Category Archives: Ramblings

America’s Cup within our Grasp…


Dearest Sultana,

Are you following the America’s Cup? Myself, as well as most of NZ is following with bated breath! NZ is one win away from winning the cup!

Read the rest of this entry

A Day in Auckland


Dearest Sultana,

I’m going to be out and about today, all day…

So today I’m going to share some photos of places I’ve been to recently:


Auckland City peeping through Cabbage Trees and Flax on a cloudy day.


Purple flower on strawberry leaves… strawberry season coming up soon! (only 2 more months!)


Auckland’s Old Railway Station in the centre of the city


Takutai Square in Britomart, I love passing by here to get a glimpse of the vertical garden


June getting acquainted with “letters” outside Birkenhead Library


More spring flowers in the garden. I don’t know what these are but I love the burst of colour.

Blogtember Thur 12.9


Thursday, September 12: Discuss ways that blogging or social media has changed you.


I only just started blogging a few weeks ago. Even so it’s already made quite an impact in my life.

Before i started this blog, some days I would feel a little bit down. It’s just being a stay at home mum sometimes, feels a bit like a thankless job. There is never ending work, and yet by the end of the day, there isn’t really much to show for it. When I was still working, I would come home tired but at least I felt like I was contributing to our household and to the community. That is not to say, that I think that by being a stay at home mum, I am not contributing or doing something worthwhile, of course I know that I am. I know that I am making an important investment in our daughters’ life and most of the time, I really enjoy being with them and watching all their new discoveries. Just on some days, when the kids are screaming at each other, there are two huge baskets of dirty laundry to wash, the house is in complete disarray and I’m trying to cook dinner, I feel like hiding away in our garage.

Since I started blogging, inside my head I’m constantly thinking about new things to talk about, I am having little conversations in my head which is nice when most of the time my conversations are with my two year old. Since writing for blogtember, I’ve become more retrospective, looking at my life so far and it’s good to be reminded to enjoy the journey and stop looking too far ahead at the destination. It’s made me feel good about myself.

My creative life has also become more purposeful. Before I would take weeks and months to complete a project, sometimes when I get frustrated with it, I’d just put it away and forget about it. Since the blog though, I feel a greater urge to finish it, I feel I have to be accountable for what I’ve started. I’ve done more research, and given more thought to my creations. I have become more organised with my time, setting some time during June’s nap or after the kids are asleep. It has become more satisfying in every way.

One of the best things about blogging, is that it’s opened up a whole new world of blogs to me. I have been reading blogs for years, and I really enjoy them but until recently I have just been a silent reader. Since starting this blog I’ve felt how gratifying it is to get a “like” or a comment and I’ve actively worked on becoming a part of this blogging community. What a buzz it is to comment and get a reply!  Or to write a post and have someone comment on it.

Thank you to all who have been to my blog or who’s blog I’ve visited. You have been so welcoming and kind and warm.



Blogtember – Describe a distinct moment when your life took a turn


Tuesday, September 10: Describe a distinct moment when your life took a turn.


My husband and I met a long time before we started dating. He approached me a number of times asking me out for a coffee or something like that. But I always declined, he just wasn’t my type. I have to admit that in those days, I took a lot of things at face value and he hung out with a much older crowd, he had long hair, which he’d tie up neatly but still, it didn’t conform with what I thought was my type of guy.

What really put me off him, was that he was quite judgmental and seemed a bit of a snob (he laughs when I remind him of this now, I think he was trying to be judgmental to win me over, I don’t completely understand this logic either).

Anyway, so he first came to NZ as an International student, this was in 1997, about half a year before the Asian economic crisis of 1998 in which the Rupiah lost most of it’s value and his parents simply could not afford to send him anymore money (they had another son also overseas and two younger sons still at home with them). His father told him to do his best in NZ, to try and stay out of Indonesia because the situation at the time was very bad for the ethnic Chinese. So he did exactly that, he had to quit school, because the International student’s fee was just way beyond what he could afford, and then he looked for a job and carried on in NZ. I think those first few years must have been very tough on him but they made him who he is today, confident, fearless, resilient, hard working, highly skilled in his field of sheet metal engineering and a good judge of character. This is most likely why he hung out with older guys, he had to grow up very quickly and didn’t have much in common with his peers who were still studying and supported by their parents.

So he stayed in NZ for as long as he could. He applied for a permanent residency but because his visa had expired, he had to leave NZ and apply from Indonesia. So he had no choice but to leave Auckland. Before he left he approached me to take his leave. I breathed a sigh of relieve, finally I’m going to be left in peace by this guy.

Fast forward a year or two later, I got an email out of the blue from him. Just asking me how I was, what I’ve been up to, that kind of thing. And because I thought he was back in Indonesia, I didn’t think there was any harm in replying and I send him a pretty detailed email about all my latest happenings. I wouldn’t have replied if I knew he was in NZ because I didn’t want to give him any false hopes.

That was the day my life took a turn.

He replied that his application for a NZ permanent residency was successful and he has returned to live in Auckland permanently. Then he asked if he could meet up with me again.

By this stage I was beginning to get very annoyed with his persistence. I just couldn’t understand what it is that he is looking for in me. We have never said more than three sentences to each other in one setting, he doesn’t know the first thing about me. If he knew me better he would realise that we have nothing in common and finally leave me alone!

So I told him, let’s just get to know each other but only by email, I didn’t want him to try to contact me any other way. We get to ask each other one question each email, the only rule is that we need to be 100% honest in our answers. I thought he would soon realise that we have nothing in common and leave me alone.

And that’s the end of that, turned out he was right and I was wrong, we had plenty in common with each other, I admired him for his maturity, his confidence, his kindness and sensitivity. He was the soul mate I never knew I was looking for.

Today I feel blessed to be sharing my life with him. He is the best kind of father, adored by his girls. He is a good provider and works hard for our family. He is thoughtful, loyal and generous. And he is funny and we have lots of fun together.


Blogtember – Personality Test

Ok, here we go:
Monday, September 9: Take this short personality test and respond to your results. (at the end, find the detailed profile of your personality account – click “click to view” under “You” and “self awareness and personal growth.” You can even google your type and find more info on it!)
So I took the test and here are my results:
Humanmetrics Jung Typology Test™
Your Type
Introvert(44%)  Sensing(50%)  Thinking(38%)  Judging(33%)
  • You have moderate preference of Introversion over Extraversion (44%)
  • You have moderate preference of Sensing over Intuition (50%)
  • You have moderate preference of Thinking over Feeling (38%)
  • You have moderate preference of Judging over Perceiving (33%)
To be honest, this was not one of my favourite prompts, and the test results are confusing and I’m not sure I quite agree with it.
I guess I’m moderate in all my preferences so that’s probably why I don’t feel I really fit into any of the types, except for being an Introvert. I totally agree with that. And I can come off as being a bit reserved because I tend to keep to myself. That’s why blogging is so great, I can say what’s on my mind while still being able to keep to my space.
So, today’s prompt is going to be nice and short.
I wish to say that the last two prompts for Blogtember, Who am I and Where do I Come From and How would I spend 3 months if it was completely up to me… were such a pleasure to write. It made me examine my life a bit more and be more satisfied with where I am today and have more colourful dreams for tomorrow. Thank you to all who came and had a read 🙂

Tomorrow’s prompt:

Tuesday, September 10: Describe a distinct moment when your life took a turn.


Blogtember – How would I spend 3 months if it was completely up to me…


Prompt 2:

Wednesday, September 4: If you could take three months off from your current life and do anything in the world, what would you do? (bonus points for fun photos from Pinterest, but don’t forget to cite the source!)

Thinking about this prompt, it is harder than I expected to come up with something. I mulled over it overnight and suddenly I was reminded of the time when we were about two years into our marriage, before we gave serious thought to starting a family.

Before we were married, one of my husband’s dreams was immigrating to America. I guess at that time we still had a rosy view of USA, land of opportunity (it still is, but as my father in law so aptly put it, opportunity comes where you work for it). My husband was much more into this idea than I was, I felt like I’ve found my home in NZ.

Anyway, we participated in the annual lottery scheme to get an American green card, and we got picked! I mean we would have to get interviewed, fill in lots of application forms etc, but I think at the time our chances were pretty good.

Even though in the beginning I was ambivalent towards the idea of leaving NZ to start again somewhere new, I have to admit that I soon became very excited. We discussed where in America we wanted to move to. I scoured the internet trying to find information about the different states and cities. I pored over forums to see the pros and cons of cities chosen by other candidates. I daydreamed about the life we would have there, the places we would see, the experiences we would share. What I wanted to do more than anything else was eat at an authentic American diner. I thought that was as American as you can get. Oh the adventures awaiting us. I was intoxicated by the whole idea.

After that reality set in. It wasn’t like we were miserable in NZ. I had my family here and we have always been close. We had our own home and a steady income. Were we really prepared to move thousands of kilometers away from all that was familiar to us?

We found out that I was pregnant about a week before our scheduled appointment with the embassy. That really made us rethink the whole situation and in the end we decided that opportunity is what we make of it. We had something good going for us in NZ and we were staying here for good.

This was in 2007, a year before the recession that began in 2008 where America was hit hard. Even now as I think of it I feel grateful for the funny way things worked out.

Coming back to today’s prompt:

If you could take three months off from your current life and do anything in the world, what would you do?

Although in the end we decided that moving to America was not for us, whenever I think back to that period in my life, I can still feel a giddiness and longing for discovering the USA. I still really want to sit and dine in a genuine American diner.

So, if I had 3 months, with unlimited funds and the girls were just a little bit older, I would love love love to go on an American road trip. I would start in NY where my best friend lives (the original Sultana), catch up with her and her family and then slowly make my way around the country.

Must sees:

Please excuse the order, I’m not working off a map and am not all that familiar with the geographic locations of most places


I’m a huge fan of Dexter, I just have to see Miami, experience the colours and atmosphere and try some of the interesting foods of the region. Of course we will also need to stop by Disney world for the girls (and their parents). I’ll also want to stop by the Everglades

New Orleans

Something so romantic and tragic about New Orleans, there’s no way I could do a road trip without stopping by here.

Chicago for the amazing architecture

It was brought to my attention by M of Redesigned by M

Charleston, South Carolina

I have read a few books set in Charleston and in the South

Authors that I like are Dorothea Benton Frank and  Anne Rivers Siddons and the reason I keep reading these books, despite them being quite removed from the world I live in, is the South, something about it that’s mesmerising and keeps me coming back for more. Also, the seafood seems to be something awesome. Oh and I really want to try out “grits”

Seattle, Washington

It would have been most likely that we would have moved to Seattle if we had decided to move. It seems to be the right place in terms of what we’re looking for in a city, culture and people. The weather was the only thing that was holding us back a little.

Washington DC

To visit the National Museum of Natural History and some of the other historical landmarks.

I have to admit that a lot of my knowledge is gleaned from American TV, movies and books. Besides these better known places I am also looking forward to passing through smaller towns and visiting craft shops to gather ideas and add to my fabric stash. OK, not just craft shops. I am a bit of a shopaholic. I love to window shop, I love seeing new things. And I think America will deliver on this for me, a country filled with people who dream this big is bound to be filled with an assortment of eclectic, curious and wondrous shops. I am also looking forward to the food. And the many natural wonders that America has to offer, the grand canyon, the national parks..

One last detail to this trip, we will be going in one of those huge Winnebago’s that I’ve always looked at with wonder.

Tomorrow’s prompt is:

Monday, September 9: Take this short personality test and respond to your results. (at the end, find the detailed profile of your personality account – click “click to view” under “You” and “self awareness and personal growth.” You can even google your type and find more info on it!)


Blogtember – Who am I and Where do I Come From



Tuesday, Sept. 3: Describe where or what you come from. The people, the places, and/or the factors that make up who you are.

I know this prompt was for Tuesday, but I’m trying to catch up because I only found out about “Blogtember” yesterday.

So here I go. I was born in Germany, to a German father and Indonesian Chinese mother. My parents got divorced when I was about 5 and my mum, step dad and me moved back to Indonesia when I was almost seven.

Castle Neuschwanstein

Castle Neuschwanstein

Up until this time German was my first language and I could only understand some very basic Indonesian. I didn’t look particularly “German” but when we moved to Indonesia, I stood out like a sore thumb. I guess it’s just that everybody else is 100% Asian, so even though in the western world nobody would think of me as looking Caucasian, I looked very foreign in Indonesia.



I think this is one of the main things that made me who I am today. I really did not like being “bule”. This is the Indonesian slang term for “white”. It is not a rude word, just a descriptive word but it took me a long time to feel comfortable with that word. Moreover, the Chinese Indonesian population is a minority in Indonesia and to some extent has always kept themselves separate from the locals. So I was not only “bule”, I was a Chinese Indonesian bule.

When I was little, I used to love watching Chinese period TV series. It was my greatest desire to be a Chinese princess, or a Chinese warrior woman. I longed for thick black long hair, but my hair was decidedly brown, and thin and limp and short. Anybody could see I was not Chinese, but I clung to all things Chinese. I used to lock myself in my room and play pretend. I’d wrap my hair in a long thin shawl and pretend that it was my beautiful long black hair. It was a long time before I realised that many of the people around me envied me precisely because I looked different and because I had life experiences that were quite different from a regular Indonesian girl’s .

Later on I moved to Singapore where I attended 4 years of schooling, (age 12-16) and I felt even more distinct. Now, I was not only one of the few foreign looking girls in my school, I was a German-Indonesian-Chinese living in Singapore, trying to understand the Singaporean culture. Indeed Singapore is a melting pot of ethnic groups, but my first hand experience clearly showed that more often than not, the different ethnic groups kept to themselves.



When I turned 16, my family and I moved to New Zealand. It was good to be reunited with my family. My family now consisted of my mum and step dad and my two little sisters. My sisters are quite some years younger than me (7 and 11 years difference) but within my immediate family I never felt like an outsider.

Harbour Bridge, Auckland, NZ

Harbour Bridge, Auckland, NZ

I have now lived in NZ for over 17 years, more than half my life. Living among “white” people, I have now become to look very Asian. Nobody would mistake me as a Caucasian. Isn’t it funny how we always look for what’s different between us and only upon closer inspection do we seek out our similarities.

My experience in NZ is that even though it is made up of immigrants, overall, everybody is more accepting of each other. Kiwis are generous people and tend to give you the benefit of the doubt, instead of drawing conclusions based solely on outward appearances. There is a real effort made to look at things from somebody else’s point of view.

Today, at 33 years of age, I don’t feel German at all. I lost the language a long time ago. When I visited Germany I felt like a foreigner. I still enjoy some German things in my life. Sometimes we cook German food, buy German bread. We celebrate Christmas on the 24th December, German style and I bake German Christmas cookies every year. I don’t feel particularly Chinese either, I am still drawn to books with Chinese themes. I enjoy Amy Tan’s and more recently have been reading Lisa See’s books. I don’t speak any Chinese, I understand a tiny bit of Mandarin and Chinese people often start conversations with me because I look Chinese enough in NZ.

I think in English but within my family, we speak a mix of English and Indonesian, we eat a lot of Asian inspired foods and I married an Indonesian Chinese Kiwi. But that doesn’t mean I identify most with my Indonesian culture. I think through all the different places I have been, I have found my little corner of the world in NZ.  It is a kind and generous country and I am proud and glad to be a kiwi.




Dearest Sultana,

I was reading on my Reader about “Blog Listing Events”, sounded interesting, something to help me focus on my writing a little, especially on days when I’m drawing a bit of a blank.

The event that I really liked is called Blogtember, and it’s held by Jenni of Story of My Life.


I really like her prompts, they are the kind of things I enjoy writing about.

Here’s a list of her prompts

Tuesday, Sept. 3: Describe where or what you come from. The people, the places, and/or the factors that make up who you are.
Wednesday, September 4: If you could take three months off from your current life and do anything in the world, what would you do? (bonus points for fun photos from Pinterest, but don’t forget to cite the source!)
Thursday, September 5: Pass on some useful advice or information you learned and always remembered.
Friday, September 6: A story about a time you were very afraid.
Monday, September 9: Take this short personality test and respond to your results. (at the end, find the detailed profile of your personality account – click “click to view” under “You” and “self awareness and personal growth.” You can even google your type and find more info on it!)
Tuesday, September 10: Describe a distinct moment when your life took a turn.
Wednesday, September 11: Share links to your favorite online shops, preferably with a few photos of your favorite items in each shop.
Thursday, September 12: Discuss ways that blogging or social media has changed you.
Friday, September 13: A self portrait
Monday, September 16: Write a public love letter to someone in your life. (It doesn’t necessarily need to be romantic.)
Tuesday, September 17: A memory you would love to relive.
Wednesday, September 18: Only photos
Thursday, September 19: Creative writing day: write a (very short) fictional story that starts with this sentence: “To say I was dreading the dinner party would be the understatement of the century.”
The story does not necessarily need to have a conclusion – you can leave your readers wishing for more!
Friday, September 20: React to this term: comfort.
Monday, September 23: A “life lately” post. What you’re up to, how you’re feeling, how you’re doing on your goals, etc. Bonus points for great photos!
Tuesday, September 24: Review a book, place, or product.
Wednesday, September 25: Write about a time you screwed up – a mistake you made.
Thursday, September 26: Go to a coffee shop. Order a favorite drink. Write about what makes you happy and what makes you sad. Or write about anything you’d like! Bonus points for including a photo from the coffee shop. (I recommend downloading Ommwriter and bringing headphones along!) *if you can’t make it to a coffee shop, at least leave your usual space and write someplace new.
Friday, September 27: An anonymous letter to your Facebook friends. Be as snarky as you’d like. (but don’t include people’s real names.)
Monday, September 30: Share a photo of something old. Maybe something that has personal history for you, that was passed down to you, and that has special meaning to you. Tell us about it and why it’s special.

Unfortunately I’m a week late into this event, but since the prompts are only from Monday to Friday, I think I can catch up on the ones I missed during the weekends.

I’m looking forward to this, I will start tomorrow!

I’ll still be posting on my Christmas gifts progress though. I should have some animal pouches soon…

Father’s Day Presents – Check!


Dearest Sultana,

Father’s day in NZ falls on the first Sunday of September. That’s this coming Sunday. I think this is probably the first year I’m prepared for it.

My husband is very hard to buy for. His favourite pastime used to be surfing trademe (NZ’s eBay equivalent) (his new favourite site is kayak fishing NZ, more on that soon) and if he needs something he will find and buy it there. Let’s say he’s a bit of a shopaholic. He is very good at finding a good deal and for the most part of it, he rarely buys unnecessarily. So come birthdays, Christmas and father’s day, it is very hard to come up with anything. And to be honest I don’t always get him something, sometimes I cook him his favourite dish, other times we just go somewhere a bit special. He’s the same with me, I don’t always get something special on my special days but sometimes on a perfectly ordinary day, he would surprise me with something special.

However this year, I have not one but two surprises in store for him. All thanks to his new hobby, kayak fishing. He took it up in January this year and since then has been fishing at least once every single week. He’s like a different person. It gives him so much enjoyment. Even more surprisingly, he has really taken to the kayak fishing website. He spends hours on it everyday, reading about trip reports from other members, commenting, planning and dreaming of the next big fish.


I have to admit in the beginning I was getting quite jealous of all this time he’s spending on his fishing. Those first few months it took us a while to adjust to this new hobby. I think the last few months we have finally been able to find a compromise. He can go fishing so long as he reserves one weekend day to spend with his girls. It’s actually quite nice that way because the girls and I can visit with grandma or go out with my sister. And when he spends his day with us, he’s completely there for us, refreshed after a day out at sea.

The only problem with this scenario is the fish. Cooking fish is not something I’m completely comfortable with. The scaling, gutting, etc, not fun. Even when he does those for me, I will need to either fillet or cut the fish into steaks. I can cook it whole but that reduces my cooking options. Moreover, I’m not particularly fond of fish. I didn’t know this until I had this overflow supply of fish.

Whenever I tell him of my reluctance to cook his fish, he tells me we need to get a deep fryer. And I’ve always said NO! Deep fryer? Do we need another reason to eat unhealthy food? Do we have space in our cluttered kitchen for a deep fryer? And once that fryer has been used to cook his fish, it will smell all fishy and we can’t use it for anything else (I know, I don’t need it for anything else!). However after giving it more thought, and the fact that I really don’t enjoy filleting his fish and all that comes with that (sharp fins! scales all over my kitchen! blunt knives! fishiness that permeates the whole house!), I have been persuaded to get one, and what better time to present this than on father’s day!

De'Longhi Roto deep fryer

De’Longhi Roto deep fryer

On top of that, the girls and I have collected his best fishing/kayaking photos and made a collage on snapfish. It looks awesome! Now we just need to get a frame for it. Maybe May will make a colourful one for him.

PS. I promise I will still attempt to cook his fish in other styles, steaming, grilling… but it’s nice to have this option for days when I just can’t be bothered.



dearest sultana



When I was much younger I used to live in Singapore to study. My best friend and I were both international students and we had such fun together. 20 years later and we’re still best friends and keep in regular contact.

I’ve always enjoyed reading but I think my friend was the one to really introduced me to a wider range of reading material. Before I knew her most of my reading consisted of the classics available in our school library which was a pretty small library. As international students we didn’t have access to the national library and regular bookshops were too expensive. She was the one to introduce me to second hand bookshops.

The most memorable book that we read was “Princess” by Jean Sassoon. It was about a Saudi Arabian princess who was called Sultana. We were enthralled by the book, the exotic life of a princess oppressed by her culture and the men in her life. To be honest I can’t remember much about the book, all I can remember was that we were both obsessed by it and wanted to change our names to Sultana. We vowed that we’d name our daughters Sultana.

I have two daughters now and decided not to name them Sultana.

When I moved from Singapore to NZ, it was 1996 and emails were still uncommon. We didn’t even have personal computers back then. So my best friend and I wrote to each other by mail. We wrote often and in my early days in NZ, those letters really meant an awful lot to me. Actually they still do.

When I started this blog I asked myself what did I want to achieve. I read lots of blogs and I like them for different things, for showing life in a different place, sharing great recipes, inspiring creative works, sometimes it’s nice just to read about someone else not so different from me who goes through life’s ups and downs. I really wanted to be a part of this. To have somewhere where I can just ramble on, share what I’m excited about, be a part of this exciting community.
So I wondered how best to write this blog and that’s when I was reminded of the letters my best friend and I shared.

I feel that I could really be myself and express all I’m feeling when I wrote to her. It was a form of therapy. It is me at my most authentic self who writes. It is in this spirit that I address this blog to “Dearest Sultana”.