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A Welcome Celebration

29 Apr

What a difference with another year passing by for birthday celebrations! The existence of Covid-19 makes it hard for us to predict what can happen with its spread making daily situations so volatile. We cannot plan special occasions so far ahead because things are constantly evolving. Even as I write, the SOPs will change again come next month.

Two years ago, my birthday dinner celebration was a muted affair. We stayed home because of the pandemic and had food delivered. There were scores and scores of containers for the meal. It wasn’t the best in presentation, but being at home made up for it, given the virus fear and lockdown circumstances. Last year, it was a blur, and honestly, I don’t remember what we did on my special day.

This year, things are a little bit different. A spontaneous four-day gastronomic journey that began on Sunday to celebrate instead of a golf getaway like we usually do. Moreover, we just went on a golf trip to Forest City recently, so another trip now is too soon. This mission to discover new food to savor in the run-up to the actual birthday is much appreciated for the chef in me to have the week off from making dinner nightly! Woo hoo.

Lovely fine dining Japanese dinner
We ate to our fill!
We came home to cut my yummy Lemon Pistachio birthday cake
We played a post-birthday round of golf!

The birthday dinner was also a welcome change for various reasons. It was the first fine-dining experience after the many lockdowns we had during the pandemic. Secondly, it’s the first year with M1 joining us, being away for her education, and missing my birthday celebrations for the last six years. All in all, a welcome celebration. A toast to a good year ahead for me, and be in the best of health and mind.

A Clever Hack

11 Feb

Straws have become such a no-no to use over the years because of their detrimental characteristics. Like everyone else, I do my part and try to minimize my straw usage. The one pack of straws that I bought from IKEA years ago for the girls to use for some high school project has been left unused, but I never threw them away. Ages, I would say, as both girls are all grown up now.

But straws sometimes can be used for home hacks to fix things. Recently I broke my golf umbrella, and it took me a while to figure out how to fix it. Then it dawned upon me that perhaps a straw could resolve my problem.

The clever hack with a pink extendable straw

True enough, I fixed my umbrella by using a straw as a joint to hold up the broken arm. What a clever hack, isn’t it?

A Simple Reunion

1 Feb

Unlike past Reunion Dinner gatherings where most family members made the journey, this Reunion Dinner is a simple gathering of just six people for a steamboat dinner.

Even the dinner spread was simple and nothing extravagant. The occasion was more for being with the elders, who are fine and healthy, than the food.

But a trip back to hubby’s hometown is not complete without playing some golf! We managed to play two games. And we had the golf course all to ourselves as there were hardly any other golfers at all. You can tell by the absence of golfers when the tee box has a giant mushroom (in the foreground) as big as the tee box marker (in the background)!

Look at that mushroom!

The first game quickly turned into a case of being lucky and unlucky at the same time. My ball landed right on the line in the middle of the fairway for the NTL (nearest to line) novelty, held a day earlier! Oh well, but the thrill of this achievement was pretty exhilarating.

Right on the line!

We ushered in the Year of the Tiger without much fanfare – there were no fireworks at the stroke of midnight, which worked out well for us for a peaceful night.

As we welcome the Tiger, here’s wishing everyone ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai’, and may you have a roaringly successful year ahead despite the pandemic still being around. Count your blessings, be happy and stay healthy!

What a Journey!

31 Jan

On Saturday, we left town to head North to hubby’s hometown. What a journey we had! The highway authorities had advised travelers heading that way to begin their journeys before 10 am to avoid congestion. So we did, albeit a little bit late, at precisely 9.51 am.

Heavy traffic in both directions

And dang, we drove smack into the worst snarl ever! Our past pre-Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner journeys were typically a six-hour drive from our home to hubby’s parents’ home.

This time, it took us 6.5 hours to reach Ipoh! Not even halfway to our final stop. This stretch is usually a 2.5 hours drive, but not on Saturday. It was a terrible drive. I wouldn’t even call it a drive but a crawl.

All in all, it took us ten hours to arrive, a record drive for a journey that would usually take 4.5 hours during the non-festive time.

But we were in good spirits as we had packed all the comforts in the car for the trip. And we knew there would be traffic woes, however, we didn’t expect it to be this bad.

It’s okay, this trip is for a good reason and that is to have the Reunion Dinner with the old folks, an occasion that we have missed out on the last two years because of the pandemic, lockdowns, and travel restrictions.

Indulgent Shopping

25 Jan

The Lunar New Year is next week, my goodness! There are a lot of last-minute preparations to usher in the Year of the Tiger. Like shopping for new clothes, for instance!

The last two years, with the pandemic and lockdowns, we were homebound and did not venture out to the malls at all. There were grocery runs to our local grocer nearby, and basically, essentials but not indulgent shopping.

During the MCO phases, online shopping was my go-to if I wanted to buy non-essential things. And even then, it was mostly to buy my miniature sets and carving tools. But no clothes.

So over the weekend, we took the opportunity to go on a shopping spree to buy new clothes as it is the last weekend to shop. With no more restrictions on interstate travel, it will be a traffic nightmare next weekend when city-dwellers begin the exodus for Reunion Dinners with the family and loved ones afar.

I, for one, who usually buy golf clothes, suddenly find myself buying Chinese New Year clothes. I bought not one but two Cheong Sam outfits! It must be the festivity in the air or the sudden freedom to be able to go out and try clothes on.

My two lovely and elegant outfits

For someone who does not wear or buy dresses often, the purchases were an incredible feat by my standards. Well, lockdowns change people and their outlook in life, I suppose. I look forward to wearing the outfits to welcome the Year of the Tiger with good vibes and have a roaring celebration, pun intended.

Lion Dance at the mall

The Year That Wasn’t Again

31 Dec

The never-ending year 2021 finally concludes today. I look back, and what a year it has been! I feel history has repeated itself, with the year being another year that fell short of expectations like 2020 because the pandemic has dragged on.

When the nation went into lockdown again in May, we were short-changed for several months to have a good year. And the lockdowns implemented under the Movement Control Orders (MCO) had so many versions, I lost track of it all.

But life goes on. With what we had experienced in 2020, we handled 2021 a little better. We became more accepting of the situation and were more productive, and the hobbies picked up in the year before continued. We also got vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus, and it was our passport to venture out (if needed) without hassle.

Towards the end of the year, I picked up another new hobby – felting. What fun this turned out to be! Felting is immensely enjoyable and therapeutic when I am not carving or crafting miniatures as it is a short and fast activity to complete.

Looking back, being home this time around wasn’t so bad because there’s so much to do at home, and I love it. There is no rush or fear but simply comfort and ease. As long as there is good time management, the days go by quickly.

M2 came back for her Summer holidays, and it was great to have her home. My cooking skills improved from last year, and there were many great mealtimes together at home as a family since we couldn’t go out at all.

Then M1 came home for good after completing her Master’s degree, and both of us are very blessed to have the family as a complete unit. But soon after, M2 returned to Ireland, and M1 started working. By the third quarter, we were juggling work, albeit not much, and playing golf when the country reopened to more activities.

But just when we thought things were improving with vaccination and economies opening everywhere, the world saw a new virus variant! The Omicron. The pandemic management globally was sucker-punched with this new development. Travels, activities, and economies were restricted once more, and many countries faced fresh lockdowns. When will this onslaught of the unknown ever end?

So we start 2022 with uncertainty again. I see no point in toasting the New Year for better fortune and goodness. Just brace yourselves to stay negative (Covid-wise) in a positive way, stay healthy, and stay safe. Goodbye 2021, I wouldn’t say it was the best, but we survived. Happy New Year, folks!

Forgetful Me

27 Dec

Last Friday, I inadvertently gave an inaccurate account of the previous year’s Christmas Eve Dinner. My bad. We DID have a family dinner together, but I honestly forgot about it. Was it so insignificant that it slipped my mind?

Or could it be with the last two years being in constant lockdown with the various Movement Control Orders (MCO), I lost track of time. I think the fact that it was just the two of us at the dinner sans both girls stuck in my mind more than anything else.

Or, in all honesty, I have become a tired and forgetful dinosaur more than ever!

What?! It’s November Already

1 Nov

The year seems to have breezed by so quickly. Despite months of being in lockdown and going through the daily motion repetitively, the time has gone by so fast. I guess it is when we occupy ourselves doing things that we enjoy that time goes by faster.

The lockdown phases have passed, and every sector of the economy in the country is now open. My golfing days have increased as well, so this means less time on crafting my miniatures. It’s okay as I am running out of space to display the completed sets.

Let’s hope the remaining two months of 2021 will give us some happy memories to reminisce in years to come; otherwise, we may have to lump it with 2020 as another year to forget and wish it never happened.

Returning to DIY Project #17

1 Oct

Suddenly it’s October already! My goodness, where did the time go? M2 has settled back nicely into college mode, while M1 has settled nicely into being home with us. As for me, I decided to return to the stalled DIY miniature project number 17.

Slowly but surely getting there with #17

It has been super slow with this one, and I don’t know why. But I decided I should get this completed now that we are into October. I have stalled long enough on it. So I’m setting a deadline to wrap it up.

However, since I have started playing golf again and will be out several days a week, I think two weeks is fair to finish the project instead of one week.

DIY Project #20, Part 2

28 Sep

DIY project number 20 was quite an enjoyable set to craft. Although I stopped working on it for several days because I was busy with M2 and her leaving, I got back to it immediately when I did not have to worry anymore about her arrival and settling down.

The tail-end of the set was basically to dress it up with the hanging vines and fruits, as I had gotten most of the pieces in place already. It is a rather cute set, I would say.

The miniature in a box

And with its completion, it now sits in the IKEA display cabinet along with the others. I was contemplating starting a new set when I realized project #17 is still incomplete! Oh no, I have forgotten about it, having sidetracked on it with three other projects. I suppose I should finish it before even thinking of starting another new set.

Lights on!