Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

birthday cakeCome January, I celebrate my birthday. Another year in this journey (that can be puzzling, challenging, joyful, mysterious, but often incredible) called life.

When I was a child, I was quite uncomfortable with a January birthday, because it meant that I was one of the first in class to become older! But I soon came to make peace with it.

And there are quite a few January-born people among my relatives, and two of my good friends are January folks. From my observation, most January people are pretty straightforward people, not keen on wiles and backhanded antics.

Admirable famous people born in January include Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King Jr, Dolly Parton, Michelle Obama,the artist Cezanne, and the author Edgar Allan Poe, best known for his stories of macabre and mystery.

I believe Martin Luther King’s words of wisdom ring true for human interaction: that people “…will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Happy Birthday to all January people.

image of carnations

The birth month flower, or the flower that symbolizes the month of a person's birth, for January is the carnation. I was drawn to this lovely illustration on a seed packet.

Read more about the carnation at: https://buildingbridgesworld.wordpress.com/2010/01/15/musings-in-january-the-carnation/

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The year is turning its page from the first month of the year into February.

  • A short month, but packed with festivals. This February, the Chinese New Year celebrates the Year of the Rabbit, and Tet, the Vietnamese New Year celebrates the Year of the Cat. Two of my favorite animals.
  • The Garden Grove/Westminster area in Orange County, California is said to have the largest Vietnamese community outside of Vietnam. The Tet bazaar in Little Saigon bustles with shoppers buying festive food, plants and flowers.
  • The birth flower, which is a flower symbol for the month of someone’s birth, for February is the violet. This flower symbolizes faithfulness, humility and purity. People born in February are said to be honest and loyal. Two of my favorite qualities.
  • Happy New Year to everyone celebrating Chinese New Year and Tet, and happy birthday to the February folks.


Renoir's "woman with a cat" is one of my favorite cat paintings.

The rabbit ushers in refinement.


The birth flower for February is the violet.

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  • The carnation is the birth month flower for January. A birth month flower, or also known as a birth flower, is a flower symbol for the month of someone’s birth.
  • The carnation is the kind of simple beauty that everybody loves. It can be relied on to fit almost any floral bouquet or decoration, and is easily found in both East and West.
  • I’ve taken the photo of my January teacup with a can of Carnation evaporated milk, a product which has continuously used this flower as its symbol since its early days. The milk has always been a favorite in our family, and personally I do maintain that it’s still the best type of milk to add to one’s tea.
  • The carnation is the national flower of Spain, and is the state flower of Ohio.
  • Happy Birthday to all the January people out there.

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chinese patternPeking Duck is a dish that signifies a special treat or a special occasion. It is one of my favorites, and on my recent trip to Asia, I had the opportunity to enjoy it in Johor Bahru.

We ordered Peking Dish at the Lotus Garden Restaurant, a fine dining, halal, Chinese restaurant at the Zon Regency Hotel. The restaurant also offers great service and some seating have lovely views of the sea. We were there to celebrate the birthdays of two family members and  to spend time together, so it was both a culinary treat and a special occasion.

It is said that the Peking Duck dates back to China’s imperial era. One of the essential aspects of Peking Duck is the skin. The skin must be thin, crispy, and glistening deep brown in color. An important step in the preparation process is to pump air into the duck to separate the skin from the fat. This enables the skin to take on its thin, crispy texture during roasting.

Ordering Peking Duck is like ordering crepe suzette at a restaurant. The drama of the preparation is part of the pleasure and ritual of the dish. The duck is presented to the diners at a side table or cart.  This was done at the Lotus Garden. A member of the staff expertly carved the bird, while we looked on in anticipation.

The individual servings were also assembled at the cart. Each thin, white pancake was filled with slices of the skin and meat, stalks of spring onion and a sauce, which was like hoisin sauce. They were served with a small dish of extra dipping sauce. The combination of flavors and textures was quite exquisite.

I find it interesting that Peking Duck is served with the thin, white pancakes in Singapore and Malaysia, while in the United States, it is usually served with buns which, I’m told by a friend, is the way this dish is served in China. For me, it’s hands down for the thin pancakes.

As is the usual custom when one orders Peking Duck, the diner would be asked how would he or she like the rest of the bird to be served. One of the popular ways is to stir-fry the meat with noodles. But my uncle was keen to have the meat cooked in spicy black pepper sauce. We agreed to his adventurous suggestion, and we were not disappointed.

We also had several other dishes such as Sizzling Tofu and Vegetables and Braised Venison Ribs which we really enjoyed. We ended the meal  with a perfectly done classic dessert of Chinese pancake with red bean filling.

Peking Duck combines flavors and textures.

Peking Duck combines flavors and textures.

Part of the pleasure is the carving of the duck at the table.

Part of the pleasure is the carving of the duck at the table.

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Tiny Treats

petit1Today is my birthday. I’m not doing anything special, just enjoying the day with quiet joys.

Every year, I do try to treat myself to one of my favorite things. This year, I take the time out to enjoy petit fours and tea in my “January” china teacup and plate that I bring out in the first month of the year.

Petit four is a small layered cake, usually iced in a pretty, decorative manner. It is said that the name “petit fours” originated in France around the 18th century. The cakes were cooked in a tiny oven, and hence the name petit fours which means small ovens.

Every year, I order them from a catalogue to celebrate festive occasions. Why do I like them? I think it’s because they are very refined and dainty in both workmanship and taste. They harken back to a time or to a way of thinking that values good craftsmanship and skills. The colors are festive , and they make you kind of slow down and smell the roses.

Apart from that, they taste so good that I find it difficult to stop at one!

And so I enjoy my day, counting my blessings and looking forward to plans and projects for this year.

Happy birthday, too, to all you January-born folks out there!

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