CNY Freebie Giveaway! And BEST Moments From My Chinese New Year 2014

TOP 4 MOMENTS OF MY CHINESE NEW YEAR 2014:

1) Getting my pet Jack Russell Terrier, Cookie, to fetch me some Kumquats.

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Good girl! Stay!

2) Spending time chasing my darling niece Emma Grace around for a photo, but not before she tries to show everyone her bellybutton.

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3) Assisting my Dad as he made delicious suckling pig aka Lechon for Chinese New Year.

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Not so delicious looking BEFORE cooking, eh?! I don’t know if I will EVER be able to cook confidently like the men in my life, because I will NEVER want to hold a dead animal in my arms before having it for dinner. How am I going to eat CNY dinner after seeing it?!?!?! :0

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Ugh, think of this little piglet who never got to go home before you eat your CNY dinner! I think I’ll skip Bak Kwa too and go straight to dessert. (So impressed that my Mom made Pavlova this year, it’s a first!)

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3) For our customary DVD family time, one of my favourite uncles suggested watching Twilight part 2. The shocking part is – he is not joking. Even more shocking – this is because he already watched Twilight part 1!
No one else wanted to watch it, not even me (not that I don’t like it, I’ve watched it 5 times already!). So, I convinced him to watch Cloud Atlas instead… I don’t think he liked it much. Haha.

Last year to celebrate CNY, we watched Ah Boys to Men and all the older men in my family mused how much harder NS (National Service) was back in the old days. You young boys nowadays, very lucky!

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I got so many compliments online and from my relatives this year on my super red lace number – can you believe it’s only SGD$38 from my favourite fashion blogshop, Lexi Lyla!? There are so many other dresses I really want to get soon. I look like a tiny happy ang pow!

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As you can see, Chinese New Year is good for many things – overload of oranges, pineapple tarts, Kuih Pie Tee… but also excessive questions from all your aunties. Like that how?

Heaven and Earth® has launched #CalmComebacksan interactive Facebook app – armed with practical comebacks and instant responses to help you deal with all the questions that will be asked. And trust me, you will definitely have to answer them smartly, so your relatives won’t dare to bully you with other stupid questions!

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I love how the app categorizes different calm comebacks ranging from looks, salary to relationship status.

“Eh girl, why skirt so short?”

“Why not married yet eh?”

“How come don’t have baby yet?”

Ahah! You can answer it all now!

I think my frequent follower-friends here know which categories apply to me right? I very quickly clicked on “relationships” and “marriage” – I need some good answers for those questions. Right now!

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Since you have bothered to spend your precious Chinese New Year week reading my blog instead of collecting Ang Paos, thank you ah! I would like to give 1 box of exclusive Heaven and Earth® Chinese New Year Variety Packs to FIVE of you!

Each pack contains a mix of 4 flavours – Jasmine Green Tea, Honey Chamomile Green Tea, Ice Passionfruit Tea, Ice Lemon Tea, and comes in a 24-can pack. Yum!


All you have to do is SHARE THIS FACEBOOK APP on your own Facebook profile, along with a link to this blogpost and a status of one of your favourite calm comebacks listed in the app.

Do tag my Facebook profile (ESTELLE KIORA) or message me on Facebook when you’ve done so!

FIVE LUCKY READERS who have shared the app on their Facebook page will each receive the 24-CAN HEAVEN AND EARTH ® CHINESE NEW YEAR VARIETY PACK.

To see the calm comebacks in live action, check out this Chinese New Year instructional video. A lot of my favourite Singaporean YouTubers and friends are starring in it too. Gong xi gong xi!

WINNERS WILL BE PICKED BY WEDNESDAY 5 FEB, 5PM.

Tradition, love, family and all sorts of goodies with our tea. Stay calm and keep enjoying Chinese New Year!
cnydad

6 Basic Tips for Foreigners and Expats spending Traditional Chinese New Year in Singapore

As of right now, every Chinese family in Singapore is preparing for their traditional reunion dinner tonight.

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Yes, I know you think we Chinese girls look cute in our traditional Chinese cheongsams!

It’s no secret that this little Singaporean has many expat and foreigner friends. I wish to include everyone in our traditional festivities, and answer some questions that I usually get. If you’re a foreigner experiencing Chinese New Year in Singapore, here’s a few quick tips of the tradition that goes on behind closed doors for “open house”, and how to prepare if you’re visiting one.

1) SORRY, IT’S NOT A PARTY. My parents probably have too many friends (you can see where I pick up my personality from!) and love to have people over at ours, but please don’t be offended if your Chinese friends haven’t invited you over to their home. Traditionally, no members outside the family are usually invited to reunion dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve.

After which, the first two days of Chinese New Year is traditionally reserved for visiting or inviting over relatives and members of the extended family. As homes in Singapore tend to be small and families here are a bit more private than Western cultures, not every family holds an “open house” and invites friends over to their home as well.

2) YOU’RE INVITED ANYWAY! WHAT TO BRING? If you’re visiting my home for Chinese New Year, I would probably suggest giving my Dad a bottle of wine, but gifts are optional and most Chinese families are happy for you to bring over two oranges. You need to bring TWO – not one orange – as there’s something about odd numbers symbolizing unhappy occasions and even numbers for a happy occasion. You are also expected to take home two DIFFERENT oranges from the ones that you brought – so the tradition of giving oranges is really more of a swap.

Don’t take home anything else that isn’t yours!

3) TRYING TO IMPRESS A LOCAL GIRL’S FAMILY? YOU BETTER BRING EXTRA AMMO. If you’re feeling generous or want to show some extra effort, bring a bottle of Chinese New Year snacks (Bee Cheng Hiang bak kwa, prawn cracker roll, pineapple tarts, peanut cookies etc), or even better – a pot of plants. Don’t buy us Cactuses, for not any flowers will do – Chinese New Year themed plants are most meaningful.

These are the fortunes specific plants signify:
Peach blossom symbolizes luck.
Kumquat symbolizes prosperity.
Narcissus symbolizes prosperity.
Chrysanthemum symbolizes longevity.
Bamboo is a plant good for any time of year.
Sunflower means to have a good year.

4) I HEARD ABOUT ANG PAOS. SHOW ME THE MONEY. People don’t usually give out red packets or “ang paos” in the office, because that’s just kind of awkward – and expensive. However, if you visit a married colleague at his or her home, you might be lucky to receive one!

Generally for Chinese New Year, number significances and amounts in the red packets will avoid the number ’4′ (pronounced ‘si’ in Mandarin which means death), and celebrate the number ’8′, including denominations of it (which is pronounced ‘ba’ and usually also referred to as ‘fatt’).

5) RESPECT AND WELL WISHES. With oranges and red packets, always give and receive with two hands and eye contact. You should also insert enthusiasm and a traditional well wishing – “gong xi fa cai”, which literally translates to celebrate (‘gong xi’), and prosper (‘fa cai’).

6) COLOUR CODED. Red is an auspicious colour, and will be the most overused colour of this occasion. Don’t wear black, which symbolizes death – even if your hosts aren’t superstitious, its just rude.
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Here are some pictures from previous celebrations over Chinese New Year – I never live in the past, but I do like looking back at these memories! These pictures are with family and friends from 2010, including an induction for some foreign friends around Chinatown and River Hongbao (a gorgeous carnival we have in Singapore every Chinese New Year period). I look like a baby! Happy Chinese New Year everyone.

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Do you want a great family? Solid friendships? Unlimited travel? Career happiness? High net-worth networks? You can have what I have, right here.

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Once in awhile, I get messages from friends and internet peeps, asking me how I have so many friends, influential contacts, free holidays and travel, cool experiences, vip access, awesome loved ones, and usually why I’m always so positive and deliriously happy…

Thank you for living vicariously through me – I worry that I’m not a good role-model at times to people who may dislike or misunderstand certain parts of my life. Of course, I’m not perfect so be prepared for my mistakes as well. I don’t want to inspire your envy, but instead, I want you to know that you can actually have what I have (seriously).

Let me start from the beginning.

On Christmas Day, sometime long ago and far away, a baby was born from a virgin. Say what? Yes you heard it, born from a virgin, not from lust. This baby was a pure and perfect man – different from any of us. He was holy, sent into this earth to walk among the evil, the sick, and the broken. We all know how f-ed up the world can be. If you have a horrible boss or deal with awful people, you know this already.

GOD almighty in all his glaring glory is too great for any of us earthlings to ever reach, there is no bridge – but His Son Jesus actually came right here, to walk among us sinners. He made HISTORY healing people, I see miracles everyday in the PRESENT, and the bible has proven and clearly documented the events of the FUTURE – some have already happened, other things will.

Jesus died with nails in his bloody hands, pierced by the same people who knew of his eternal glory and power – but were too scared of the selfish consequences from admitting it. He came back to life after death, because after all, He was God’s Son. Life is created from God’s breath.

“Oh this is all just a story,” Some people tell me. And I ask them, “then why is God so real to me?”

Once a year, the world looks for a joyful father figure that gives gifts freely and generously. You’re looking at the wrong man – it’s not Santa. Jesus Christ is this meaning of Christmas, but His love overflows in my life not just on this day, but everyday. It’s such an amazing gift I would even wish it on my worst enemy. It’s life-changing, hey look at me. There was always something missing in my life, until God found me. (I will never forget January 2013, the day I encountered God for the first time.)

Life is basically just incomplete without God (in fact it can even be awful), because HE is the one who breathed life into you. How can you doubt all the awesome things that he wants to do?

He knows the differences between what you want and what you need, the thoughts in your head, and the secrets in your heart. He also knows better than you, because He created you.

I’m not promising things will be perfect, but God promised good things to those who truly love and follow Him. Do I get stressed? Sure. Do I worry about things sometimes? I guess I do. Do I have challenges that stumble me? Wa lau eh of course lah. But I’m quite possibly, living the happiest and fulfilling life – I may not be the richest kid around, but I know I have riches far beyond (and better than) money.

“ALL, GOOD things come from The Lord” – This means, nothing bad is from God. Everything good is from God. It’s totally none of my business if you don’t believe, but hey it just means that you’re blocking yourself from the blessings that he wants to pour on your life. Why refuse something good that someone wants to give you?

Life is good not because I was good enough to deserve it, but because God is great. I’m just an ordinary girl living an extraordinary life.

Ask me or a Christian friend about Jesus. I’m not hard to find online, visit New Creation Church sometime, or you can even just Google “Jesus”. Give some meaning to your Christmas. Give God a chance to show you His love today. The sooner you realize it, you actually receive it.

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Merry Christmas everyone. What an incredible 2013 I’ve had since I decided to pursue God first and all other good things have started to chase me. Thanks to everyone who has brought joy to my life. May you all have a blessed 2014!

 

- CHRISTMAS 2013 -

Christmas has always been undisputedly my favourite time of the year. I countdown the months to this very day, but this year’s Christmas celebrations has been the stuff of sweet dreams. Maybe I’m just in high(er) spirits. It was a month filled with family, good friends, excellent food, lots of catch ups and the obligatory hugs and laughs.

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2013 has significantly been the first year that I’ve ever been officially unemployed and ventured out into starting my own business. It’s really bewildering that this has also been the first year where I’ve been able to afford brand name gifts for loved ones, and have also likewise received some really incredible, undeservedly amazing gifts. (Most of the time, I’m already happy to receive gifts like iPhone pouches and coffee mugs.)

I’m not very brand-conscious and wouldn’t care less, but for a new and struggling entrepreneur, this is really quite ironical?! I feel blessed to bless, I guess.

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I’m very thankful to my Mom and Dad who always give me a Christmas with a meaning – we went to St Andrews Community Hospital this year on Christmas Eve with their church group, spreading some joy to the sick, young, and elderly.

I hope the patients liked our red-themed team love, as I try to croon out some rusty Christmas carols!

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What a heartbreaking but amazing day, don’t think I will forget this Christmas Eve for a while. Sometimes, Singapore gets so comfortable that it’s easy to forget how many under privileged and less fortunate people there are around us. Everyone could do with a bit of love and a whole lot of Jesus. Grateful to my parents who continually remind me of compassion, especially this Christmas. Where do we start? With the elderly and sick who were so thrilled to see us, that they couldn’t stop clapping? The young girl in pink who followed us in her wheelchair all around the wards, squealing with excitement everytime we sing? The 5 year old who spasmed or couldn’t look at me straight, and yet she’s so beautiful?

Loving people is tiring, but I’m glad we did it. Thanks to Mom and her amazing church peeps.

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That’s a wrap! Couldn’t wait to unwrap presents with some of my dearest friends, and some much needed turkey time to total up my Christmas celebration coma.

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Thank you, Christmas 2013. Looking forward to the next.

Happy New Year pull your ear! This is a list of the public holidays in Singapore for 2014

Happy 2014! The best thing to do while you are on public holiday, is to plan your next public holiday.

The Ministry of Manpower has announced the list of 11 public holidays for 2014, so whip those calendars out and start planning your long weekends.

Next year, Chinese New Year will fall on Friday, Jan 31 and Saturday, Feb 1.

Good Friday will be on April 18 and Vesak Day on May 13.

Hari Raya Puasa is on July 28 while Hari Raya Haji is on Oct 5. Deepavali next year is slated to be on Oct 23, but is subject to change.
New Year’s Day, Labour Day, National Day and Christmas Day will fall on the usual days.

The complete list for the 11 gazetted public holidays can be viewed on the Ministry’s website here.

Public Holidays in 2014

New Year’s Day — 1 Jan (Wednesday)
Chinese New Year — 31 Jan, 1 Feb (Friday/Saturday)
Good Friday — 18 April (Friday)
Labour Day — 1 May (Thursday)
Vesak Day — 13 May (Tuesday)
Hari Raya Puasa — 28 July (Monday)
National Day — 9 Aug (Saturday)
Hari Raya Haji — 5 October (Sunday, the following Monday is a PH)
Deepavali — 23 October (Thursday)*
Christmas Day — 25 December (Thursday)

*Subject to change, according to Indian almanac

ZoukOut 2013: Last year’s pics + 4 reasons to attend and stay till the sunrise this year

Why go to one of Asia’s top dance festivals and leave by 2am? Don’t be a cinderella this year – leave your shoes on the sand while we dance the starry night away with top tunes until the sunrise. ZoukOut 2013 is back for the 13th year, and will no less spectacular – expect 2 days of pure party power from Friday 13 December to Saturday 14 December.

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ZoukOut may have been running for a very long time, but it’s probably not going to die down anytime soon. True party hearts have trusted and twirled to Zouk’s careful music choices for more than a decade of dancing, and only the best beats are guaranteed as our feet sink into the sandy Siloso shores. Hello again to Singapore’s best reason for uniting clubbers from all over the world.

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Who wants to stay with me till the sunrise? I’ve always paced myself and made it to the end, but in case you need more motivation, these are 4 of my inspirations to stay till the closing this coming ZoukOut 2013.

#1: You can use your EZ Link Card to buy drinks throughout the night.

This year, ZoukOut is introducing much-needed cashless payment at the bar. All we have to do is “tap and go” to pay for drinks. This beats having to queue for drink coupons, and we can use the same card to take the train home. Ain’t no party like an MRT after-party!

You can store up to $500 on your EZ-Link card, but there are top-up kiosks at the venue too.

#2: Harder, better, longer, stronger

Last year, the first night of the festival kicked off at 9pm and ended by 4am. ZoukOut 2013 will start an hour earlier at 8pm and end at 5am. The second day will remain a 12-hour dusk-to-dawn dance extravaganza, from 8pm to 8am. Can you handle it? More to love!

#3: More time to appreciate the awesome international and local line-up.

Afrojack on Friday seems to be a crowd favourite, and you really mustn’t miss Benga, Nervo, Ferry Corsten and Danny Avila.

I had the huge privilege of seeing and listening to Solomun live, during his Sunday residency at Pacha Ibiza, start of summer this year. Solomun has been absolutely raging through Europe the last 2 years, successfully packing out his stints in the house music scene. ZoukOut is deservedly better this year knowing that I can disco with him.

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One of my Solomun favourites:

Looking forward to the star-studded interntaional line-up and digging into the localized tent to hear out A/K/A, Aldrin, Maurice Simon, Gerald Ang, Jeremy Boon, Ghetto, and Formative.

#4: Heineken creates party history this year by re-creating a dramatized sunrise.

Besides being ZoukOut’s official beer partner again this year, Heineken rewards their fans by creating an enhanced sunrise at ZoukOut this very special year! I can’t believe they are actually going to light up the sky – this I got to see. What a pretty idea, given the poor terrain and geography of Siloso Beach.

The Heineken Sunrise will be the special highlight of the event, together with a dance-reactive floor that is linked to the powering of the ‘sun’ and ‘sunrise’, which everyone can participate in. What a treat this year to marvel in! I can’t wait to witness the epic close of the last set, glorified against a spectacular sunrise.

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How are we going to last till wee hours of the morning, you may ask? Why, water of course. Lots. I’ve always been a fan of brands that advocate responsible drinking. There’s nothing more un-attractive than guys and girls stumbling around and falling over each other. ZoukOut is all about the world-class music acts and awesome party people for me. I’m proud of my last-till-morning party stamina, for the sunrise belongs to moderate drinkers. Walk past the Heineken tent at ZoukOut for your bottle of water.

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LAST YEAR’S PICTURES: I definitely had some colourful times at ZoukOut 2012, especially great to see the gang who flew in from Hong Kong and Japan. Super pumped for this weekend with Heineken and friends!

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Stay till the end, and you might just be rewarded with a happy hug from boss man himself, Lincoln Cheng (Zouk ‘de lao ban’).

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NIGHT IS A JOURNEY. MAKE SUNRISE THE LAST STOP.

Where are my fellow sunrise troopers at? Looking forward to a brilliant break of dawn with all of you. xxx

ZoukOut 2013: FRIDAY 13 Dec, 9pm–4am; SATURDAY 14 Dec, 8pm–8am
Venue: Siloso Beach, Sentosa
Tickets: $98, $108, $118 (13 Dec, advanced, standard and at the door);
$108, $118, $128 (14 Dec, advanced, standard and at the door);
OR $168 (two-day festival pass).

Follow ZoukOut’s blog for updates, Heineken on Facebook, and tag your IG photos with #ZoukOut2013 #HeinekenSG and #HeinekenSunrise for me to see!

Pre-game your Saturday tomorrow with some FREE pampering at Blow Plus Bar

Hey ladies, listen up!

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My favourite go-to salon for fabulous hair, nails, free wine and a good time – BLOW PLUS BAR – is giving back to Singapore’s society by making girls gorgeous! Visit them TOMORROW for FREE express makeovers (hair styling, express manicures, make up re-touching) and free booze. Donate as you wish and 100% of the proceeds on this day goes to the Breast Cancer Foundation.

Blow+Bar first anniversary x Breast Cancer Foundation

All day tomorrow, 7 Rodyk Street @ Robertson Quay.

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Such a lovely way for Blow Plus Bar to celebrate their first birthday! Respect and admiration to the talented team.

Perfect to kick-start your Saturday, or to glam up with your best girlfriends before dinner and drinks!

Good cop, Bad cop: This is really not what you think it is

I’m not going to lie. I’m the ultimate video junkie… And I’m finding more and more talent online nowadays than on TV.

Sick of the usual police-crime shows? Me too. I promise this is not one of them.

So proud of Made-in-Singapore talent, Cheokboard Studios!