Thursday, February 3, 2011

How to Celebrate the Chinese New Year

Never one to miss an opportunity to find a reason to celebrate in my home, Chinese New Year just invites fun!

One way to bring in the Chinese New Year is to clean house. While this would seem to be a good habit to have anyway, it is important for the holiday, because in doing so, you are also sweeping away any bad luck.

Decorate! Especially using red. Red candles, red paper lanterns, red tablecloths. Red symbolizes good fortune and joy.

Buy red envelopes and fill with homemade coupons. Homemade coupons ideas might include anything you know the receiver will love: maybe an extra hour before bedtime for the kids, a neck rub for a needy spouse.

Food is always an important aspect for any celebration. One idea is Asian Barbecued Tofu, but any family favorite Chinese dish will work. One staple is dumplings. While it is common to hide a coin in one of the dumplings because whoever gets the dumpling with the coin will supposedly have good luck in the coming year, I tend toward not putting inedible items in foods. Choking hazards and all that.

Have a bowl of oranges and tangerines (or any of the many varieties of oranges out there, now available) sitting on the table to be enjoyed by family and guests. They symbolize wealth and good luck.

Offer guests foods from the Tray of Togetherness - a circular or octagonal shaped tray filled with an assortment of symbolic foods to provide a sweet beginning to the New Year. I use a standard relish tray that is round and fill it with eight different finger foods.

By all means, have fun with it. Just remember - don't clean for the first few days of the New Year - if you do any sweeping during this time, you risk sweeping away your good luck.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Creating a Charmed Life

I am creating a charmed life. I saw this quote somewhere online and saved it;  it explains it best:
What is the charmed life? It isn’t perfect, and it doesn’t require power, fame, or fortune. It doesn’t actually require anything more than what you have today. The charmed life is taking delight in the life you have, making every day a brilliant day, and simply savouring the experience.
It is being open to possibilities, receptive to new ideas, and not hesitating to take a first step into unknown territory. It is a complete life strategy, meant to keep you grounded and happy today, while also working to ensure future joy and enchantment. It means living abundantly, embracing life to its fullest.

It does not mean living materialistically. Margaret Young was a singer and comedienne in the 1920's. She knew what she was talking about when she said:
Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.
Living a charmed life, living abundantly isn't about the having it all, because having it all is never enough. It's about being grateful for what you do have, because it is impossible to be simultaneously grateful and unhappy. It's all about the journey and experiencing and creating joy, and charm, along the way.
I want to follow Jean Luc Picard's directive - make it so!
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