Tag Archives: Chinese New Year

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!

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.

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.

Where’s the Fish? Part 3

10 Feb

Just last week I thought there would be no more ‘Yee Sang’ to toss and eat as the Lunar New Year celebrations was ending, we had a final one on Chap Goh Meh night itself! And what a thrill we had with this finale.

It was the family Chap Goh Meh dinner and I had the honor to put the dish together with all the ingredients available. It was decided it should resemble a mouse, after all we are celebrating the Year of the Rat. And this time, we finally had fish topping – salmon that was cooked not raw but still counts in my opinion.

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Me busy putting the ingredients together

What fun I had crafting the dish, almost like a piece of art. The final toss was even more enjoyable with the family savoring our own creation in presentation and flavors. The dinner that followed, needless to say, was simply delicious, all home cooked. It was a good Chap Goh Meh dinner.

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Where’s the Fish? Part 2

7 Feb

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So on Tuesday when we were out with our friends for dinner, there was the ‘Yee Sang’ dish to toss right before the rest of the other dishes were served. But no raw salmon topping on it! Again, where’s the fish? We had slices of abalone instead…

With the Lunar New Year celebration coming to an end soon, I guess we won’t be tossing anymore ‘Yee Sang’ because there’s no more dinners to attend except the final one – the family Chap Goh Meh dinner on Saturday night.

Chap Goh Meh literally means the 15th night of Chinese New Year and it’s the last day of the festive period and celebration. For some (like my side of the family), the dinner on this night is equally important as the Reunion Dinner. So we will, as always, have a final family dinner at home to mark the occasion.

And most likely no ‘Yee Sang’ although there will be a steamed fish on the menu. Looks like we will have to wait until next year for a ‘Yee Sang’ topped with raw salmon.

Where’s the Fish?

4 Feb

We are midway into the Lunar New Year celebration. During this time, eating sumptuous Chinese meals and tossing the ‘Yee Sang’- a must, with friends and family is nothing out of sorts. After all, it’s a good reason to catch up.

However I’ve noticed this time, the few ‘Yee Sang’ that we have had are presented very differently despite the description stating ‘Yee’ meaning fish.

Typically, there would be raw salmon or even just jellyfish as the main topping but so far, the four times we’ve had this festive dish, we had four very different versions!

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Top (left): with abalone; Top (right): with Iberico ham and bottom version was all fruits!

It’s very interesting though these new flavours I must say. In the past, regardless of how many times we’d do the dish during this festive time, it was always only the salmon or jellyfish choices. But how times have changed! Four occasions, four different versions.

Both of us have never tasted these new combinations especially the last three – an abalone version, a crispy fish skin version (unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of this version on my phone), an all-fruit version and the most recent, an Iberico ham version!!! So where’s the fish?

Tonight as I will be attending a dinner with another group of friends at a Chinese restaurant, let’s hope there will be some good ol’ salmon ‘Yee’ in the ‘Yee Sang’ that we will have. Otherwise, another new combination to add to my list!

May Our Fortunes Rise and Expand

31 Jan

Yesterday our office reopened and we’re back to work. Year in, year out, we always reopen the office on the 6th day of Chinese New Year except there was one year, a friend told us the 5th day was even better to start work. That was the only time we did that.

Usually during the Lunar New Year period, work is very disrupted because the flow of things are not smooth. Our supporting vendors (for print jobs) would not be taking anymore orders when the date draws closer to the Reunion Dinner night. They would be clearing the existing ongoing projects before closing a day or two earlier for the all important dinner.

Sometimes we do this too, closing earlier, when we have to return to hubby’s hometown for the dinner with his family. An earlier departure would mean a shorter drive thus avoiding the exodus for the long drive ahead. Then during the 15 days of the celebration, we would close for the first five days while some vendors are taking longer breaks than most, things cannot progress further.

Thankfully, workload upon return is typically not too heavy because either everyone’s still on leave or clients who are back to work early do understand that during the Lunar New Year, not much can be done; so there’s no urgency to get things completed within a tight deadline.

Also during this time, there’s a lot more lunches and dinners to attend. So there goes the 16/8 diet. Typically these sumptuous meals will include the ‘Yee Sang’ dish to toss, a must have during the festivities for good luck and prosperity. Either with clients, friends or family, the ‘Yee Sang’ tossing ritual is a very noisy affair.

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Getting the chopsticks ready over the abalone Yee Sang before we tossed ’em high!

We had our first ‘Yee Sang’ during the Reunion Dinner with the family and today, with our design team later. So toss ‘em high we shall to symbolise our wishes for our fortunes to rise and expand for the Year of the Rat. Huat ah! Ong ah! Heng ah!