’t the result look stunning?  (I think so!!!)

Maybe you will need to find similar “style”  ingredients where you are if an exact match isn’t possible, but the idea is blissfully easy and if three kids can whip up three trays of these with  minimal  help from an adult, then it proves  that this would be a quick and easy winner of a recipe for any busy adult (or adult with kids) to whip up for  that work afternoon-tea,  end-of-year school party, or sports function etc.

As an addition to your Christmas baking trays, they couldn’t be easier and they look wonderfully festive!

The note reads… “dear Mama and Daddy, Love from …(Kids names obscured for internet privacy).

PLEASE NOTE: I’ve been warned that trying to substitute icing / frosting for the white chocolate is fraught with difficulty, because  unless the icing/frosting is of an exact consistency, it will simply slide off the side of the mallowpuff into puddles at the bottom, so DO use white chocolate  which I’ve been assured is pretty much foolproof.

So… How do they taste? Excellent!… I “needed” to taste several to make sure LOL . Enjoy!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 22, 2011

Living la Buena Vida… an Establishment Full of the “Good Life”…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Last year I saw an article in one of the ex-pat newspapers that caught my eye.

A new gift shop opened in 2010 in the Fahrenheitstraat in The Hague (just a little more than a block away from our  favourite cheese shop)

Called ” Living la buena vida” (Living the good life), it’s a very international gift shop, with the additional bonus that you can also get a very good cup of tea or coffee on the premises if you fancy.

I only read of their existence  some months after they opened and “meant” to get there for  several weeks, but  “Life”  got in the way  in the form of a zillion other things needing doing … urgently,  and then my infamous  “encounter with a staircase”  happened and put paid to going out in most forms, for many many months.

Recently though, Himself had driven me to  hospital appointment and then I had a physiotherapy appointment a short time later. The problem was that we had about 40 minutes to kill, too little time for me to favourably consider getting back up and down our double staircases on crutches, and too long a time to sit waiting in a waiting room.

Himself needed to pick up few things and by co-insidence we found ourselves parking almost directly outside  “Living la Buena Vida”,  so why not make use of the opportunity to sit with a cup of tea or coffee whilst we waited?

We went inside and I mentioned to the owner Ginny Mees that I had seen the article written about them and that I was a blogger who would be happy to write about their new establishment.

They had a limited food menu (there’s a greater range  on Thursday’s, Friday’s and Saturdays when  muffins and other delectables are delivered to the shop by some apparently wonderful bakers) but we were there earlier in the week, and missed out of these delicious treats.

We hadn’t had lunch and so I ordered a camomile tea with a pain au chocolate and Himself a coffee with two croissants, and I managed a few photos before my camera battery died.  At home I basically drink only rooibos, mint or camomile teas and nothing  else so I  think  I might know a good brew from an inferior one.

The specialist selection of  teas here were not run-of-the-mill supermarket brands and clearly more expensive  so I was prepared to judge it strictly to see if  these were  “quality” or  “hype”.  I needn’t have worried, my camomile was definiately a high quality tea and my taste buds were very happy indeed.

I’m vowing that as soon as I am properly mobile again that I will be going back so that I can take more photos of the wonderful interior of the shop and the fabulous glassware etc on offer.  I love the fact  that many of the objects have been sourced from small artisan producers, are made from recycled or green materials and are quality, practical objects.

One day I will do a  “proper”  interview session with Ginny and find out more background information on her, the shop and the items she sells in it.

In the meantime if you are a Den Haag (The Hague) Local Soul,  I can recommend a visit in person and/or a look at their website: http://www.livinglabuenavida.com/lang/en/about/

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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