Short excerpt from ‘A Chinese Christmas Carol’

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xmas carol

Grandma Ling nodded sadly. Joie only knew very little about the Chinese customs when it came to wakes and funerals, but she didn’t know that a mother couldn’t attend her own daughter’s wake and funeral. So a mother couldn’t say a proper good-bye to her own daughter?

“That’s very stupid,” said Joie.

“That’s the custom,” said Grandma Ling sadly.

“Grandma Ling, how are you going to say good-bye to my mom, your daughter?”

“I can’t”

“What happens if you turn up at the wake and the funeral?”

“Joie, in Chinese custom when it comes to wakes and funerals, we Chinese people take it very, very seriously. If the customs are not followed and obeyed, there will be bad luck, ill fortune, and disaster within the family.”

Joie didn’t say anything.

“Joie, during the funeral, you must send your parents off well and properly, especially for me, OK?”

I sniff books………so what?

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11181197_1081548378525919_2672722797506909627_n(Photo credit – Xlibris Publishing)

Yup, I said it. I sniff books, and I’m being honest about it. I don’t know what it is, especially with new books. I believe that true writers/authors sniff books. It’s a way for us to emotionally connect with the books. I like the smell of new books when I walk into a bookstore. It’s just so emotionally captivating. When I reach out for a new book, I would look around me before putting it close to my nose. Or if I buy a new writing book to write my drafts in, I would always turn to the first page, give it a sniff, before penning down the words. I love it.

5 years on………

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xmas carol

It’s been five years since A Chinese Christmas Carol was published. And because of you lovely followers/bloggers/supporters out there who are following and supporting me, the book continues to sell today. Although I have no idea who these buyers/supporters are, but if its any of you following my blog, I would like to say a huge, genuine thank you. And do get in touch. Don’t be shy.

Anyways, sorry I have been away. I’m sure most of you know my absence is to do with my current book and publishing company. I had no idea how much work there would be and the number of sleepless nights it would take. But there are no regrets. So please don’t think I am ignoring the blog and you all. Once everything is finished and ready, this blog will be as ‘busy’ as usual. However, I can’t give a date.

For those of you who have read A Chinese Christmas Carol, there will be a prequel to it. So if there are any questions to the first book, don’t worry. It will all be explained in the second one. Just a heads up.

Until then, I will sign off here. Take care and thank you again.

Much love,

PY Lab

xoxo

A special post – Smashing Lung Leavin’ Day

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Cam_Lil_HVSJ Family (1)(Heather and her husband, Cameron, and daughter, Lily)

A week ago, I was checking my email when I noticed I had a message from someone I haven’t heard of, and her name was Heather. After reading Heather’s message, I realised that she had reached out to me through my blog. And out of the millions of other blogs out there, she had particularly chosen mines, amongst a few selected others, to help raise an important and personal awareness.

Heather Von St. James is a 9 year cancer survivor. She had mesothelioma, and she was given only 15 months to live. She also had to undergo a life changing procedure. And to make matters worse, at the time when she was diagnosed, she also happened to be a new mother. She was filled with fear.

There are two types of mesothelioma. One is pleural mesothelioma, where the cancer grows inside the tissue and covers the lungs. The other is peritoneal mesothelioma, where the cancer grows in the lining of the abdomen. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma includes pain in the chest or lower back, a high feverish temperature, persistent cough, and unexplained weight loss. And Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma includes pain or swelling of the abdomen, nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhoea or constipation, and unexplained weight loss. What causes mesothelioma is asbestos, which is an insulating material that is heat and fire resistant. Asbestos was widely used in the building industry back in the 1950s to 1990s until it was banned in 1999 due to risk of health. The changes of getting asbestos is greater if one is exposed to it at an early age. Heather had pleural mesothelioma. As a little girl, she used to inhale asbestos from her father’s jacket which she used to wear around the house.

http://www.mesothelioma.com/mesothelioma/types/

Then on February 2nd, 9 years ago, Heather managed to have her lung removed. That was the day her sister declared it Lung Leavin’ Day. From then onwards, every year, on Lung Leavin’ Day, Heather, her friends, family, and other supporters, would celebrate the day by writing their biggest fears on a plate and then smashing it into the fire.

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After having corresponded with Heather, she felt like no stranger to me. In fact, I felt touched that she had reached out to me and told me this personal story. I even mentioned to her that my father had throat cancer. He died 14 years ago when I was late in my teens. The sad thing is that I didn’t know about the cancer until after he had died. My then-boyfriend and his father were helping me pack up his things when they found some medical files. They looked through it and learned that my father had been battling throat cancer for several years, and I had no idea about it. Cancer never crossed my mind. There were times when I noticed my father looking tired and losing weight. He said he was under a lot of stress at work and that his blood pressure was high. After learning my father had cancer, which I did not know about, made me angry and helpless. Sometimes I still blame myself for his death. If only I had known. But there were no clues as to why he never told me. No letter. Nothing. Nobody knew. Only the doctor knew. 20150221_205846

If I had known about my father’s cancer, I would have helped him battle it. I would have done and given up anything for him. I would have given up my studies to fight with him. Meeting Heather really brought back memories. But it also makes me want to help her raise and spread the awareness of Lung Leavin’ Day. If anyone out there is or have been affected by cancer in any way, don’t hide. Come out. Speak out. Don’t fear it. Instead, let it fear you. Write those fears and toss it into the fire. And don’t shut loved ones away. Let them help.

So here is my contribution to Lung Leavin’ Day. Just so you know, I couldn’t throw my plate into the fire. I live in a community where it’s impossible to have a ‘fire’. I am not trying to break or change Heather’s tradition. However, I still wanted to show my support, except that it had to be done in my kitchen. Heather, I don’t just want to write this post to help raise and spread the awareness. I want to show that I do care. So if it means that I can’t have fire, doesn’t mean I can’t smash a plate in the honour of Lung Leavin’ Day.20150221_205057

Sure, I have accidentally broken plates before, but this time was different. There was a purpose. I know it sounds silly, but I actually felt kind of nervous before smashing the plate. Instead of writing down the fears (due to personal reasons to be shown here), I shouted out the fears in my kitchen. Here’s to the fears, and to you, Father, and Heather.20150221_20511820150221_205226

It felt good afterwards. Really good. Not fun, because this is not a game, but good. There’s a difference. For me, breaking the plate was symbolic. It was a way of smashing those fears and saying ‘yes, I can smash you into pieces’. Same thing goes for smashing it into the fire. In fact, I think that would have been much more powerful.

Many of us live in fear everyday, or there are fears that surrounds/consumes us. Remember that we only live once. We’ll never know what will happen to us in the next second, the next hour, or the next day. But we can just live and appreciate the life we are in. Don’t allow fear to live our life.

I hope there will be many others who will support Lung Leavin’ Day. As of now, apart from myself, my blog is an official supporter of Lung Leavin’ Day with its image (below) on the side of the blog, which will direct you to Heather’s blog once you click on it. I did not become a supporter for any other reasons apart from the fact that we cannot give up and let cancer, or any fear (cancer-related or not), beat us and bring us down. It brought me down 14 years ago and almost emotionally destroyed me. But I wanted to make my father proud. So I pursed something that I knew my father would be proud of (and something that I love to do). Heather thought she only had 15 months to live. Now look at her. Let us ‘smash’ Lung Leavin’ Day and keep on fighting.

If you want to know more about mesothelioma, just click on the links below.

http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/lungleavinday/#.VOzKLfmsV8E

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/type/mesothelioma/about/mesothelioma-risks-and-causes

http://www.mesothelioma.uk.com/

http://www.mesothelioma.com/mesothelioma/

Thank you, Heather, for being an inspiration. You are a true fighter.

LLD-TalkingPlate-2015

Happy Chinese New Year – The story of Nian

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Happy Chinese New Year 2015 to all. cny12cny157As many know, Chinese New Year is a time where majority of those of Chinese descendants, come together with their family and friends to celebrate. It is a festive period involving lots of good company, food, money giving, traditional entertainments, and lots of laughter.cny158And of course, we cannot forget about the Chinese rice balls, which is eaten during festive seasons like Chinese New Year, New Year, and for some, during the Christmas season as well. cny153cny154cny152cny155cny156cyn15110996581_10152697485545662_7816092254273855384_nThe colour red have always been a symbolic colour for Chinese New Year. According to an old Chinese myth that I know, there was once a beast with the body of a bull and the head of a lion called, Nian. Every beginning of the year, Nian would come out from the mountains where it was living and terrorize a village. It would eat their crops, and if there were any villagers in the way, it would eat them too. One day, a strange man came to visit the village and told the villagers that the beast can be defeated by loud noises, bright firelights, and the colour red. So the villagers would hang and display bright red lanterns and fire crackers everywhere. In the end, Nian was terrified that it returned to the mountains and was never seen or heard of again. That is why Chinese New Year is filled with loud noises and firecrackers. And in memory of Nian, there is the symbolic and well known lion dance.

There are several versions of the Nian myth, but they are all similar in a way with how it ends.   cny150cny15

Photo credits to Suzanne Yeang and Irene Soo. Thank you, Ladies, for the wonderful photos, as usual. And special thanks to Irene for always taking mouth-watering photos of the rice balls. I know nobody who can make rice balls as perfect as she can. Looking forward for more to come.

Gong Hie Fatt Choi to everybody.

Other posts on past Chinese New Year and rice balls:

https://puiyinlab.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/happy-new-year-first-post-of-2013/

https://puiyinlab.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/chinese-new-year-2014/

https://puiyinlab.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/how-to-make-chinese-rice-balls/

 

 

A half tradition, half Filipino style Christmas turkey 2014

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Merry Christmas to the year 2014 everybody.

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This year (2014) has been a turbulence year for me and my family. But in the end, we got to where we wanted to be. So joy to the world :) xmas

Also, this year marks the very first time me and my family made turkey dinner all on our own. In the past, we would have turkey made by my in-laws, a whole roast chicken, or in my case, lamb chops.

When my parents were around, we would always have lamb chops instead of turkey during Christmas. I don’t know why, exactly. We were the kind of family who loves lamb chops. But we don’t often have it, because we don’t want to get tired of eating it. During ‘normal’ days, my mom would cook the usual minted grilled lamb chops. But every Christmas, she would cook a giant lamb leg. For only the three of us, it was a lot to eat, and we enjoyed it. It was our family tradition. Then when my mom got sick and had to stay one Christmas in hospital, my dad would keep the tradition going. So he would cook the lamb chops instead. But he wasn’t a very good cook. In fact, he wasn’t a cook at all. However, it was his hard work and attempts that was counted for. Although he did burn the lamb a little, I still enjoyed it. Sadly, the tradition stopped when my parents passed away. That was a long time ago.

Today, my family have our own tradition. Since marrying my Filipino husband, we’ve always had roast chicken or turkey cooked by my in-laws during Christmas. But this year, we moved into our new home, therefore, we have our very own turkey tradition. Our turkey is made half tradition (like the usual tradition) and half Filipino style. What I mean by Filipino style, I mean the way Filipinos grill/cook a whole chicken. And my husband, who is a qualified chef by the way, so don’t worry, is using that technique to cook the turkey. This might be confusing to some, but any Filipinos reading this would know what I mean. And the key to a successful Filipino chicken, or turkey in our case, is lemongrass.

In the end, I loved the tradition-Filipino turkey. But my husband was disappointed, because we didn’t have lemongrass. We spent most of our time shopping for pressies that we left the turkey shopping till last. Big mistake. My husband did try his best, but I could see the disappointment. However, I told him that it is only our first tradition-Filipino turkey. There will be plenty more Christmases to come. So next year, we will be prepared. Sorry I didn’t capture a photo. I will do so next year. And hopefully, my chef will succeed in his new-found turkey recipe. xmas3xmasteddy

Merry Christmas and looking forward to a busy new year.

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