Christmas ‘Tong Yuen’ 2018

Christmas is here, and for the Chinese a few days before Christmas Day, it’s Happy Solstice Day. During this time, many Chinese around the world would make rice balls, also known as tong yuen or tang yuan (in Chinese). You could say it’s like Thanksgiving for the Chinese people, an important tradition. The rice balls are made out of glutinous rice flour in the form of play dough, and they are made into many small round balls. Amongst the many small rice balls, a very few large ones are made where some of them have fillings in it such as crushed peanuts, black sesame and red beans. I’ve never been a fan of the ones with fillings. I’ve always preferred my rice balls plain and simple. Colourings are also added to make the rice balls look bright and colourful. Rice balls are always made with close friends and families together as it symbolizes the importance of closeness and bonding.

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Some Chinese are very peculiar about the ’roundness’ of the rice balls. They believe that the more ‘perfectly’ round the rice balls are, the stronger the closeness and bonding there is. Just like with my mother, she would always inspect the ’roundness’ of my rice balls. And if any of the rice balls are not as round as it should be, she would sigh loudly and re-rolled them until they were perfect to her, even if it meant re-rolling every single (200 plus) rice balls.

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Afterwards, the rice balls are boiled twice in boiling water. The first round is to give them a wash. And in the second and final round, rock sugars, ginger and pandan leaves (pandanus amaryllifolius) are added into the water to give it its final flavour. When it’s done, share and serve the rice balls in  small bowls. Those are the ingredients I would add to the ‘soup’ base, but there are also other flavourings used such as brown sugar or rice wine.

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I’ve written a couple of posts on Chinese rice balls which you can check out or even learn to make.

How to make Chinese Rice Balls

Chinese New Year 2014

The Story of Nian

Chinese Rice Balls

Happy Solstice Day!!!

Photo credits to Suzanne Yeang, Chloe Wong, Irene Soo, Lydiana ‘Wewe’ Siti and Phen.

A Late post – The wanderings of william whiptail

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The Wanderings of William Whiptail is a newly published children’s book by PUIYIN W.L. PUBLISHING authored and illustrated by Vivian Head and Biddy Lee. It is about a mouse who goes on a magical adventure across the English country to get to his Cousin Peanut. Even though it is a children’s book, it is also loved by adults as well. It has become a book loved by everyone.  

Imagine discovering that you had a magic suitcase. What wishes would you choose? William Whiptail had to think very carefully before using up his magic wishes because he needed all the help he could get to help him on his way to Trickle Wallop.

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Happy 2018 and onwards…

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Hello all,

Happy belated New Year to you all. Hope everyone had a merry happy Xmas and a fantastic New Year. One of my biggest New Year’s resolution for 2018 and onwards is to focus more on my blog. In the past, I have promised numerous of times how I would pay more attention to the blog before getting sidetracked and not blog for weeks….months in fact. Well, that’s all about to change. Thinking back to where this blog began, I miss those times where I would blog about anything, even if it had nothing to do with books, writing and publishing. I would blog two to three times a week every single week, and I would get loads of comments and would interact with other bloggers (who I have remained close friends with till this day). Those were the times when I haven’t started my publishing house. And now that I have, I don’t want it to stop me from blogging just as much because I have piles of work on the table. I will make sure to put the blogging on top of the pile.

Lots to look forward to this year, including the sequels to Made in Thailand and Who We Were. Also, after many long years of research (over 10 years), I am so honoured to have the legendary author Vivian Head to join me in the Fauna series. We are hoping to have the first book in the series launched sometime at the end of 2018, although there’s still so much more work to be done on it. I am also looking forward to publishing Vivian’s sequel to The Warped Web.

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Another project that is already in the works but only in the early stages of drafting and outlining is the re-write of A Chinese Christmas Carol. Those of you who have been with me from the very beginning, since the birth of this blog, will know about A Chinese Christmas Carol, a fiction book based on real life events. The book was published in 2010. And now, I will be re-publishing it and turning it into a series. The original version will continue to be on sale.

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Overall, it’s going to be a much more busier but exciting year, and I look forward to sharing the journey with you all along the way.

Much love always,

Puiyin W.L.

xoxo

18. THE POSITIVITY PROJECT – ONE EMAIL TO READ BEFORE WORK (DAY 10)

Get your AM brain into gear by signing up to gohighbrow.com’s fun email-learning platform. It sends a five-minute lesson (on a huge range of subjects – money, art, tech, health) straight to your inbox each morning for ten days.

Day 10 – Wrapping It Up

From Highbrow:

Congrats, you made it till the end of this 10-day course. Now it’s time to wrap things up.

You have now made the first steps to apply the science of happiness to your life. You have not only read but also experienced the lessons and activities in this email course first-hand. But it takes time and effort to master a new skill as well as it takes time and effort to develop self-confidence.

This ten-day framework provided an intro to the topic but it needs more continuous effort to really make a lasting difference. Besides, there are a huge variety of more topics that positive psychologists and neuroscientists are researching at the moment.

Among others, there’s how to discover and use your strengths to become happier and more effective at work. There’s also a lot of research on what makes happy relationships stand out from others, how to find happiness in the moment and much more.

To end this course, you can try this a method called sentence stem completion. This exercise can be used to facilitate your personal growth. You can use this exercise to consolidate the insights you had throughout the course. Find at least 10 endings to this sentence stem:

Living happily to me means…

For example, one of my sentence stem exercises looked like this:

Living happily to me means …

… having dinner with my family.

… working on a project that makes the world a better place.

… having good food in my home.

… making a positive difference in the world.

… enjoying the company of others.

… spending some time alone.

… having someone to talk to.

16. THE POSITIVITY PROJECT – ONE EMAIL TO READ BEFORE WORK (DAY 8)

Get your AM brain into gear by signing up to gohighbrow.com’s fun email-learning platform. It sends a five-minute lesson (on a huge range of subjects – money, art, tech, health) straight to your inbox each morning for ten days.

Day 8 – Understanding Savoring

From Highbrow:

Today’s about savoring: Fully enjoying an experience or a memory. It is, as its name suggests, a sort of running the positive experience around in one’s mouth, really tasting, valuing and enjoying it. Savoring only requires us to pay attention and enjoy our experience. That can be the food we’re eating, the music we’re listening to, the comfortable feeling of lying in our bed on a Sunday morning or anything else that gives you pleasure. While mindfulness is about experiencing the present moment as it is, savoring is about the focus on the positive.

Think of a wine expert tasting an expensive glass of wine. She starts by looking at the wine, holding it against the light. She tries to notice its color and viscosity. The next step is to smell the wine; breathing the aromas in deeply. Only now she takes a sip. She rolls the wine around in her mouth in order to take in all the aromas, all the nuances of flavor. It is an indulgence and all her attention is focused on how the wine feels. After she finally swallows, she has focused intensely on the whole experience and enjoyed it thoroughly. What this wine expert just did, is what psychologists call savoring.

The key lesson is to ‘enjoy now’. We often imagine a happier future and tell ourselves things like, ‘Once I finish this project, then I can finally relax’. This causes us to focus on something that is going to make us happy in the future rather than the joy we can find in our lives right now. If we can enjoy the present, we don’t need to count on and live for the happiness that is in our future.

A decent amount of research confirms the positive impact of savoring on our happiness and satisfaction with life. People who savor frequently are also less depressed and more optimistic.

Today, take an experience and savor it for at least a few minutes. There is an infinite number of things you can choose to savor: going for a walk, reading a book, eating dinner, listen to your favorite song, playing a game… It doesn’t need to be anything unusual. Just remember that savoring is a process, not an outcome. Pay full attention, indulge with your senses. And if you want, follow this process:

  1. Slow down
  2. Pay attention to what you are doing
  3. Use all your senses
  4. Stretch out the experience
  5. Reflect on your enjoyment.

15. THE POSITIVITY PROJECT – ONE EMAIL TO READ BEFORE WORK (DAY 7)

Get your AM brain into gear by signing up to gohighbrow.com’s fun email-learning platform. It sends a five-minute lesson (on a huge range of subjects – money, art, tech, health) straight to your inbox each morning for ten days.

Day 7 – Writing a Gratitude Letter

From Higbrow:

Gratitude can help build flourishing relationships and establish new ones. When we become truly aware of the value of our friends and family, we treat them better. This can start an upward spiral, in which strong relationships give us something to be grateful for which in turn strengthens those very same relationships. That’s why today’s email is all about one of the most well-researched happiness exercise we know of. It’s writing a so-called gratitude letter. Ideally you find some time alone today (maybe about 15-30 minutes). When you’re ready, move on:

Close your eyes and think of someone who did something important for you that changed your life in a good direction but who you never properly thanked. It could be that you’re really grateful to a teacher who inspired your love of acting and who persuaded you to try for drama school when everyone else was dead set against it. Maybe you’d like to thank your boss or a colleague for helping you with a particularly tricky project at work. Or perhaps you choose to write a friend who helped you through a tough time.

In this exercise you will have the opportunity to experience what it is like to express your gratitude in a thoughtful, purposeful manner. Take your time to write a letter telling the story of what the person did for you, and how it contributed to where they are now in your life. Describe specifically what they did and what influence it had on you. Let them know what you are doing now, and mention how you often remember what she did. Make it sing!

You don’t actually have to send the letter but if you want to share the benefits of this activity with the other person, arrange for a visit with this person (but be vague about the purpose of the meeting). When you visit them, read this letter to the person. This is a powerful part of the experience and I highly recommend doing this.

14. THE POSITIVITY PROJECT – ONE EMAIL TO READ BEFORE WORK (DAY 6)

Get your AM brain into gear by signing up to gohighbrow.com’s fun email-learning platform. It sends a five-minute lesson (on a huge range of subjects – money, art, tech, health) straight to your inbox each morning for ten days.

Day 6 – Practice Gratitude

From Highbrow:

Practicing gratitude reminds many people of saying ‘thank you’ for a present. But being grateful can be much more than that. The leading gratitude researcher Robert Emmons defines it as a feeling of wonder, thankfulness and appreciation of life. His research from the last decade has shown a host of benefits; from stronger immune systems and better sleep to more happiness and better relationships.

Human beings like novelty and we adapt fast to new circumstances such as a new apartment or the last promotion. Gratitude helps because it allows us to benefit from the things we usually take for granted. There are many things in our lives, both large and small, that we might be grateful for. When we are grateful for something, we appreciate its value. And that’s why practicing gratitude on a regular basis allows us to notice the positives more and that magnifies what’s good in our lives.

But gratitude does even more good to us! It also blocks toxic emotions such as envy and resentment. You can’t, for example, feel gratitude and envy at the same time. Try to be truly grateful and at the same time envy someone for having something that you don’t have. It’s impossible, they are incompatible feelings.

If you want something to engage in, take this easy exercise: Throughout today, take notice of things you can be grateful for. Make a list of these things – no matter if small or big. And in the evening, take some time to revisit the list. You can ask yourself what your life would be like if those things were missing. And you can try to experience a bit  of gratitude for things that you probably haven’t noticed in a while.