A Non-Traditional Chinese New Year

祝大: 马年吉祥!马到功成!马年行大运

Chinese New Year has been pretty simple this year. No spring cleaning, no shopping for new clothes, no visiting of family and friends. There has not been much of a 气氛 (atmosphere) for me here since my family are not with me and I am not at all integrated into the Chinese community. While saying that, I still enjoyed this festive season, with my two BFFs, Xiaowei and Lili, in an untraditional way. We tried to hype up some fun amongst ourselves. The plan was to have a meal together and bake some Singaporean style pineapple tarts. XW and I were in charge of the pineapple tarts, naturally, though we are two newbies at it, while Lili was the head chef for our CNY lunch. The menu was evident – hot, spicy Sichuanese food. As she says it, “我的招牌菜 (my signature dish) !”

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Another way to commemorate CNY is gambling. However, instead of gambling with money, we decided to use wasabi peas since we had a newcomer. A little creativity allowed everyone to spice up their life with wasabi burning up the nostrils. 

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We planned to finish making our tarts within a day but we started the day late (how does it always end up like that…) and on top of that, we took our time to savour the amazing home cooked meal. In the end, we only managed to do up the jam.

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The pastry was left to the next day where we tried to work as efficiently as possible since we + husbands were craving to have a taste of the end product.

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For first timers, I must say we have done a darn good job. Of course there are always areas for improvements but for now, I am popping those tarts in my mouth like nobody’s business! 

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Not too bad for a quiet CNY. Sending out all my love and wishes to friends and family back home! You have been missed! 

 

Signing of with love, 

Esther 

Unguided Ramblings

I woke up staring in the direction of the window. The sun is up and the glare made it obvious that half the day has passed. I checked my cell phone that guards by me throughout the night. It has been my faithful alarm clock but since it is the ‘holidays’, it is on vacation as well. The time reads 1:15pm.

‘What time did I go to bed last night?’ I asked myself.

Holiday is pretty much defined as ‘a day on which one is exempted from work’. My holidays are based on Dan’s holidays because I do not have work, not officially anyway. Since last weekend was Easter, Dan had Friday, Monday and Tuesday off, which means late nights with no morning disturbances. Recently, I do not seem to be able to go pass 2am. My eyelids start to feel heavy and I start to act like a two years old grouchy kid. I know it is time for bed. So after sleeping for almost 11 hours, why do I wake up feeling numb? Where is that little brewing excitement in me when I actually get to sleep in because I know that I do not have to worry about the day and its schedule?

A few obvious reasons for being upset with myself for sleeping in:

  1. I have wasted half the day. What can I really do in the next 4 hours before the sun goes down?
  2. I am such a lazy arse. How can I sleep in till such a time when I don’t even work?
  3. What am I going to do today? What’s there to look forward to?

As we can see, I am hard on myself once again. The rational part of me knows that my body needed the sleep and that is why it could turn off the power button till rested. However, it is point number three that pokes at me consistently. My day seems the same every day. While many are envious that I do not have to work, I would remind them that the grass on the other field always look greener. I would not say that work is the key to happiness but I would say that it gives an outline to one’s life or something to focus on. A holiday escapade, as a solution to stressful work, is at least something to look forward to. When winter is all cold and gloomy, you appreciate the summer sun and warmth. When you are used to living in high-rise apartments, you appreciate the beauty of low-rise apartments. When you are surrounded by sky scrapers, you look at vast grasslands in awe. When you are busy in life, holidays and time-offs are like having sweet desserts where you savour every bit of it.

Friends are another important aspect of life. I never beg to differ but recently, the sense of loneliness felt greater than before. Quite a number of good friends whom I have made during my stay here have returned to their own countries. After returning from my trip to Singapore, it made me more conscious of the missing puzzles in my life. Making a new friend is like courtship. You meet up with the person once or twice and if the chemistry is there, you continue pursuing this new relationship. However, if the spark is missing, you just have to laissez tomber.

This is just a rambling blog since I don’t feel too well. I need to release my tangled thoughts and unsettled feelings so this is my dumping ground. I probably need to find myself some activities where I find purpose and I find friends. Or maybe just pick up new interests. That shouldn’t be too hard, should it?

A French music video to share:

Lisa LeBlanc: Aujourd’hui, ma vie c’est d’la marde (Today, my life is shit)

 

Signing off with love,

Esther

Why is Bachelorette Party So Important?

The only time you get all the attention, do the most embarrassing things in your life and actually not be judged.

Being in a not so foreign land (since I have been here almost a year now), I thought I would not be having a bachelorette party before my wedding as all my girlfriends are in Singapore or somewhere else in the world. I also thought maybe it was no big deal whether I had this party or not. Fortunately, blessed with beautiful people, I had a group of girls who decided to plan my bachelorette party which happened two weeks before the wedding. I am glad it all happened.

The suspense

Discussions had been going on via FB as I knew but I had no idea what had been planned out for me. I did not pry for any information because that’s the whole idea of having a bachelorette. Enjoy the suspense and adrenaline rush and trust your girl friends to plan something amazing for you.

Time to drop everything and relax

If someone tells you that marriage preparation is no frill and relaxing, he/she has either hired a wedding planner or he/she is lying. Even with a wedding planner, if you want the wedding day to go well, you will still be mentally stressed as you do not want to miss out any important details. Stressed out is an understatement. The details were driving me nuts, not discounting the fact that I have the ‘If I set my mind to do something, I want to do it real well’ mentality. I was glad that a friend reminded me to take a break on my bachelorette. It was my day off and I should just enjoy myself.  That was what I did – basked in the evening of activities which were taken care off.

Experiencing something new

Actually I experienced two new things!

1) I had my first pole dancing class. As an audience, pole dancing looks so intriguing and sexy! However, when I was on the pole, it was challenging and painful. I have heard how real pole dancing i.e. those at competition or performance level, requires some gymnastic skills. Now, I can truly testify to that!

2) I had my first visit to Montreal’s gay village and my first time stepping into a gay club. I always wanted to visit a gay club in Singapore but never had the chance to do so. Even though there were some pests, I have to say that it really is much safer to be in a gay club as you are not their interest. At the gay village, I had many challenges to do, for example, selling penis-looking cookies! Selling to gays? I had some unexpected yet interesting conversation. I was also quite impressed with myself when I had to use French to communicate. I guess in a situation like that, I was pretty much in ‘survival mode’.

 

Time apart from your other half

On my end, since I live with my partner, we see each other every day and 80% of the time, we are somehow talking about something which is related to the wedding. Not cool. Heading out for a girly night was a good opportunity to give my other half some breathing space and also to give some time to myself. I did feel a sense of relief when I was just hanging out with the girls, having a nice meal at a restaurant. One evening is not that long but I had the chance to pop myself several questions like:

‘Is he really the man I am willing to spend the rest of my life with?’

‘Do I see an eternal future for the both of us?’

‘Will I be able to go through all the ups and downs with him; through sickness and health?’

‘Am I ready to be married, like FOR REAL?

I was glad that the answer ‘yes’ resonated within me. It was necessary for me to be sure as marriage has always been something sacred to me.

Party time!

This may not be applicable to all but since I love to dance, dancing a club allowed me to lose myself in the music. We ended at 2am that night. I could have gone on all night but I knew that was not a wise choice as tiredness was already slowly seeping into my body.     

Thank you my beautiful ladies who made this happened and missing my BFFs back home!

Signing off with love,

Esther

Golden 26

C’est mon anniversaire~

It is my birthday today. I have to blog! The last one month has been wedding crazy, hence the disappearance from the blogging world. Sometimes I think it is ridiculous to pull the handbrake on all other things in my life but on hindsight, I do think it is worth it because it is my once in the lifetime big day after all, isn’t it?

Despite the disoriented schedule, I am proud to have found time to ‘get a life’. Two weekends ago, Dan and  ImageI went to a rave party called Space Gathering. It was known as a more hippie party where people are considerably more relax in general and less judgmental.  Electronic music was played 24 hours over a course of 4 days and 3 nights. I was surprised where I saw families with young children. I cannot imagine Singaporean families with their little ones camping like this. Dan and I arrived on Friday night. We left Montreal at 3pm but only to arrive at about 9pm. A 3 hour drive turned out 9 hours as we got lost along the way. Once we arrived at this highly hidden place, we pitched our tent and wondered around the premise.  The days were spent at the waterfall, cooling ourselves in the river as the sun was scorching mercilessly. We took everything real slow; time was not a reference. We ate when we were hungry; we headed out to places when we felt like it. At the end of four days, we were tired but light-spirited. The temporary disconnection from the world proves therapeutic.

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Last weekend, I threw my own birthday party with close family and friends. Dan’s parents’ kindly allowed us to use their place where we had a BBQ party and stuffed our face with lots of food. Initially I thought it may be awkward because I have not known these people for a long time but to my pleasant surprise, the day turned out lovely and I count my blessings to have met amazing people on in a foreign land.

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So how does it feel like to turn 26 on the 26th?

Incroyable. So many things happened in such a short period of time that I wonder to myself at times, ‘is this real?’ To Dan, 26 is the golden age. It is the age where a girl is more matured and ready to handle a serious relationship. I met Dan at 25. That triggered his concern at the start. Fortunately he did not have to suffer a ‘heart attack’. Someone pointed out the auspiciousness of turning 26 on the 26th. It led me to think back about what I asked for when I was younger. I always thought my mum got married at 26 and being my role model, I thought that was a good age hence I decided that I would like to be married at 26 too. It was only recently that I found out 26 was not the correct age. Just a year back, I thought I would be single and left on the shelf. One year later, I find myself embraced in the arms of a loving boy who has opened his heart to me. The randomness of the encounter will always serve as a reminder to how precious this relationship is.

My birthday wish? 

It is has been almost consistent every year but it has changed slightly this year.

Before meeting Dan

  1. To find the special someone to live happily ever after
  2. To be happy
  3. For family and friends to be happy and in good health
  4. For the world to be a better place

Now being with Dan

  1. To have a loving and fulfilling relationship with Dan
  2.  For family and friends to be happy and in good health
  3. For the world to be a better place

It is easy to grow old but it is not easy to grow up. The extra year added to my physical age embraces experiences  which made me wiser. Giving up my comfort zone and moving into an extra-terrestre land has been tougher than what I expected. Knowing is one thing, going through it is another.  A few things I have learned along the way:

Love and Romance

– Acceptance and accommodation. When you love someone, you don’t try to change the person. You learn to understand your partner and together, work towards a path that works for both parties.

– Acknowledgement and appreciation. A simple thank you with a hug or a kiss shows how much that person means to you.

– Apology. The ego is insatiable. Yet if you treasure a relationship, keeping the ego in check makes a longer distance.

– Giving freedom. An important need for guys yet the ladies hardly comprehend. This reminds me of the kite story where the harder you pull, the easier the string snaps.

Self

– Have faith. Everything will work out fine.

– Liberty. It was hard to tear myself away from materialism. Money, career, luxury etc. It makes one envious or jealous but it does not add any value to the soul.

– Open-mindedness. The number one requirement when one moves to a new country. Not everyone thinks and acts like you.

– Sincerity with sensibility. There are people whom you can trust and there are people who are assholes. Treat all people with sincerity but if they hold ill intentions, learn to walk away.

One thing that I still need to deal with – my drama queen side! I get stressed up real easy and then the stress overspills into Daniel space. Hopefully these unneeded hormones will go down after the wedding. This will probably be the last blog until after the wedding.  I am looking forward to share photos of the amazing day with family and friends back home.  Till then, happy summer!

Signing off with love,

Esther

Hey Spring, you are finally here!

When spring comes, it is time for a picnic!

Four months of cold has caused my skin to turn a shade lighter. Whilst many Asian counterparts like being fair in terms of skin tone, I very much prefer some dosage of sunlight to achieve a healthy tan. Last week had been a week of rain. Not my favourite weather as I don’t like collecting rain water on me (but Dan told me, “Tu n’es pas faire un chocolat”). I am glad the weather took a change. After monitoring the weather forecast, Sooa, Rumi and I chose this faithful day to head over to Parc Jeanne-Mance for a picnic. The park is located about 10 to 15 minutes walk from Mont Royal metro station.

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At the park, we chose a spot right in the middle of vast greens, under the blanket of blue. We laid our mat and took out our lunches. We had sandwiches, rice, fruit juice, fresh orange and snacks to share. We ate, chatted and at one point, laid down to take a nap. The temperature was at about 12 to 14 degrees but with the sun, it felt like 18 degrees. We still had a layer of jacket on due to the chilly wind which blows by from time to time.

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I have heard many people from Montreal tell me, “When spring and summer come, the city comes alive.”

I can finally understand why. We were not alone in the park. We had company. There were other groups of people gathered around to bask in the sunlight. Owners also took the opportunity to bring their dogs for a walk. It has been quite some time since I have appreciated the sun and warmth so much. I guess there must always be a comparison before we know the value of something.

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Signing off with love,

Esther

A Tribute to Those Who Matters

Who would you like to appreciate today?

It has been awhile since I last took time out to blog. This is due to two contributing factors: 1) Blogging has to take the back seat as I decide to have my big day this year and 2) I was going through a period of slump as I thought about home.

The end of April marks my 6th month in Montreal; the longest I have been away from home. The feeling of nostalgia was overwhelming. I longed for the comfort of my home; I yearn for the stability and security of tiny Singapore; I miss the familiarity of an environment and of course, the company of my family and friends. Planning my wedding also drew the spotlight onto the fact that I am very far from my home. I do not have my loved ones to participate directly in the preparation of my wedding. With technology like whatsapp application, I am to communicate easily with them. However, physical distance still matters with important events like this.

Regardless, I am thankful for my journey thus far. I am blessed with having beautiful people in my life. As advised by one of my BFFs (Ms Goh/ Mrs Tan), I should list down what I am grateful for. So much for a coincidence, I picked up a book to read last night and the first paragraph which came into my vision was:

‘Every time you appreciate something, every time you praise something, every time you feel good about something, you are telling the Universe: “More of this please.” You need never make another verbal statement of this intent, and if you are mostly in a state of appreciation, all good things will flow to you.’ — Ask and It is Given, by Esther and Jerry Hicks

Hence, my shout out:

To My Parents

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Thank you for your unconditional love and support all these years. Thank you for bringing me up well and giving me endless opportunities to experience the boundless surprises in life. I know I am not the easiest child to manage but you have fulfilled your responsibility and now it is time for you to sit back and enjoy your life

To my extended family (cousins, uncles, aunts etc)

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Thank you for keeping in touch and being concern about my well being. I definitely miss all the gatherings where we eat, drink and have a good time together. Relationships do not exist just like that. It takes time and effort to keep the communication going.

To my friends in/ from Singapore

These are people whom I consider almost family at times for they have grown with me over the months/ years.  Thank you for listening to my frustrated and excited blabbers at random times. Thank you for asking me, ‘How are you?’ via FB, gmail or whatsapp. Be surprise how much those words meant in that moment.

To the family of Daniel

I cannot express enough gratitude as I have been treated like family. Thank you for ensuring that I enjoy my stay in Montreal as you extended your help in whatever ways possible.

To the friends of Daniel

Initially, I was concerned that it may not be healthy if I get too close to Daniel’s friends. However, through his network, I have bonded with some cheerful and positive people who coloured my life in different ways. Thank you for encouraging and helping me in French, thank you for hanging out together and thank you for answering any doubts I have in a foreign land.

To my friends made in Montreal

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To those who come here just to study English, I am inspired by your determination to learn. Thank you for those happy moments of gathering whether for ice-skating or to feast upon a certain cuisine. To those who are in the same boat as me, I am glad to have companions while conquering the challenge of learning French. Let us work hard together and settle down as happy immigrants here!

Last but not least,

To my ever supportive partner Daniel

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I must say it has not been easy for him at all having a woman at home going through unknown mood swings. Thank you my dear for taking the time to understand and learn more about me. Thank you for loving me for who I am and having me in your thoughts all the time. Je t’aime.

 

“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.” — Ralph Marston

Signing off with love,

Esther