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.
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.
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.
I’ve written a couple of posts on Chinese rice balls which you can check out or even learn to make.
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.
A late post from late last year. Who We Were has achieved a five-star review by Readers’ Favorite.
Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite.
“Who We Were by Puiyin Labial is a story about destiny and the incredible truth that people could be bound together by threads that are mysterious and intangible. With an international setting in China and the US, the reader follows the lives of two compelling characters, a young boy and girl who feel a powerful attraction for each other, an affection that is foiled by insane family traditions. They will meet again in high school, this time in the US, and feel irresistibly drawn to each other. But their attraction is hindered once more. As adults, Jace and Melodi meet again, this time each successfully pursuing their professions. Are they bound to be together or are these mere coincidences? They will learn the truth after a painful tragedy. Will they be able to stick together this one last time?
The first thing that grabbed my attention was the reader-friendly writing — simple, crisp, and fluid. From the start, the reader will appreciate the realism that is injected into the writing. The characters are well developed with solid backgrounds. The author did a great job in integrating the backgrounds of the key characters into the narrative, with Melodi excelling as a writer and Jace devoted to his career as a doctor. The story is cleverly plotted, leaving the reader with so much guessing to do. I quickly learned to care about these characters from the very beginning and couldn’t help having the feeling of a strange familiarity with them. Who We Were is a beautiful story that reminds readers that we know more than we are often aware of, and that our connections could go beyond our dreams and expectations. Puiyin Labial weaves strong themes like love, family, and human connections seamlessly into a story that is gripping and real.”
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.
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.
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.
There was once a beautiful young woman named Mae Nak whose love for her husband, Tid Mak, was undying. One day, while her husband was away at war, she died giving birth to their baby who did not survive either. Due to her undying love for her husband, Mae Nak and the baby returned to the living world as spirits. Everyone in the village has learned of their deaths, but when Mae Nak’s husband returns home from the battlefield he is greeted by his loving wife and their newborn child, unaware that they are spirits. The villagers try to warn him but he doesn’t want to believe them. One night the ghost of Mae Nak is preparing dinner for her husband when she suddenly drops a lime and it falls through a gap in the wooden floorboards. Back in those days, the houses were built a short distance off the ground. Tid Mak watches Mae Nak from the outside of the house as she stretches an elongated, ghostly arm through the long gap to the ground and reaches for the lime. He was aware that no human could reach that far and it was then that he realised the villagers were telling the truth. He runs from the house in terror to a nearby temple to seek refuge where the ghost of Mae Nak is unable to enter. Mae Nak becomes angry and takes out her frustration by terrorising the villagers. There are a few versions of how the story ends. In one, Mae Nak and her baby’s spirit are believed to be confined in a piece of bone from her exhumed forehead and bound into a wristband worn by a monk. In another version, a monk convinces Mae Nak that she will be reunited with her husband in another life at which point Mae Nak, along with the baby, is believed to have voluntarily moved on.
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.
So I signed up to gohighbrow.com (Highbrow) to the subject on The Science of Happiness.
For many of us, psychologists are those people who can tell you what’s wrong with you, who can look at you and find all those hidden fears and issues that we all have. But what if psychologists were those people that can tell you all your hidden talents and the wonderful sides of your personality that go so unnoticed most of the time?!
Positive psychology is a science that looks at what works, what’s right, and what’s improving with people. It is an approach within psychology that is meant to complement the majority of traditional psychology research done before, that’s focused on clinical settings and people with mental illnesses.
Underlying this new approach is the insight that happiness is NOT the negation of unhappiness. For example – overcoming a depression does NOT mean that you are happy and thriving. This course is based on a scientific approach that tries to find out what we need in order to flourish.
In addition to overcoming weaknesses, we will look at building strengths. Instead of running away from unhappiness, we will try to find ways to be happier. And in addition to overcoming tough times, we want to understand how to live a fulfilled life.
The main question that we want to tackle: How can this research be applied to help us make long-lasting, positive change? This also made positive psychology the most popular course at Harvard – back when it was taught there a few years ago. Nowadays, organizations, consulting companies, governments, schools are taking on positive psychology.
Qingshan was left speechless. And then out of nowhere, he did the unthinkable and reached for Lei-Li’s hand and held it. All this time he had wanted to hold her hand, but he had never plucked up the courage to do it. At that moment, however, it felt right. It felt like the right thing to do. He then looked right into her eyes and she looked right back at him. She didn’t have to say anything for him to read the expression on her face and to know she felt exactly the same as he did. It was that one intimate moment that confirmed to Qingshan that he and Lei-Li were more than just friends.