Archive | February, 2021

Chap Goh Meh 2021

26 Feb

In a blink of an eye, the Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year is ending. Today is Chap Goh Meh, the 15th day of the Lunar calendar. It has been a very uneventful Chinese New Year for us. No Reunion Dinner with our family and no ‘Yee Sang’ to toss as we avoided lunch and dinner gatherings with friends.

Under normal circumstances, we would have done several lunches and dinners with friends and family by now. The ‘Yee Sang’ dish would be the main attraction besides friendship, chatter, and food. But alas, this is wishful thinking for this year.

Given the current MCO status, none of the get-together and celebrations happened, despite the SOP having eased. I miss the boisterous New Year merry-making. I miss the lunches, dinners, get-togethers, and my friends. Sniffle.

I can’t wait until the day comes when we can all come together for a proper sit-down meal and interact freely. But until then, guards up, mask up, and stay safe!

The Traumatized Pig

23 Feb

I love my salt and pepper shakers. The piggy-shaped shakers are just too cute. But recently, one of them has been ‘traumatized’ – the salt shaker in particular. All these years, the shakers were fine, then this happened.

My poor traumatized piggy!

So I washed out the insides of the salt shaker and decided to retire the little pig. Somehow, even after emptying the salt, washing, and left to dry, the situation is no better. Every other day, the salt remnants are evident on the surface.

Could it be that salt has absorbed into the clay all these years? Or is it a material problem of the shaker itself? Or the humidity in the air? My poor traumatized pig! What do I do?

Where’s the Pineapple?

22 Feb

Just when we thought we were going to savor Spongebob’s pineapple because it was riped already, someone else beat us to it! Darn.

Caught in the act!

It was just a day before that I took a picture of the pineapple with the fake pineapple. The next day, it was gone, right down to the core. The garden squirrel had helped itself to the fruit! Hubby was surprised when he looked out the kitchen window and found the pineapple missing.

The scene unfolding before our eyes!

The culprit was still busy devouring the sweet fruit when I came downstairs, in time to snap a few pictures of the scene. The squirrel must be hungry, or the pineapple must be very tempting. There was nothing left, mostly the skin only. And after the first squirrel left, a second squirrel came around to enjoy what leftovers there were still.

The second culprit eating what’s left

Hubby was not too upset because he said during Chinese New Year, these creatures needed to eat. And we must be kind towards them during this time. Don’t shoo them away. But once Chinese New Year is over, he will do whatever is necessary to protect the remaining two pineapples that we still have.

He then recalled the last time we managed to harvest and eat one pineapple because he took measures to protect the fruit. He placed a wire mesh around the fruit. So we must remember this, or we’ll be asking again, where’s the pineapple?!

Some Normalcy

19 Feb

The lockdown situation eased a little, and it was indeed good news when outdoor activities were allowed last Friday. Even eat-in, albeit two per table, was allowed but following a strict SOP. The eat-in rule has further relaxed this week.

When the news broke, we were ready for some golf and played our first game last Saturday morning. But we found ourselves having forgotten the routine to prepare after a month of no golf and took a while to readjust. The hardest part was waking up at 5.30am. Nonetheless, it felt good to be out on the golf course; the greens were in superb condition. If only we played better.

Then on Valentine’s Day, we took the opportunity to dine-in at one of our favorite restaurants, as this was also allowed. A welcome change and we had a good dinner with a couple of pints. Our decision also helped the restaurant owner to recover from its lack of business during these trying times.

A cold pint each, crunchy gizzards, marinated pork strips, Wagyu beef, and although a bland-looking paella, it was good and an enjoyable meal overall.

On Monday, we played our second golf game on the Hills course. Unlike Saturday’s game on the buggy, everyone used a golf trolley for the afternoon game. And it was a scorcher because typically, the Chinese New Year weather is hot and dry! By the 15th hole, everyone decided to call it quits because not only the heat got the better of us, physically, the will to walk with the trolley for the last three holes was not there. The stamina is off for everyone with a month’s lay-off from the game during this MCO.

The heat was unbearable!

It is nice that there is some sense of normalcy returning when dining-in at restaurants for occasions and outdoor activities are allowed. And this week, the 10 km travel limit restriction has been lifted, but interdistrict and interstate travel is still off-limits until further notice.

Nice as it is, the MCO is extended again until 4 March! I think we are immune to the extension already, having lost count. So adhering to the strict SOP rules at all times is the best way to keep things nice and stay safe.

Look Spongebob, a Pineapple! Part 2

16 Feb

Hubby’s attempt at planting pineapples is starting to bear fruit, pun intended. The last time I compared the young pineapple to Spongebob’s pineapple home, both were about the same size.

Now, the real pineapple has grown and outsizing the fake one. Pretty soon, we have to take ownership of it and deny Spongebob a new home! Hahaha.

Three homegrown pineapples!

Not only do we have this pineapple, but there are two more pineapples that hubby has nurtured. Green fingers indeed! I look forward to the day we can enjoy the fruits of his labor.

DIY Project #12

15 Feb

DIY project number 12 started immediately upon the completion of DIY project number 11. And it has been slow, very slow. There were things to do in the office, and I was busy. As such, there wasn’t much time to devote to number 12.

DIY Project #12, Dragon Gate Inn

The week before Chinese New Year, we were working late every day. I didn’t even have time to cook, what more to work on my miniature project?

Nonetheless, it is not a race to complete project number 12 but a time-filler to pass the time.

A Garden Party!

12 Feb

Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year or the Lunar Year of the Metal Ox. A very muted occasion for us because our status remains under lockdown, with no place to go or family to visit. Honestly, it is no different from the past 12 months. There’s nothing to celebrate. Sniffles.

We did, however, made an effort to liven up our situation for the Reunion Dinner. Instead of having dinner at the kitchen counter like every other night, we chose to eat in the garden patio last night! And have a barbeque while we were at it. We even had some feathered guests joining our party, but they ate earlier than us because bird seeds didn’t need grilling.

The birdies having a feast on the newly painted wall!

I thought we had to take precautions against the evening mosquitoes but there were none thankfully. We set up the table plus a side table at the patio and cooked up an eight-item BBQ menu for the occasion.

Typical Reunion Dinners are either six or eight dishes to signify abundance, but since it’s just the two of us this year, the eight-item course is more than enough and equally meaningful. And even though the dinner was technically not a Reunion Dinner, we enjoyed the change in ambiance.

Not the typical and traditional menu, I labeled it as an eight treasure platter.
The colorful spread on our Barbecook grill

Both of us laughed about whether the dinner qualifies as a Reunion Dinner because, firstly, we are always together, and secondly, it’s more like a garden barbeque party. The lengthiest duration that we are separated so far this past month has been five minutes? Having long showers does not count, though. Whether it is indeed a Reunion Dinner or just a garden party, we need to inject variation and humor into our lives to keep sane. Let’s hope the current MCO status will revise for the better come 18 February.

Until then, steer the Ox by the horns towards having a happy and safe celebration during this Chinese New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai folks.

What Version MCO Now?

9 Feb

There have been several extensions to this year’s MCO, originally termed MCO 2.0. How do we categorize these extensions? Typically it’s a two-week duration, but the second nine-day one threw things out of order. Do we say version 2.3, 2.2.1, or part three for the latest extension for 14 days until 18 February? Sigh. Whatever it is, one thing is for sure, the coming Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year on 12 February will be very different with the latest MCO enforced.

No interstate travel back to hubby’s hometown up North to see his folks, no Reunion Dinner even with my Mom, my brother, and his family because we are well beyond the 10km distance allowed for in-state travel. Other secondary no-nos include the customary New Year golf game with hubby. The list can go on. A very muted celebration, if one can even call it a celebration.

Despite the bleak outlook, we have put up the customary red cloth at the house entrance to brighten the situation. And we will have to find a balance to keep well for the remaining MCO days until further notice.

I Have Been Gardening, Part 2

8 Feb

The will to relandscape the garden continued despite the weather changing from cool to hot and humid. It was not pleasant, but we had to finish what we started. Hubby order two flower racks to rearrange the mess at the kitchen window site. And it is looking so much better now.

The mess (above) before and after the transformation (below)

The plus side of this – I get to see all the different bromeliads, at almost eye-level, every morning when I stand over the kitchen sink. Nice! If I don’t go out to the garden, the garden comes inside to me. Maybe it’s high time I learn to appreciate plants and all those bromeliads outside.

The root blobs of the two remaining red palms remain untouched. Somehow the momentum to unearth them has stalled. Instead, we channeled our energy into painting the whole stretch of the back garden wall. A spanking brand new white wall now is such a sight to enjoy.

The back wall

I even took the liberty to create a little space for some of his potted collection. Previously this spot was occupied by the habanero plant, and it grew too monstrous and messy. So hubby got rid of it. I removed all the Creeping Charlie weeds, leveled the designated spot with sand, and added stones to separate the area. I should pat myself on the shoulder, for it looks neat and very organized now.

The little sand spot. Yes, there’s a stack of stones for a Zen look. Heheh.

The front lawn also had further changes. After trimming the hedges, we decided to remove them totally and replace them with something more colorful. All in all, the outdoor activity has been good. Some sun is better than no sun, with both of us developing a good tan with healthy doses of Vitamin D, albeit an uneven one, from this bout of gardening.

Top: hedges before the chop, Middle: unearthed the overwhelmed garden light, Bottom: new plants to replace the old hedges

DIY Project #11, Part 2

5 Feb

I did not know what to expect from DIY project number 11 as it was different from all the others that I have completed. The set was smaller, and the materials different. Although I had a good momentum working on it in the early stages, it got stalled because I veered off to do gardening.

Eventually, I completed the set in under two weeks, an achievement of sorts given the circumstances. Towards the end, I customized a lot of things, deviating from what the box showed.

The thing that I am most proud of is the little BBQ grill pit. I gave it a more sturdy set of legs, a handle to hang the tongs, and a side tray. To add more realism, I added two fat chorizos and a baked potato on the grill! It was fun working on this piece.

Other items that had makeovers were the chair, table, and kettle. The chair was accidental because I cut the wrong wires to make the legs. As I did not want to waste the material, I improvised the chair. So it ended up looking like this instead.

What they should be and what they ended up being

I changed the table shape and material from the original, and this worked out well. I even changed the items on it, replacing the lantern with a tall glass of lemonade. The kettle had a minor change in the materials used.

In the end, I simplified the roof rack and put all the bags on there, and I chose not to install the lights in the camper van because I did not think it was necessary. So far, all the other completed DIY sets sitting in the Ikea display cabinet have yet to see any lighting action.

Sewing the curtain ends and making crease lines with an etching roller

I also did not install the plastic pieces on all the window panes and added hinges on the door. Having learned from my first DIY project number one, the bungalow, I decided to leave the plastic out. I had all the itty-bitties done up so painstakingly, only to have transparent plastic block a clear view of them when I tried to photograph the insides of the bungalow. So this time, the camper van interior is photographed better.

Details of the camper
The hinges are silver stickers

I felt putting hinges on the door was a good idea to open and close the door instead of having the door stuck in one position. It’s fun to play with this!

Overall, I am happy with the outcome of DIY project number 11. And with its completion, project number 12 is next to work on!

The Camper Van
My version of the Camper Van