Friday, January 27, 2012

Traditional Yu Sheng

Taditional Yu Sheng purchased from the supermarket.  Yusheng is considered a symbol of abundance, prosperity and vigor.

Prosperity Toss (Mixing it up) ~ the higher, the better! 

I hope it isn't suppose to stay inside the plate...

The Chinese New Year's Eve meal is the most important dinner of the year. Traditionally, families have gathered at a designated relative's house for dinner, but modern days, many families celebrate New Year's Eve dinner at a restaurant. Many restaurants require reservations months in advance, not to mention, you are lucky to find one that is actually open.  There are also some families that hire a professional chef to come cook at their house ~ the same families that refurnish their homes every year for the New Year! Yes, I am still jealous!

Chinese New Year is a 15-day celebration and each day, many families rotate celebrations between homes of their relatives. The festivies go on all day and sometimes, a family ends up cooking two meals for their relatives, once at lunch and once at dinner, much like my traditional Christmas or Thanksgiving celebration.

Some other traditional foods for CNY:
  • Eight Treasures Rice (contains glutinous rice, walnuts, different colored dry fruit, raisins, sweet red bean paste, jujube dates, and almonds).
  • "Tang Yuan" - black sesame rice ball soup; or a Won Ton soup.
  • Chicken, duck, fish and pork dishes.
  • "Song Gao", literally translates to "loose cake"- which is made of rice which has been coursely ground and then formed into a small, sweet round cake.
  • "Jiu Niang Tang" - sweet wine-rice soup which contains small glutinous rice balls
  • a sweet soup made of cut-up fruit: Cut fruit is added into hot/warm water which has had a thickening agent (like cornstarch).
More Chinese New Years 2012 posts:
Chingay 2012
Lion Dance CNY 2012

Chinese Lunar New Year 2012

Our 1st 2 oranges!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lion Dance CNY 2012

Lion Dance CNY 2012 a video by 40littletoes on Flickr.

The lion dance is often mistakenly referred to as dragon dance.   An easy way to tell the difference is that a lion is operated by two people, while a dragon needs many people. Also, in a lion dance, the performers' faces are covered, since they are inside the lion. In a dragon dance, the performers can be seen since the dragon is held upon poles. Basic lion dance fundamental movements can be found in most Chinese martial arts. (Wikipedia).

In the Lion dance performers mimic a lion's movements in a lion costume. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chinese Lunar New Year 2012

The dragon represents prosperity, good luck and good fortune. 

Celebrating the Year of the Rabbit 2011 and welecoming the Year of the Dragon 2012 ~ the Chinese Lunar New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays and has shut down areas of the city and most retail stores for 3 days.  Other stores and restaurants have shorter hours, yet others, are making the most of it and extending their hours.

The celebrations, also known as Spring Festival, will last 15-days here in Singapore, with the actual Chingay Lantern parade 2-weeks away.  The 15th day of the New Year is known as The Festival of Lanterns and marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

If you missed the first late-night dragon dance, no worries, there will be another one tomorrow at dark.  This was great news for Little Miss M who is completely obsessed with the light-up dragons right now, never seeing enough of them or the dancing lion.

We didn't make it until the midnight fireworks, but when the downpour started right after arriving home, we were relieved we didn't attempt it.  I was surprised that the fireworks went on and we could still see a few over the buildings from our window.

Dragon Dance video

God of Fortune throwing occasional gold flakes/confetti

 Red envelopes (Hong Bao in Mandarin) stuffed with money are given to children. We overheard one 8-year old say hers had $100 in it ~ wow! The color red denotes good luck/fortune and happiness/abundance in the Chinese Culture.

 Chinese New Year celebrations were born out of fear and myth. Legend spoke of the wild beast Nien (which also is the word for "year") that appeared at the end of each year, attacking and killing villagers. Loud noises and bright lights were used to scare the beast away, and the Chinese New Year celebrations were born. Today, the 15-day New Year festivities are celebrated with a week of vacation in metropolitan areas of China. (

It is also tradition to completely clean-out the inside of your home, sweeping out bad-fortune and making room for the good luck.  Some people use this time of the year to completely refurnish their homes - every year - and start fresh on a completely new wardrobe! Jealous? I am!

Chinese New Year 2012, more photos on Flickr.

More posts on CNY 2012:
Chingay 2012

Our 1st Two Oranges

Lion Dance

Traditional Yu Sheng

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Our 1st 2 Oranges!

We received our gift of 2 oranges, along with cookies, etc, today from our facilities management staff. It was our first 2-oranges gifted to us for the Lunar (Chinese) New Year ~ the Year of the Dragon 2012!  The oranges wish us luck, wealth and prosperity for the coming lunar year.  This year, the New Year falls on Monday, so it is a long 4-day holiday weekend, which I am told will shut-down the city, like no other holiday.

2011 was the year of the Rabbit.  2012 is the year of the Dragon.  There is actually a couple living here, in our building that is pushing off her scheduled c-section to have a Dragon baby, rather than the Rabbit baby.  It must be a pretty big deal!

Other Dragon years:  1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000

In China, it is believed that people born into the Year of the Dragon remain confident and fearless in the face of challenges.  Charismatic and attractive, Dragon people are natural born leaders.  Considering their hard-working nature, Dragons are blessed with good health.

Famous people born in the Year of the Dragon: Al Pacino, Bruce Lee, Calista Flockhart, Courtney Cox, Diana Krall, Joan of Arc, John Lennon, Jorge Drexler, Keanu Reeves, Nicolas Cage, Salvador Dali

HAPPY NEW YEAR (again) 2012!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Asian Elephant Parade Singapore 2011

The Elephant Parade of 162-life sized baby elephants crafted individually have just been auctioned off.  The elephants have been on display throughout Singapore for a couple months, gaining attention. Then, last week, they were all moved to one location at the Botanic Gardens to be auctioned by Sotheby's.  Proceeds go to Saving the Asian Elephants.

It was a little stressful walking through this display with the kids. I went in thinking it would be one long path, lined with the elephants. I should know by now, to never set expectations and never set a picture in my mind of how something should be.

The tent with the "purchase for the cause", shelf-size elephants displayed from the ground up, was right in the middle of the platform. So, the kids had free-reign....should've left immediately...but, I didn't. Mostly, because I didn't really know the actual price on the beautiful, but small figurines.

When Riley carried one of these very fragile $550 elephants to me, just to show me how lovely it was, I choked, held my breath and quickly snatched it up. As all the bystanders are nervously smiling at me, replaced it on the shelf and buckled the screaming almost 2-year old into the single stroller, as he is still grabbing at the very lovely, but still several hundred dollar elephants within reach.

Hmmmm...well, now that everyone already knows I am here with toddlers, I should maybe try to find something to purchase for the cause. Turn to the left, ART KIT ~ Perfect! Little Miss M loves to paint and it's under $100!

Over the last 100 years, the number of Asian elephants has decreased with 90%. Today, there are ca. 35,000 Asian elephants left throughout Asia. Almost 150,000 Asian elephants died in the last 25 years. In Thailand there are just 4,000 elephants left, of which only 1,500 live in the wild. If we don’t take action now, the Asian elephant will become extinct in a couple of decades. Joining hands with The Asian Elephant Foundation guarantees that monies generated from Elephant Parade and destined for the Asian elephant are used adequately. (From The Asian Elephant; Elephant Parade website)

 Durian Elephant

 Henna Elephant

Here is a link to a list and picture of each elephant individually:

We couldn't afford a painted elephant (the shelf size replicas started around $59 for the 10cm or about 3.5 inch elephant), but did opt to donate by purchasing The ART KIT ELEPHANT, so Little Miss M could craft her own.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

Rings Beach 

The weather didn't quite cooperate with us this trip.  It was a bummer, we were so looking forward to spending time on the boat and beach hopping.  We were still able to see quite a bit of the area and a few beaches accessible by car.  Some of the beaches in the area are only accessible by water or by hiking in a couple miles by foot, through the hilly terrain.  It rained for 3 straight days and mudslides were starting.  So, with the kids it was not an option.

I can only imagine the secluded areas are absolutely breathtaking, as the beaches we were able to drive to were the most prestine beaches I have ever seen.  The water was much too cold for my blood, but the boys went in.

Kauri Trees

Rings Beach Sand Dunes

 Cooks Beach

 Pohutukawa Blossoms

Old Stone Wharf: built in 1837, possibly the oldest wharf built of hewn stone in Australasia.

New Zealand Silver Fern

Little Miss M didn't do real well on the narrow, cliffside roads through the mountains, but what an experience! Single lane bridges, u-turn roads winding through the mountainside, ice cold water falling from the hillside, with an occasional area to pull over to take in the magnificent view. I wish our stomachs were stronger, as to not worry about having a plastic bag in hand at all times!

More posts on New Zealand:
Christmas Day in the New Zealand Countryside

Happy New Year 2012

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Bringing in the new year with a wonderful group of people.

We are bringing in 2012 from Whitianga, New Zealand.  We have so much to be thankful for and keep some amazing memories from a whirlwind of a year 2011. 

January 2011 started with Kev starting his new job in Singapore.  He jetted off within the first few days of the year and wouldn't return for a few weeks.  Leaving me, to organize the household.  Packing, selling off our cars, renting the house out, applying for passports and getting rid of baby supplies we had no reason to store for 2-years.

Riley's first birthday, saying so many emotional "see-ya-later"s and by the end of February, we were trying to breathe again in Asia.  We started traveling nearly right away, with a huge list of places to see in such a short amount of time.  We have seen some fabulous countries and met wonderful friends from all over the world.

The kids have grown so much! Physically and socially.  Riley has spent half of his life in Asia ~ I never would have imagined that our children would have so many opportunities at such a young age.  I hope they remember some of them.  If not, we still know they are learning heaps from it all.

Moving to Singapore, we really had no idea what to expect and really didn't have time to stop and think about it before arriving. The first month was difficult for me to adapt and get everything settled, but I haven't looked back since. We absolutely love being here and experiencing every single day we have been given. The kids love meeting new friends and I am now able to pretend I understand all of the different accents from people moving through.

I never imagined that there are so many people moving around the world so often. I really have fallen in love with the lifestyle!

Looking forward to the experiences 2012 brings us!  Happy New Year!

More posts on New Zealand holiday:


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