Easy Peasy One Pan Shrimp Pasta

ALL COOKED IN JUST 1 PAN!! LITERALLY A LIFESAVER FOR A WORKING MOM!

Because I love seafood and because I have so many freezers lol (2 big deep chest freezers and 2 fridge freezers!!), I always always have plenty of frozen shrimps. So when I am lacking in inspiration and simply do not feel like cooking or washing a lot of dishes, one pan dishes like this one is really appealing.

It’s a super easy recipe and you can use black pepper instead of white pepper. But I love love love white pepper so I use it in everything. Minced garlic is a must and be generous with it. It’s really what makes this pasta so yummy.

Ingredients:

  • Linguine (enough for 6 servings)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 stick butter cut in half
  • Lots of Minced Garlic
  • 3 Tbsp Cajun Spice
  • Large shrimps
  • Fresh Mushrooms
  • Salt and White pepper
  • Spinach

Instructions:

  • Boil water in the big pan and add pasta. Once cooked, drain pasta and place aside for now
  • Using same pan, heat oil and half of your butter. Add garlic and cook until garlic is slightly brown but not burnt
  • Add in shrimp, mushroom, cajun spice, salt and white pepper to taste, and stirfry until shrimp and mushroom are cooked
  • Add spinach
  • Return cooked pasta to the pan and add remaining butter.
  • Mix it altogether .
  • Enjoy! ๐Ÿ˜›

Working From Home Mom – Expectations vs. Realities

Photo by Peter Olexa on Pexels.com

Let’s face it. Work from home (WFH) never looks this relaxing, tranquil and cool. Well, unless you have the perfect home, no kids or you simply are one of the moms who has all her shit pulled together. Not this mom. In fact, most days, my house looks a mess. I call it organized chaos ๐Ÿ˜›

First off, my coffee mug in the morning never looks this small. Just the refills would be a waste of my time. I have one of those uber big mom mugs that I set on my coffee table in the morning and it gets cold before i can get to drinking half of it because there goes “Mommy Mommy Mommy” roll eyes emoji plsss ๐Ÿ™„

I have been super slack in blogging since the start of the pandemic. Don’t get me wrong. I am so very grateful that the nature of my position provides me the flexibility to work from home during this pandemic and keep not just our family safe but my colleagues too. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t struggle at all. And after so many months of working from home, I think I have a much better handle on it for sure.

The first month, I would say was the hardest. I have a really supportive team and boss but it wasn’t them as much as it was my own expectations of how work should look like. And my traditional definition of work life definitely doesn’t include feeding my kid, cleaning my kid, answering my kid, swearing at my kid, yelling at my kid, pacifying my kid etc…you get the drift.

I like and hope that I’m someone flexible enough to consider all aspects when it comes to doing my work but at the heart of me is a traditional me that has never wanted to even consider the option of working from home. My home, in my mind has always been the separation between work and life and it has always served me well. I like the roads well travelled for myself. I donโ€™t need many close relationships but the few ones I value, I believe are deep, real and authentic and I find them easier to forge and maintain face to face vs working from home. As an INFJ, I need to take some time alone now and then to decompress, recharge, and process my thoughts and feelings and home is where I do that so when home and office becomes one, I need to adapt and find a different way to recharge.

I like my going to work and being in office routine. I enjoy seeing my co-workers and my team. I like that I have a reason to get myself decently dressed to go to the office. I like that during those work hours, my child is safe and happy and engaged somewhere else (& by that, i meant far far away from me ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ lol). I like that my work hours are filled with adult interaction. So many likes I can give you about going to the office. I like that when lunch time comes, I only need to think for myself and not try to fix a meal for a very vocal toddler ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

So when Covid happened and I started working from home, my work life as I have always known significantly changed. Most people around me think I love change. I don’t actually but I do think I adapt quickly to changes. And it isn’t because I like change. It definitely isn’t because I am just naturally an adaptable personality. I. AM. SO. NOT. LOL

I think I tend to adapt quicker because even though I don’t like it, I accept that Change is a part and natural of life. Acceptance of what is natural of life cycle is, in my mind key to ironing the kinks and embracing the changes. In today’s world or some cultures, acceptance has a more negative or defeatist connotation as if to tell you to expect little of life or to be happy getting less of what you feel you deserved. In my mind, acceptance is the complete opposite. Acceptance sets the ground to uncover underlying opportunities that you would not have seen otherwise. Acceptance is owning that the situation isn’t always going to be what your vision has been but instead, it can be better. Acceptance is quickly identifying how to not only make the best of your work situation but how to make it better. Now, all the above is in the context of work. My personal life and acceptance – HA! that’s a totally different story. My hubby would probably tell you my acceptance level for personal life is super low lol. Hey, I never said I was perfect. Acceptance takes practice. Buddhism is all about diligently practicing. And nope, not a Buddhist but I do find that the older I get, the more I love reading up on Buddhism beliefs.

So let me not digress further. After all these months of working from home, here are some of the things I do to make sure I stay productive and sane. Bear in mind what works for me & my family might not work for yours but hope it helps ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜˜

  • Setting up a designated work area just for work and making sure it is comfortable but also has privacy when needed
  • Always always keep my boss and team posted of my schedule and work. Thatโ€™s just basic respect
  • Be upfront and transparent about challenges encountered while working from home but always always bring a solution and not just the problem to your boss
  • If possible, take a short walk around my neighbourhood during lunch (ermmm, this one needs a lot more practice on my part lol. I am very very very guilty of never wanting to walk ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚)
  • Make ahead tons of freezable breakfast choices during my weekend so when my son is “HANGRY” on my busy workday mornings, pop goes a frozen breakfast sandwich or mini pancakes to the microwave and he has something semi healthy to eat within 5 mins.
  • Plenty of snacks. Can’t emphasize that enough. My 3 year old is constantly eating!!! If i had to stop work every time he wants a snack, I will never get any work done. I have an area where i place all his easy to eat snacks and juice boxes. My son is a pretty clean eater but even then, messes happen when he eats. I try to strategically buy snacks that doesn’t make as much of a mess e.g, popcorn, applesauce, small bite size crackers/cookies, nuts etc. Unless I want a reenactment of the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel where the children leave a trail of bread crumbs, I try to reserve the crumbly big muffins for after work or lunch time. And I try to just cringe & roll my eyes a hundred times internally, breathe and let it go when he accidentally makes a huge mess.
  • Keep the kid entertained. During the weekends, I also try to plan out some easy & small learning activities for Ryan throughout the week. And I get all the daily supplies ready on Sunday and make sure those activities take only 15-20 mins of my weekday time. When all else fails, I give him my Ipad. YES. He calls my IPad his IPad. Thereโ€™s also Netflix and YouTube lol
  • Unless you have to self-isolate, I still would sign Ryan up for daycare, babysitter or preschool. And make arrangements for him to go to a family member or a mom friend (in your social bubble) on some days for a playdate so you get those alone time at home to work
  • Plan for interruptions especially when I have a busy toddler. I don’t believe I should subject my co-workers and supervisor to my kid bugging me non stop during a meeting. Your boss might not say anything but it ain’t right and it sure ain’t professional. Doesn’t mean it will never happen but at the minimum, planning for that would minimize such situations from happening. I always try to make sure Ryan is with someone else when I have video meetings. People would only give you grace for this long & really, why would you expect your coworkers and boss to be okay with that?
  • Unless the whole family is on a self-isolation order or daycare is simply not available due to Covid, working from home is not a substitute for child care entirely. Sure, some moms might prefer to keep their kids at home entirely. If it works for you, great. That doesn’t work for me at all.
  • Be honest. WFH doesnโ€™t work for everyone.

And most importantly, cut yourself some slack. Am I doing enough for work, enough as a mom, enough as a spouse? So many questions.

And really, stop feeling guilty or the need to explain myself why I give my kid my Ipad. This is a really odd year for everyone so let’s just cut ourselves some slack. No one is going to do this perfectly. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. But if your kid uses too much Ipad, watches too much cartoons or eat too much junk processed food this week, it really isn’t the end of the world for you or your child.

And lastly if you walk into a room full of tissues all over or if your kid spills juice over the couch for the 15th time, just try to LAUGH & breathe โ˜บ๏ธโ˜บ๏ธ

At least, he helped to clean up lol

Do you work from home? Share with us your challenges, successes and tips in the comments! Would love to hear them ๐Ÿฅฐ

Happy 55th Birthday Singapore

August is a month of many birthdays, starting with my momโ€™s birthday, followed by my nephew followed by Singapore Birthday! And this year, Singapore is turning 55!! HOO HOO!

Last month, we celebrated Canada Day with a chocolate cake so I was cracking my brains on what to do for Singapore Day that I could involve Ryan too. Turned to Pinterest but everything look more complicated than the level of energy I had lol. While I love creating indoor activities with Ryan, my criteria is that it canโ€™t take too much time to assemble it. Otherwise, I be tired even before he starts the activity.

I know I know! We sing Happy Birthday for every occasion we can think of lol

Took a look at my pantry. TA DA!! I have Frozen Toaster Strudels!! Yeah to frozen convenience food lol.

They will do. They are rectangular in shape and will make do as a flag Ha! I am so impressed with myself lol especially since I just forgot to pick my son up from daycare last week. Turns out most mommies have done that before lol but I digress.

Here is my easy Peasy laZy mommy Singapore National Day Activity for Ryan.

Ingredients:

  • Pillsbury Strudel as the Flag
  • Store Bought Red Icing or Strawberry Jam
  • Store Bought White Icing
  • White Bread for the stars & crescent moon
  • Cookie Cutters to cut out โ€œI Love SGโ€

There you go. An easy Peasy way for him to learn about the Singapore Flag.

And while Ryan was not born and didnโ€™t grow up in Singapore like I did, itโ€™s so important to me that I help him understand and get to know Singapore culture and traditions.

And while I get sad at times because all my family are in Singapore and I wish he could be there for his grandma birthday, his cousin birthday and every milestone of his Singapore family, Iโ€™m going to choose to focus on how lucky Ryan is that in spite of the long distance, so many people in Singapore adores & loves him, that heโ€™s been flying since he was 5 months old and how lucky he is to be exposed to 2 awesome cultures – Canada & Singapore!

Easter Eggs Colouring with a Toddler

Never celebrated Easter before. Certainly have never colored Easter Eggs before either. If there is anything I have learnt from embarking my motherhood journey, itโ€™s that there are so many things, songs, activities for kids here that are very different compared to if Ryan was growing up in Singapore. Sure, there are many similarities too but definitely a lot of differences as well. I think differences are great! They allow our kids to learn and be exposed to so many different experiences ๐Ÿ˜€

Back to Easter. Easter and Good Friday has never meant anything to me except they were statutory holidays. I sometimes worry if I would be a good mom because there are so many Canadian childhood rituals that wouldn’t make any sense to me. It wouldn’t be intuitive for me to create a Easter Egg hunt for Ryan & his buddies. Neither would it be intuitive for me to go Trick or Treat with Ryan on Halloween door to door or carve out a pumpkin lol. But my worries are unfounded, so far at least. If anything, it gives me the opportunity to be as excited as Ryan because it wouldn’t just be Ryan’s first time coloring eggs. It would be this Mommy’s first time too โค โค โค โค โค .

While we weren’t able to meet up with family for our usual Easter Dinner, we had fun and we are grateful that we are healthy and are all together. At the end, that’s all that really matters.

We hope you enjoy our little Ryan video of us coloring Easter Eggs for the first time & of course, HAPPY HAPPY EASTER TO EVERYONE! ๐Ÿ˜€

Lazy Mommy Kaya (Singapore Coconut Egg Jam)

I still remember the first time i packed a kaya sandwich in Ryan’s packed lunch to daycare. When I went to pick him up, the awesome daycare ladies asked me what was the green stuff in his sandwich ๐Ÿ˜› . They probably wondered why any mom would slather green food coloring to their kid’s sandwich LOL.

So, Kaya is a Southeast Asia jam that basically consist of eggs, coconut cream, sugar and Pandan Essence. Pandan Essence is made from Pandan leaves which is in abundance in Singapore. Not so much in where we live in Canada. So next best thing – I brought back Pandan Paste and Pandan extract ๐Ÿ˜€ . I mean…what’s a girl gonna do to get her favorite jam fix? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Pandan Paste Vs. Pandan Extract
Pandan Leaves

For those of you who do not know what Pandan Leaves are like, they are a tropical plant that grows abundantly in Southeast Asia. You can read more about the plant at thespruceeats.com if you like but it is known as a “fragrant plant” because of its unique, sweet aroma and growing up, my mom uses it fairly often for baking. It’s got such a sweet and fragrant aroma i love just sniffing the bottle LOL. And Kaya Sandwich is to me like how PB&J sandwich is to my Caucasian friends ๐Ÿ˜€ . Well, until now where every kid’s packed lunch has to be nut free anyway.

Traditional Kaya Jam takes at least a couple hours to make. It is really a very easy recipe with less than 5 ingredients. Challenge is it requires a lot of patience slaving over the stove using a double boiler to cook it slowly, making sure you stir it constantly over low heat. The patience is what makes good kaya jam smooth instead of lumpy. Well, I like to think I have many virtues but patience is not always one of them ^^’

So I decided to use the same ingredients as I would in a traditional recipe. Except that instead of a double boiler, I just cook it in a pot directly over stove on low to medium heat. Took way lesser time to get it to a jam kinda texture. Sure, it wasnโ€™t as smooth but it didnโ€™t affect the taste one bit. In fact, it taste every bit the same โค โค โค โค โค as I remember growing up eating that for breakfast made by my adorable mom.. I wonder if Ryan thinks Iโ€™m adorable too lol.. probably not ๐Ÿ˜€ . What matters is he loves his kaya toast as much as I do & that’s a win for a lazy mommy trying to integrate him to his Singapore roots.

Best way to eat it – spread margarine and kaya on your toast ๐Ÿ˜€

Ingredients:

  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup coconut cream (full fat version please)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Pandan Essence

Instructions:

  1. Add sugar, coconut cream & essence to the lightly beaten eggs in a pot
  2. Cook the mixture directly on stove over low to medium heat
  3. Keep stirring constantly until it becomes the jam texture you are looking for
  4. When it is cooled, you can store in fridge just like you keep your store bought strawberry jam

Easy Peasy Egg Tarts

Honestly, never even really occurred to me where egg tarts actually come from… as in from which culture. Growing up, I always remember eating them when my parents would bring us to go eat dim sum on weekend mornings. Those were very fond memories indeed. These days, you can pretty much eat dim sum any day.

But this I do know – while it is a Asian dish, it has influences from the Portuguese. Might be the reason why some Asian places call them Portuguese Egg Tarts.

So usually, I will try to make my own crust and I have a really wicked awesome flaky pie crust which I feel will work great for the egg tarts but this weekend, Ryan and I werenโ€™t feeling really well so I just really didnโ€™t feel like making it from scratch so store bought ones will have to do for this weekend ๐Ÿ˜€

And really, Tenderflake Tart Shells works perfect with Egg Tarts.

There are many many egg tart recipes but remembering that this is a Easy Peasy one, so I did skip some steps such as straining the egg mixture. Straining the egg mixture/filling helps remove any lumps and ensures your custard filling comes out looking smooth & pretty.

Also, it usually ask you to chill the filling in fridge first. Again, skipped by this mommy. One thing to note too that my original recipe usually uses evaporated milk but sometimes when I dun have that, I use my coffee cream instead. I just use 2 tbsp of coffee cream instead of 1/4 cup evaporated milk.

Since I am baking for my family and not to sell, I really could care less about straining it. Maybe when I have more time or when I decide to see if anyone will buy it from me at the Farmers Market lol

Here goes the super easy ingredients:

  • 1 box of Tenderflake Tart Shells (12 tarts)
  • 4 beaten eggs with a pinch of vanilla extract & salt
  • ยพ cup hot water
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk

My Easy Peasy Lazy Mommy Recipe:

  • To make the custard filling, stir in sugar in hot water and let it cool slightly
  • Once water is cooled, add in your beaten eggs, vanilla, salt and evaporated milk. If you donโ€™t have evaporated milk, I would just add 2 Tbsp of coffee cream or half & half
  • Mix it all up thoroughly
  • Strain it if you want your custard to look smooth and pretty and without lumps but I didnโ€™t.
  • Pour it into the 12 tart shells till about 80% full
  • Bake at 400 f for 20-25 mins. Mine came out at 25 mins Cos I filled the tart shells to the brim lol. But if you fill it to 80% full, 20 mins works suffice

And that is it. Super easy. Super lazy recipe. And now my son gets to have a taste of what my parents would bring me to eat on a Sunday morning ๐Ÿ˜€ and he ate 2 for breakfast this morning so Iโ€™m gonna call that a Mommy Win!

๐Ÿ˜Ž ๐Ÿ˜Ž ๐Ÿ˜Ž ๐Ÿ˜Ž ๐Ÿ˜Ž ๐Ÿ˜Ž ๐Ÿ˜Ž ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Comfort Food & Memories

As I sit on my couch this weekend nursing my cold while slurping my spicy kimchi instant noodles, I asked my also sick hubby whether he wanted me to make him some. Something in his face expression tells me he isnโ€™t too impressed with my food choice ๐Ÿ˜€

Got me thinking about comfort food and what that means to different people. Whenever Iโ€™m sick, certain food like my trusted instant noodles always come to mind & they come to mind not because always of the food itself but more importantly, the memories attached to it.

Now I donโ€™t think Iโ€™m exaggerating when I say that food is a Singaporean past time ๐Ÿ™‚ & judging from international sales of instant noodles, Iโ€™m not far behind when I say that Asians are obsessed with instant noodles lol. Donโ€™t believe me? Check out this interesting article at https://kontinentalist.com/stories/we-are-just-that-into-mie-asia-s-obsession-with-instant-noodles

According to the World Instant Noodles Association (and yes, I actually canโ€™t believe this is a real website lol), Asians are the biggest consumers of instant noodles.

And instant noodles really have come a long way from its humble beginnings of just chicken or beef instant noodle. You can pretty much find any variety you like these days – the choices are endless. Well if you head to a western supermarket in Canada, you will still likely only find the beef, chicken & maybe one or two other variety but head to any supermarket in Asia or a Asian supermarket in Canada, you are gonna see a whole lot of variety that you never see before.

So our obsession is not the only reason why instant noodles is my comfort food. Because you are right. They are completely unhealthy and in no way provide any form of nutrition. But itโ€™s not like Iโ€™m eating it as a staple food. I only eat them once in a long time such as when Iโ€™m feeling sick.

I think I started eating instant noodles when I was a teenager and when you are a teenager, nutrition was the last thing on my mind lol. But not my mom.

The way my mom made us instant noodles – it definitely didnโ€™t feel instant at all. In fact, she always put so much work to pack so much nutrients in those noodles. I actually remember mocking & teasing my mom that if she had to put so much work in making instant noodles for me, it might as well not be called instant noodles. Kinda feel like a jack ass now lol. Never really appreciated her for all the things she did for us.

So how my mom would cook our instant noodles – instead of using the seasoning powder, she would use homemade chicken broth (not Campbell chicken broth but made from scratch wholesome good chicken broth). Instead of using any artificial ingredients that came along with the instant noodles, she packed it with tons of fresh green leafy vegetables, egg and healthy protein. See how much more extra work that took for her. Best mom ever. I love you Mom!!

My Mom with Ryan

And this is why instant noodles is one of my comfort food ๐Ÿ˜€ . Because now that Iโ€™m so far away from my mom, making food the way she does makes me feel closer to her. And now that Iโ€™m a mom, I finally understand why moms do the โ€œextraโ€ things we do for our children like how I tried to add vegetables to Ryanโ€™s meatballs or chia seeds to his blueberry muffins.

So for my instant noodles, I cheated and used Campbell no salt chicken broth lol. I mean I call myself a lazy mommy for a reason. But I added tons of green leafy vegetables, fresh mushrooms, crab meat and instead of the artificial dehydrated kimchi that came with the noodles, I used real kimchi to make the broth a bit spicy.

So there you go – slurping my instant noodles. Whatโ€™s your comfort food? Whatโ€™s the first thing you crave for when you are sick or when you are having a bad day? I bet that comfort food is tied to some pretty awesome memories ๐Ÿ˜€ .

Happy weekend everyone!

Young Living Owl Diffuser

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I am not a Young Living Distributor and I receive no compensation from this review. Please always use caution when using essential oils, and always ask the advice of a professional. All content is based on my personal experiences of a Lazy Mommy and purely for informational & entertainment purposes and should not be relied on as professional advice.

Okay. First of all, who doesn’t like a diffuser that looks so darn cute ๐Ÿ˜› . Secondly, his name is Feather…How adorable is that? LOL

So it says on Young Living website that this is a Kids Ultrasonic Diffuser but ya, there is no way that Ryan is monopolizing Feather ๐Ÿ˜› . Sharing is Loving, they says lol… But yes, Ryan adores it as well and it does go pretty well in his little cute bedroom

It’s supposed to be a Ultrasonic Diffuser. I have no frigging idea what Ultrasonic meant and if I were to be completely honest, I really don’t care too much about that. I’m a pretty low maintenance kind of mom. Only reason why I needed a diffuser was because we live in extreme cold and dryness. So unless i want us to wake up every morning breathing through our mouth cos our nose is all dried and stuffy in the morning, we need a diffuser. But now, I am sort of curious what does Ultrasonic meant so naturally, I went to Google lol

Read through it but all my googly eyes could see was “Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah” LOL & all I could comprehend out of my reading was that an Ultrasonic diffuser runs on water instead of steam. Okay, it still doesn’t mean anything to me but I figure I did google, read & conquer so I’m good haha ๐Ÿ˜› … But if you truly have any interest on reading about it, you can read it โžก Organicaromas.com

I could go on and on about the features about this diffuser but really, it’s a diffuser. Everyone can google what a diffuser does. So I’m gonna spare you reading that on my page.

I am just gonna tell you what I love about Feather ๐Ÿ˜€

  • It is Cute. C’mon, I am allowed to be superficial once in a while ๐Ÿ˜Ž
  • It is Kid Friendly. Believe me. I took a video of Ryan testing it out and it was super easy for a busy toddler
  • It comes with the usual bells and whistles of a typical diffuser – white noise options & a variety of LED light options, Honestly, I have never been one to care for these options anyway. When I sleep, I just want NO NOISE and NO LIGHT lol. But I find myself being surprised that I don’t mind the white noise options they have in Feather. They have 5 white noise options. Ryan likes the lullaby one the most. My favorite is the Ocean Waves white noise. I still dun really like going to sleep with the noise but i find myself enjoying it when i just need a 30 minutes MOMMY time. There is something about their Ocean Waves noise that relaxes me.
  • It’s easy to clean

While I do not consider myself a regular consumer of Young Living products, I am always up to learning about products that might benefit me and family and usually, I send my bazillion questions to my girlfriend who is totally into Young Living and she always is there to answer my questions.

For those of you who is interested to know more about Essential Oils and Young Living, you can visit her page HappiOily on Facebook.

Thanks Elaine!

โค โค โค โค โค Now I hope you enjoy our little video of little Ryan trying out Feather, Young Living Owl Diffuser โค โค โค โค โค

Air Fryer Crab Stick Chips

Welcoming the Year of the Rat

If I have not said this yet, I love love love my Air Fryer ๐Ÿ™‚ . With Chinese New Year approaching, Iโ€™m trying to find recipes I can replicate easily in Canada & it isnโ€™t always easy. With Christmas, I wake up every day feeling festive like everyone else because Christmas is a much bigger event than Chinese New Year in my town. Chinese New Year really isnโ€™t widely celebrated in my town so it can feel harder to be the only one getting excited about it. Thankfully, my Instant Vortex Plus is helping me get excited Cos there are so many Chinese New Year stuff that I can easily replicate using this one appliance ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyhow, this took me 2 packets of crab sticks. Make sure you buy the rectangular ones.

In Singapore, they sell this during Chinese New Year and they are deep fried so it is pretty labour intensive which also meant they sell it pretty expensive but this air fryer version taste as good, uses way less oil and is so easy to make. I made all these in 4 batches in my air fryer and each batch took about 20 mins at 320 fahrenheit. While it was cooking, I just used the time to make my wontons.

Before
After

It is Yum Yum in my tum tum ๐Ÿ˜€

Dummy Guide to Chinese New Year in Singapore

Winter vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com

While I really love Chinese New Year (CNY) celebrations, I only celebrate CNY if I am back in Singapore during that period of time. But now that we have a kid, there’s this urge in me to start celebrating CNY in Canada with hubby and kid. Maybe it’s a maternal thing. Maybe I hope he doesn’t forget his Singapore roots. Either way, it feels so important to me now to start recreating certain CNY traditions for my own family.

So for the very first time since I moved to Canada, we are gonna host a CNY Party and invite our friends over. Needless to say, both hubby and me want to make sure we incorporate CNY stuff and food at this party. But really, ny hubby has never celebrated CNY so how would he know? He will probably say he knows but really, he wants to bake Toblerone Shortbread Cookies for CNY hmmmmmm….Ya, he doesn’t know CNY but hey, it’s the love & effort that counts ๐Ÿ˜€ and I do love that he is for us trying to integrate CNY into our family so LOVE YOU DADDY

With limited ingredients here, we can’t recreate everything but we will recreate selectively lol. So I thought what better way to start than to write up a Beginner Guide to CNY in Singapore ๐Ÿ˜€

THE MONTH BEFORE CHINESE NEW YEAR

1. SPRING CLEANING

What this step essentially means is to usher in the new year with a clean slate in life, giving you the opportunity to prosper in the new year.

  • Major Cleaning before CNY 1st day – symbolizes a fresh start & sweeping away all the bad luck for last year out the door
  • Decorate the house with CNY decorations
  • No cleaning especially on the first day of CNY – symbolizes sweeping away all your new and good vibes/luck out the door so NO CLEANING on 1st day.
  • If you owe anyone money, try to repay them before the first day of CNY. What it symbolizes is that if you went into the new year owing people money, then you will always be owing people money in the new year. Clearing that debt will symbolizes good money luck in the year ahead. To us, this is also a form of cleaning.
  • We also use this time to pay our respects and worship our deities either at home at at the temple. One prays to different deities for different wishes. You pray to God of Wealth for obviously more wealth, to Kitchen God who has witnessed and recorded your family dynamics for the last year ready to go back to Heaven to report your good and misdeeds to Heaven. There are many other gods.

2. RED PACKET MONEY ( KNOWN AS ็ด…ๅŒ… OR HONGBAO)

  • During CNY, it is our tradition for the married people to give Red Packet to unmarried guests as well as seniors and the elderly at home. These are filled with money and symbolize good fortune and luck for the new year. So basically, every married couple including us will give Ryan a Red Packet and me & Darren will give my Mom (the senior in the home) a Red Packet.
  • Amounts usually differ depending on how close the relationship is and hierarchy. Fear Not if you are clueless about this. Of course, there is a short dummy guide published yearly on amount rules ๐Ÿ˜€ . You can have a quick read at here.
  • One should only use new dollars and the amount should always be in even numbers but never the number 4. So no odd amount like $7.00 but also never use the even number 4. Number 4 in Chinese sounds like death so never give $4.00, $44.00, $24.00. While other even numbers are acceptable, we love the number 8. 8 is considered a very auspicious number.
  • Go to bank to obtain new or good as new dollar notes for the Red Packets. While most Singaporeans use online banking, this is the time of the year where the banks will be filled with customers coming in to withdraw new dollar notes. You can even reserve your new notes online ๐Ÿ˜€ .
  • For recipients of the Red Packet, make sure you wear bright colored clothing. Always bring 2 mandarin oranges when visiting during CNY and as soon as you enter someone home, offer the oranges to the family and say a auspicious greeting. If in doubt, just offer with both hands and say “Happy Chinese New Year”. The family says thanks, receives your oranges and gives you a Red Packet. NEVER open your Red Packet until you get home. It is just rude.

3. BUY NEW CLOTHES

  • New clothes preferably in Red or auspicious colors for at least the first 3 days of CNY (By the way, CNY runs for 15 days but no, we dun get time off for all 15 days lol)
  • In stricter households, most still would avoid white and black colors as those are associated with death. Kinda funny that in the western world, white is considered a wedding beautiful color whereas it is associated as death or funeral in Asian cultures.
  • It’s not so strict in my family so we can wear any colors but i would still suggest leaving your goth makeup at home ๐Ÿ˜€
  • Some would even buy new bed sheets to usher in the new year as well. Not sure if my mom ever did. Have to remember to ask her.

4. PREPARE CHINESE NEW YEAR FOODS

  • There is a lot of playing with words in Chinese New Year traditions so preparing foods that translate to auspicious meanings is important. In my family, I don’t think we observe it that strictly but some families still do. Example: Long Noodles symbolize long life, Fish symbolize being blessed every year, mandarin oranges symbolize abundance & prosperity, Glutinous Rice Cakes symbolize great improvement in study and work, Pineapple Tarts symbolize ushering a sweet & prospering life, Sweet Rice Balls for family harmony, Spring Rolls symbolize wealth & etc. The list goes on and on.
  • Prepare food for the Reunion Dinner which is on the last night before Chinese New Year. I love love love Reunion Dinner. It’s a Must in my family, I grew up having Hot Pot for our Reunion Dinner and I miss it soooo much. Wish we could be there this Chinese New Year :(. Oh well, such is Life but at least, we would be doing our own mini celebration in Canada

CHINESE NEW YEAR EVE

1. REUNION DINNER

  • As the name depicts, it really is a gathering of the family members for a sit down meal. Traditionally, Reunion dinner always happens on CNY Eve but nowadays, some families choose to do their dinner earlier. Reunion dinner has to be the favorite part of CNY for me personally ๐Ÿ˜€
  • The format of the meal depends on the family but growing up, we always had Steam Boat or Hot Pot for Reunion Dinner.
  • I just ordered a Hot Pot from Amazon.ca . Hope it arrives in time for our 2020 CNY Party

2. COUNTING DOWN TO NEW YEAR

  • Once Reunion Dinner is over, some people would go to Chinatown to usher in the New Year and join the locals in various celebrations, street performances, night markets in counting down. Be warned. It is a sea of people packed together but if you want to feel the CNY atmosphere, this is the best way to.
  • Expect plenty of loud celebrations when you are out and about. If you hate crowds, people and loud noises, do yourself a favor and just stay home
  • For Lazy people like me, we count down at home with our full bellies and reminisce about the family and the last year.

DURING CHINESE NEW YEAR

1. VISITING, VISITING & MORE VISITING

  • While CNY last for 15 days, the statutory holidays only cover first 2 days of CNY so we do a lot of visiting of and with families and friends during these two days. Growing up, it’s not uncommon for my family to be out visiting 3 to 4 families within a day. It’s pretty hectic and so no, you can’t be staying at one place for that long
  • As a single, I would receive Red Packets but sigh now that I am married, I am the giver lol

2. LO HEI (PROSPERITY TOSS)

  • Best way I can describe a Prosperity Toss is the tossing of a very colorful salad with sashimi and every ingredient in this salad has a auspicious meaning
  • It is really quite hard for me to describe how we do the Prosperity Toss but check out this quick YouTube Video and it gives you a good idea of how that looks like
  • If you prefer a short step by step guide, check out this article on LadyIronChef.com on How To Lo Hei Like a Boss ๐Ÿ˜€
  • Traditionally, people do this on the 7th day of CNY but nowadays, people do it on any day of the 15 days of CNY
  • I really would like to incorporate LO HEI in our CNY Party but not sure how to with limited ingredients.

3. WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE

  • Ermmmmm not that I always have the best language but for us, swearing, scolding and talking negatively or behind other backs during CNY is like the worst thing you can do to yourself. We believe that how we chose to behave during CNY sets the tone and fortune for the year to come. Well, obviously, we should strive to better people anyway not just during CNY but throughout the year but it definitely will get you disapproving looks if you did that during CNY

Bear in mind that CNY celebrations might differ slightly in different countries, the whole idea is that CNY is a time of family togetherness, joy, abundance and prosperity and is the time to get all your family together, pay respects to your deities and gods and usher in the new year with good fortune and luck.

I hope you enjoy this beginner guide and that gives you a better idea of my culture ๐Ÿ˜€ Now I better get started on my CNY Baking

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