Friday, January 27, 2012

Gong Hei Fatt Choy!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Are you wearing lots of red to usher in the New Year?

Technically, the first day of Chinese New Year was 5 days ago, but it lasts 15 days so i'm not too late!

My New Year 'celebrations' this year included a Skype video call with my extended family on Chinese New Year's eve. My aunts, uncles and cousins came over to my parents' house for a reunion dinner so it was especially festive and noisy during the video chat!

It is a tradition for families to gather and visit each other during the new year. The older generation (married couples) hand out red packets (little red money envelopes, or "ang pows") to the younger unmarried juniors and children. Children wish their elders by offering a pair of mandarin oranges in exchange for the red packets. My aunts and uncles were waving red packets in the video call, as I 'offered' a pair of nectarines to them. It was hilarious, but heartwarming to participate (albeit fake) in age-old traditions.

On top of that, I miss all the Chinese New Year goodies too, like my mother's pineapple tarts (which I tried to recreate), kueh bangkit, bak kwa (BBQ pork slices) and all that candy!!

My family is huge, so the children's "ang pow" collection is always very substantial. This year I left Chinese New Year wishes on my relatives' facebook pages and i was like "Dang! This family is growing exponentially!"

My paternal grandfather had 2 wives. His second wife (my grandmother) had 12 children. If I am to be the dividing timeline, most of the cousins older than me are already married with at least one child. The photo below is a picture of my cousins who are younger than me. I'm having a hard time catching up with who has which child in their families!


Happy Chinese New year to all who celebrate this joyous familial tradition.
May you have an awesome Dragon year ahead!

On a side note, the Chinese revere the Dragon. So anyone keen on having Dragon babies, you have about 3 more months to make those Dragon babies! :p

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The birding begins...(again)

One thing I miss about moving out (from the in-laws), other than using the very convenient washer and dryer, is watching the birds outside the window.

I was all enthusiastic about building my own bird feeder, checking out ideas on Pinterest and going to the stores. But finally I caved, I went and bought a feeder from the garden store 2 houses down the street.


I bought some black oil sunflower seeds from the store and set the feeder up this past weekend. Just in time for the Great Backyard Bird Count 2012! If you're interested in joining in, here is the Facebook page for more details!


I spent a very lovely weekend watching birds from my window. The above is a tufted titmouse (left) and a male house finch (right), very common birds found at the feeders. Sorry, not very fantastic pictures. I didn't want to get too close to the birds, and my camera sucks. I also went to the local library and got myself 2 birding guidebooks to help me out. The most exciting thing this week was spotting a new bird (for me at least) - a House Sparrow. My list grows to 26 now, that is, I am able to identify 26 different types of birds!! At least, for Eastern America.

And I think my feeder is positioned just right. I have yet to see the squirrel attempting to eat the seeds. Instead, I watched it go crazy jumping up and down the next tree, as if racking its brains to find a way to get at them seeds.

Chewy - 1 Squirrel - 0


I also watched a movie about birding, starring Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson, titled "The Big Year", that came out last year. In the movie, the three men set off to set a new record of spotting the highest number of birds in a year. Wilson's character is the defending champion of 'The Big Year' event and is partaking in it again to make sure nobody beats his record. Black and Martin are two avid birders who decided that this is the year they are going to win it.

All in all, if you're watching it for laughs, it's not a spectacular comedy. And I know these three names certainly leave people expecting more. It is first and foremost, a movie for birders. If you're a bird lover, this movie is a MUST watch. I certainly found myself wishing I could take a year off just to travel and bird watch.


Finally, what good is a birder without his/her most valuable tool - a pair of binoculars! My set came in the mail about a week ago. Whee!!! Can't wait till i stop working weekends, then J and I can go on hikes in the state parks!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Day in a Nutshell

On the very rare occasion I get a weekend off, this was what my day looked like:


8:00 AM - I got to sleep in till 8!! And i rolled out of bed and onto my yoga mat.


9:00 AM - I made myself some coffee while I got started onto some early morning crafting!

11:00AM - I didn't get done until about 2 hours later and then continued with some chores like sweeping and cleaning the bathroom.


12:00PM - We haven't got our washer and dryer yet so we drove to J's parents' to do our laundry!


1:00PM - While a load was in the wash, we trudged outside to do some mushroom foraging.


2:00PM - We trekked over to see the neighbor's (very friendly) cow. Poor sod, she is always so happy to see us, I suspect she is really lonely. She bellows real loud when she sees us coming, and bellows again when we leave.

4:00PM - The laundry didn't get done till now, and then we drove home.


5:00PM - It started to pour, but we were getting ready for our movie night out! J was going to see Underworld with his dad and brother while my friends and I got tickets for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.


6:00PM - It was growing darker by the minute and still pouring. Even so, Birkdale is a pretty place at night! There were only parallel parking lots available. I aced the parking bit, even though I held up the traffic for a good while.


9:00PM - After we cried buckets, the movie ended. I got home and read a bad review about the movie here. Didn't think it was very fair, but certainly spot on about Hanks and Bullocks' non-contribution, as well as stellar performance by Von Sydow. I still think it's an ok watch, certainly a standard Hollywood tear-jerker.

Hope you had a productive weekend like I did!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

On the grapevine...

carrot harvests
Our carrots are all harvested. This is the lot.
I feel sad that we've been growing them for so long only to be devoured in ONE sitting.

We shared some with our dragons...

dragon shedding
who by the way, is shedding. Verne is, at least.

owl purse
Then I got busy crafting again, so there're new items in the Etsy! Whoo! This one is my favorite so far!

And i've finally learnt how to play "Dream a Little Dream of Me" on the guitar! Still practising and nursing swollen fingers.

Enjoy your weekend and be productive!

Monday, January 9, 2012

I think I'm going country!!

Here's something I heard this morning and loved! Wanted to share this with you this week!

Happy week ahead!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I've Been Tagged : the first in 2012!

My wish to all my bloggy friends!


I've been putting this on hold for awhile now, but what better thing to do than a tag post in 2012 so you can refresh your memory about 11 quirky bits of info ALL about me! Heh.

I've been tagged by Nana Glo from GloSews!

The Tagged Rules are as follows:

1. Post these rules.
2. You must post 11 random things yourself.
3. Answer the ques­tions the tag­ger set for you in their post.
4. Cre­ate 11 new ques­tions for the peo­ple you tag to answer.
5. Go to their blog and tell them that you've tagged them.
6. No stuff in the tag­ging sec­tion about ‘you are tagged if you are read­ing this.’ Blah blah blah, you legit­i­mately have to tag 11 peeps!

The 11 questions from Nana Glo to me:

1. Do you know how to sew?

Yes I do. I did home-ec classes in school but didn't really get into it until I was about 18 when I started a little enterprise with 3 other friends, sewing whimsical cushion covers and and beaded pouches for sale at flea markets. That lasted maybe about a few months, until we got too busy with our individual schedules.

2. Do you go to the movies or wait for the DVD?

I almost never watch movies unless my husband goads me into watching them during dinner, we watch them on NetFlix or sometimes, downloaded versions. Yes, we are guilty pirates.

3. What was your favorite gift you received this Holiday Season?

Our timed coffee maker! I set it the night before and have coffee ready in the pot when I jump out of the shower in the morning!

4. If someone was going to prepare your favorite meal, what would it be?

Anything Asian - Chinese, Japanese, Thai. Or a pasta dish! Like spaghetti vongole!

5. How many brothers and/or sisters do you have?

Three younger sisters - and they're a set of triplets!

6. Do you live in a small or large city and do you like it?

I grew up in Singapore, which is considered an island city even though it's a whole country in itself. Singapore is 25miles by 15 miles. I love living in the city because I can get to places by walking. Shanghai, a city I lived in for 4 years was a great place to live too. I got around by bicycling on the roads, along with 1 million other Chinese. That was a really fun experience too.

7. What is your fondest childhood memory?

My favorite aunt taking me out shopping. I loved carrying shopping bags, even though they were mostly not mine. She always bought me ice-cream too!

8. What is your first childhood memory?

I woke up one morning to find my mommy gone. I thought she was playing hide-and-seek so I looked everywhere in the apartment for her. Even under my bed. But when I realised she was really gone, I panicked, stood rooted to the ground and peed in my PJs. Just then, my mother returned from buying groceries at the market. I think I was about 3.

9. Do you cook breakfast or just eat something quick like cereal?

I do not cook. Period. I have cereal, when I have milk in the fridge, or toast with butter, cinnamon and sugar! Yum!

10. What, if any, resolutions have you made for the new year?

Of course one has to have them!! Check out my post for 2012 resolutions.

11. If you were going to write a book about your life, what would the title be?

A Simple Life.

And i tag:

1. Kyla of Kyla is Inspired
2. KJ of Let's Go Fly A Kite
3. Ashley of The Feisty Redhead
4. Zhing of Little Projects in Style
5. Lauren of Tastes Like Love
6. Jordan of Trailer Gypsy
7. Annie of Wattlebird
8. Polly of The Littlest Polly
9. Nikki of The Ginger Diaries
10. Melissa of Simply, Melissa Ashley
11. Mo of Pink Argyle
12. Oksana of Oksana Plus Hobbies
13. OhioMom of Sage Endeavors

Here are my 11 questions for you!

1. Is there a significance behind your name?
2. Your favorite color / color combination?
3. Favorite past time / thing you do to de-stress?
4. What is your motto in life, or your strongest belief /value?
5. What is your next upcoming (exciting) project?
6. Describe your fashion style? Post a picture, if you have one!
7. Coffee or tea, or choice of morning beverage?
8. All time favorite book and/ or movie?
9. What music do you listen to?
10. Do you prefer living in a house or an apartment?
11. What is your dream vacation?

Don't forget to leave me a message when you're done with them, I do want to read your answers!!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 in Review

What a year! 2011 just flew by in the blink of an eye.

Just like most of you, I made my list of 2011 Resolutions. Now let's see how I fared. Somewhere along the line i think i forgot i ever made any (eeps.)

1. Live simple.

Still learning to curb my wants and differentiate them from my needs. But the simple things in life gives me a greater satisfaction. Like spending time with family, going for walks in the parks, sitting at my sewing machine and creating!

2. Budget all spending.

It's not hard to do when you don't have too much to work with, especially now that we're on our own. With more bills and expenses to figure out, every dollar, every penny makes a difference.

3. Eat fresh. Eat healthy.

J and I were doing great when we were living with his parents. We had the garden going, we were eating lots of fresh garden produce everyday. Now that we've moved, we need to start a new plot all over. The good news is, we bought some more seeds and we're getting ready for spring. We're definitely keeping this resolution going strong.

4. Sun salutations every morning;


5. A full Ashtanga workout at least twice a week.


6. Swear less, be patient more.

This is one resolution i forgot was actually there, but I'm not ashamed to say I have been subconsciously working on. The reason, i think, ties in with my last resolution.

7. Love J everyday like it is the last.

Even though we've been together for the last 5 years, I'm constantly surprised by how much we're still in love with each other. J makes little gestures in our everyday lives that make me appreciate him, and want to be a better person for him.

All in all, 5 out of 7 is not too bad!

And then there were things big and small worth a little mention.

J and I became our own little experts at mushroom foraging.

We started our own little garden, watching things grow and appreciating Mother Nature for her bounty, learning to live off the land.

lomo green weave
I started my Etsy shop!

And took part in not one, but TWO craft fairs!

wanted poster
I visited my friends in Houston and went to my first rodeo!

And visited the ancient Mayan ruins in Mexico.

Finally, we moved into a place of our own,

and got another addition to our little Russell family!

In this year, I hope to continue last year's resolutions, putting an emphasis on simplicity, creativity, compassion and discipline.

Here's wishing all my dearest family and friends a great year ahead!

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