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Preparations for the Lunar New Year

17 Jan

The Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year is one week away, omg! This time, I really take the cake leaving it until the very last minute to prepare to usher in the Year of the Rat. What a champion.

According to the Chinese zodiac, the Rat is the first animal in the 12-year cycle and 2020 is the year of the Male Metal Rat. Do find out what the Metal Rat Year means for you if you believe in Chinese horoscope as it differs for all Chinese zodiac signs. For me, well… good fortune will smile upon me if I put family and friends first!

On the homefront, the customary red cloth at the entrance of the house will be put up this weekend (told you it’s very last minute!) and the customary gifts finally prepared. This year the Reunion Dinner will be with my Mom and my sibling’s family before we head North the next day to hubby’s side of the family. And for the second year in the row, both our girls will not be present for the festive occasion.

The End of the Food Trail

7 Jan

M1 has arrived safely this morning after a long but on time flight. So the adventures of her food trail officially ended on Sunday with an early dinner before leaving for the airport that night. With the end of the food trail, this means no more constant heavy meals for us except for several upcoming Chinese New Year-related dinners with friends that have been pre-arranged earlier. We have gone back to the 16/8 diet routine immediately, kicking it off with a salad lunch yesterday.

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Bak Kut Teh with two sides was a good farewell dinner choice

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Contrasting the meat-based dinner, lunch the next day was just fiber and more fiber

The big question I’m sure that must be on everyone’s mind, did I gain weight? Of course I did! How could I not when the eating window was switched to 16 hours and the non-eating window reduced to eight hours or less, three quarters of which was being asleep. So essentially there was very little time in between for a meal to be fully digested before the next meal.

There were nights when I fretted to step on the bathroom scale knowing the numbers I’d see would not be pleasant. But I took it in stride because I knew the situation was temporary and it won’t last long.

There were several times when the weight climbed steadily upwards, it was rather horrifying. However the numbers fluctuated when we ate less; I even managed to squeeze in a couple of salad lunches to lessen the guilt. Thankfully, yesterday morning when I stepped on the bathroom scale, the final result was somewhat comforting for I had expected it to be more. I gained only a kilo (2.2lbs) which wasn’t too bad considering it did spiked up more than that!

I’m sure within a week, this gain would be erased and the 16/8 continues until when Chinese New Year comes around, a new round of festive eating to indulge in!

Now We Wait

6 Jan
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We thought it was rather cute to stand in front of KFC’s Fun Land signage at KLIA.

Last night, we sent M1 off. The two and a half weeks of wonderful quality time together has come to an end, so has the gastronomic food trail too. She had a long ‘To Eat’ list and we got most on it covered. But towards the last few days, hubby and I surrendered and was glad her friends took her out for a couple of dinners giving us a breather.

Now we wait, having heard from her this morning when she arrived in Incheon Airport on time and departed for Narita two hours later. Soon we will hear from her when she arrives in Narita to complete her second leg. After that we will have to wait until the wee hours of Tuesday morning (or Monday past midnight) when she lands in Portland to hear from her again. Long wait. Long trip.

No tears this time and like I said, acceptance. And quietness all over again at home. Sigh… best if I channel my focus now towards preparing for Chinese New Year.

Beginnings and Endings

3 Jan

The new year started off rather quietly for us. We stayed home that evening and had a fun time cooking together, preparing dinner for a very leisurely paced New Year’s Eve meal. I felt this was better quality time instead of going out and be squashed in the crowds.

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Ushering in 2020 with some wine and cheese!

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Sautéd mushrooms, baked potato wedges, honey-glazed carrots, pork steak, greens and a pasta. Quite a meal!

By midnight after seeing some of the fireworks that we could see from our windows, we continued to watch Netflix, waiting to Skype with M2. After we finally heard from her, we went to bed after that! No revelry beyond as it felt just like any other day.

The new beginning is supposed to bring new excitement. We have not even fully digested the spirit of Christmas, New Year’s mood, suddenly at the turn, Chinese New Year things popped up! Decorations at the mall were updated, along with cookies, clothes especially Cheongsams and all things Chinese New Year related were on full display. I am so not ready yet for the next festive celebration.

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Roaring display of the lion dance at the mall

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The new beginning means an ending for us. The food trail is coming to an end as M1’s time with us is ending soon. It’s not sadness all over again but acceptance.

As we cherish the next two days before she leaves, we hope to spend quality time with her again in the future. It has been truly wonderful. Maybe we will visit her in the US again? Who knows? The year 2020 will be full of surprises.

Looking Back at 2019

31 Dec

Well well… it looks like another year has gone by again. Time to file the memories away to recall later fondly and another set of annual resolutions to make. Or break. But the end of 2019 is much more than another year gone by, it’s the end of a decade!

Looking back, I’ve had my fair share of good memories and heartaches with many things happening in the year. After all, there’s 365 days. What stood out most for me can be summed up to these.

Both girls are all grown up, with one having graduated and continuing on with grad school in the US and the other just starting college in Ireland. Proud parent moments. Then there’s me reaching the milestone big five birthday. Happy me occasion.

My carving hobby resulted in a mixed growth in Gigglesville’s population this year. There were only 13 new Citizens to reach 194 (I couldn’t push myself to reach 200), the Whales grew to 48, with 30 new ones while the Gnomes had only two new giant ones to make three dozen as of 2019. It could be better.

But with this carving activity, there was a price to pay: my aggravated injuries. My golf game suffered as a consequence and for the first time, I find myself not giving the sport any priority anymore. I lost the will to excel when injuries persisted. Hopefully this mindset can change to a more positive one come 2020.

Besides the sports injury, my endometriosis pain was well, a pain to deal with this year. More acute than ever, I was at the mercy of a monthly recurrence, it was dreadful. So I started the 16/8 intermittent fasting diet to manage the painful backache and cramp attacks. With a controlled diet and a list of food to avoid, losing a fair bit of weight along the way was a booster and motivation too besides minimizing the agony. It helped.

Not everything was rosy and good though. My iPad Mini has been wonky and unreliable with each passing day, my MacBook Air had to be resuscitated but nothing compared to losing our beloved English bulldog, Rooney aka official pet number one to old age and sickness. It was the saddest day of our lives and suddenly, the house was emptier than ever and our lives changed.

Looking back, if I were to put 2019 into perspective of a phrase, ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ aptly summarizes the year for me. Now as I ponder what to expect for the new year and new decade, I hope it will be one that focuses on ‘the good, the better and the best’. No resolutions needed though.

To everyone, here’s wishing you an awesome 2020 ahead, Happy New Year and Goodbye 2019!

The Night Before Christmas

24 Dec

As our food trail has taken off with almost every meal eaten outside – far more and frequent than what we are accustomed to, every night when I stand on the bathroom scale, it’s with a sense of trepidation. I know it won’t be a result for the faint-hearted!

Today being Christmas Eve, a big dinner feast awaits! My discipline has slacked with all this constant eating and I find myself snacking on itty-bitty morsels of Bakwa (Bee Cheng Hiang’s gourmet bacon and sliced pork) for breakfast despite still feeling somewhat full from last night’s Nasi Kandar dinner. So for lunch, maybe something light just to lessen the guilt. Hahaha… as if this would work.

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These are so good to snack on!

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We each had a hearty plate of Nasi Kandar. Top right: a frothy ginger tea (Teh Halia)

It has become tradition for us to gather at my sibling’s home with his family for a festive dinner on this night before Christmas. This year with the exception of M2, all family members are present and it will be a boisterous gathering.

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Merry Christmas!

As always, there’s going be a lot of food and drinks to enjoy, a lot of presents to exchange, and lots of noise and laughter making the annual occasion a treasured family affair. Will I stand on the scale when we get home after the celebration? Hmm…

I thank all my readers, family and friends from near and afar for the continuous support and interest in reading my blog. Here’s wishing all a very Happy and Merry Christmas!

Tough Act to Follow

23 Dec

So M1 is back, albeit a two-hour delay at Inchon Airport and losing some precious time, we take what we can and make the most of our time together. Starting with the food! We have been eating out constantly to check off her ‘To Eat’ list and it’s a long list for such a short trip.

Thosai Rawa and Roti Bomb, butter bun and Koi boba tea

French beans, tofu, steamed fish, coconut water and crabs galore (salted egg and buttered)!

Look at that happy face and the packet Nasi Lemak, breakfast of champions

It’s a tough act to follow for us especially because of what we have been doing all this while – the 16/8 IF diet. Suddenly we find ourselves eating all this variety of food and at odd hour intakes that we’re not used to, it’s too much for us. So we have to pace ourselves. As for M1, she’s in food heaven!

Hutong Village at Lot 10 in the city centre

A Comparison

3 Dec

I must say I’m very impressed with M2’s illustration skills. For someone who did not have any formal training or art lessons prior to being accepted for the Honors design program (yes Honors, you read that right), she’s really good. I’m so glad we discovered her potential and nudged her in the right direction. Now she’s able to flourish.

I was curious as to how I would fare in comparison to her skills. So I attempted the same composition after she sent over the picture that she used for reference for this assignment.

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Same same but different

I guess I have a more sketchy approach because I don’t have the patience for details. Having worked for so long, I am used to conceptualizing my ideas in rough sketches or thumbnails which I will then brief my team. And they are the ones who will execute with details.

While my attempt was using pencil and hers was ink, and both pieces on paper, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to art. It’s a showcase of one’s talents and I sure am proud of my M2’s talents.

Contrasting First Years

29 Nov

When M1 went off to university four years ago, we had periodic pictorial updates on the classes she took. As she was a Food Science major, obviously it was food-related and the pictures were experiments that were conducted in the lab for her classes. From the preparation to the end result, we had interesting pictures of how to make Camembert cheese and smoked salmon.

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Fancy some cheese?

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Or perhaps smoked salmon?

Now with M2 having started her first year at college––she has completed her Foundation Studies with distinction––we are also getting updates on her classes. As she is a Design Communications major, similar to my degree but mine was called Visual Communications with an emphasis in Graphic Design, so obviously we are getting art and design-related pictures.

This being an assignment from her Illustration class. Dang… the details and patience! I am so glad she’s on the right path to nurture her creativity and shape her ability.

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The Chicken and the Eggs

22 Oct

It was apt that when my high school girlfriends and I went off to Langkawi for our girls’ trip, it was themed Celebrating Us. The reasons were obvious but there was a deeper meaning and this was reflected on the logo that I designed for our official tee shirt.

The chicken signified the year we were born – the Year of the Rooster and a golden egg represented a decade. As there are five eggs, obviously we are dinosaurs. Now you know why I always refer to myself as a dinosaur and even have a dinosaur tattoo.

I guess with this chicken and egg approach, it certainly clears the doubts as to which comes first as far as we are concerned. Without the chicken, the eggs would not exist and this trip would not have materialized especially with the significant milestone of five eggs.

 

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‘MGS’ our school is the binding factor for us besides our birthdays