Happy Lunar New Year!

Even though I started 2017 wanting to write more, this has obviously not translated into real, tangible action to do so. A month has passed, and this is my second post in as many months. That said, January has been quite a whirlwind, even as usual, nothing spectacular or out of the ordinary transpired. I could not remember what took place in the intervening days, other than the Lunar New Year that came and went just a few days ago. Lunar, because someone on Facebook mentioned how it should not be called ‘Chinese New Year’ as the festival is observed by not just Chinese. The Koreans, Vietnamese too? and several other nationalities celebrate it as well so let us just call it Lunar New Year.

This year, the office held a department lunch the day before the eve, since eve fell on a Friday and it’s traditionally a half-day off for us. For the first time, the lo-hei was an official one. In the past years, I recalled that we had a lo-hei at one of the bosses’ home when we held a BBQ at her place. Then in another year, we got lunch catered in the office and the lo-hei was either provided as part of the catered package, or we got it from outside. Either ways, I guess it’s a new practice that comes with a new boss.

Lunch at the Silk Road was a pretty pricey affair since it’s a special set menu that we were ordering. I won’t comment on the food since I do not count myself a connoisseur of food to say if it is good or bad, but the service definitely was not up to par. The restaurant was crowded, which is understandable since everyone was having their office lunar new year lunches, but they should have already expected it based on the bookings made, yet they made no (does not seem like they did anyway) plans to ramp up their staff to handle what needed to be done. We were one of the first tables there but ended up receiving tardy service; the interval time between dishes were inconsistently timed and they actually missed out one dish entirely until we had to remind them of it. Perhaps it was due to the fact that the set we picked was the lowest as compared to the other tables who seemingly ordered the premium sets?

So anyway it is a ‘free’ lunch for me, and it kicked off with the prosperity yu-sheng, which used smoked salmon instead of the usual raw fish. Not too sure if this was due to the raw fish scare that took place last year. I am not a big fan of smoked salmon but this one was still ok since I only had a slice. I was more interested in the 黄金, the crispy crackers that were so fragrant while munching.

On the eve of Lunar New Year, it’s the usual steamboat reunion dinner. Same as last year, we had it at my brother’s place and the food seems to be much less than before. We just cannot eat as much as we used to because most of us, with the exception of my nephew, are well past the age where our metabolisms can support massive eating.
Just before the Lunar New Year, I was down with a bout of flu and was / am still recovering from having phlegm stuck in my throat. But that did not stop me from feasting and enjoying the new year goodies. Though I do not binge on pineapple tarts, loveletters, bak kwa and the lot, I can actually count the number of pieces I have so far, I really let go in indulging in roasted cashews, green pea cookies and arrowhead chips. These are my kryptonite during this festive season, and they are no less heaty and unhealthy as compared to the others. Oh well, it’s once a year so I should not be so hard on myself right? The 初三 popiah party that was held, kind of like an annual tradition of my family too, again had me indulging in so much unhealthy food. Instead of eating the star dish of popiah, I was snacking non-stop on what my brother cooked with his air-fryer, a housewarming gift he received last year. Haha. So we had things like fries, chicken karaage, and prawn roll!

To balance out all that fried food, our lo-hei was a healthier version though. Put together by my aunt, it’s mainly a ginormous plate of sliced fruits, topped with the sinful sweet sauce though, and of course the 黄金, which my brother added on a copious amount with Lay’s Potato Chips – talk about innovation.

So that is 2 rounds of 捞鱼生 so far. Time to start reining in the eating!

happy birthday to me

And so it has come and gone. As each year passes, I feel that the birthday is just another day and I don’t feel any more special than any other day. Others would ask if I would take a day off of work because it is my birthday, but frankly over the last years I don’t think I have done that. In fact, in the recent years, I was travelling for business and on one occasion it hadn’t been pleasant. Anyhow, birthdays tend to be overrated imo, but I suppose there are those who place a lot of significance on it and would go to great lengths to ensure they do not have to go to work on their special day. To each his own.

Well, I do place some kind of meaning to it, to a certain extent, but I was playing a game of sorts and I think I kind of got an answer. You know how sometimes we get notifications in Facebook telling us that it is so-and-so’s birthday and we’d sometimes click on it, then type in a “Happy Birthday” to the person? I do that do, but I’d disabled the option, or hidden my birthday information from Public view so it doesn’t pop up on my friends’ Facebook pages. So this year, I didn’t get any birthday wishes from Facebook. That was how I knew the pervasiveness of the information that is shared via social media. It is still quite heartening though, that there are friends who remembered to wish me on the day itself, and I appreciate that I am in their thoughts, that without having to be prompted by any social media notification, they actually remembered. Some of the wishes I received surprised me, as they came from people I hadn’t kept in contact with much, while there were others whom I thought I’d got a birthday wish but didn’t. Oh well, we can’t expect too much, as always.

It was a quiet affair. I don’t have that many people around to celebrate my birthday with anymore, so it gets quieter and quieter each year. Sometimes as I thought back on how life has progressed for me, perhaps this is His will and what He is trying to tell me that I am made to be independent and strong, that without people beside me, I will still survive so long as He is with me. Ok, this is my Christian talk and for those of you who aren’t believers, just skip it.

Decided to had lunch by myself on Friday since the office in Singapore isn’t aware of my birthday and I wasn’t in the chatting mood. This was a weekend of sinful indulgence.  20130722-140349.jpg

Friday evening. Japanese dinner which turned into my sharing session of sorts. Was so hungry and ate so much that I immediately felt guilty about all the food I had.20130722-140402.jpg

It was family-bonding time on Saturday, with tom yam steamboat! Yet another feast for my stomach, and a great evening and combined birthday celebration.  20130722-140414.jpg

My sis-in-law was so sweet; she baked a flourless Nutella cake topped with 99% cocoa chocolate and generous helpings of macadamia nuts. The top layer was absolutely bitter though! Haha. I loved the Nutella base, which wasn’t too sweet and despite that I had a slice late at night, it didn’t feel that heavy. Despite that, it was still cake and the guilt from eating stung. But of course, I finished the whole slice given to me because I really appreciated her nice gesture. 🙂20130722-140427.jpg

The weekend ended with a beautiful sunset over the CBD skyline from MBS, where I enjoyed a casual dinner of pizza and truffle fries with one of my long-time friend, then took a stroll around the mall. This is actually only the second time I’d really walked around the place, the first being when it just opened, and on a Sunday evening there wasn’t that much of a crowd so you could really just take your time and walk off the fullness of a dinner.20130722-140440.jpg

As much as the shopping there isn’t what I’d really want to splurge on or could afford, it is still good to just window-shop and enjoy the cool comfort of the air-conditioning and the peace and quiet of the weekend drawing to a close.

reunion dinner revisited!

So to end off the CNY festivities, most Chinese, at least where my family is concerned, will have a second (or maybe this is already the nth time) reunion dinner on the 15th day, also known as 元宵. In fact on this day, as I just found out through Instagram, there is also this tradition of eating tang yuan, but I always thought that is something we eat only during the winter solstice. So now I know something new. My friend, when I told her that I was having steamboat reunion dinner with my family, mentioned how it seemed like I have lots of reunion dinners this year. Probably it’s because I have missed on either of the reunion dinners in the past years due to travel, being present for both is something quite rare?

As compared to the previous dinner on CNY eve, this picture probably comes out looking quite the same. Our tradition is always to have the steamboat because we really like it a lot. This time round, we have much lesser food because we had so much leftovers then. But precisely because of that, as the food seemed more manageable, everyone was tasked to finish everything on the table, and by the time dinner was over, I was seriously stuffed to the brim and ready to implode.

20130225-101545.jpgSteamboat dinner for us is pretty simple, as you can see from the picture: the soup being the centrepiece, and fish/meat balls, abalone, prawns, pork, mushrooms and vegetables, cooked or raw. On the eve itself, there will be more stuff like ngoh hiang that mum makes, liver, more varieties of mushrooms, fish slices, etc. From this year, we shifted the location of the steamboat dinner to my brother’s place. In the past, we’d always have it at our tiny little home in the tiny little kitchen, with all of us eating up a sweat in most years (because CNY in the past have always been a very humid period), but the steamboat that we used for that is cooked above a burning pot of charcoal so that is really awesome! But at the end of the day, it’s who we are eating with and the food, the method and the place are just secondary factors.

Even though I was stuffed and thought I couldn’t stomach anything else, I felt bad turning down my sister-in-law’s offer of a tiramisu that she got from an Italian restaurant near their home. It is laced lightly with alcohol (that of course I couldn’t tell if she hadn’t told us), and this was quite a good option for us who were overloaded with food because the cake was not as dense and moist like the usual tiramisu I have had, and best of all, not sweet! Of course, after all the food and topping it off with this nice dessert, I felt so guilty thereafter. But oh well, since it’s CNY (and there is still a lot of CNY cookies and snacks at home) and it’s already the tail-end of it, let’s worry about losing the calories from this point onwards!

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Happy Lunar New Year!

Happy new year to everyone! This has apparently become the year of the water snake, as many have touted it, due to the daily rain that we are getting these days. I always do not enjoy Chinese New Year much because all I can remember of such periods each year is the humid weather that leaves me feeling uncomfortable while I spend many restless hours at my relatives’ homes. I have not been in Singapore much over the last few years since I have always travelled to Japan for holidays during this time, but this year, since I have just returned from Tokyo, I thought perhaps I should just stay in Singapore. As much as I love Japan, I think it’s extravagant, to say the least, to go there for a vacation so soon after returning.

So anyway, I have been missing in action for the last few days, not because I was busy soaking in the festivities that is Chinese New Year, but honestly, I was just tired and most nights I couldn’t really be bothered to switch on the computer. Even if I do, I’d be playing games online without using my brain much. So what’s happened in this space, if you actually do wonder about it in the first place. Haha. Last Friday, the company let us off a little early, and it was pouring cats and dogs during lunch when we had our CNY luncheon at this Japanese place. By the time I got around to leaving the office, the rain has thankfully stopped and I could go on to meet my friend for some drinks.

Saturday was a fairly busy day, starting with Korean class and followed by the whole afternoon at the yoga studio. Fortunately, I got home in time to catch my dad’s ride to my brother’s place where this year’s reunion dinner was held. This was the spread that we had, which we couldn’t polish off even with 6 adults.20130213-165403.jpgProbably steamboat with the family is something that I enjoy the most, because I really like the ngoh hiang that my mum makes even if it tends to be a little oily. I don’t like that sometimes people force me to eat things I do not want to eat, and my family knows to not force me if say I do not eat prawns or liver, etc. Just eat what you want and if you don’t want it, others may not want it too!

20130213-165414.jpgI was so stuffed by the end of the dinner that I was in a state of food coma. It was a nice, cool night, but my collar bone became the object of play for my nephew whom I was carrying and I realised afterwards that he scratched me so badly it stings when I showered. Ouch.

This new year, I have not joined my family in visiting because I didn’t feel like it and also because I have not been visiting in the last few years. I prefer to control my own time and I don’t like that when we go visiting I have to sit idly for countless hours watching reruns of HK movies on TV, coupled with the endless snacking of CNY goodies due to the TV-watching. So this holiday period has just come and gone like that. It is a longer holiday for me this year because my company made us take forced leave (again); I could have used this period to go on vacation, like many people did, but destinations are pretty limited for me since Japan is out and the other nearby countries, either I am not interested in going, or air tickets have already been fully redeemed long ago. Besides, although I am going green seeing everyone heading somewhere for holiday, I already decided that this year I will take it slow and spend my week at a more leisurely pace, and of course yoga features as the main part of this leisure week, and meeting up with some friends.

Time always zips by so quickly when you are enjoying yourself, but then time is just passing so fast now. It’s already mid-week and we are already at the halfway point of February!