Tropical Spiced-Up Christmas

The gift ideas are endless and range from long *cinnamon sticks to scent your festive homes, kitchens and tables, masala chai packs for spiced teas and vanilla pods and pastes for holiday baking.

The Tropical Spice Garden has also curated several festive gift ideas such as their finely selected spices ranging from cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves to the harder-to-find green peppers and black cardamom. Also available are the garden’s own range of aromatherapy products like soaps, massage oils, bath and shower oils and bath salts.

Those missing the familiar colour and big stroke styles of the Owen Rebecca t-shirts which began selling at Kuala Lumpur’s Sentral Market in the 1980s are in luck. Tropical Spice Garden is the only place to pick up a Rebecca print whether in the form of her iconic t-shirt, tea towel or cards.

Tropical Spice Garden is located along Jalan Teluk Bahang  and is open from 9am-6pm with the last admission for those wishing to tour the garden set at 5.15pm.

*True Ceylon cinnamon does not contain the harmful coumarin found in the more commonly available cassia. Tropical Spice Garden’s cinnamon is sourced from a single origin farm in Sri Lanka and currently sold in special Christmas edition boxes.

Photos courtesy of Tropical Spice Garden


Super and Stylish Christmas

She is known for her inate good taste and gift in bringing people together to either have a good time with food, shopping or travel.
Michelle Grimsley has lived in Malaysia for a decade and never fails to discover new places and gems even for those living in Penang, thanks to her ability in considering herself a “local” and keeping an open mind and ear to the ground for all happenings and trends.
Her private enterprise Spiral Synergy is an events outfit which brings the most imaginative, fun and social events to Penang island and beyond.
Her Super Stylish Shopping events are not to be missed, owing  to her talent  in curating the event in a way which others have yet to break the code on!
This Saturday (Nov 26) G Hotel’s ballroom lobby will see Spiral Synergy’ biggest ever Super Stylish Christmas Shopping event (10am-3pm) where over 36 vendors have confirmed their attendance and a couple more still to finalise.
As always admission is free and Michelle has (as always) gone out of her way to stress on the super and stylish elements of the selection of items which she promises would make festive gifts for all the family.

Even the browsers will take delight in the Scandi-style Christmas decorations, personalised items, jewellery in all styles such as mantra bands, wine charms, stainless steel tableware, kimonos reworked into purses, clutched and handbags, snakeskin shoes, bags, accessories and specialty Christmas foods.


Photos courtesy of Spiral Synergy

ID by Nala

Her impeccable attention to detail was apparent during a trade and lifestyle show, “InStyle Langkawi” three years ago. Lisette Scheers had brought prototypes of her Nala Designs merchandise for potential buyers to check out. She had pointed out to me then some of the imperfections found in one of her bags, and said she would need to address some production issues before they are launched commercially.

When I bought my blue Baise En Ville Willow Wishes bag three months later, I noticed that she had ironed out all concerns she initially had with the model.

It is this same eye for detail, style and perfection which has seen Lisette apply herself successfully to each venture she undertakes, ranging from designing stationery, tote bags, cushion covers and a whole range of other Nala items.
It seems only logical that she would now further diversify and go into the interior design business. Having designed and decorated her cafe – Dr. Inc (in Bangsar), she proceeded to do up her former home which has since been given up for rental.

The Nala-inspired home at Damansara Heights has all the clean lines, vibrant colours and stylish finish to its interiors, thanks to Lisette, who is open to taking on jobs of transforming living and working spaces in any city, including George Town, with touches of Brand Nala.





Photos courtesy of

Nicely Nala

Nala which means successful in Swahili is the name which  the multi-talented Lisette Scheers picked for her only child. She subsequently named her business – Nala Designs – after her daughter.

Nala the enterprise is a product line which draws from the wealth of inspiration of Malaysia’s melting pot of Chinese, Malay and Indian cultures.

The range of merchandise includes stationery, home decorating items, clothing, bags and other accessories.

The items pay tribute to the country’s rich heritage and reflected in some of the design lines which carry names like ‘Pretty in Peranakan’ and ‘My Kuih or Highway.’

Lisette is also the creative force of (a design and art studio) located along the leafy corner of Old Bangsar’s Jalan Kemuja in Kuala Lumpur.  The space is also home to DR.Inc (pronounced ‘drink’) a little coffee shop where    the design shop nala is located.




The design and decor of the cafe (above) carried out by Lisette and her team, has Nala merchandise littered in strategic spots and the decor even includes Nala-inspired wallpaper.

Her past collaborations with Isetan KLCC via pop-up stores, have now resulted in a full store featuring a permanent location for all things Nala (pictured below)





In Penang, a selection of Nala items is found at Bon Ton, The Shop (Armenian Street) the Eastern & Oriental Hotel’s Bombay Shop (Farqhuar Street) and the Tropical Spice Garden at Teluk Bahang on the island.

Locations of other stores around the world stocking Nala items and an online store are found at

Photos courtesy of Nala Designs

Secret (tropical) Garden

The drive up the Batu Ferringhi coast to Teluk Bahang is pretty on most days with blue skies and even bluer and sometimes green waters reminding those who live on the island that they are blessed. Before arriving in Teluk Bahang town, slow down and to your left, is a “secret garden” on a hill which serves as a sound lesson in creating a classroom of all things nature. Here, you can stroll amidst the foliage and learn new names of flowers, insects and make friends with tadpoles, frogs, and other blessed friends of nature. With a whiff of spice(s) in the air, you want to learn more about the smells and beautiful dishes you can whip up with them and all these can be fulfilled in other corners of the garden. A cooking school where chefs like Viji, Nyonya Su Pei and Rohana make it a joy to master a local dish or two and partake of it, is found in the grounds. Also perched on a wooden deck, is yet another spot to chill, where you can take it the gentle breezes of the Andaman Sea as you nibble into Thai-inspired canapés or even savour a full Thai lunch or dinner. Even the shopaholics are not forgotten in this tropical paradise, for a retail outlet stocked with many Malaysiana items await.



For now though, lets focus on this weekend’s happenings,  where a “Poison Garden” is taking shape and will be unveiled. The project, is a collaboration between the Tropical Spice Garden and Lithuanian designer Tauras S. The small theme garden is said to reveal the rich history humans co-existing with plants that heal, thrill and kill! Details in the poster below and please remember to RSVP if you are attending.

 Photos courtesy of the Tropical Spice Garden

Nyonya Nibbles

They are up at the crack of dawn making Nyonya kuihs (cakes made by the Straits-born Peranakan Chinese) which are so fine and delectable. Located along the hard-to-park Burma Road, there is also mercifully a backdoor entrance to Li Er Cafe which fronts (!) the Pulau Tikus Market. An open kitchen offers visitors a first-hand look at how some of their childhood favourite eats are prepared.

Deep-fried Chinese crullers (Yu Char Kway or You Tiao) are being pressed and prepared from fresh dough for take-aways.

While my picks for the day were the Kuih Kosui (steamed in Chinese tea cups and rolled in desicated coconut) and Kuih Talam (twin-layered and also steamed in green and white),  the aromatic sambal ikan bilis which is served with the iconic Nasi Lemak, assails the senses and can go on record as having proven its weight in gold previously.