Game, Set & Match

Ilaria Nistra 1

I’m about to tell you something kind of embarrassing and I’m not sure if it comes down to my Chinese ancestral roots — I’ve forever  been obsessed with matchmaking and it’s not that I’ve personally had the most outstanding track record when it comes to finding appropriate suitors.

No, it’s my belief  in that fairy-tale, romantic comedy kind of love that makes your heart race so fast you can feel (and hear) every beat reverberate through your entire body, and much  like that 6-year-old version of yourself who is anticipating Christmas morning, you can barely sleep because you are excited about the endless possibilities of the day ahead. Nature even starts to appear that much more beautiful and you can’t help but be overwhelmed by the small details — in your mind, you even dare to go to that ‘running wildly through an open field of daffodils’ kind of territory, because you are convinced (if not obsessed) by grand notions of  love.

So, this has been the reason that:

a). Years ago I set up a one-off blind dating game. I had three single male friends submit an application fee. The winner would use the proceeds to take the single girl on a date. A blanket divided the room so that *single girl* was blocked from the three potential suitors, for whom she would present a ‘fun’  list of questions.

b). I placed my good friend beside my husband’s two single friends at our wedding in the hopes that she might hit it off with one of them.

In the instance of a). when the blanket dropped the winning contestant of my blind date game  looked less than pleased about the prospect of his date. They both grinned and bared it. I had the best of intentions and throughout the game could not contain my laughter, but hey— love and attraction is a complicated science!

And in the case of b). by the time the lights turned low and the music started, my friend was showcasing her kooky dance style with one of the hopeful single guys who himself, was exploring his ability to ‘dance off-the-beat’. It was a random, yet obvious coupling (and the closest I’ve come to a successful ‘match-up’) — his famous romantic line to her (which I love) went something like: “Your eyes are like two black peppercorns…”

They ended up celebrating the same anniversary as ours for the next three years.

In its totality, I am convinced that love makes you feel better about the world, provides you with a clearer insight into who you are and the potential of who you can ultimately become. Love is optimism, peace and comfort. It is perfectly cooked toast with a soft-boiled egg, or a bed with freshly made sheets.

He loves me

But with the highs come tremendous lows, in which case, I have on previous occasions, enjoyed crying dramatically into my pillow, reveling in the raw emotion of my tortured heart.

Some relationships leave you feeling like a boat without a sail on a windless day (stranded, and going nowhere fast), or,  maybe you have an instant attraction but on reflection you realize your connection was about as deep as a book without pages — devoid of content and finished before you even got started.


I love these images from the SS14 Ilaria Nistri campaign which to me, are strong, sensual, yet tough.

So these are thoughts that come to mind as I’m working on a radio documentary about relationships and how people find love.

One thing that I’ve discovered in my own personal love story is that relationships take work, but the best relationships result in an ease of communication, shared goals and values, and individual growth — that you feel the most yourself when you’re with your respective partner/boyfriend/girlfriend, husband or wife.

You know you’re doomed when the road ahead is constantly beset with obstacles; you might think you’re headed in the same direction, until you step back and see that you’re on totally different paths — walking down a road that never intersects.

Images sourced.

Blind Drawing

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Oh my gosh, I can hardly believe that spring is here! Waking up to lighter, brighter mornings certainly makes me feel more optimistic about the days ahead, and I’ll be pleased to move past the many coughs and colds that have been making the rounds this winter. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I am always impatient to know what tomorrow’s weather will bring, if only to determine whether I pack an umbrella, or an extra warm scarf. In terms of the outfit, this dress has been a favourite on rotation this winter and will no doubt transition nicely into spring and summer, sans stockings (although, let’s face it, Wellington is warm for one or two months of the year, so the stockings will  be sticking around for some time yet!).

On another note, I interviewed a lovely man today—Netherlands-based contemporary jeweler and artist— Ruudt Peters. We discussed the importance of mentoring, pushing boundaries and tapping into that inner-most core of creativity, which, according to Ruudt comes from a place of stillness. He’s not conventional by any sense of the imagination, but a true artist who continues to redefine ideas about art, object and jewellery. During workshops he leads his students through meditation sessions followed by classes in blind drawing, all of which happens well before his students get their hands on materials.  And when it comes to ‘making’, his approach is not about creating something of beauty, but more so, about finding authenticity and connection, because: ‘art is nothing without emotion’.

Photography©Howard Sly, edited by me.


At Peace

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I know that I’m not well when I’m unenthusiastic about getting ready for the day. Today was one of those days. My body hurt all over with a dull lingering ache, my brain felt foggy, and all I wanted to do was sleep (which I did). I’ve had a pretty hectic couple of months and September is looking equally as full. It’s such a contrast to my previous year of staying at home and looking after a baby (the hardest year of my life!).

I find myself reflecting a lot lately about how much my life has changed since we’ve become a family, and I have to say, it’s been a wild ride! For the first time in a while we were able to take the little guy out to a cafe and there were no tantrums. We ordered him little fish bites, mash potato patties and even a little fluffy milk drink.  The mistake was probably giving him a baby sized chocolate cupcake afterwards — the sugar sent him running around our couch in circles for the entire afternoon until we both collapsed for a nap on a bean bag. I was never very comfortable with the baby stage and even though I can look at other people’s babies now and smile, I definitely feel that right now, as my little guy edges into 18-months, with his undeniable cheeky personality, a love of books, and now — cars, planes and butterflies, the more I feel at peace with  motherhood.

Great Lengths

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 It is a Saturday night and I’m watching a documentary about former professional road cycling racer Lance Armstrong, whose well-publicized cycling career was fueled by drugs and lies. So, it got me thinking about what lengths  I would go to to achieve what I want in my own life, and to ask the question: how much ambition is too much?

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When it comes to ambition, New Zealanders are a nation of people who are quietly confident. We still prefer our celebrities and Olympic sporting heroes to be devoid of any trace of arrogance, and we respect them more for just getting on with the job. But there are always those who are prepared to do anything to get what they want.

A situation comes to mind from my time spent at drama school. One exercise involved lining up on one side of the room and having to make our  way to the other (I can’t remember the minor details), except that one person stood out to me from that point on. This person was hungry— I would even go as far as to say, ravenous with a frothing-at-mouth, ‘pit bull with rabies’ kind of desire! It was not only the fire in their eyes, but their elbows thrusting forcibly back and forth to push anyone (who dared to inch forward), out-of-the-way that indicated their true, unashamed drive and ambition. So too on that day, I came to the realisation that I didn’t want what that person had to have, as they physically shoved and walked over other people to get what they wanted. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. It’s just not my style. There’s an issue of ‘culture’ that comes into play too, and having been brought up in a New Zealand-Chinese family, I was always told that even if you want something you should always step aside and offer it to others first, whether it be food on the table or opportunities that come your way. I can see the reasoning, but it’s also problematic and isn’t conducive to moving forward in a world where showing ambition is a sign of being interested and eager, rather than complacent or reticent. Needless to say, within my current career I have not been shy about addressing what I want, but never to the detriment of others.

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 Style File: Marcs Navy jumper/ Asos wide leg trousers/ Baby-G watch. Photography ©Howard Sly.

The long and short of my great lengths story really comes down to the fact that I’ve been wearing longer lengths and more trousers lately. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with becoming a mother, but I almost feel uncomfortable baring my legs these days, whereas before I was pregnant I ran around in mini skirts without a second thought. It also appears that I should never head to the tailor after trying  on my new trousers in the dark the night before (which I also did without shoes on!). Sigh. I’ll put this one down to sleep deprivation and a teething baby! So yeah, I think it’s another trip to the tailor to magically lengthen my new trousers before they make another outing!

Thanks for dropping by!

Sonia x

Sugar Free Treats

Displaying photo 3.JPGRaw Sugar Free Chocolate Balls

It seems everyone has allergies to certain foods these days, and of course there’s a whole market dedicated to gluten or dairy-free products. I don’t have an intolerance to gluten, but white and refined flour does tend to upset my stomach, and I think that’s it’s no surprise that people are developing intolerances to refined foods given that there is such an abundance of it around.

As a kid I went through periods of being unable to handle anything from citrus to apples, dairy and cereals, before my body would break out into hives. In fact, like those who develop hay fever I was also allergic to Spring! As soon as the seasons would change I was vulnerable—my skin would break out into welts even if I brushed past a plant. Once I even had hives on my lips and it’s the closest I’ve ever come to looking like I’ve just been given an accidental dose of silicon rather than collagen— not only were my lips puffy, but they were rock hard like a bad boob job! Hmmmm… anyway.

A couple of years ago Mr Sly had painful stomach attacks, and after many visits to his GP and undergoing numerous tests, they couldn’t diagnose his pain. The last resort was to see a nutritionist and he had to overhaul his entire lifestyle and eating habits, which also meant trying to find recipes that incorporated the ingredients from his prescribed diet.

So, here’s a recipe (for those of who aren’t nut free) and it’s one that Mr Sly has been perfecting over time.

These raw chocolate balls are the perfect treat if you want to curb a sweet tooth. Nuts are quite expensive, but you get a lot of bang for your buck. This recipe makes approximately 24 balls (compared to the 5 chocolate balls that you might get from a packet at the health food store).

Sugar free raw chocolate balls

1 cup Brazil nuts
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup of Goji berries  (see the benefits of Goji here)
1/2 cup of coconut flakes
3-4 table spoons organic cacao powder
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Pinch of salt

Feel free to add or swap ingredients to the mix. Mr Sly has previously included; cashew nuts, Baileys, single malt, blueberries.

Blend all ingredients in a food processor, scoop with a teaspoon and roll into balls. If you want to add another texture you can finish up by rolling them in dessicated coconut, bee pollen or chopped nuts (or sprinkle cacao powder as illustrated in the picture).  Once rolled, pop  them on a large plate and place in the freezer overnight. The next day place the balls in a storage container or sealed bag and keep  them in the freezer. These can be eaten straight away without defrosting.

Have a lovely weekend! x

Short and Sweet


Style File: Skater Skirt (similar in plain navy) / Marcs Knit (similar) / Ruby Jacket (similar) / Reeboks Classic Sneakers / Necklace from Swonderful (similar here and here) / Ring by Chloe Taylor/ Elk earrings.

Down a supermarket aisle with a roll of tinfoil in-hand, I bat at a box of cereal whilst jumping up and down like a 4-year-old on a moon-hopper. I am ready to catch the box, should it hopefully fall, but the closer I get the further it moves out of my reach.

At a gig, elbows fling wildly in my face and I’m squashed into sweaty backs and the hairy armpits of students who are dancing like it’s the last dance  they’ll ever have.

In London I am trapped on a flight of stairs with a borrowed suitcase that is bigger than me. I need to get to Heathrow. I am about to miss my flight until a tall, kind stranger sweeps past without warning, and carries my suitcase to the top of the stairwell, then disappears before I even have a chance to say, thank you.

This is my life. At 4 ft’ 11 (and a half) inches, I am a woman trapped in a child’s body.

But there was a time when I had known the privilege of height — placed in the back row for school photos I was assured by others I was destined for loftiness. With my long legs and gangly arms I towered above my friends.  I played netball in the ‘A’ team in my favourite position— ‘defense’ (for four years running) and dreamt of playing for my country. I can tell you for a fact that my legs are still long for my body, but before you start laughing, I’m not inferring for a second that I am tall.

But, like aging height is but a mind-set, and I shall forever be tall-er (with the help of a block heel) regardless of whether I was destined for short and sweet.


A week into August (hooray!) and it feels like spring is just around the corner. I love waking up to  blue skies and wind-free days. My eye-print skater skirt has helped to lift my mood this entire winter, and I’ve just fallen in love all over again with this tuxedo wool jacket with it’s peacock-shaped peplum—perfect for keeping the chill at bay on those days where I don’t have to rug up from head to toe.

Photography©Howard Sly, edited by me.

Queen of Poetry


A couple of years ago I produced a radio story about fan art which I found rather hilarious. Part of the story involved a ‘fan’ packaging their chest hair into a bag and sending it to someone else as part of a fan art swap. Yikes! It got me thinking that there must be some Lorde fan art out there… lo and behold there is plenty. One illustrator mentions in the title of his art work  that he started with the intention of drawing ‘Medusa’ but  what he ended up with was picture of  a  Lorde!


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I love the array of Lorde fan art out there—so many different styles and artistic approaches. One of my favourite images is the one above. I’m a big fan of pussy bow blouses, but I love the use of soft colouring and the hair and shading is rather lovely.


Images sourced: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8/ 9

Yes, Lorde’s influence and appeal is far reaching. Lately I’ve seen a lot of young girls (mid teens-early twenties) with the same dark stained lips (thanks to M.A.C) decidedly pale skin and perfectly wild, curly manes strutting their stuff down the city streets. Not that I have a problem with seeing Lorde clones and robots (Clordebots) out and about. It reminds me of when my older sister used to dress up like Madonna with her fingerless gloves, ripped fishnet stockings and scarves tied in a massive bow around her head. And just as my sister practiced Madonna poses in front of the mirror and knew every single lyric to every Madonna song ever written, these girls can probably recite Lorde’s  tweets backwards word-for-word.   The thing about Lorde is that not only does her music traverse multiple musical genres, but she’s also undeniably authentic— a positive role model who is all the more engaging because she  continues to speak her mind.