greatest hits christmas

Our first Christmas without family creates new Read more

Merry Christmas

For the first time in history, I've managed to send out our Christmas card on time. Read more

christmas cookies

Christmas cookies gone wrong. Sugar cookie recipe meets Singapore Read more

a letter to Santa

Yesterday, Niamh wrote a letter to Santa. She covers all the key points... Read more

suck your stomach in!

"Suck your stomach in and put your shoulders back." How many times have I heard my mother say this? And Read more

greatest hits christmas

Posted on by Dalton Dorné Posted in holidaze, memory lane, mommyhood, singapore | Leave a comment

This year is our first-ever Christmas on our own. In the past the mere thought of Christmas without our families would have sent me into a depressive state – Christmas is about family! But this year, we were facing a move across the world in January and it didn’t make sense for us to travel when preparing to uproot our lives a few weeks later. Maybe because the decision was more necessity versus choice, I found myself excited about doing Christmas on our own!

“This will be great!” my husband promised, cautious of my usual desire to be with our families. “We’ll create our own traditions, its good for us to do this.”

While I must agree, I always envisioned us hosting Christmas, not doing it alone. Historically, we’ve alternated between my parents house in Florida and my husband’s parents in England, so it only seemed a matter of time before we insert ourselves as hosts into the pattern. But on our own? On Christmas?

Surprisingly, I found myself almost excited to do it on our own – a sort of practice run for hosting without the pressure. It was freedom to do whatever we want, the best of tropical yet southern-infused Christmases in Florida to traditional English Christmases – a sort of greatest hits of Christmases past.

Christmas cookies, eggnog and carols while decorating the tree; mince pies, a Christmas pudding (which went MIA in our house, yet to be found!), Christmas cartoon classics like The Grinch, Frosty the Snowman and Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer, red and green Christmas M&Ms and a twist on our usual egg casserole for Christmas-day brunch.

I even unintentionally carried on a family tradition  – my parents always forgot a present and would find it later in the day. They would notice something wasn’t opened and have to remember where it was hidden. This wasn’t every year, but nearly. Well, I beat em. I found a whole bag of gifts for Niamh – about half the gifts I bought her! I’m not sure that is a good sign, surely I should have a few more years before I start totally losing it???

The biggest shock is how much WORK it all is. I think I did well in the decor department, but the stockings weren’t as stuffed as they should be, the cookies were soggy and I was constantly missing one ingredient per recipe. “Oh, bourbon for eggnog? Sprinkles for the Christmas cookies? Custard, but where has the Christmas pudding gone?”

As much as I enjoyed it, and I did, I have an entirely new appreciation for what both of our mothers pull off  year after year.  And I love Santa more than ever.

Merry Christmas

Posted on by Dalton Dorné Posted in holidaze, mommyhood | Leave a comment

I have finally, for the first time in history, managed to send out our Christmas card on time. Ok ok, I cheated a little. I made this cute Christmas card from on the Lifecards Christmas app on my ipad. I did them December 24 and sent them out via facebook and email. The app cost .99 cents and sending out the cards is completely free. Seriously – the best .99 cents I ever spent! Sometimes, procrastination pays. :-)

Merry Christmas to everyone – from our family to yours.


christmas cookies

Posted on by Dalton Dorné Posted in holidaze, memory lane, mommyhood, singapore | Leave a comment

Every year my Mom serves Christmas cookies and eggnog while we decorate the Christmas tree as a family. We have always blasted Christmas music and while taking turns putting the ornaments on the tree and talking about the homemade ones they had saved that make an appearance each year. Its probably one of my fondest Christmas traditions.

As such, it was one of the most important things I wanted to incorporate into our first year of having Christmas at our house – our sort of “greatest hits Christmases past”.

Slice and bake cookies can’t be found in Singapore, so I needed to do it from scratch. No biggie I thought to myself, I recently had a blast making a batch of delicious chocolate chip cookies with Niamh. How hard can it be?

I decided to go with sugar cookies this time so we could use some holiday cookie cutters, and went to a cake store to try and track down some red or green sprinkles, colored sugar or similar to decorate the cookies with. Niamh is currently in a phase where if you are in the kitchen doing anything, she wants to pull up her chair to see if she can help. Usually, this is really fun, having her chatting away while doing something easy like stirring ingredients together.

After looking up a sugar cookie recipe online, and comparing to a few others (ok, scouring all the reviews and comments!) I went with one that swears people always ask for the recipe when they eat them. Sold! The dough was supposed to sit in the fridge overnight to harden and then you roll it out and cut the shapes. Easy-peasy. Only problem is clearly these people do not live in Singapore – where its 86 degrees with 90 percent humidity. Turn the oven on in a non-airconditioned kitchen? Yeah, I wasn’t the only thing melting. Trying to pick up the dough to roll it out was like sticking my hand in a bucket of glue.

Losing a battle with the dough!

“I don’t understand what’s wrong, it was in the fridge overnight!” I shouted hysterically to my husband while up to my wrists in dough-glue. “Don’t touch it!” I snapped at Niamh while using my elbows to pick up the bowl and shove it back in the fridge.

After a couple failed attempts I finally put the dough in the freezer. I then realized I could pull out a fist full of frozen dough at a time and make two cookies with it before it melted. The recipe made 76 cookies total – awesome.

The project turned into a 4-hour cookie-making marathon that Niamh couldn’t participate in. Even better, is they were super bland cookies due to the excessive amount of flour needed to roll a singlecookie, thus canceling out the sugar.

I tried to spice them up with creative decor, like red and green coated chocolate buttons on the gingerbread shaped men and red and green dusting. I bought the dusting at a cake store after being told they were sold out of red and green sprinkles, as well as sugar. I was promised that I could dust the shimmer on dry or add water and paint the color on. That was before I spent four hours making individual cookies, so I decided to dust them.

“They look a little morbid,” my husband noted, cautiously. “But I’m sure they still taste fine,” he added.

They didn’t, of course. Even worse is the green dust looked like mold.

Despite this, my daughter was nothing short of obsessed with them. By the end of cooking-making drama, I no longer had the energy to decorate the tree that night. So had to break her lil heart and put it off for a day. Talk about the dangling carrot.

By 10 am the next day, Niamh had asked me no less than 127 times if she could eat the Christmas cookies. I went from patiently explaining we would have some when we decorate the tree that night, to snapping that she wouldn’t be allowed to have any if she asked me again! I am MEAN. I also had half a mind to let her sit down and eat them all, until she makes herself sick.  In the end, she ate two, asked for a third, and then the rest were eventually throw out.

But we had cookies, eggnog and carols while decorating the tree. And she won’t remember how bad they looked or tasted. She will, however, likely become a big fan of slice and bake cookies and never understand why.


a letter to Santa

Posted on by Dalton Dorné Posted in holidaze, marketing mumbo jumbo, mommyhood | Leave a comment

Yesterday, Niamh wrote a letter to Santa. Well, she dictated a letter to Santa and I wrote it for her. She covers all the key points, that she was good, listing the good things she’s done and even helps provide some details about our house – so Santa can recognize it. My favorite part though is when she tells him which stocking is hers…

Today, we got Santa’s reply. 02 have launched a brilliant social media campaign, where if you tweet at them, you will get a personalized message from Santa. Brillliant. So I tweeted at them – and had the amazing experience of getting to tell my daughter that she had received a personal reply from Santa. Her letter has been answered and it was a great moment.


suck your stomach in!

Posted on by Dalton Dorné Posted in mommyhood | 5 Comments

“Suck your stomach in and put your shoulders back.”

How many times have I heard my mother say this? And yet, I’ve still not learned.

Yesterday we went to the grocery store and came out to the taxi area only to be met with a mega line. My husband took the cart to the side and Niamh and I waited in line. There was a frazzled and friendly Mom in front of us, balancing the cart, a three year old boy trying to climb from the back to the front of said cart, all while she was on the phone. I kindly reached out to help steady her cart while she moved him to the front seat and when she got off the phone we started chatting about our kids ages, how cute they were, all the normal things until she asked me how I’m feeling in my second pregnancy.

“How are you finding it the second time around?” she asked in a way that exposed her enthusiasm for a second child, yet the nervousness of someone who has an active 3 year old boy. Normally I’d just snap, “I’m not pregnant!” but I just didn’t have the heart to tell her I wasn’t pregnant. I didn’t want to embarrass her, and she was so excited about it.

“Are you so tired because you already have one to chase after?” she pressed.

“Oh…” I stammered, before deciding a white lie was best. “I’m not too tired, I just really feel the heat.”

“Mommy! There’s a baby in your belly!?” Niamh shrieked with utter joy.

I immediately began to regret my white lie, and as so often is the case with lies, they usually require another lie. So I tried to salvage the situation by telling Niamh we would talk about it later. But she was not to be pacified. She shoved her ear to my stomach and squeled, “I can hear it in there Mommy! I can hear the baby in your belly!!!”

I excused ourselves and abandoned our spot in line, you know, because the heat was too much and rushed Niamh back into the store. I was not about to lie to Niamh to save face for this woman (and now myself!) so I had no choice but to get us out of there fast.

Once inside, I had to explain to Niamh that sadly, I’m not pregnant, I just need to suck my stomach in. And I probably need to put my shoulders back too while I’m at it!



how i know my husband loves me

Posted on by Dalton Dorné Posted in holidaze | 2 Comments

I know my husband loves me, because I came home and saw this:

You may remember this is my high-maintenance Christmas tree (HMT) with hundreds of individually labelled branches. Last year my husband electrocuted himself on the lights shortly after an outburst over HMT.

Because HMT is so, well, high-maintenance, each year I vow that we’ll put it up earlier so we can enjoy it for longer – get more out of the effort! Every year, there is a reason why this doesn’t happen. This year its because we were in Cambodia the first week of December. But there have been years where we were going away and didn’t bother to put it up at all – sad!

Simply put, we dread the process.

This year, I have dropped a LOT of hints (to anyone who will listen) about how it is the man’s job to put up the tree and put on the lights. After-all, I’ll do everything else – the decorating, the cooking, shopping, Christmas playlists, entertaining/hosting, wrapping… Seems fair, right?

In this case, I probably still come out ahead, but HMT is beautiful! And that’s what counts.


What is your tree like? Do you go real or fake?

raindrops on roses

Posted on by Dalton Dorné Posted in china, travel | 4 Comments

“Raindrops on roses ans whiskers on kittens. Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Brown paper packages tied up with strings. These are a few of my favourite things,” sings Maria in The Sound of Music.

This line (quite obviously seared into my memory from childhood!) popped into my head in Beijing last week. If you’re new to my blog, you may not know yet that I lived in Beijing for almost 10 years – and I love it. In many ways, its also home.

We took a family trip up to Beijing last week, although a working holiday – where I got to work out of my company’s office in Beijing and see my colleagues – it was the first time we took our daughter back since we moved, so it was a homecoming of sorts for her.

Long story short, my daughter was born there and I’m American and her Dad is British. She’s only ever lived in China or Singapore and Chinese was her first language for 3 years. Basically, if you ask her where she is from, she’ll say Beijing. Usually a little white girl with curly hair claiming to be from Beijing is met with belly laughs from whoever is asking her (usually Singaporean taxi drivers) – until she busts out her native mandarin.

We were staying with family friends last week – who deserve a medal for putting us up aka putting up with us. Their son is a year older than my daughter, they grew up together and she affectionately calls him big brother (in Chinese). While the point of the trip was primarily to see them, get the kids together, catch up with friends and take Niamh back to Beijing – I still somehow had a detailed mental list of all the things I  wanted to do/buy/eat. And the list was MASSIVE.

Where to begin…

So when I realized there wasn’t enough time to do it all – a sad moment, I admit – I had to focus on a few of my favourite things…

And here they are.

Candied Hawthorne berries in Fall & Winter

These line the streets – yes they’re sticky exterior is exposed to the windy, polluted Beijing elements. So just don’t think about that, and enjoy.

Yanjing Beer – the beer of Beijing. Ahhhh

Good (and cheap!) beer, this 22 oz size usually retails for about 3 kuai – or 50 cents. You know what else is great? Almost every other Chinese beer! Beijing Beer, Tsingtao Beer, Harbin Beer, etc etc. And I love the small beer cups for quick shooter style consumption. Cheers and drain your cup is the name of the game – if you can’t hang, hire a professional to drink for you. Seriously, some execs keep them on staff.

Lao Beijing restaurant where VP Joe Biden ate

I miss ?? “renao” dining experiences. Renao is made up of two characters, the first meaning hot/heated and the second meaning noise. Together they basically mean a lively atmosphere – but I think a better translation is happy noise because volume is key to a renao environment. Like this Lao Beijing (old Beijing) restaurant we went to – packed on a random mid-week lunch. A feast of 4 shared dishes plus two bowls of noodles and drinks cost 50 RMB – about $8.50.  No wonder people are so psyched for lunch. It’s also where VP Biden ate so I felt very in the loop. Kudos to him for going somewhere truly local.


Xinjiang style cumin and chilli spiced lamb skewers – there really isn’t anything else like it. One of the best ‘ethnic minority’ cuisines.

Split pants potty training

Because its funny to see all those bare bottoms when its freezing out and they are bundled up beyond belief, except for where it really counts! The padded outfits and rosy cheeks (on the face!) are too cute.

Beijing pedicab inside a Hutong

Hutongs, or the traditional old alleyways, simply make me happy. I can’t explain it, I just love them. I love walking down them, eating in small local places, finding historic markings, cool shops…

798 Art District

I love the old 798 factory, which has been converted into an art district, complete with galleries, publishing houses, cafés, shops, bars and creative spaces. Its rapidly becoming very commercial, but the point is Beijing has a great underground vibe. Great art, up and coming music and such.

MuTianYu Great Wall

I know its cliché - but I love the Great Wall. It never ceases to be impressive. I would literally pay to not have to go to the Forbidden City again, its exhausting. But I just at every chance to go to the Wall. We missed on this trip as Niamh got sick, and I’m a little bit heartbroken. I wanted a Great Wall Christmas card…


finding a new home

Posted on by Dalton Dorné Posted in mommyhood | 1 Comment

Welcome to my new website! It’s still a work in progress but I’m super proud of it, and feel like a grown up big girl blogger now, having moved successfully to wordpress – yippee!

I couldn’t have done it without the help of my awesome colleague, Natalie, who is super smart and tech savvy.

I’m in the process of moving all my old posts over so please use this site from now on.

As you remember, I’ve been playing with the name of my blog for some time now. I just never find something I really like long-term – maybe that’s the Libra in me.

I’ve gone from the rather un-original name, “Dalton” to “an unconventional life” to “fabulous abraod” – now its “Mom on the Run” – which is meant to reflect my hectic career/mom/expat life.

What do you think of the new name? Have something even more fabulous for me? Please leave any suggestions in the comments section and if I switch to your suggestion – there will be a prize!

There have been many changes during my 3 month hiatus – updates to be posted soon.

As always, thank you for reading! xo

a couple specific restrictions

Posted on by Dalton Dorné Posted in just because, singapore | Leave a comment

Apparently there have been a few issues on the MRT (subway/tube/underground trains) in Singapore.

The country, known for its impeccable organization and planning – sometimes at the risk of being a bit too organized and therefore dull – have released these new restrictions for baggage on the MRT.

Drop those plasmas ladies!Drop those plasmas ladies!

Unfortunately, they’ve done so around a price increase, which makes most commuters feel they should be allowed, as one fabulous facebook friend put it, “to bring a baby elephant” on-board if they wish.

What really stands out to me is how specific they’ve been. You are not allowed to bring a 32 plasma TV on the train. Really? Is this a big problem? I’ve never seen anyone on the MRT with a TV!!

Oh, and don’t bring big cartons either. What’s next, luggage?

Mass transit is only for commuters it seems.

how to tell if its really your birthday

Posted on by Dalton Dorné Posted in mommyhood | Leave a comment

Like most children, my daughter loves her birthday. She loves cake, presents and most of all, the attention!

Throughout the year, I will prep her for upcoming birthdays. For some reason, I always get the same response.

Me: Tomorrow is Daddy’s birthday, so we’re going to celebrate tomorrow. Isn’t that exciting?
Niamh: It’s MY birthday tomorrow?
Me: No, its Daddy’s birthday.
Niamh: Mine?
Me: (Sigh) No, your birthday is in July. I’ll tell you when its your birthday.

On top of this, she consistently offers her services in unwrapping other people’s gifts and blowing out candles.

I guess because birthday’s are always my word against her hope, when it actually was her birthday, she couldn’t quite believe it.

I told her a week in advance, “next week is your birthday!” and reminded her leading up to the day, “Sunday is your birthday!”

This year, she got something special. A big girl bike from both sets of her grandparents. She was ecstatic, and within an hour was whizzing around on it. She also had a party with her friends at our house, cupcakes, presents, the whole deal.

Later, she spoke to her Mimi and Pops to thank them.

M&P: Happy birthday Niamh!
Niamh: Are you serious???
M&P: (moment of silence). Yes, happy birthday, today’s really your birthday!!
N: Are you playing funny games?

I had to get on the phone and explain that yes, we gave her the bike and she loved it. Yes she did know it was her birthday!

But without a sense of time, how do children really know it’s their birthday? It must feel like I’m a mean mom denying her a possible birthday 364 days of the year. She can hardly believe her luck when it finally is.

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