Married…

My nephew (my wife’s brother’s son) and his wife tied the knot in Chiengmai, Thailand on the 18th of January. Some of you may know the couple, the two in the Sangkaya coconut ice cream franchise business venture.

They came home for the Chinese New Year celebration here so we were able to take time off for a simple all-in-the-family tea ceremony…

Tea ceremony

…and a wedding banquet at this restaurant in town which started off with this…

Yee Sang

– they managed to get this for the dinner in conjunction with Chinese New Year and my niece carted home all the cans of abalone to add to the dish.

Then, the dinner proper started with this dragon boat loaded with goodies…

Dragon boat

…followed by the unmentionable soup which was nothing to get upset about though as I could not find a single strand in it – despite the price of a table. I heard it was around RM600-700…and for that price, I certainly would expect a lot more.

 The steamed fish…

Steamed fish

…was very nice and there was enough in that huge slab for us to go for seconds and thirds.

The roast chicken and duck combo platter…

Roast poultry

…was all right though the duck was a little on the tough side.

Then came the broccoli dish…

Broccoli

…which was a bit more special than usual with all that abalone, mussels and everything in it other than the usual mushrooms with oyster sauce.

This was a disappointment – the butter prawns…

Butter prawns

The crustaceans looked so impressive – they were huge but unfortunately, they were bland, rather tasteless and not sweet at all.

Dessert was a fruit platter and this…

Dessert

…which, of course, I enjoyed very much as I loved the crackers with the lotus paste filling, pandan this time around…

Pandan lotus paste filling

It was a great gathering, all the family members from my wife’s side and it turned out that some the younger ones were my ex-students too! What a pleasant surprise. Small world indeed!

Congrats once again, John & Ivy. May your life together be blessed with abundant joy and overwhelming success in all that you two do together. God bless always, cheers!!!

Greetings…

Wishing everybody a Happy Chinese New Year, may all of us be blessed with good health and all that is sweet…

Red and gold

…good luck and good fortune…

Good luck

…in this Year of the Monkey in the Chinese lunar calendar.

Enjoy yourselves with all your loved and dear ones, happy feasting…

Feasting

…and celebrating and may God bless us all. 恭喜发财! 新年快乐! Gōngxǐ fācái! Xīnnián kuàilè! Cheers!!!

Decorate…

Well, it’s finally here! It’s Chinese New Year’s Eve today!

My missus had been busy baking all kinds of cookies and we did buy a few too like the kuih bangkit, the lek tau ko and the pineapple jam tart, for instance and there are also the ones from Singapore, from my niece and my ex-student.

She did not make any cakes this year though as she never got used to the oven that we bought some two years ago. So far, she had never bothered to try and bake during ordinary times to see how she could get it right so we just went out and bought some and I still have the fruit pudding (including the smaller one which we never got to eat during Christmas) and also the butter cake in the freezer. I guess the pudding, with all the rum in it, would be fine but I am not to sure about the butter cake. We’ll see when the time comes.

Then there was all that cooking that she did and now, it’s all done. Hopefully, I will remember to take some photographs to share in a later post. Of course I’ve been busy too, cleaning and wiping and all and working on the decorations of the house. For us here, this is something like putting the Christmas tree in countries abroad and hanging up the wreath and mistletoe and whatever here and there in the house and outside.

I made a few of those ang pao lanterns but since they are made of paper, I decided to hang them inside…

Ang pao lanterns 1

…safe from the sun and the rain and the moist conditions outside especially at night…

Ang pao lanterns 2

 I also made two smaller ones and two mini ones to hang outside…

Outside the house

…together with the little lanterns and the mini bags that I bought from the shops here plus some ang pao packets for some additional red and gold colours. Then, I hung up two lanterns from previous years, dangling from the ceiling to fill up the space above.

My missus bought these Chinese paper cuttings from the mall near my house so I stuck them to the glass…

Chinese paper cuttings

They are only RM2.50 each, real cheap, I must say.

Hello from the other side!!!

Different angle

LOL!!! Initially, I stuck those ang pao packets from a bank in Singapore but I thought that did not look all that nice so I removed them…

Ang paos removed

…and seeing that it was a little bare, I took out my old strings of firecrackers…

Firecrackers

…and there you have it! All done, and ready to usher in the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Monkey.

Qong Xi Fa Cai, everybody, 新年快樂!!! May God bless us all abundantly in the year ahead. Cheers!!!

Grease…

I saw the movie in KL many many years ago. I think it was 1978 and an embarrassing thing happened.  I managed to find my way to Bukit Bintang and there I went looking for the Cathay Cinema. I walked and walked but there was no sign of the place and I decided to stop a young Indian girl to ask where the cinema was. She stared at me with that strange look on her face, turned and walked away. “Gee!” I thought, “KL girls sure are unfriendly!”

I continued walking and just a few steps away, there it was! The cinema that I was searching for. No wonder the girl reacted that way. She probably thought I was trying to be fresh or something as the cinema was right round the corner. Well, I got to watch the movie for the first time there…and yes, I watched it again when it came to Sibu and a lot more times after that…and never failed to enjoy it again and again.

Fast forward to 1994, I managed to get to watch the stage musical at the Dominion Theatre at West End, London…

Grease at West End, London 1

It was truly an unforgettable experience. Everyone knew the words to the songs and were singing along and many even got up and danced…

Grease at West End London 2

Debbie Gibson was Sandy in that one – those of you who are older (though not as old as I am) would remember her in “Lost in your eyes” that was a hit around here in the 80’s.

Well, Fox did a remake of the musical on Sunday, January 31st (Monday, 1st February here) and the live telecast certainly was very well-received with a whole lot of raving reviews in the mass media. I have not seen the whole thing but as far as the songs go, I personally feel that there are a few hits like this one…

…and this one that made me want to get up and dance (…as if I still could! Sobsss!!!) and this was very good too…

Unfortunately, when it was time for the song that I liked best in the show (one of my regular karaoke favourites)…

…the sound was a little off but I still enjoyed it a lot.

On the down side, I like Frankie Valli’s rendition of the theme song a lot more than Jessis J’s and I did not think Boyz II Men did a better job than Frankie Avalon while this, in my opinion, paled in comparison to Sha Na Na’s livelier rendition of the song…and I prefer Travolta and Olivia’s to this one…

…plus the fact that the lips were totally out of sync with the lyrics of the song sure did not help one bit but I would say that Julianne Hough sure made a really pretty Sandy, as pretty or maybe even more so than Olivia…and by the way, fans of Mario Lopez would be delighted to see him in the show as Vince Fontaine. I wonder if he would make a better Danny Zuko.

We do have a couple of Fox channels on our satelite tv here but I don’t think we could get to watch this here. Well, if they ever get to show it anytime soon, I sure wouldn’t want to miss it. What about you?

Turn up the heat…

I blogged about the frozen pies the other day and somebody said that she would be looking forward to my post on them.

Well, when my girl came home for the weekend on Friday, I heated up one of them – the lamb pie (RM8.50)…

John's Pie, lamb 1

It sure looks like they have baked it lightly before freezing. According to the lady at the shop, when one wants to eat it, one would have to take it out of the freezer and thaw it for around half an hour and then put it in the oven to heat it up and bake the pastry slowly till crispy and golden brown…

John's Pie, lamb 2

It was very strong on the herbs but like the German sausage I had here, once we got used to the taste and the fragrance, we thought it was pretty good…

John's Pie, lamb 3

However, despite all those herbs, the smell of the lamb was still noticeable and for people like my girl and I, who don’t mind it at all, we actually enjoyed it…

John's Pie, lamb 4

…whereas my missus tried a bit and that was it! I did wish, however, that there had been a bit of gravy inside. I love pies like that – when you eat them, the gravy would come oozing out.

I heated the other two on Sunday, the signature beef steak pie and the beef and potato pie (RM7.00) each…

John's Pies

…and I tried the former, the one with the Playboy logo…

John's Pie, signature beef steak 1

…and again, it was very strong on the herbs used and between the beef steak and the lamb, I think I prefer the latter as typical of beef here these days, I found that the meat was a little on the tough side…

John's Pie, signature beef steak 2

– not too bad but no, it was not tender enough for what’s left of my old teeth.

I let my girl take the beef and potato back to her school to enjoy it there so I did not get to try it. Perhaps the meat is minced, not in chunks, and with the potatoes in the pie, I would probably prefer that to this one, I don’t know…but having tried and enjoyed those, I guess we have had our fill of pies…at least for a while.

In the meantime, here, I would like to extend my most sincere thanks to Yan in Taiping, Perak and also to a dear ol’ friend, TeeDee in Kuching for the lovely Chinese New Year cards…

Chinese New Year cards

…that I received yesterday. Oh dear!!! He never fails to send me a card every year and I can hardly remember the last time I mailed one back to reciprocate. *face palm* Like I said in an earlier post, I am not sending any this year – with all the cleaning and everything, somehow time just flew by so very quickly and I do not think the cards would make it in time if I were to dispatch them now. I really must do it early next year…and Chinese New Year is even earlier in 2017, January 28th – a little more than a month after Christmas.

Squares…

Do you still have last year’s ang pao packets or those from the previous years?

If they have the astrological animals in the Chinese horoscope…

Outdated ang pao packets

…they will not be all that relevant any longer this year. Like last year, for instance, it was the goat…and you will have to keep till the  next cycle, till the next Year of the Goat, around 12 years from now, before you can use them.

Of course you can keep them if you want but if you’re thinking of throwing them away, perhaps you would want to use them to make decorative lanterns to hang around the house instead. There are all kinds of lanterns that you can make using ang pao packets but many can be quite complicated and you may need quite a lot. This one is actually very simple to make and to produce one, you only need three of those packets.

Cut each of them into two like this…

Cut into two

…so from the three packets, you will get six squares.

Fold the corners inwards to the centre like this…

Fold in corners

Staple a string to the centre of one of them like this…

Staple string to top square

…and of course, since this is for Chinese New Year, it would be best to use a red string…and that is for the top of your lantern – to hang it up later.

If you want your lantern to look more beautiful, you can get those “tails” from the shops and staple that to the centre of another square for the bottom of your lantern…

For bottom of lantern

Staple the corners of four of those squares together like this…

Staple corners

…for the sides and once that has been done, staple the top to the top corners of those squares…

Staple top

…and the bottom…

Staple bottom

…to the bottom, of course.

Make as many as you need and if you would like some smaller ones for a bit of variety, you can cut each of those squares into four and use them to make the mini versions of the same.

Hang them where appropriate…

CNY decor
*Archive photo*

…and of course, since these are paper lanterns, you should not put them out in the open, exposed to the sun and the rain.

There you have it! It’s very simple really and the best part, of course, would be the fact that you do not need to fork out a whole lot of money to buy those pricey decorative items to beautify your house for the festive season.

This time of year…

Well, it’s this time of year again…and no, I have not finished my spring cleaning and everything yet. At my age, I am going very very slowly, doing a little at a time so no, I have not put up my decorations yet, unlike here…

Payung Cafe Chinese New Year decoration 2016

…at one of my favourite cafés in town…or at this megamall here…

Star Megamall 3 wise monkeys

…where the decorations have not failed to impress…

Star Megamall CNY decor 2016 1

…each year…

Star Megamall CNY decor 2016 2

…and this year is no exception.

Of course, you will get to see anything and everything that has got to do with Chinese New Year…

CNY lanterns & decor

…everywhere for sale, like these lanterns and decorations, for instance…and all the jars of cookies and stuff and these edibles…

CNY edibles

…that seem to be the favourite of many.

Well, there is still a little over three weeks to go so I guess I still have time to dilly dally a bit and get everything ready before the time comes. What about you?