England Revisited – Chelsea Flower Show

Have you heard of Chelsea Flower Show? This annual horticultural event has been held in London since 1913. My first attempt to visit the show was in 2020 but it was cancelled due to the pandemic. This year it became a reality on May 27.

The show is truly a stunner, likely the most incredible flower show ever, for it is hard to imagine anything better!  The variety and quality were simply mind blowing. Prepare to be wowed by everything, including a bonsai from 1860, and smell David Austin’s roses at your own risk of intoxication!! My favorite Show Garden is Perennial Garden with Love, designed by Richard Miers who is quite dishing himself.

One of the wonderful takeaways from our London sojourn is appreciating the British culture of gardening and developing a love for gardening myself.

This event is organized by RHS, Royal Horticulture Society, and one that is graced by the royal family. If you attend on a member only day, you might get a glimpse of the royals. Follow this link to learn more about Chelsea Flower Show, https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chelsea-flower-show/

Oh yes, there is shopping and food at the show too. Now all that is left to do is let the pictures speak themselves!

London Diary – Chinese New Year of Monkey and Valentine!

Feb 14, 2016

Happy Valentine!

Happy Chinese New Year of Monkey! Although Chinese New Year of Monkey started on the 8th, London’s annual celebration of Chinese New Year was today. What a celebration! I had heard it was the biggest Chinese New Year celebration outside China and still it exceed my expectation. The all day celebration was spread out between Chinatown and Trafalgar Square; parade, ceremony, lion dance, dragon dance, music, dance performances, games for kids and more.

The whole area was festively decked up and very busy. I don’t remember the last time I had seen so many people or so many red lanterns. Trafalgar Square was full and Chinatown was packed. Gerrard Street was the vortex of the activities in Chinatown and when lion dance was performed periodically, it was brought to a standstill.

We were very late in getting to Trafalgar Square but between heads, decorating flags and lanterns, we managed to see the Flying Lion dance and Dragon dance, which were some amazing performances.

Our celebration ended with a yummy dinner back in Chinatown.

Water Dragon for 2012

Chinese Astrology, based on traditional astronomy and calendar (a Luni-solar calendar) and closely related to Chinese traditional philosophy (Yin and Yang), is very complex. I won’t pretend that I know all about Wu Xing teachings, Heavenly Stems, Earthly Branches, Lunar years, Solar months, Equinoxes and Solstices and shall just jump to say that it is a Yang Water Dragon year.

Individual’s prediction for the year, based on birthday, birth season and hours is, again, complex. General forecast I’ve read is positive with a caveat. It is water but since it is Yang Water, the scale of Yin and Yang might incline to tilt towards the Yang end. Chinese psychology comes into full play here. A believer or not, be mindful and apply the art of moderation/balancing to all aspect of your life. I think moderation is common sense and middle of the road is the way to achieve peace and harmony.

If anyone is turning 60 between Jan 23, 2012 and Feb 8, 2013, know that this is a special year for you in particular. The 60 year cycle of Chinese calendar means this is the year when your zodiac sign and element (Metal, Water, Wood, Fire or Earth) are united.

In addition, I’d like to share with you a Chinese custom. If this is your year, wear something red at all time as talisman and/or lucky charm. It can be anything from red undies, clothes to ruby ring, etc. It is unclear how this practice has come about but it goes long way back. Nowadays it is believed to be more commerce than science, if any at all. But if you like, be creative and have fun.

Happy Year of Dragon – red bags and cards!

The dragon ladies

Time for a red bag

Kids busy at video games

Thank you for coming to Yvonne and Jay’s Chinese New Year celebration!

Welcome the Year of Rabbit

Chinese New Year 2011 started on Feb 3rd for the Year of Rabbit. Soothsaying for the year ahead abounds. In general the peaceful and auspicious potential of a Rabbit Year is welcomed and it is up to us to tap into its rich potential and bring about harmony and prosperity. Among the festivities, our annual Chinese New Year celebration continued to its 6th year and heralded in the New Year with a positive bash. The grand prize from this year’s red-bag drawing, a cloisonné vase, goes to Robby or rather his grandma Cathy. We wish everyone a healthy, wealthy, peaceful and successful year!

Wish you an auspicious new year!

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Bring in the New Year

This year Chinese Lunar calendar aligned first day of New Year (Year of Tiger) with Valentine’s Day (of Georgian solar calendar). It is a rarity. Significance of the year however varies, according to Chinese Astrology, as it depends upon one’s animal sign, natural element, dominant element, yin and yang, and companion in life, where the first four are determined by birth year, month, day and the 5th element is determined by time of birth. Throw western astrology into the mix, the reading can get overwhelmingly complicated. But as with Fengshui principles, I take the practical approach, let common sense, and convenience, rule. The goal, after all, is to try to enhance life with the knowledge not to encumber it, and there is always some enhancement or remedy to be found for every situation.

As usual, I celebrated Chinese New Year with enthusiasm and the New Year was received in a busy secession of festive events: attending the annual celebration by local Chinese Association, cooking an elaborate New Year’s Eve dinner in Cantonese Style for my family, joining friends for pot lucks, having Dim Sum while watching Dragon Dance and Lion Dance and to top it all, having annual Chinese New Year bash at our house.

Dragon Dancing at Dim Sum

Lions Dancing at Dim Sum

Party at our house

Snacks included red watermelon seeds, crispy cookies(fried dumplings with crushed peanuts and sugar ), candies and tangerines.

Dishes were arranged all over the kitchen counters. On the center island were Cantonese BBQ, General’s Chicken, Chinese sausage, Spicy fish with bamboo shoots, fried noodles, Golden Tofu, Eight-Treasure Veggie Plate, assorted pickles.

Crescent and Fan shape cookies decorated with Chinese character “福”(Happiness)made by Betty wowed the party.

My husband Jay(left), his friend Mike and Jane(Mike’s daughter)

Les, Betty and Jane

In the dinning room

More tables set up in sitting area on the east wing

The teen table

Diane, me, Caroline and Judy

Time for party favor: Every one picked a red bag with ticket inside indicating what the surprise favor was to be. Betty got the top prize this year: a Cloisonné vase. Here, I was explaining to Caroline about the jade ornament she got: a 八卦 图(Bagua Map).

CAAOC Celebration of Chinese New Year

CAAOC 2009 Chinese New Year Celebration

CAAOC 2009 Chinese New Year Celebration

Among the different local celebrations for Chinese New Year, the best known is probably the one organized by CAAOC (American Chinese Association of Charlotte). Continue reading

Happy Niu Year!

Happy Niu Year!

Happy Niu Year!

With Year of Ox one week away (Jan 26, 2009), China is all abuzz about the holiday and preparation is in full swing. While students having their 4 week long winter break (mid Jan to mid Feb), the whole country will get at least one week off (official holiday for this year is Jan 25th to 31st).
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Two tales of Chinese New Year

福到-Happiness is here!

福到-Happiness is here

Christmas and New Year are barely behind, my Christmas decors are still up, and I am already thinking about Chinese New Year or Spring Festival (春节) as it is referred to in China. But yes, the year of Rat is going out and year of Ox will ring in the 26 of this month.

With the last Chinese New Year still so vivid in my mind, it is hard to believe almost a whole year’s time has passed since then. It feels as if it was not that long ago when I, my husband and son celebrated Chinese New Year 2008 in Guangzhou, China with my family and had the best Chinese New Year holiday in a long, long time.

Over almost 20 years that I’ve lived in the states, I went back to Guangzhou for Chinese New Year twice, 1995 and 2008, and I visited over the summer of 1997 and 2004. While I found changes from every visit, this longer visit in 2008 revealed stupendous changes China’s thriving economy has brought to the city of Guangzhou and the affect it has on my family and friends’ lives and the customs around Chinese New Year.
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