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

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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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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!

The Coolest Emergency Dating Pack comes with Marine Collagen Essence Strip

Pretty pink things delight me greatly, but it was especially special to receive a love-themed, emergency dating pack from BRANDS! They must know this lovergirl so well. I am totally tickled at this thoughtful, cute and useful pouch. If you’ve ever wondered what an emergency dating pack (for females) should look like, here it is.

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Singledom does not have to suck (as I wrote about in a previous blogpost), but lots of travel, self-improvement, wonderful people and projects have been keeping mine busy. I haven’t been on all that many dates this past one year, but I feel much more prepared for the next one now, as and when I meet someone special that I want to go out with…! Thanks BRANDS. I’ve always relied on my Brands Essence Chicken growing up. This time around, the dry shampoo, blotting paper, lip balm, nail polish, mini perfume pump and Marine Collagen Essence Strips will help me to look and feel my very best.

“Whether you’re juggling work, play or love, BRANDS InnerShine Marine Collagen Essence Strip is always by your side, to support you at all times.”

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Our skin is the largest organ on our body, and a huge part of this is comprised of collagen. Unfortunately, stress, alcohol, UV radiation and other factors very quickly accelerates the loss of collagen in our body, causing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other horrible things. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Grab a pack of BRANDS InnerShine strips to replenish some of the collagen that has been robbed by external factors around you. What a perfect pick-me-up to have at the ideal year-end time of busy December.

Good stuff in these strips:
– Vitamin E for anti-oxidation
– Micro-collagen peptide for better absorption
– Convenience in a quick jelly strip form
– Only 12Kcal per strip
– It tastes like candy! Great for dessert and works well as my daily sweet treat.

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Are you or a fellow babe in your life juggling work, play or love? I always find beauty in things that give me strength, sharpness, inventiveness and happiness. Try one of these collagen essence strips and let me know if you see a difference. Beauty should always shine from within.

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A Love Letter from God to a Single Singaporean Christian Girl

It’s been a while. My future husband must be lost, and he must be too stubborn to ask for directions.

The more I love God, the more my perspective of romance and relationships change. I wouldn’t date some of the guys I used to date, and I definitely don’t look for the same qualities that I looked for 5 years ago. Morals and maturity are more important than money, men with holy hearts suddenly appear on the attractiveness scale more than handsome ones, BMWs and bottle-popping have a much lower importance than biblical values… Please don’t faint, I don’t think anyone ever expected a Singaporean girl to talk like that!

#gonearethestereotypes

Will other real Jesus girls please stand up so I don’t feel so alien and strange?

Keeping my first love for God is hard, but most days I couldn’t be happier at the emotional space and time I have to spend with family, helping out friends, playing with other people’s kids, traveling, sorting out my business projects, trying to be a blessing and all-round making myself a better person. Sometimes I’m sharing so much on Facebook that it looks like my social media is on steroids. I have gone a bit crazy on Instagram (@estellekiora)!

A few of the days though, it feels unfair and lonely. The world is cold and cruel without someone to cuddle you. You flick through your Facebook feed and it looks like your friends have got a nicer car or cooler boyfriend. You wish you had more money and shiny things. You watch some stupid movie’s ridiculous love story and you feel vulnerable and inedequate.

“What do they deserve that I don’t? When is it my turn?”

“Matthew 6:19-21 – Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
It’s only human of us to compare, envy, and look at others when we should just really be looking at God. Don’t look down on yourself – look UP.

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In need of some encouragement, I spent some time with God and wrote a letter to myself. If God sent snail mails/emails/Tweets/Facebook messages, this would be it. This is what I imagine God would say to me – and to you – if you’re a single Jesus girl like me.

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Dear child,

It is so great to hear from you. I’ve missed you so much. I love you and I am saddened to see that you feel alone. It breaks my heart that you miss having someone hold, or even to stroke your hair. I understand that while I am with you always, but you may not feel my presence. I assure you that I am with you always – I was with you while you were rushing around Raffles Place yesterday, while you grabbed that coffee at Starbucks, and even when you were sleeping on that plane to Hong Kong. When you quiet the things around you, you will hear my voice. Talk to me often, for I always want to hear from you.

It makes me glad that you are spending your time in worthy and wise ways, in your quest to become stronger, sweeter, smarter, and everything else that I have laid out in Proverbs 31. I have a wonderful man that I am preparing for you, the same way you are preparing yourself for him. He will be attracted to you not for your body, but because you are beautiful inside out. “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD will be praised. Proverbs 31:30.” He will pursue you with a passion, as I loved the church. Chivalry is not dead and he will be a gentleman, romancing you the way you desire in your heart. He will challenge you, travel with you, grow with you and he will most certainly make you laugh.

“Proverbs 4:23 – Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the wellsprings of life. ”
Your heart is the wellbeing of your life. How you treat your heart, will translate into everything in your life. So keep guarding your heart, so that someone would have to come to me for it. I created you and I want the best for you, please don’t throw your purity and values away. You are far too precious to waste it, and such fleeting situations will not give you the happiness and satisfaction that you seek – only I can. I know you crave physical intimacy, and fear that you will not find something emotionally deeper. Come to me first to fill you up with love, because I am the only one who will never run dry or disappoint you. You feel something or someone missing in your heart, but it’s not what – or whom – you think.

It has taken you and your future husband time to learn these things.

He is not ready for you yet, but he will be. He will be the best man he can, but are you ready to compromise some things to be the ideal partner for him, too?

My princess, you may not presently understand my plan for you, but trust me for it. I have died and rose again for you. I sit with my angels in the heavens and watch you. Your heart is so precious to me, and only a man who treasures it will be worthy of it. I know you are in a haste, but I do not work within the constraint of time, so you are still young and you still have plenty. Don’t forget to enjoy your freedom now, I want you to have fun and fill your life with fulfilling things. Singleness is a desirable gift (1 Corinthians 7), so enjoy and embrace it. Remember Ruth, and I will give to you as I have given her Boaz.

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Don’t give up on me yet. I’m here and I love you.

LOVE,
GOD

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Singlehood doesn’t have to suck – let’s all try to enjoy the Jesus journey we are on.

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Haiyan disaster relief volunteer trip in Philippines, DAY 2

MORNING OF DAY 2, SATURDAY 16/11; 6AM

The alarms are going off. It’s an early start today and I’m surprised that all the foreigners from Singapore are downstairs for breakfast on time, but the locals aren’t. “I heard them still talking at 3am, they can’t possibly have had much sleep?” I mused at the breakfast table.


“I think they got a call pretty late last night and they found out that 5 of their relatives in Ormoc were found dead. They were very upset,” Gil shared.

The impact of the situation is hitting harder and harder everyday. How devastating must it be for the organizers, to pour their heart and resources into feeding what’s left of the survivors when their own family isn’t around to feed?

PLAN FOR DAY 2

We are going to Medellin and Daanbantayan (those are barangays in Northern Cebu) today – 98% of their properties and crops are gone. We are coordinating with their mayors, so we know which areas have not received or received very little relief. After, we will also go to Ormoc, Leyte, coordinating with the mayor there. Very little relief has arrived, and one of the towns later tell us that we were the first to reach them. I wonder who else hasn’t had aid, as they wonder in turn if any help is ever coming?


It is absolutely crazy here – I’m surprised I still have been able to write stories of our experiences, edit pictures, manage social media updates, coordinate donations and blog about this Haiyan relief operation while on the road.

There is not a lack of things to do here and gone are the days of plenty of rest. There are days where the team gets back at 130am and leave by 330am – some sleep a few hours each night if even at all. Most of our lunch or dinners are a mix of meat and rice at anywhere from 3pm or 10pm, eaten in a local’s house or the back of the van with fast fingers. We are thankful to just have food – I heard that the US army are currently living on meals of protein bars so anything meat is a luxury.

I’m so grateful that God has given me plenty, but maybe it’s time to simplify my life. The people here have so much less than most people I know back home, but most still seem bucketfuls happier than white collar friends in Singapore who are miserable working. Travelling always helps me out things back into perspective – time to stop complaining!

People from Tacloban – the city that was majorly hit – are fast arriving in Cebu. We will distribute hygiene kits there next week and toys for the kids who are traumatized.

This Sunday, our mission is to visit 3 vicinity in Leyte and distribute relief goods among their smaller areas. So far, thanks to some of you reading this and with the donations we have received, we’ve managed to pack 4000 food and water relief packs, 500 hygiene kits and 500 packs for kids with infant formulas and basic toys. We hope we can distribute more as we need to reach more people.


In case you’re new to this update, there are millions left displaced and homeless from the wrath of Yolanda, otherwise known as Typhoon Haiyan – Asia’s biggest disaster since the 2005 Tsunami.

Please help us to help Philippines and any amount of donations are appreciated. Thanks to you, we can buy supplies and continue to feed and help the victims. PayPal link: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/588169/emal/5357393