Maxine’s Zhua Zhou First Birthday Ceremony

My daughter Maxine celebrated her first birthday on December 19. She is growing up so fast. I really can’t believe it! My cousin’s girlfriend told me about a fun Chinese ceremony when a baby turns one. It’s called the zhua zhou ceremony, where symbolic objects are laid out in front of a baby to grab. Whatever the baby reaches for and plays with can indicate future employment prospects or interests. 

We are a little late, but I thought it would be fun to do! I researched and found more information and potential objects to use via Gathered Gifts’ blog story.

Here is a list of some objects and meanings.

From Gathered Gifts

I substituted the following:

Abacus to Cash; Paint Brush to Hair Brush; Calculator to Whiteout; Chicken leg to Bamboo; Lego to Puzzle Piece; Microphone to Fan; Stethoscope to Thermometer; Sword to Shield

Picture of layout

Moment of truth. Maxine’s top three…

1. Shallot = Intelligence

2. Measuring tape = Designer/Architect

3. Shield = Law enforcement

Rounding out top 5…

4. Cell phone = Tech Entrepreneur 

5. Celery = Industrious

Not bad! LOL. I can’t wait till she is older to see what she likes and is passionate about.

Celebrating Mom Mardi Gras Style

My Mom is a leap year baby, so she celebrated the big 7 8 twice this year. Last night we had Filipino food, and tonight I went all out ordering some yummy food from Sugar Freak in Astoria. Since it’s also Mardi Gras, I thought, why not indulge in a seafood boil!

Check out the yummy grub!

Maxi and Mom ❤️
Seafood Boil
Beignets
Banana Pudding

All about chocolate

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, but I’ve been celebrating all week.

On Wednesday, I took part in a chocolate-making class with my parents. It was a lot of fun and very hands-on. We learned how to temper chocolate and made jumbo peanut butter cups, pecan turtles, almond bear paws, dipped Oreos, and strawberries. It was messy yet yummy!

Getting everything ready!
Rolled up caramel and peanut butter and chocolate chunks.
I put Dad to work.
A bit messy but it still tasted fantastic.

On Friday, Andrew, my parents, and I did a Valentine’s Day-themed chocolate tasting. The tasting was packed with chocolate facts and insight on how they make the chocolate. We also tasted five different chocolate pieces, milk chocolate peanut butter heart, milk chocolate sea salt caramel, pecan toffee crisp, dark chocolate truffle, and dark chocolate lemon satin crème heart. Mom loved the peanut butter piece, I loved the dark chocolate truffle, Dad loved the truffle and lemon satin crème, and Andrew loved them all.

Enjoy your love day!!

My Dear Friend- Notes to Seniors who need them

Last year, my Dad fractured his hip, and for five months, he stayed in a hospital, a long-term care facility, and then a rehab facility. This was all through COVID restrictions, and I couldn’t visit him. It was tough, and I know it took a toll on my Dad. I wish that there were more opportunities to connect.

GlamourGals is a nonprofit that provides programming for elderly residents. They currently help reach out to isolated seniors through their #mydearfriend program, where individuals can write notes to senior citizens in need of some care and comfort in various facilities. This is my second batch of letters within the year, and I enjoy it. These cards are geared towards Valentine’s Day and Galentine’s Day, but you can make cards year-round.

If you want to do some good on your own or with friends, consider making cards or having a card-making party! Here is where you can find out more information.

January Pantry Challenge

This month, I took part in The Sweet Frugal Life’s January Pantry Challenge, where I took an inventory of what I had in the pantry, fridge, and freezer to make dishes. I wasn’t super strict with it and only made a handful of meals, but I still consider it a success!

The main takeaway from my experience; I have a lot of soup in my pantry!

Here are some of my dishes.

shrimp and veggie stir fry
red beans and rice take 1
red beans and rice take 2
dumplings
eggs and spam
miso ramen
ramen
New England clam chowder
cream of mushroom chicken

So long 2021

My 2021 wasn’t terrible. I became a Mom, and I celebrated and enjoyed life as much as possible. I explored and pushed myself to try new things. I got creative with ways to motivate myself, and I continue to move forward. It sucks that I’m spending the last day taking care of a sick baby, but such is life.

Below is my picture recap of the year. I choose one picture to sum up each month.

January- I became a Mom! I gave birth to Maxine Amelia on Dec 19, 2020. My first month as a mom was rough and full of learning moments, but I’m thankful every day for my munchkin.
February- My mom turned 77 this year. With the pandemic, it was tough to see her and our family. This amazing picture (of three generations) was taken at my Aunt’s house. We celebrated my Mom’s birthday, and family members finally met Maxine.
March- With a new baby, it’s hard to get out, and it was tough to have time just for my husband and me. I signed us up for a beer and cheese virtual tasting as a date night. It was a lot of fun and informative.
April- I did many fun things in April, including an oyster shucking class and a cooking class with Daniel Boulud, but nothing can beat my Dad finally coming home from rehab after fracturing his hip. December 2020, my father fractured his hip, had to have surgery, and caught covid and pneumonia in the hospital. At the beginning of the year, my father was moved to a long-term care facility in Jersey first and finally placed in a rehab facility in Queens soon after. It was a challenging situation, mainly because of covid and I couldn’t see him. He finally came home at the end of April, and he got to meet his granddaughter for the first time.
May- I decided to sign-up for a flower CSA from May to October. It was a bit pricey, if I’m going to be honest, but so worth it! I picked up flowers every week; it was very refreshing. I even tried my hand at arranging the flowers. It was fun and relaxing.
June- Andrew and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by attending a virtual magic show by Dan White. It was AMAZING and blew our minds.
July- We celebrated Dad, who turned 79! My family has a house in Long Island that we share by the beach. My dad rarely visits, but my Aunt and Uncle threw him a little party, and he enjoyed the day and area.
August- We had a family vacation in the Catskills at the end of August. We rented a house with a pool and jacuzzi; it was amazing and much needed. I don’t have many pictures of my husband smiling, so I’m taking advantage and showing his beautiful smile.
September- Self-care became tricky during the pandemic. I finally decided enough was enough with my hair and chopped it off. Quite liberating if I say so myself.
October- I turned the big 4*0* this month. We decided to head over to Crystal Springs Resort for a few days and enjoy the fall season. The resort was fantastic with great food, and I took advantage of the spa. We went apple picking, pumpkin picking, went through a corn maze, and enjoyed wine and spirit tastings in the area. It was very low-key and chill.
November- Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I appreciate the time with family and the overall idea of gratitude. I shared my journal of things I’m grateful for already in another post. My husband had to work on Thanksgiving, but I still enjoyed the day, reflected on everything I’m thankful for, and cooked a feast.
December- This month was filled with friend and family activities, but I couldn’t help picking the time decorating the gingerbread house as my picture for the month. It gets harder and harder to find activities that my parents are willing to do and be a part of. Next year, I will continue to brainstorm ideas.

It was great to reflect on the year. I hope you had some time for reflection as well.

Cheers to 2022!

Enjoying the holidays

Recapping my year is a must, but first I want to share how I spent my holidays. This year looked and felt different, but I was determined to make the most of it.

Tree watching:

I kept it local and virtual. I watched the tree lightings virtually for Athens Square Park and Astoria Park.

Astoria decorations:

I honestly didn’t venture around the neighborhood as much as I wanted, but I still got to see some beautiful decorations.

Home decorations:

I didn’t do much this year. I confess I didn’t even open up my Christmas boxes. I went with simple and familiar. Each year, I do a tree of Christmas cards, and for a tree, I got a tiny one this year so that we could enjoy the stuffed toys from my daughter’s advent calendar.

Christmas parties:

I’m fortunate that I could celebrate with my groups of girls. Both parties weren’t fancy, but I had a great time, and most importantly, everyone got to meet my daughter, Maxine.

Family activities:

A big hit this year was the gingerbread houses! Two were made with my husband’s niece and nephew, and one was made with my parents.

The advent calendars were also an obvious favorite. We all enjoyed our own. Andrew had a whiskey one, Maxine had a stuffed toy one, PJ and BB shared a fancy feast one, and my parents and I had a chocolate one.

I had low-key family parties with great food, but I’m pretty proud of my Christmas Eve dishes. I went all out with a seven-fishes-themed spread. We had raw oysters, crab, salmon slices, mussels and clams in a white wine, fried shrimp, and baked fish. We also had steak, brussel sprouts, and mashed potatoes. For dessert, I made brownies.

Christmas outfits:

I was so excited to dress Maxine up this year for parties and PJs. I couldn’t help myself.

Christmas cards and gifts:

I went with both personal cards and virtual cards. I sent many of my older family members cards with personal notes and sent a virtual card with pictures to all my online family members.

I gave many food-related gifts and personal touch gifts this year. Below are some of my favorites.

Overall I had a great holiday, and I hope you did as well.

Tree Lightings in Astoria

It’s that time of year where all the tree lightings happen. The infamous Rockefeller Tree ceremony was this Wednesday. I didn’t watch it this year, but it is a beautiful tree, and I know I’ll visit it eventually.

I want to keep it local this year. Two tree lightings are happening in Astoria tonight at Athens Square Park and on Sunday at Astoria Park. Check them out if you are in the area!

Via 30th Ave Business Association Instagram
Via Central Astoria Local Development Coalition Instagram

Advent Calendars 2021

I didn’t know that advent calendars were a big deal. Last year, I bought a chocolate one for both my mom and me to enjoy the season. I was pregnant, about to pop, and covid restrictions were still in effect, so I thought the calendars could be something we could do together even if we weren’t in the same place. Each night, my mom and I would find time to talk and enjoy our little treat. We loved it!

The chocolate was the same each night, but the quote with it was different.

I loved it so much I kind of went advent calendar crazy this year. I got a calendar for my parents, husband, my baby, my husband’s niece, and nephew, and even the cats have one.

My mom and I love chocolate, so I got a Godiva calendar for us. Dad wanted in, too, so he has his own as well.

I’m excited for this calendar because the chocolates will be different each night.

My husband is really into whisky, so I got him Flaviar’s Whiskies of the Galaxy calendar.

How cool is this box?!?
Fancy!

Maxine is almost one, so I decided to get her a stuffed animal calendar that could go on the Christmas tree.

Isn’t it cute!

The cats will be sharing a Fancy Feast calendar.

Meow

I got Andrew’s three-year-old niece a Disney advent calendar that will have a different story each night.

Andrew’s nephew is ten, so I chose a calendar that is a little more hands-on.

I hope we all enjoy them!!!