In Sofia’s Kitchen

“We all have differences, but hey, lets embrace them! ” Sophie says in her bubbly tone.

Writing and Education are a large part of Sophie’s calling, but true to her own heritage – so is excellent food.

From the time Sophie Stokes was 7 years old, she was in the kitchen with her Greek-Australian relatives preparing treats to serve to her large family and many friends.

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For Sophie, this inclusive and vibrant environment ignited a passion for both food and learning, a passion she still follows boldly today.

We were lucky to be invited when Sophie recently held a large get together at her home showcasing her cultural culinary prowess; Sophie hosts with a broad, engaging smile and a warmth to her welcome as though you are family.

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With a background in Early Childhood education, when it came time to send her own girls off to school – Sophie elected to home school them.

“My thing is creative education, I call it Imagination Activation!” Sophie explains. This took the family around the world, making travel journals, discovering new cultures…  with a fair dose of learning in the kitchen too.

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8 years ago the family moved to Newcastle for work and university opportunities for the children, and have found the city so versatile, multicultural and beautiful that they absolutely love living here. Not to mention the great foodie options for Sophie!

Recently, Sophie’s children completed their homeschooling and it was time for a new chapter.

“It was time for me to have a new impact on the world,” she tells us.

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Source: Exousia Publishing

In 2015 Sophie donated some resource books to Mebaya Orphanage in Tanzania, to help them establish their education programs and the orphanage invited her to come to Tanzania to assist.

While in Africa, Sophie was speaking with Elina Karamelina and was discussing the resources the Tanzanian children had – often donated books in English about Santa and snowy winters.

After this talk an idea was born.

“It was a spur of the moment conversation with Elina really and 8 months later we were publishing our own children’s book,” says Sophie.

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Kula Chakula is Hungry! was created to honor the cultures of the children in Africa and also as a celebration of the languages spoken locally and in surrounding countries. The book is written in Swahili, as well as English and Greek.

The book has had a wonderful response with African educators loving their new resource.

“Actually, I just shipped a whole box of books to Athens for an art conference there and I am so excited that Greek children will be learning about the Swahili language and African Culture too,” Sophie tells us excitedly, “and I have been honored to do a few readings of the book in local Newcastle preschools too.”

“We all have differences, but hey – lets embrace them!” Sophie says in her bubbly tone.

Writing and education are a large part of Sophie’s calling but, true to her own heritage, so is excellent food.

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This led Sophie to start food blogging at In Sofia’s Kitchen, a journey of hospitality written through recipes and adventures. The success of this blog has led to a cookbook, In Sofia’s Kitchen: Mediterranean Flavours Down Under, which is launching in Newcastle on November 26th, in true Sofia’s Kitchen Style – with lots of friends, food, culture and celebration.

Sophie would like all to feel welcome to attend the launch if you would like to pick up a copy and enjoy some of the tasty samples like these on offer.

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And what is next for Sophie? So much!

A new multicultural children’s book is underway being published in both English and Norwegian (thanks to her Norwegian illustrator) and Sophie will be working on another cookbook and cooking workshops.

“I’m looking forward to the continued journey – delighting families and friends through food and hospitality,” Sophie tells us.

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Served up to you by Villager Property – because Home Begins Here.

 

Sister Girl.

Melissa made it her mission to nourish the community and help create a healthy environment to heal and grow in.

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Arriving to have a cup of tea and a chat with Melissa Histon, we are greeted by two bounding pups – Carlos and Jadie. It’s 3pm and school children are lining up to give their favourite neighbourhood pups a pat and a scratch through the decorative iron fence.

“Carlos and Jadey are a bit famous around here!” Melissa says as she lets us in. “A lady from the neighbourhood found Carlos when he escaped one day, she brought him home of course, but not before taking him out to lunch!”

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We are welcomed inside Melissa’s gorgeous home at The Junction and she tells us that taking her dogs for a walk up to Bar Beach is one of her favourite things to do when she isn’t blogging, coordinating and event planning for her business –  The Sista Code.

Another of her favourite things to do is to travel. “I love to immerse myself in other cultures – really get to feel their way of life,” she tells us. “I just got back from an amazing trip around the UK.”

Although Melissa travels extensively, she has been a Novocastrian at heart ever since she moved from Canberra to Newcastle when she was 10 years old.

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Melissa was operating a successful photography business in Newcastle when her passion for travel and culture led to an opportunity with 3 Angels Nepal, a human trafficking rescue program.

Working as the stills photographer on location for a documentary, Melissa was to embark on a photographic and personal journey, documenting the harsh realities of life for women and girls in Nepal.

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When Melissa returned to Newcastle from this particular trip to Nepal however, she admits it was hard to forget about what she had witnessed and to continue on ‘life as normal’ back home in Australia.

“I knew I had to do something – I had to do my part to start helping lift up the women of Australia and the women of the world.”

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This is when she started The Sista Code, a growing community with a mission to make a difference.

Melissa made it her mission to nourish the community and help create a healthy environment to heal and grow in.

The code is simple:

  1. Support and uplift other women
  2. Celebrate the wins and successes of other women
  3. Lead the way – inspire other women and be inspired by other women
  4. Love you and love others
  5. Have fun and enjoy your life
  6. Laugh often and heartily
  7. Be happy – strive to raise your baseline level of happiness
  8. Pay-it-forward as often as you can
  9. Be open-minded
  10. Let your beautiful self shine without apology

And Melissa is certainly living up to the code – from organising local fundraisers, to furnishing women’s refuges, to building houses in Nepal with Habitat for Humanity.

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The Sista Code raises funds through it’s own charity arm Got Your Back Sista, which primarily focuses on helping women and children become emancipated from domestic violence situations, and from there helping them to be nurtured and healed.

It’s not hard to be inspired by Melissa’s work and passion. If you are reading this and thinking about what you can do to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud – we have a suggestion:

Melissa is currently rallying the Villagers of Newcastle and the Hunter Valley to join her at the upcoming  1000 People 1 Voice Event on September 3, 2016 at Hunter Stadium.

“Its going to be a great day! Great entertainment for families, a kit full of vouchers, a shirt and a drink bottle – things like that,” Melissa tells us. “It’s a real community event and best of all the proceeds all go toward furnishing two new local crisis centres for women and children.”

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“It’s all about being the best person you can be – uplifting, inspiring other sistas and sharing the love!”

Villager Property are passionate about our community and are determined to support the villagers and vibrancy within it.