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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chinese Dragon Year

Sorry for the long, long hiatus. My internet was down for a week or so.

There's a twelve year cycle for each animal year. I'd suggest you Google the order of the animal years yourself. This year is the year of the dragon, and from what I heard, a lot of Chinese parents crave dragon children, so you know what to do.

During Chinese New Year, or called lunar new year in some cases, is celebrated with lots of noise and family gatherings. Usually the entire family would gather at the parent's or oldest siblings house, then have a reunion dinner or lunch (I have dinner with my mother's side relatives, and lunch with my dad's side relatives).

Traditionally, lots of fireworks and fire crackers should be lit because the noise will "drive away the evil spirits", and wearing red and/or yellow will guarantee you a prosperous and healthy year ahead. Wearing black is strictly prohibited (but I wore black this year) because it's the color you wear to funerals, and will thus ruin your entire year.

This year's lunar new year is much more quiet than the past few years, because Christmas and school openings have already rendered the shopping quota to a bare minimum. The family gathering this year was also quite silent, as a few of the relatives were unable to come home.

Let's start with a few events BEFORE the actual lunar new year - my grandma's birthday. She's around 85 years old now, and still kicking, though, like all other old people, sometimes forgetful and naggy. As a change from our usual Secret Recipe selection of cakes, mum thought we'd try some cake from the nearby Padi House.

The moist chocolate cake from Padi House. Looks pretty, doesn't taste like it looks.

It was called the Moist Chocolate Cake, and the only thing right was that it was chocolate. It could be that the cake was still too cold, but the cream overwhelmed the cake, and the cake itself was rather dry. The presentation of the cake was quite pretty, though.

Purple bodycon dress with gathers.
Blue bodycon dress - my favorite among the three. If you're wondering why this looks so nice, it's because I edited myself to look slimmer.
Black draping evening gown, which is designed to emphasize the hips, but just made me look bulkier than I really am.

Then there was the trip to Sunway before the end of our semester - that is, before our finals. Quinie was shopping for her new year's dress (it's tradition to have at least one new piece of clothing for Chinese new year) at Lence, and so I picked out a few dresses here and there to try. The dressing room sign said no photography, but what they don't know won't hurt them, and I'm basically promoting their brand.

On the last day of college I followed Jasmine, Brian and Cecilia to KL city, and met up with BF for Sakae Sushi, then kinda went home together. It's kinda hard to go home together when both are still heated up from an argument.

The four-pan shadow palette.
On the 30th night (the day before the official lunar new year), my dad came home from China, and had brought home lots of nuts and tea (like always). An expensive Guess watch for my sister, a magnifying mirror that came with a beauty product he got for my mum, and an FOC Laneige Snow Crystal Multi Professional Palette in 03 for me. Supposedly it's a free gift - it's bloody Laneige, and Snow Crystal, no less. Though that won't be of much use since I have my 120 palette, which I don't think I'll finish until I'm like 30 years old.

Before being unwrapped.
The tea unwrapped - the compressed tea leaves were wrapped with bamboo leaves, then encased in a rattan bolster-shaped thing, then covered with a nice Chinese duffel bag.

Also, he brought back something that looked like a bolster wrapped in a Chinese-style cover, but it turned out to be packed pu-er tea. My uncle and my dad kinda hacked the whole thing into pieces and basically distributed it to the entire family. What I don't understand is why he keeps bringing home tea - we seldom drink tea, except grandma. I personally prefer Ceylon tea to Chinese tea. Then we have like a whole truckload of tea in our cupboards that almost never get finished.

So then - for dinner. This year's reunion dinner wasn't as overwhelming as it was last year, because my grandma has a tendency to overestimate everyone's eating capacity. This year my mum had some control over the food to be cooked, and it was just nice - everyone was full, with only a few leftovers here and there. The highlight of the entire meal? The sea cucumber, and the steamed fish.

One of my uncle's wife was born from a fishing family in Pulau Ketam, and occasionally brings over some seafood. The steamed fish that night was beyond fresh, and with just the right amount of ginger and garlic, brought forth the flavor of the fish beautifully. Up until now it's still the 30th night. Everyone chatted until the wee hours of the night, then turned in.

Make-up. My floral dress from Colours (RM99.90), paired with a mini-cardi, also from Colours (RM39.90).
Full length of the dress minus the mini cardi.

I got up reasonably early the next morning, because the first thing on my agenda was make-up. Since I started learning make-up I'd think of some way to create a look that would embrace the Chinese new year-ness of the occasion. The first attempt was a pink and red look I found on a make-up blog, the next was the rainbow eyes, and then this year, it's a look I'd like to call "The Fiery Dragon" (picture tutorial coming after this).

DIY nail art - left: I messed up the middle finger, so I decided to make it into a demon rabbit, with a red aura~ right: random streaks here and there. I apologize for the messiness - I don't have the determination to "clean up" the edges every time I paint my nails or do nail art because the bits of nail polish stuck to the skin will eventually wash off in flakes anyway.
My nails were done a couple of days ago. I tried to recreate the messy pink and black nail-lengthening polish effect, but I gave up half way and ended up doing a variety of designs. I used Estee Lauder's polish in Shimmering Pink, Elianto's Shimmering Black, Elianto's Gold and a Japanese nail art polish in red.

On the new year's day itself, the morning was occupied by a huge serving of my mum's home cooked vegetarian breakfast. At 11am we set out to Bandar Utama to my uncle's house, then from there moved to Extra Super Tanker Restaurant in Damansara Kim. The food there was meh, but I did spot a waiter that resembled the BF a lot. I tried being paparazzi and wanted to take a picture of him but all attempts had failed.

At Bandar Utama. Everyone said I've put on lots of weight.

After lunch we proceeded to Wangsa Maju to my dad's godmother's house. Imagine around 30 people - old, young, and all in between - stuffed into a small double-storey house. My dad's godmother has around 6 children, and all those children has married and have at least two children each. The day was passed with a good conversation with a fan of my blog (it's nice to know that someone somewhere actually enjoys my incessant ranting) and some food, and a very interesting performance by all the kids of the family (excluding us, that is).

On the right is my uncle's godson, on the left is my first cousin's daughter~

We were home by around 6pm, and I took some time playing with my uncle's godson for a while. After a tiring day, some nice chatting and story-telling is pretty good stress relief. The next few days were pretty uneventful, except for the visit to Mid Valley on Tuesday, which gave me some insight on diamonds and another round of German lunch.

A few days later we went all the way to Sierra Damansara to preview my car-to-be. It's a Proton Satria Neo 1.6 Manual, and practically new. I'm not really a fan of manual cars, but what the heck, it's a car anyway.

I've been to karaokes with friends quite a few times already, but this is the first time I've tried going with family, to the one nearby my house which I've never really heard of, no less. MusiZone came to Jalan Radin Bagus when it kinda just opened to public, and I've always been curious as to how good it is.

My verdict? Not very. Yes, they had Gackt (Vanilla) and X Japan (Forever Love), but both were instrumental and had some kind of weird Asian video which had completely nothing to do with the song. The sound quality wasn't very good, and somehow there was no air conditioner controller - it was either on or off, no warmer or colder. Paired with the awkwardness of everyone having different musical tastes, it was really weird, and expensive, by the way.

Homemade salsa with porcini mushrooms and sundried tomatoes~ Absolute heaven~
Yam cake, also from Auntie Joanne's, which was really heavy with yam~

Just night before last had dinner with Auntie Joanne and Uncle Phua at Puchong, but before that we enjoyed a wonderful homemade salsa by Auntie Joanne at her place. Usually she would have an open house at her place during Chinese new year, but this year was an exception.

As the name suggests, Penang One gathers up all the great Penang food into one restaurant.
Hot chocolate. RM4.00
Asam laksa. RM8.90.

Dinner at Penang One was quite good - conversations and good food. Asam laksa can be found practically anywhere, but this is some good Penang asam laksa - it wasn't very overwhelmingly spicy (I picked out the chopped chilies), and the flavor was just right, though it was a rather awkward meal in accompaniment to a hot chocolate.

Yesterday was gewd. At around lunch time, dad, twerp and I walked out (speed walked, more like) for lunch, Unifi inquiries and tiramisu ingredients. I took lead, as I was the only one who knew how to get there by foot, and I took the shady route, which is the road behind the main road.

Nalanda Book Cafe had been closed for a really long time (my last time there was around 3 to 4 years ago), and since then they had changed their menu. The last time I went there, a "dry curry huang di mian" was available, now the entire menu changed to organic vegetarian healthy food.

Clear soup beehoon, with lots of veggies.
The chocolate oat drink.

In the confusion I ordered a clear soup beehoon, accompanied by a chocolate flavored oat drink. This bloody bowl of noodles is no bloody joke - it's downright intimidating! What looks to be a regular bowl of noodles with veggies, is actually almost double or triple the amount you would think it is (veggies and noodle ratio 1:1).

On to TM Point, and upon inquiry, they told us that Unifi "is not yet available in your area". ORLY? Then why all the promotional booths at junctions near our place? If you don't have the service "in my area", then don't torture people to sit under the sun and rain for useless promotion.

Then all the way to the baking shop (I think it's called that), got some icing sugar, whipping cream and cream cheese. Where the whipping cream is concerned, I bought way too much - I forgot the exact amount of cream needed for the tiramisu (150ml = 150g), and just got the 1 liter carton just in case. The thing is, there was a 200ml carton available. Oh well.

The making of the tiramisu itself was alright, because the twerp helped a bit (notice the term "a bit"), though the baking of the sponge fingers were a little awkward because we got a new fridge, and it's in place of the old one, while the old one is in place of the oven, and the oven is now set in an awkward location in the kitchen. Since the old fridge is taking up the power socket that was originally meant for the oven, we had to move the oven right up in front of our microwave oven to use the power socket there.

I shall now move on to doing the Fiery Dragon make-up tutorial. It's a little different because it's generally a recreation of the look, and I had some more time for more mistakes and "creativity".

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