Thursday, 30 January 2014

The year of the Horse - Gong Xi Fa Cai

It's the eve of the Chinese New Year, or as the Chinese themselves call it, the Lunar New Year. Here are a few things you should do to prepare, according to the Chinese:

- Clean your house from top to bottom and pay off all debts before New Year.
- Decorate your home to welcome in the New Year. Red is a popular colour, it scares away evil spirits and bad fortune.
- Place mandarins in bowls throughout the house. Mandarins are the fruits of happiness. Keep their numbers even, as uneven numbers bring unhappiness.
- Wear new clothes and ensure you are polite to others on the first day of the New Year – it sets the tone for the year to come.
- Celebrate New Year with a family dinner. Traditional dishes include fish and chicken, symbols of prosperity.
- Make sure the barrel of rice is full at New Year to ensure prosperity in the year to come.

Here's what I've found that the Year of the Horse will bring for Nathan and I, as we are both oxes:

"The Year of the Horse brings a sense of restless excitement. Ox natives prefer stability and security. With Horse pulling you along, your challenge will to be more flexible and adventurous.
Wood energy encourages slow growth that supports your best interests. In a year marked by change and reevaluation, have the courage to surrender what no longer works for you.
It can be uncomfortable to leave what is familiar. But your social networks, good friends, and wise mentors will help you find your best path forward. Apparent roadblocks will be giving way to exciting new opportunities.

The year 2014 for the ox will be better and more beneficial than previous years. This 2014 can be used as a stepping-stone to the following year, a potentially huge 2015 which be the game changer the ox sign bearers have been looking for. Do not be afraid to rely on friends because they will be the support that the ox sign bearers will need."

Ah, sound just about right I guess!
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Aussie Day at the Hash

Last night was Australia Day run at the hash. It was a rather long and even though it was dry yesterday, very muddy hash, thanks to all the rain we've had the last few weeks. I like the jungle around the Salezia Gardens where we always are for the Aussie Day hash, it's very jungly.

As per usual we had some Aussie snags for dinner, and the hares had also organized an Aussie quiz - which the Swedish Team (that is Anna and I obviously) won! We only had one wrong out of all the questions! Well done us!

The weeks roll by really fast now, and I only have a very few hashes left to enjoy. Luckily there are lots of special ones, next week the Waitangi run, then the CNY run, the Valentines run and my very last one will be the St Patrick's Day run.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Getting bare

So, another week has passed, and whereas the first week without Nathan seemed to be the slowest week e-v-e-r, this one was more normal, and went by in a flash!

It's been a good week, obviously with birthday celebrations galore on Monday, Tuesday Hash and play dates as usual. The kids had friends over for sleepovers Friday night and I was next door for a movie night. Linnea went to a "Murder Mystery"-type (without the murder bit!) birthday party on Saturday afternoon after our trip to the salon and Lucas has been playing his Xbox Infinity and finished a few games already!

Apart from a little car glitch, where a light came on and I had to call Dave to make sure it was nothing serious (which it wasn't, just a generic warning at a certain amount of kms), it's been a really good week. The kids and I have established our own routines, and the days roll by. I'm even sleeping really well, something I usually don't do when I'm on my own.

I've sold a few more of the bigger items, the brown sofas downstairs have now gone, and the blue rugs. I got good money for it all, so decided to let those things go. It's getting a bit bare downstairs, but for each thing that gets sorted, that's one less thing I'll have to deal with in the end!

This week we are having Chinese New Year, so no school for Thursday and Friday. I'm hoping to get the kids to help me get through and sort a bit more of their stuff, as that's seems like a never ending project...

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Girls morning

Saturday morning while the boys were left in peace to play Xbox, the Turner girls and the Watson girls went to get pampered at the salon! We all had our hair washed, massaged and blow dried and came away with super nice hair dos for the weekend ahead!

Linnea's hair is quite long now. When they blow dry it super straight like this, you can see it's all the way down to her shoulder blades. She looked really pretty.

Hannah got pretty curls done in hers.

Me and my girl.

Last Kids Hash

Straight after the Aussie BBQ this afternoon, we went a little bit down the road to the Kids Hash.
The rain had stopped by now, luckily, but it was still very muddy obviously - plus we were a bit late and everybody had already gone, so we decided only to do the short trail. Good choice, as the people on the long trail had gone through several river crossings, and some (adults!) had been in muddy water up to their waist! Fun, fun, fun!

We wore yellow, because it was the CNY run. After the run the kids got new CNY t-shirts, and also a lucky coin, an orange and a pretty CNY cookie - it's the year of the horse coming up.

Since it was our last Kids Hash (we wont be making neither the February nor the March one unfortunately), they got a big farewell, a down-down and a certificate. Linnea ended up having done 41 runs, and Lucas 39 - here in the Brunei jungle!
Well done kids!

Australia Day BBQ

This morning we were invited up to Morris for an Australia Day BBQ. Unfortunately after a lovely sunny day finally yesterday, we woke up to pouring rain, again... booo...
But that didn't stop the BBQ from going ahead of course! A little bit of rain won't scare us off! Plus, only made the water slide go faster!

 Pippa, the host, to the left, and Kym - both in traditional Aussie outfits! :)

"Us" (well, I was honorary..!) Kiwis had dressed in black, of course. 

 Boys around the BBQ:

Isabel and Hilary:

The kids had an absolute ball, didn't care one bit about the torrential rain! They were either on the trampoline, on the slide, or drawing Aussie pictures in the drawing corner:

The food was fantastic, Aussie sausages, burgers, chicken drumsticks, salads, potatoes - and of course Lamingtons and Pavlovas, mmm!

Thanks guys for a fab afternoon! Aussie aussie aussie!

Friday, 24 January 2014

22 degrees

22 degrees back home where I'm from (Sweden) would be a beautiful summers day.
22 degrees here, on the third day of non-stop torrential rain - feels like winter!

This morning while I was sitting in front of the computer working, I was so cold I had to put socks on! Yes, really! That's certainly a first during our nearly seven years in this country!

Just in time for the school run, it let up though, and I can swear I saw a little piece of blue sky there for a minute. It's dry now, for the first time in three days, but I'm not entirely sure it'll last... At least my car is really clean! And, I got to wear socks!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Rain rain go away

It's been a week since my last post about the current weather situation, and it has basically been raining non-stop since. Today it actually hasn't stopped AT ALL! It's been raining now, without letting up at all, for about 24 hours!
It's crazy, it's all everyone is talking about. The weather. The rain. The cold...

I don't mind either much. I rather enjoy the lower temperatures and getting to wear some different clothes to normal. I do mind all the problems that come with the heavy rains though, the power cuts, the floods, the car accidents along the roads... I feel like it's enough now, we need to dry out for a little bit. Please could we have some sunshine now, even if it's just for a few days!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

My birthday

The plans for my birthday changed many times before we reached yesterday. It was a bit tricky, since we didn't know at the start when I was thinking about what to do, if Nathan was going to be here or not. When we realized he wasn't going to be, I was initially planning to take a handful of friends and go over to Singapore for the weekend prior to celebrate - but, it turned out Misuzu wasn't going to be there, and the logistics with sorting the kids all got a bit too complicated.
I also much prefer celebrating ON the day, so in the end I ended up doing a bit of a double birthday celebration all yesterday.

In the morning Anna and I had our nails done, and then we met up with a few other friends at one of my favourite lunch places, the Canadian restaurant Chez Fio. It was really nice to be a big group for lunch - and any excuse to get together and have a bit of a chin-wag of course!

I got celebrated by the staff at the restaurant with a little piece of chocolate cake! Hip hourray!

For the evening I had decided I only wanted a very few couple of friends around, for an intimate but fancy dinner. Only girls, since I didn't have my man here!
I hired the French chef Sebastien, again, since it was such a success last time, and he came and cooked us all another amazing meal.

I had asked my friends to wear their prettiest long dress, to make the evening a little bit more special, even though it was a Monday, and a school night! They were all so very pretty!

I got so many lovely gifts... Oh, I got truly spoiled! I realized that my friends know me really well, all their gifts were spot on!
I got a lovely sofa table book about 'Abode of Peace', wine glass markers and a gorgeous bangle, a beautiful necklace, a Fossil handbag, NZ Evolve charms of a pair of jandals and a pavlova, leather bracelets, A Vinturi of course (a bit of an inside joke/thing!), bath salts, pretty flowers, body lotions, home made buns, a hand made crochet bookmark and much more...

I had picked a different menu to last time. Always nice to try different things of course, even though the paté we had last time was going to be hard to beat!
For starter we had 'Mi-cuit salmon with creamed cauliflower and watercress'.

For main course 'Slow cooked pork belly with butternut squash risotto and a mild garlic cream'. Mmmmm!

For dessert 'Vanilla poached pineapple with mango sauce and rhum cakes'.
Double yum!

Cake time! I had two cakes!

Group photo! My lovely friends who made my birthday so special! Thank you.

And as at any birthday party, there was party bags when the guests left. Very special tall and slim ones at this party, ha ha..!


It was MY birthday too yesterday..!

I don't want this day to end

When your birthday falls on a school day, it's no surprise it feels like it's really, really short. The kids (now both!) have touch rugby after school on Mondays, so we didn't get home until just after 4pm yesterday. There was just enough time to Skype a bit with family, before the neighbourhood kids came for pizza and cake. Then there was just about enough time to give the new Infinity Xbox game  a quick trial, before it was already bath- and bedtime.

Lucas just didn't want this special day to end. At least he was very happy and he did have a great day!

"Someone" had been to our house in the morning with a little birthday surprise for us! But it was fairly easy to figure out who that "someone" had been, thanks to the clue in the balloon colour..!

A quick photo of the birthday team on the school run!