Newsletter August 2022

A very happy customer bought 2 bouquets from Bibi at the NAIDOC Week Pop-up Stall in July , 2022.

Self-Management Strategies for Mental Well-being During COVID-19!

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) published an important report on the findings of a National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing conducing during Dec 2020 to July 2021 during COVID-19 Pandemic. The press media and news on TV were prompt to cover the alarming key statistics:
  • Over two in five Australians aged 16-85 years (43.7% or 8.6 million people) had experienced a mental disorder at some time in their life
  • One in five (21.4% or 4.2 million people) had a 12-month mental disorder
  • Anxiety was the most common group of 12-month mental disorders (16.8% or 3.3 million people)
  • Almost two in five people (39.6%) aged 16-24 years had a 12-month mental disorder

As a mental health researcher and advocate, I sieved through the ‘evidence’ and found something interesting about the Self-Management Strategies for Mental Health employed by the informants for this survey. The following diagram represents the relative proportion of each of the strategies nominated. I’m glad that in the past two years CFS has been pro-actively supporting our members, newsletter subscribers, participants to our creative workshops and customers visiting our pop-up stalls. So, please keep practising these self-management strategies:

  • Practise thinking positively
  • Did more of the things you enjoy
  • Better organised home, life and other
  • Sought support from family or friends
Self-Management Strategies for Mental Health – ABS National Survey of Mental Health & Well-being 2020 – 2021

If you would like to brighten up someone’s day, try arranging a bouquet yourself to give to a family or friends. If you are not sure, sign up for the next FAME (Floral Arrangements Made Easy) workshop. It is part of the EMERGE FESTIVAL organised by Willoughby City Council. It has been cancelled 2 years in a row due to COVID-19. Hopefully, EMERGE FESTIVAL will emerge once again to bring local residents and people afar Joy, Laughter, Health and Wellness!

There are quite a few events lined up for the rest of 2022:  

  1. 6th August – ShoreShocked 2022 Music Festival at Chatswood Concourse.
  2. 17th August – Launch of Laughter Yoga Program at St Philips Anglican Church, Eastwood
  3. 3rd Sept – Acrylic Pouring Workshop at Chatswood Youth Centre
  4. 24th Sept – FAME (Floral Arrangements Made Easy) Workshop at Chatswood
  5. 8-9th Oct – Climate Action Art Exhibition at Balgowlah Stockland Shopping Centre
  6. 22nd Oct – Succulents in Coloured Sand Glass Workshop
  7. 26th Nov – Flower Crown for Christmas Parties

Online registrations for some of these workshops are open. Check out the links or pencil in the date for a workshop and event of your interest! Send your suggestions, reflections or photos to Bibi to be published in the next issue.

Daffodil Month Pop-up Stall on Sat 13th August at 9 am till 3pm or when fresh flowers sold out! Our popular ‘Petal-it-Forward’ Campaign is BACK! Find us outside Little Giant Roaster Restaurant (525 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby)!

Rotary Fund Raising Dinner at Chatswood

Photos taken at the Fund Raising Dinner at Rotary International Chatswood Club on 19/07/22. CFS donated a Tropical Orchid Bouquet for their Raffles. Four young Chinese Lions entertained the dinner guests. CFS and StreetWork shared a table, we enjoyed the food and the conversation while raising funds for the providing Water Tank Project at Nepal Dhading District.

Laughter Yoga Program (Wed mornings from 17/8 to 23/11 fortnightly) at 29 Clanalpine Rd, Eastwood, St Philip’s Anglican Church.

Bibi and Janet (a CFS member) hosted an Information Session for Eastwood Chinese Senior Citizen Club at the church hall at St Philips Anglican Church, 29 Clanalpine St., Eastwood.

Laughter Yoga Information session on 270722 at Eastwood Chinese Senior Citizen Club

ShoreShocked 2022CFS Photo Both

The ShoreShocked 2022 Music Festival has moved to an indoor venue – The Concourse, Chatswood on Sat 6 August from 12 noon to 5 pm . Chantal has been volunteering her time to assist me in this project as part of her Duke of Edinburgh Award. Antony, Bibiana, Chantal, Jacque, McKayla, Caroline and Janet will co-facilitate two concurrent workshops with me. Online registration forms for DIY Your Own Tote Bag’ & ‘DIY Your Flower Crown’. Participants will be able to take photos of their proud creation at our Photo Booth.

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



Banksia is named after Sir Joseph Banks (1743 – 1820), a famous English botanist and naturalist. Coccinea – (Latin) coccineus – scarlet, referring to flower colour. It belongs to the Proteacece family. Banksia coccinea is a shrub found in and around Albany and the Stirling Ranges on the South coast of Western Australia. It usually grows to about 4 metres but can be taller. Scarlet Banksia, with wide, toothed, light green leaves and large striking flowers of orange-red to bright scarlet, flowers between late winter through to early summer. These flowers are highly prized in the cut flower industry, for the long, fairly straight, single stems on which they grow. Check out this YouTube clip about other Banksia species and Coccinea (at 1:39 min).

Fun Facts about Coccinea:

  1. The first known specimens of Banksia coccinea were collected in December 1801,
  2. This is a great plant for attracting nectar-feeding birds into your garden.
  3. Seeds of Banksia coccinea germinate fairly readily, usually within 3 to 6 weeks and without any pre-treatment. Make sure seed wing is pointing up, cover lightly with soil and keep warm and moist, but not wet.
  4. Banksia coccinea Prefers a light deep gravelly well-drained soil on an open sunny position. Avoid waterlogged soils.
  5. All banksias respond well to light pruning, but over-enthusiasm with the secateurs can kill them. Cut back after flowering.

I visited Kings Park and Botanic Garden in Perth in April 2018 and was amazed with the many varieties of Native flowers there. I hope to return in Spring to admire the Aussie Natives again. At last month’s NAIDOC Week, I created a few Native Bouquets featuring Coccinea, Protea and Candlestick (also a Banksia).

If you have green thumbs, you may grow one yourself. You may like to get a few tips from this keen gardener half a world away in Sacramento, California (160 km North of San Francisco). He grew Banksia Coccinea from seed and three years later, the outcomes were captured in this YouTube clip: “Banksia Coccinea update – what you need to know to grow these difficult plants!”.  

September Creative Workshop

Acrylic Pouring Workshop by Bibi & Jacque, the Co-Chair of CFS Youth Subcommittee Registrations are now open.

Date: Sat 3rd Sept. 22 Time: 1 – 3:30 pm

Venue: Chatsood Youth Centre, 64 Albert Ave. Chatswood (5 min walk from Chatswood Station).

Participants focusing on what they do.
Acrylic Pouring Paint Workshop

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

A single stem Coccinea
Tall Floral Arrangement featuring Coccinea &other Australia Natives
Sea hooly and Kale Bouquet
Big Blue Sea Holly
Miss Willmott’s Ghost – White Sea-Holly

Plant of the month

by Dr Bibiana Chan

Sea Holly

Beautiful blue Sea Holly

Sea Holly is a common name of the genus Eryngium. It has approximately 230 species in tropical and temperate parts of the world (e.g. South America and the Mediterranean)), but only four or five are endemic to Australia. Eryngium is a member of the Apiaceae family, the carrot and the Australian Flannel Flower (Actinotus helianthi) being familiar members of the same family. In Australia, Eryngium Ovinum is widespread throughout temperate woodlands and grasslands and can be seen growing naturally around Canberra.

Eryngium Ovinum, Aussie Sea Holly
Distribution of E. Ovinum in Australia

Sea Holly plants generally grow anywhere from 45-90 cm. tall with a 30 cm. spread. Their green or silvery-blue stems bear blue cones surrounded by spiky silver, white, green, blue or violet bracts, which bloom from summer throughout fall. Sea holly plants can tolerate drought, winds, salt sprays and sandy soils.

You may also cut off the flower stems once its blooming period ends in autumn, but allow the evergreen leaves to remain.

Best Garden Perennials, Eryngium ‘Big Blue’

Symbolism: with its strong and bold appearance, Eryngium is known to symbolize independence, honesty and attraction.

Fun Facts

  1. Eryngium received its name from a thistle plant (Eryngium campestre) used by the “father of botany,” Theophrastus, in ancient Greece.
  2. Cooling the stems for up to two days at 39ºF (3.9ºC) may allow the flowers’ color to intensify and deepen. 
  3. Deadheading should be part of your sea holly plant care. Pinch or cut off spent flowers to encourage additional blooming.
  4. Eryngium is suitable for drying. Rather than drying the stems in the air, it’s recommended to dry them using a desiccant like silica gel. This will preserve the blue color of the flowers better.  Learn how to dry Sea Holly here:
Learn how to dry Sea Holly.

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Recipe of the Month

Lucas Sin Teaches You How to Pan-Fry Tofu 2 Ways

Tofu was a stable in many Asian countries. I love cooking various tofu dishes with different types of tofu. My Western friends often ask me how to cook this ‘bland tasteless thing’? I share with you a recipe by Lucas Sin, a very talented young chef with a mission to give traditional Chinese dishes a modern make-over! He is a Yale graduate!

Firm Tofu ready to be fried


  • 1 packet (16 ounces) firm tofu OR silken tofu, drained
  • Kosher salt
  • Neutral oil
  • shallot, sliced thinly cross-wise
  • cloves garlic, sliced thinly length-wise
  • 1/2 Thai red chili or similar, sliced thinly
  • scallions, cut into 2-inch segments, making sure white and green parts are separated
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons abalone sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine (Mijiu or Shaoxing wine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch
Golden brown on both sides.


  1. If working with FIRM TOFU: Remove the firm tofu from the packaging and drain well. Place tofu in a sealed container or on a tray wrapped with plastic and freeze for at least 3 hours and up to 6 months. When fully frozen, the tofu will turn a darker shade of yellow/brown and become slightly translucent.
    When ready to cook, fully thaw the tofu, at least 3 hours at room temperature or 8 hours in the fridge. Gently squeeze the tofu between your palms to express as much water as possible without damaging it. Cut tofu into 10 equally sized pieces.
  2. If working with SILKEN TOFU: Remove the silken tofu from the packaging and drain well. Cut tofu into 10 equally sized pieces and lay the pieces flat side down on a tray. Season the tofu with ½ teaspoon salt and let sit for at least 15 minutes to extract some of the water. When ready to cook, drain well.
  3. To cook either kind of tofu: Heat a flat-bottomed non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of neutral oil and heat until barely smoking. Carefully slide drained pieces of tofu into the pan, one by one. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Using a spatula, gently press on each piece of tofu to ensure even searing. Let the tofu sear until a golden crust is formed, about 3 min. Using a fish spatula or a thin rubber spatula, carefully flip each piece of tofu over so both sides are seared well. Remove and set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the light soy sauce, abalone sauce, rice wine, white sugar, MSG, and 1/4 cup water to form a sauce. Stir until the white sugar and msg are dissolved.
  5. Prepare a starch slurry by combining potato starch and 1 tablespoon water in another small bowl and stirring well to dissolve.
  6. In the same pan you used to sear the tofu, add another 2 teaspoons of neutral oil and heat at high heat until barely smoking. Add shallots, garlic, chilies, and scallion whites. Stir fry until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Return the tofu to the pan. Pour over the combined sauce. Mix the ingredients together by swirling the pan. Simmer until the flavors have melded, about 3 minutes. Add more water if the sauce is drying up. Carefully remove the tofu from the pan and plate. Thicken the remaining sauce with the potato starch if necessary until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, sugar. Pour the finished sauce over the tofu and serve warm with rice.

Book Review

by Kim Wilkins

We had it so Good by Linda Grant

We Had it so Good by Linda Grant

This is a book for the baby boomers like myself. 

We start off with 4 characters all studying at Oxford University, England.

Three are English and the main character, Stephen, is there on a Rhode Scholarship from America.  Predictably they all have left wing views, smoke dope and take acid and at one stage are briefly in a commune.

Although, at the beginning, the characters seem to be stereotypes of sixties Uni students, we follow their development during the next 50 years. Do they maintain their views on life? We see their relationship with their children and each other.

Linda Grant takes an interesting view on the lives of baby boomers.  The award-winning author was born in 1951 so how much is a reflection of her own life and her friends is hard to tell.

The novel is 350 pages and was published in 2010. It was short listed for the Booker Prize.  Although I was not overly impressed with the first 50 pages or so for the reasons stated, it is a page turner, has excellent plot development and is well written.

It may trigger some comfortable and not so comfortable memories for those of you of a similar age.

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From the Desk of Bibi

Finding something my child is good at!
Simon Forbes in action

This is a quote from the parent of a talented photographer, 3D-animation artist and a teacher when he seemed to be not very good at the academic subjects at school! Simon Forbes’ parents were determined to ‘find something Simon is good at’ and gave him a camera.

I was very touched when Simon shared his story at a talk hosted by ‘We Are Observers’. Simon is well-respected in his field. He led a group of students to put on the 3D Light Show ‘Photonic State’ at the NSW Governor’s House as part of the 2018 VIVID. Their project was awarded the AEAF Gold Award 2018 student category.  

When I was working as a paediatric speech pathologist many years ago, I often got asked a question from the very concerned parents of my clients, ‘Will s/he ever speak?’ My answer would be something in the effect of ‘I would try my best to help your child develop his/her full potential!’

When I heard parents of teenagers tell me they were worried about whether they picked the right subjects for their HSC (High School Certificate), I would ask them ‘What does your child enjoy doing? Which are his/her favourite subjects?’. In my own experience as a mum and my professional training as a speech pathologist, I am confident to say ‘whatever your child is good at and enjoy doing, try your very best to nurture that passion, support him/her to fulfill that DREAM!’

Talking about supporting young people to fulfil their ‘DREAMS’, here is a heart-warming tale. This is a vivid description of Lucas Sin, one of the Food & Wine Best Chefs 2021.

Lucas Sin in front of his restaurant ‘The Gentleman( Jūnzi ) Kitchen in New York.

Lucas Sin opened his first restaurant when he was 16, in an abandoned newspaper factory in his hometown of Hong Kong. Despite spending his Yale undergraduate years in the Cognitive Science and English departments, Lucas spent his weekends running restaurants out of his dorm, known as Y Pop-up. He backpacked and cooked his way through Japan, before settling at Kikunoi Honten in Kyoto. He’s also spent time at Modernist Cuisine in Seattle and Michelin-starred kitchens in Hong Kong and New York.” (Excerpt from Food & Wine Best Chef 2021).

In 2012, Locus started his bachelor degree in cognitive science at Yale around the time when I did my post-doc there. Ten years on, he is seriously working on a PhD in global Chinese cooking.

Jinzi Kitchen, the corner of 113th and Broadway in New York

行行出狀元 (Háng háng chū zhuàngyuán) There is a champion in every profession! Is a well-known Chinese idiom. I found it ironic that Chinese parents often ignore this Chinese wisdom and demand their children to choose ‘doctors, lawyers and accountants’ as their career! This is totally against the principle of ‘finding something my child is good at’!

If you know a young person (aged 14 – 25 yr) and a bit puzzled about which subjects to pick for their university entrance examinations or equivalent, which career path to follow or are stuck at a crossroad, send them to me. I’m happy to listen, happy to mentor young people to develop their full potential! I conclude by sharing Simon Forbes’ own reflection, as a teacher, on his ‘gentle tapping with a hammer’ approach with his students.

‘If I treat them gently and well, there will be huge improvement, as opposed to just bashing away at them, trying to force them to do what I want!’

An excerpt from Simon Forbes – My Favourite Tool

Gentle tapping with a hammer!


Flowers bloom and wither, always in their own timing!

By Bibiana Cheung

Bibiana holding a bouquet she created

It was truly a pleasure to attend the bouquet preparation for the Saturday Pop-up Stall organized by Bibi. I came across different native flowers and learnt to arrange them aesthetically along with different compositions. Every individual flower has its own color, structure, form and scent. They are beautifully grown on this planet akin to us as human beings – delicate, precious, and meaningful.

A bridal bouquet with Native beauties!
A Red Rose Wedding Bouquet created by Bibi

I pondered the role of flowers may be more profound than what we perceive on the surface. We have flowers to celebrate life on the day we were born and express love to our loved one on special occasions like weddings and anniversaries. Flowers also provide comfort when one is sick or at funerals.

A posy of yellow roses and purple Kales

The way these blooms remarkably appear in our ephemeral life, through different stages, manifests the deep connection between humans and the creatures. Overall, this fruitful experience has given me space to wonder about life, learning there is so much more to be discovered from nature. 

Sea Holly is featured in this posy
Red Roses are most popular among lovers.
A native funeral spray
A sympathy bouquet with Natives

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.