Newsletter June 2022

2022 Eve of Mother’s Day Pop-up Stall
Bibiana & Bibi minding the pop-up stall on 7/5/2022)

Celebrating Winter in Style!

By Bibi

Winter has truly arrived in Sydney with daily minimum falling below 10 °C. The low mercury reading did not deter crowds flocking to see the VIVID Festival (an annual light show held in Sydney CBD and other locations). It had been cancelled for the last 2 years due to COVID-19 lockdown. Let’s celebrate in style to welcome a new world!   Let’s reflect on the important lessons learnt. Let’s build a stronger and more caring community. To warm you up, the common theme for this issue is ‘EMPATHY‘! Take a look at this month’s book review about a very empathetic hypnotist and her love story. I also shared my thoughts on empathy in the column ‘From the Desk of Bibi’. In the ‘Subscriber’s Corner‘, you will find photos of mannequins (elegantly covered with flowers) of some famous women with loads of empathy.

Come and join me at this month’s Succulent Terrarium Workshop and continue our conversation. Visit the CFS Monthly Pop-up Stall on Sat 9th July for a winter bouquet!

There are many ways to support CFS: become a member or contribute to the columns here. I’m always looking for a great recipe passed down from generation to generation. If you have a story to share, either write a short piece around 250 words or shoot us some photos. If there is a book or a movie you want to write a review, the CFS e-Newsletter will be happy to share with our e-Newsletter subscribers.  Contact Bibi on

If you would like to purchase a DIY Succulent Terrarium Kit for a loved one or a friend as a present, order online here !

Here is a new ‘Succulents in Colour-Sand Glass’ DIY Kit. Available here.


Flower of the Month

by Dr Bibiana Chan


Pink Rhododendrons

Rhododendron from Ancient Greek ῥόδον rhódon “rose” and δένδρον déndron “tree“) is a very large genus of about 1,024 species of woody plants in the Ericaceae family. It is either evergreen or deciduous. Most species are native to Eastern Asia and the Himalayan region. However, some can be found in North America, Europe. It is the national flower of Nepal. Most species have brightly coloured flowers which bloom from late winter through to early summer.

While visiting families and friends in Vancouver, Canada, I saw beautiful Rhododendrons everywhere, at public parks and private gardens. I saw so many different varieties and colours that I’ve never seen before. 

Italian Garden, Vancouver

I read stories on how gardeners and botanists made tremendous effort to breed cultivars that could survive the toughest climate in Northern England.

Peter J. Mezitt (PJM) performed the cross which produced this plant in 1939.

During the first COVID-19 lockdown in Sydney, the ABC (Australia Broadcast Corporation) played past episodes of Gardening Australia every weekday. I learnt quite a few tips from the program. No one is born with a green thumb. Gardening can definitely build characters – patience.

Gold Prince

Yaku Princess Pink is named for its native Yakushima Island, Japan. A dense, compactly branched low grower with showy pinkish white blooms that create a striking contrast against the deep olive-green foliage. A low maintenance vigorous grower.

Yaku Princess Pink

Here are two must watch video if you are serious about growing your own Rhododendrons.

If you have a story to share about gardening (joy or tears), please drop me a line. 

June Creative Workshop

Succulent Terrarium Workshopby Bibi & young CFS members. Register today

Date: Sat 25/6/22 Time: 1:00 to 3:00 pm

Venue: Chatswood Youth Centre 64 Albert St, Chatswood

Terrariums made my past workshop participants

Partly funded by Willoughby City Council. Send Bibi an email if you have any questions.:

Rhododendron Marie Fortie
Male Baltimore Oriole on a blooming Rhododendron – courtesy Marcia Festa
Colour Wheel – Red buds
Colour Wheel – Pink blooms
Colour Wheel – White (final phase)
Beautiful Maple trees
Different Colour
Maple trees found everywhere in Canada
Fontaine Park, Montreal
Maple Forest in Quebec Province
Maple seeds

Plant of the month

by Dr Bibiana Chan

Maple Tree

Beautiful Maple Leaves

Maples or Acer is a genus of trees belonging to the Sapindaceae family. There are about 132 species, the majority are native to Asia. Maple leaves are known to put on an orange-red display in Autumn following the change of seasons. According to the Canadian Museum of Nature, there are 10 native species of maple—from small shrubs to tall trees—grow in Canada. They offer shade, beauty, food, shelter, timber and other useful products.

Maple symbolizes a promise of balance, love, longevity and abundance. It is connected with the power of love, longevity and money. The beautiful leaves have been a symbol of Canada dating back to the 1700s. The Maple leaf has been shown on Canadian coins (penny, nickel, dime and quarter) through 1876-1901. Finally on 15 Feb 1965, the Maple leaf became part of the Canadian National Flag. This Maple leaf featured eleven points and was designed in a general way to represent the ten species of the maple tree that originated in Canada.  

During my recent visit to Canada’s West coast and East coast, I walked through some Maple Forest which was truly amazing. Being close to Nature is really good for your mental health. I was lucky to be shown how the First Nation Canadians prepared their Maple syrup. 

Traditional syrup preparation, Quebec

In early Spring, the Maple trees are tapped to access the sap inside. The sap collected is then cooked down to create what is known as maple syrup. Maple syrup is an important resource in Eastern Canada, especially Quebec. 

Unique to Maple trees is that their seeds are connected and in pairs that spin as they fall from the tree, making them appear like a “helicopter” as they fall. Check out this YouTube clip:

As the season changes, temperatures drop and days get shorter. Trees get less direct sunlight, and the chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down. Light and temperature influence the intensity and duration of autumn colour. Rainy, overcast days may cause the chlorophyll to degrade more quickly, thus increasing the intensity of the yellow and orange colours. Low temperatures above freezing favours production of the red-pigment anthocyanins. Purples are blends of anthocyanins and leftover chlorophyll. Brown colours predominate when different pigments are present and mix together.

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Recipe of the Month

Popcorn Shrimps by Sara Welch

Popcorn shrimp dish that came about in North America, made up of small, nibble-sized portions of breaded or battered shrimp pieces that have been deep-fried. It’s named after popcorns because the tiny chicken bits resemble them after they are fried.


  • 450 g small shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika smoked or regular
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley


  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt, paprika, pepper and garlic power.
  2. Pat the shrimp dry and place them in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the flour mixture and toss to combine until the shrimp are all coated.
  3. Heat 10 cm of oil in a large deep pot to 190°C.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk.
  5. Dip each shrimp into the milk mixture, then dredge in the remaining seasoned flour.
  6. Place 8-10 pieces of shrimp in the oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Remove the shrimp from the oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat the process with the remaining shrimp.
  8. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Book Review

by Bibiana Chan

The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

Australian author Liane Moriarty came to fame when her novel ‘Big Little Lies’ was made into a TV series starring Nicole Kidman.  If a love triangle is a cliché for romantic novels, this book tells a story much is more complicated. There is the remnant of a dead wife competing for the love of widower Patrick.

Ellen, the hypnotist, found herself oddly standing on the ex-girlfriend’s side. Saskia has been stalking Patrick for the last 3 years since they broke up. Patrick, on the other hand, couldn’t gain much empathy for being the victim of prolonged stalking  by a female perpetrator. He has yet to convince the police to grant him an AVO (Apprehensive Violence Order). This book is definitely a page-turner for me. The author is very skillful in creating a web of minor characters spinning off from the love triangle. The hypnotist and her GP (family doctor) mother are like ‘chalk and cheese’ – in terms of both their professions and personalities.

Ellen, in her mid-thirty, is yearning to settle down after a few earlier failed relationships. As a reader, you would want this one to work. You will read the minds (monologues) of Ellen and Saskia juxtaposed in each chapter.  Throughout the book, Ellen shares with the readers how much she cares about her clients. She has much empathy for them. The author obviously researched the topic well. I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to other books by Liane Moriarty. 

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From the Desk of Bibi

Empathy 101!

What is empathy? 

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. It sounds simple but it is extremely challenging to put into practice. 

I took a class in counselling many years ago as a 1st year Speech Pathology student, I received top marks for an assignment. It didn’t mean that I was  an  empathetic person, but I had a good grasp of the theories.

In 2001, I signed up for a Diploma in Counselling and Communication course. The textbook was  ‘The Skilled Helper’ by Dr Gerald Egan. I studied in depth the different models of counselling. I particularly enjoyed ‘Narrative Therapy‘. 

If you would like to find out more, here is a podcast entitled ‘Chose Your Story, Change Your Life With Bestselling Author Kindra Hall‘ .

In 2010, I attended a 2-day workshop in art therapy. At the time, I really needed it for myself. I learnt to tell stories with art materials and unleash my creativity.   

Telling a story of the Canadian Maple Leaves.

Recently, I caught up with some young CFS members. I was thankful for their trust sharing their stories with me. I was first their friends, then mentors. I listened to the challenges they faced. I shared my lived experience with them when appropriate. I helped them develop their own strategies to resolve their issues. It could be guiding them break down a huge task into small steps; setting up SMART goals or simply LISTEN TO THEIR STORIES

Time is the most precious commodity in the 21st century. COVID-19 Pandemic taught us some good lessons: 

1. Be generous with your time reaching out to your loved ones and people around you (neighbours and colleagues etc). 

2. Ask RUOK and also the follow-up questions

The Meetup Movement was started in 2002 by an IT professional Scott Heiferman based in New York after witnessing Sept 11 in 2001. Here in Sydney, the NSW Government adopted ‘Live with COVID’ as the public health policy. What could you do to emerge from the Pandemic and reconnect with your community?

Send in your comments or stories to share with our readers. 

Meetup logo

Feedback from Participants at the ‘Mindfulness Origami Workshop’

Making origami crane. I found that it’s not simple to fold a crane but there was positive interaction from other participants and we laughed a lot and eventually with the patient assistance from the demonstrator, everyone in group made two beautiful paper cranes.

It’s fun and origami is a great past time especially on rainy days when you don’t want to go out. The origami cranes, flowers and frogs etc. will brighten up your day.

Learning how to make a paper crane, I’ve always wanted to make one!

I could tell them about the fun things you learn from this workshop.

I would tell them is good fun and relaxing.


Floral Display from Vancouver!

Photo Credits: Bibi, Connie, Geoff and Sarina

My friend in Vancouver showed me to the floral display of Fleurs de Villes (Flowers of the Cities). I learnt so much from reading the curator’s comment. This year’s theme ‘FEMMES‘ (WOMEN) dedicated to culturally, politically, and historically significant women throughout the ages. Women who have had a profound impact on the world we know today. Harbingers of change, rule-breakers and trailblazers. The display celebrates these women’s wide-ranging contributions. The good news is it will come to Sydney Botanical Garden in August 2022.

Community Flower Studio Logo Explained

Community: CFS is a community to support young people facing mental health challenges.

Creative: CFS hosts events to unleash young people s creative talents.

Resource: CFS provides members with resources to enhance their wellbeing.  

Support: CFS  offers support to members to develop their potential.

Growth: CFS fosters a growth mindset which is helpful in dealing with challenges.

Recovery: CFS sees recovery as achievable and a journey to cherish.



Website: Mobile: 0412 613 073

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Address: 10-12 Clanwilliam St., Willoughby, 2068, NSW, Australia.