Italy

Postcards from St Andrew’s Church, Abu Dhabi

At St Andrew’s Church in Abu Dhabi, I met and entertained many children. I feel that “the sky lovingly smiles on the earth and her children,” quoting Sir Henry Morton Stanley.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart Jesus cross

The present St Andrew’s Church was built in 1984 on a land generously donated by the Late H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of the Al Nahyan ruling family. The area is known as the Churches area in Abu Dhabi.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart

The website of the St Andrew’s Church mentioned that “somebody once described St Andrew’s church as Evangelical in the pulpit, Catholic at the altar and Charismatic in the pews”, to highlight their diversity.

It is likely that baby Ren will be interested in the St Andrew’s Playgroup (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, between 9.30am and 11.30am) with the entry fee of AED 15  per parent/carer, for children regardless of nationality or religion.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart

In the autumn 2014, I started to study the Bible daily and have crafted prayers or made simple take-home messages. Once I complete studying the Bible, I plan to study Al Quran, as envisioned in our lifelong curriculum.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart

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In the summer 2003, I almost became an angel as a mascot for inter-school games. Siew Hwey had kindly made the feathery-like cotton wings and the angel halo headband, but in the end those items were not used.

Patience is a virtue. Never lose hope. The universe will choose the right time and the right place to answer your desire. You kind, loving, inspiring desire is your prayer.

This afternoon, I became an angel – without wings, who told a Christmas story to children. I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve children – our hope for the future, and to share messages of love and hope. Yes, a messenger of everything lifeward and positive. The English word “angel” comes from the Greek angelos, which means ‘messenger’.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart audience

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart hi angel
The little girl was excited to see an angel. 

Thanks to Dewi for firstly inviting me to contribute in the early Merry Christmas celebration, Laura for the help with the costume, the storytelling equipment (torchlight and colorful pictures) and the gifts for the courageous and lucky children who did well in the post-story Q&A session.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart angel

According to Jerry A. Coyne PhD, 77% of Americans believe in angels. Do you believe in angels and miracles?

Upon seeing me in the angel costume, Alice (a little girl who just went to Moyenne Island, Seychelles) remarked, “she is not an angle, she is a girl.” It stroke me. Later, Alice told me that she loves the story told by the angel – me.

Perhaps, real people in angle costumes only work for toddlers. A young toddler whose name is Atara, curiously tried to touch me. She loves the pendants of my necklace too, as I realized when I carried her.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart angels

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart angels dance

From the pamphlet, I also learned about a mnemonic of LIGHT.
L = Love (kasih)
I = Integrity (integritas)
G = Generosity (kemurahan)
H = Humility (kerendahan hati)
T = Truth (kebenaran)

♥ ♥ ♥

Here is a recap of Christmas service for the children.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart  christmas tree

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart candles

The first song was Jingle Bells.

Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bob tails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to laugh and sing
A sleighing song tonight

Reff:
Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

A day or two ago
I thought I’d take a ride
And soon Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
We got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot

Reff

I always love the classic Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconcile.
Joyful all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies;
With the angelic host proclaim
‘Christ is born in Bethlehem’
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King.

Christ by highest heaven adored
Christ the everlasting Lord
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail, the incarnate deity,
Pleased as Man with Man to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.

Hail, the heaven-born Prince of peace!
Hail the Son of righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing sung by a children’s choir:

A way in a manger

You can listen to a story entitled “Let Your Light Shine” narrated by Jing@servicefromheart.

Happy birthday Jesus (with a link from Laura)

Happy birthday, Jesus
I’m so glad it’s Christmas
All the tinsel and lights
And the presents are nice
But the real gift is You
Happy birthday, Jesus
I’m so glad it’s Christmas
All the carols and bells
Make the holiday swell
And it’s all about You
Happy birthday, Jesus
Jesus I love You

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart cake

Silent Night

Silent Night by a children’s choir

Silent night! holy night!
All is calm all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace
Silent night! holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia
Christ the Saviour is born
Christ the Saviour is born!

♥ ♥ ♥

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart children smiles innocent

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” ~ Denis Waitley

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart

While I greatly love to take photographs of people, they are also among the most challenging ones, especially children. There are a number of shots of mine that captured the joyful or amazed expressions of our little friends, but the photos turned out to be out of focus.

This morning, a girlfriend flying to Abu Dhabi today inquired me what things that I want her to get for me from Kuala Lumpur. At that time, I want nothing, but her safe flight.

However, after going through some of the photographs that I took at the St Andrew’s Church, how I wish I could have a light-field / plenoptic camera manufactured by Lytro, founded by Yi Ren Ng PhD. I hope that its price of US$399 will decrease so that more people can afford it. This is going to be my Christmas gift wish list!

By the way, I enjoyed Ng’s Stanford thesis and summarized it in a wordcloud.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart Ren Ng light field camera thesis Lytro

With love,
ServicefromHeart
20141206

Postcards from Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Thanks to MRT Downtown Line (coded in blue), the first visit of baby Ren to Marina Bay Sands (MBS / 滨海湾金沙) was a realization. Except for the transport fare, the visit to The Shoppes (shopping mall) in MBS – the world’s most expensive building at US$ 5.5 – 5.7 billion (as of 2010) – is free.

“Everyday is a journey in our lives, and an MRT ride can be an interesting journey.”

每天是一个旅程;乘坐地铁可以是一个有趣的旅程!

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

Spacious seats of MRT serving Downtown Line make us happy! Thank you MRT.

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

We took the MRT Downtown Line from Bugis via Promenade to Bayfront station.

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

♥ ♥ ♥

Designed by Moshe Safdie (an Israeli/Canadian architect) with an inspiration from card decks, MBS is a unique icon of Singapore. “Does it look like ancestral tablets (tombstones)?” a taxi driver once asked me. To me, it looks like an ancient Chinese scholar’s hat (古老的中国学者的帽子).

A canal inside the Marina Bay Sands reminds us on the Venice (Italy) and River Cambridge (England).

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

A tea break by the water side beneath the Rain Oculus created by Ned Kahn – famous for transforming an invisible aspect of nature into visible, is pleasing and relaxing. That day, I had a snack leftover that I bought from near Lavender MRT station whereas baby Ren had grape cuts and a bottle of breast milk.

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

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Luxurious brands … offer a pleasant opportunity for window shopping! They are sources of inspirations: the creative designs (创意设计), the careful attention to details (精心细节) and exquisite craftsmanship (精湛的工艺).

Dior 

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

A different kind of worlds …

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

Are you interested to hire baby Ren as your little model?

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

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I remember …

When baby Ren was in my belly, my maternal grandmother, Dad, Mom and I had a memorable early dinner at Ding Tai Fung (鼎泰豐), Marina Bay Sands. It was a good decision so that we did not have to queue for a table. I did not feel significantly inflated prices as compared to other outlets of Ding Tai Fung, given the posh location.

My family encouraged me to eat more xiaolongbao (小笼包) – my favorite dish. I also like the chilli oil dumplings.

Xiaolongbao was originally from Shanghai and Wuxi, China. Their mini sizes made them so delicate and cherishable to savor.

It is not only about the food, but also the people whom you dine with and the people who transform our food into food art.

“I choose to collect memories instead of things.” ~ Elena Levon

我选择收集回忆,而不是东西。

♥ ♥ ♥

What’s next?

1. visit Sands SkyPark that connects the 2 hotel towers and is large enough (1.2 hectare) to park four-and-a-half Airbus A380 jumbo jets. Plan your visit at the end of the afternoon before dusk to enjoy the view during daytime and at night. It costs a visitor SG$23 to get to the Skypark by high speed elevator of the middle tower. The ticketing office is not accessible by lift, and a friendly staff kindly offered to carry my pram / stroller, but in the end I decided to visit Sands SkyPark next time.

2. Alternatively, you can take the free elevator (Tower 3) to Ku DÉ Ta Lounge to enjoy some drinks and scenery of Singapore’s cityscape and skyline. PS: casual dress is not allowed, no shorts, slippers, singlets and tank tops plese.

3. swim @ The Infinite Pool on the 57th floor – the largest elevated pool in the world, which is only accessible to the hotel guests.

4. watch Wonder Full: Light Show and Water Show. Each show starts daily at 8pm and 9.30pm. On Friday and Saturday nights, there is another show at 11pm.
To watch the Water Show, be at the Marina Bay Sands side.
To watch the Light Show, cross the Bay.
Please remember to bring your tripod for taking blur-free photography / video.

Address: 10 Bayfront Ave Marina Bay Sands, Singapore 018956


Other travel posts that I love:
♥ Ku De Ta by Journeys of the Fabulist
♥ SkyPark Infinity Pool by Escape with Style
♥ Light and Water Show by Rosie and Edmund Tay
♥ our #travelxp posts

With love,
ServicefromHeart
2014

L for lemon for #AtoZChallenge: lemon-flavored tomato mozzarella salad recipe

Lemon is a versatile Citrus fruit, which is rich in vitamin C.

L for lemon for #AtoZChallenge: lemon-flavored tomato mozzarella salad recipe by ServicefromHeart

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) reminds me on Graduation & friends forever. I am very grateful for all the friendships with wonderful, lovely, inspiring people of diverse age and cultural background. You all have opened my eyes and heart to cherish a simply beautiful life.

“As we go on
We remember
All the times we
Had together
And as our lives change
Come whatever
We will still be
Friends Forever”

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 14 Mon, I lovingly present a recipe of an Italian classic salad of tomato and mozzarella, dressed in lemon juice by ServicefromHeart.

We cherish savoring the wonderful combination of sweet red tomatoes, creamy white mozzarella, and fragrant green basil leaves in Italian restaurants. This classic salad originated from Campania in Italy – affectionately known as Insalata Caprese (Capri-style salad) – can be quickly and easily prepared at our home too.

Mozzarella is a semi-soft cheese originally from Southern Italy. Fresh mozzarella is white and high in moisture, hence it is best consumed fast after it is made, preferably by the next day. If we need to buy an imported mozzarella, choose low-moisture mozzarella.

Servings: 2
Preparation time: ~ 5 minutes

Ingredients:
♥ 2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
♥ 250 g mozzarella cheese, sliced
♥ fresh basil leaves
♥ 2 tbsp virgin olive oil
♥ 1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
♥ 1 tbsp lemon juice
♥ 1/2 tsp pepper, freshly ground
♥ 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:
1. To make salad dressing, mix oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper.
2. Slice tomatoes and mozzarella.
3. Arrange slices in small dishes.
4. Sprinkle with dressing.
5. Garnish with basil leaves.

Tips:
♥ 1 ripe avocado makes a wonderful additional ingredient to this recipe.
♥ To enjoy this recipe as a main course instead of an appetizer, serve with garlic toasts.

Recipes that I also love:
Meyer lemon pudding @ The Galley Gormet by Nicole
Lemon Macaroon by my sister LukSunshine
Baked Lemon Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce @ Cooking Classy by Jaclyn
Lemon Pistachio Cupcakes @ A Night Owl by Kimberly

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipe, especially for salad!

With love,
ServicefromHeart
20140414

J for jiaozi for #AtoZChallenge: jiaozi 饺子 / Chinese dumplings recipe

If the Italians have ravioli, the Chinese have jiaozi dumplings. The versatile jiaozi (饺子) – often wrapped in cornu shapes, are eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Preparing and eating jiaozi are also a tradition to welcome Chinese / Lunar New Year / Spring Festival and other joyful occasions.

For the wedding of my sister in JinTan (金坛), Jiangsu (江苏), China, her in-law family had prepared countless beautifully & uniformly wrapped jiaozi – a symbol of fortune & prosperity.
♥♥♥

Before we arrived at Xian – my first visit to Xian, an ancient capital of Chinese kingdoms, Mac Ching told us how she looked forward to having a banquet of jiaozi! She succeeded to set our expectation high.

Chinese dumplings jiaozi recipe by ServicefromHeart

Steamer baskets of jiaozi incessantly arrived at our table in charming presentations of multiple colors, shapes and flavors.

Chinese dumplings jiaozi recipe by ServicefromHeart

While a meal could be very delicious to the extent that we feel beyond blessed, it was the companionships of dearest friends (hailed from worldwide, thanks to China Synergy Program 2010*) – savoring the jiaozi together that made a dinner unforgettable, imprinted permanently in our hearts and memories.

* It is a great privilege to be a participant of China Synergy Programme; with great privilege comes great responsibility.

To those whom much is given, much is expected.” ~ John F. Kennedy

♥♥♥

The Japanese version of dumplings is called gyoza (ギョーザ, ギョウザ). When, I was busy and working hard in California, I once bought some frozen gyoza and packed it with my lunch box. At Urey Hall, La Jolla, I would then heat my lunch box with a microwave*. The gyoza made my relatively meatless lunch box complete!

* Now, I try to minimize using microwave, if possible.

♥♥♥

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 11 Fri, I lovingly present a jiaozi recipe.

Chinese dumplings jiaozi recipe by ServicefromHeart

Servings: 40 pieces

Preparation time: ~ half day (I am a beginner, please pardon me!)

Cooking time: 5 minutes or until dumplings are cooked

Ingredients:

♥ dumpling wrappers (饺子皮)

♥ water to wet dumpling wrappers

for the filling:

♥ 350g meat (), grounded

♥ 250g shrimp (), grounded

flour* (面粉), e.g. sweet potato flour, corn starch, lotus root powder

♥ 2 eggs (鸡蛋), beaten

♥ 1 firm bean curd / tofu (豆腐)

♥ 2 tbsp sesame oil (麻油)

♥ 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (香醋)

♥ 1 tbsp honey (蜜糖)

♥ 6 cloves garlic (大蒜), minced

♥ 1 tsp ginger ()

grounded white pepper (白胡椒), to taste

salt () / light soy sauce (kecap asin), to taste

♥ 3 stalks scallion (大葱), finely chopped

parsley (香菜), finely chopped (optional)

chives (韭菜), finely chopped (optional)

leek (韭葱), finely chopped (optional)

bamboo shoots (竹笋), finely chopped (optional)

lotus roots (莲藕), finely chopped (optional)

black fungus / wood ear (黑木耳), minced (optional)

* adjust the amount until the filling mixture sticks

Directions:

1. A faster way to finely chopped vegetables is to use food processor (Pulse mode) in few seconds. Unless you want to have pesto, pulse briefly only and not too many times.

2. Mix all ingredients for filling in a large bowl. Stir thoroughly.

3. Drop a tsp of filling into a wrapper. Fold.

4. (optional) Place dumplings individually on plastic-covered plates. Do not let them stick to each other.

5. (optional) Freeze together on plates. Once frozen, store dumplings in a box separated with plastic so that it will be easy to take them for cooking.

6. In boiled water, add dumplings to cook until they float for 5 minutes.

7. Besides (1) vinegar and sliced ginger sauce, you may also like (2) peanut dip sauce (3) hot chilli oil to accompany jiaozi dumplings.

Frozen jiaozi dumplings are generous companions for fast-to-prepare noodles, please check our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,
ServicefromHeart
20140411

easy arrabbiata pasta recipe

This morning, we enjoyed a breakfast of pasta arrabbiata, followed by a tiramisu dessert, so that we can stay hot and alert for the entire day!

easy arrabbiata pasta recipe by ServicefromHeart

Since this recipe uses chillies & peppers, it had been named Arrabbiata”, which literally means “angry” in Italian.

“Anger is a letter short of danger.”

It is okay to be angry at particular things (e.g. unacceptable situations / people’s behaviors) – after all we are human beings with emotions, but please do not let our anger prolong inside us, harming ourselves & others.

After this meal, let us convert the heat (anger) inside us into positive energy to transform our lives!

easy arrabbiata pasta recipe by ServicefromHeart

Servings: 2

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
♥ 150g dried penne pasta (意大利面)
♥ 4 ripe tomatoes (番茄), chopped or blended*
♥ 4 cloves garlic (蒜头), thinly sliced
♥ 1 red onion (洋葱), finely chopped
♥ 2 tbsp olive oil (橄榄油)
♥ 6 black olives (黑橄榄), sliced into rings
♥ 1 slice cheese (芝士)
♥ 2 tbsp fresh parsley (香菜), finely chopped
♥ 0.5 tsp black pepper (黑胡椒)
chilli (红辣椒), to taste

* To save time, you can quarter your tomatoes and blend them.

Directions:
1. Boil pasta in salted water until al dente.
2. While pasta is hot, add cheeese in between pasta to partly melt it. This is an alternative of coating the pasta with olive oil to prevent them from sticking to each other.
3. Sautee onion, garlic with pre-heated olive oil in a frying pan.
4. Add tomatoes, olives, pepper to the pan. Stir.
5. Simmer the sauce.
6. Turn off the heat, add pasta & parsley into the pan & toss.

If this recipe takes slightly too long to prepare, please visit our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,
ServicefromHeart
20140320

very easy aglio olio recipe

Aglio olio is one of favorite meals of baby Ren and his Daddy. Hearing the words aglio olio reminds me on Olivia – Popeye’s girlfriend.

If possible, cook fresh and eat immediately. Equally important, using fresh ingredients from garlic to herbs will ensure delicious aglio olio.

This very easy to prepare #5minutemeal recipe in its most basic form calls for garlic (aglio) and oil (olio). It is okay if you are missing 1 or 2 ingredients listed below, as long as you have the garlic and oil.

very easy aglio olio recipe by ServicefromHeart

Our Asian-flavored aglio olio also uses sesame oil. Perhaps, it is the sesame oil that gives our home-cooked version its uniqueness seldom found in Italy or Italian restaurants.

For sesame oil, I use Ghee Hiang Baby brand manufactured in Penang, Malaysia, using methods and techniques learned from Fujian, China.

Ghee Hiang does not sponsor me any. Although the price is slightly more expensive than other brands of sesame oil sold in Singapore NTUC Fairprice, I have since fallen in love with the fragrance and aroma since my first confinement after the birth of baby Ren.

very easy aglio olio recipe by ServicefromHeart

Serving:1

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

♥ 70g dried spaghetti pasta (意大利面)

♥ 5 cloves garlic (蒜头), thinly sliced

♥ 1/4 onion (洋葱), finely chopped

♥ 1 tsp anchovies (ikan bilis / ikan teri)

♥ 1 tsp dried shrimp (虾米), finely chopped

♥ 1 red chilli (红辣椒), cut into fine rings (optional)

♥ 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (橄榄油)

♥ 1 tsp sesame oil (麻油)

♥ 1 tbsp fresh parsley (香菜), finely chopped

pepper (胡椒粉) to taste

Directions:

1. Boil pasta in salted water until al dente.

2. Meanwhile, wash and mince garlic, onion, dried shrimps.

3. Heat olive oil on a frying pan.

4. Sautee garlic, onion, chili, dried shrimps, anchovies.

5. Over low heat (or no heat), add pasta, sesame oil, herbs, pepper. Mix well so every strain of spaghetti looks glossy.

very easy aglio olio recipe by ServicefromHeart

If you have extra time, you can consider any of these optional ingredients:

prawns, boiled

scallops, pan-grilled

fish, pan-grilled

mushrooms, sauteed

♥ vegetables

♥ fresh (recommended) / dried herbs (basil, oregono, thyme)
After savoring home cooked aglio olio, how is about few bites of tiramisu as a dessert?

very easy aglio olio recipe by ServicefromHeart

Other recipes that I also love:
♥ Wiffy’s prawn aglio olio (using prawn stock) @ Noobcook
♥ Jun’s dried shrimp sambal @ Indochine Kitchen

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,
ServicefromHeart
20140316