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With Chinese New Year (CNY) just around the corner, we believe preparations to celebrate the festive occasion is in full swing. After all, what is a festival without hearing the good ol' practices that our parents have iterated ever since we were young. Growing up, haven't you thought that these practices might be a tad bit ridiculous? Do you observe the various taboos associated with the season? These silly superstitions dictate the frenzy that we all go through right until the eve of CNY, so read on to know your New Year no-no’s and avoid all that misfortune!

1. Don’t sweep or take out the trash

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Sweep the floor or take out the trash on the first day of CNY and you’re sweeping (or dumping) all your good fortune out! Do a big spring clean and toss your garbage beforehand if you want to be presented with money-making opportunities.

 

2. Don’t wash your hair

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The first and second day of the Lunar New Year is associated with the birthday of the Water God plus ‘head’ is synonymous with ‘beginning’ in Chinese hence don’t wash your hair. Flaunt your freshly-washed luscious locks and you’ll sever your luck and derail a good start to the year! We admit that this can be a challenge for the regular gym-goers because let’s be real, no one wants to smell horrible at school or work post-gym. Anyhow, whatever the state of your personal hygiene, cleanliness is generally frowned upon during this time. #justsaying

 

3. Don’t curse or utter unlucky words

Utter “die” and it might lead to actual death. The Chinese believe that anything said during CNY will linger throughout the year so mince your words, mind your tongue and replace with euphemisms. Includes ghost stories and foul language too.

4. Don’t wear black

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Black hides food babies and unwanted fats but the colour is associated with death and mourning. Choose a cheery colour for the season before your superstitious relative shakes his or her head in complete disapproval. Red is considered as a vibrant, happy colour which will lead to a bright future. If red is too bright for your soul, opt for yellow, orange or gold. Your appearance and attitude sets the tone for the rest of the year so put away those black threads for awhile.

5. Don’t use knives/scissors or do needlework

 

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Sharpen up your chef knives and what not before CNY if you wish to retain good luck in the new year because anything to do with cutting is about cutting off your luck. It’s apparently an omen for possible arguments with others too. Oh, and women should not knit or do any needlework – it’s believed that if you use a needle and have a child that year, your little one’s eyes will be as small as the eye of the needle. Truth or plain silly? You decide. For an extra peace of mind, all sharp tools are to be avoided for any accidental injuries, inauspiciousness and the depletion of wealth in general. We guess you’d have to find another way to open that bag of bakkwa

While these taboos sound a bit unbelievable, there is a special flavour of the festive season that comes with believing in them. It reminds most people of their younger days when they hear stories that, while sound somewhat ridiculous, serve as a form of entertainment and amusement. Let us know if these taboos are true and in the meantime, here’s to a happy and prosperous CNY! Enjoy your long holidays and may the luck and fortune of the year of the dog follow you through!

The festive season is upon us! Break out the red packets, mandarin oranges, gold ingots, new clothes and of course the new you for this Lunar New Year! If you haven’t been paying attention, it is the year of the dog and according to the horoscope, it is going to be a good year in all respects, but also an exhausting one. You will experience a rollercoaster of emotions, from happiness and frustration, to feeling rested, dull, cheerful and tired. But do not fret! We humans are well equipped for such situations, just lean on your friends and family in the upcoming joyous new year and if all else fails, stuff your face with some yummy new year goodies!

Speaking of which, I know we all love the usual sinful treats that come with Chinese New Year like bak kwa, love letters, pineapple tarts and my biggest weakness: shrimp rolls. As I am writing this, I already cannot wait to get my hands on my favorite brand of shrimp rolls. However, is it a common phenomenon among all of you who – like me – love indulging, to gain weight, feel sluggish and even have breakouts after the new year is over? I always prep myself for the onslaught of weight gain because I love snacking so much but it’s time to be healthier, and have the willpower to eat healthier alternatives so our bodies are well nourished. All who wish to embark on this journey to health and wellness, here is a list of healthy alternatives to the usual goodies, do pack these in a Tupperware container to carry around while visiting so you won’t be tempted to indulge.

1. Almonds

 

Almonds are a type of tree nuts that are renowned for their health benefits. Experts often rave about how much healthy fats, fiber, protein, magnesium and vitamin E almonds have and how they can lower blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure, reduce hunger and lower cholesterol levels. Those of you out there who are on the path to weight loss, this snack just might be your holy grail! Almonds are low in carbs, and high in both protein and fiber with increase satiety and thus reduces your hunger and helps to lower your overall calorie intake – ie. Eat almonds, eat less overall and eventually lose weight. The recommended serving size is approximately 23 almonds or a handful, portion control is key, it will be pointless if you stuff yourself with a hundred almonds to combat hunger. Ration your nuts wisely throughout the day!

2. Edamame

Odds are, many of you have heard of or even tried edamame but you don’t actually know what they are and how they benefit you. Edamame are young soy beans that are actually harvested before they have ripened and hardened. Japanese restaurants often serve them in their pods and they are rather fun to pry open and pop into your mouth, but they can be purchased both fresh and frozen. Edamame is rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin C and E, riboflavin and many more. These nutrients are important in keeping our skin healthy and age resistant, strengthens the immune system, strengthens our bones and even reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The recommended serving size is about ½ a cup of edamame. Pop a bean every now and then whenever you feel hungry, they will surely leave you feeling fresh and rejuvenated.

3. Dark Chocolate

 

I know how hard it is for fellow sweet tooths out there to survive this dastard holiday, the temptations are everywhere! Sweets, pineapple tarts and the cursed cookies! So if you are in severe need of a sugar fix, dark chocolate is your best friend. The higher the percentage of cocoa the better, because it has less sugar and more flavor than milk chocolate and you can really taste the strong hint of the cacao plant. However, for beginner dark chocolate enthusiasts, I recommend working your way up before you try 90% dark chocolate because you might just spit it out. Start at 50-60% and as you appreciate the bitter taste more and more, try higher percentages. You might think even though its dark chocolate, it is still unhealthy. Wrong! It has been scientifically proven that dark chocolate has tons of antioxidants, Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese and a few other minerals that can lower blood pressure, the risk of cardiovascular diseases and improve your blood flow. However, it is still something to be eaten in moderation, like all other snacks. The recommended serving size is about 100g twice a week, not daily.

4. Hummus

Hummus is a thick creamy Levantine spread that is commonly found in the Middle East, it is primarily comprised of mashed chickpeas and other beans, tahini, lemon juice, mixed with some oil and seasoning. Hummus is a good source of plant based protein, can help balance blood sugar levels, is anti-inflammatory and it can help boost your energy. It has a unique taste and serves to widen your food palette – stop eating so much laksa and chicken rice! Try something new. You can eat hummus with some whole meal bread, whole grain crackers and even use it to top dishes like Mediterranean fish. It is also incredibly easy to make from scratch so you have to buy it from a store. The recommended serving size is about 100g.

5. Plain popcorn

 

Read the header again, “PLAIN”! I bet a few of you were ready to dash to the movie theatre to load up on some sweet caramel popcorn. Only when eaten plain, does popcorn have many nutritional benefits. Popcorn is a type of grain and it is rich in fiber, antioxidants, manganese, magnesium and more. Popcorn helps improve digestion and facilitates regular bowel movement, lowers cholesterol levels, prevents aging, and can aid in weight loss. Note again that this is only true for plain popcorn, try not to douse it in salt, butter or caramel because that would make it moot. The recommended serving size is about 3 cups of popped kernels. Pop some in your microwave and enjoy a round of Netflix, you deserve it you superstar.

 

We have officially reached the month of December! Aka the Christmas month (no seriously it is Christmas every single day in December. Google it, it's the era of awesomeness.) You'll hear jingle bells, 'Santa baby's, 'All I Want for Christmas is You's and of course the iconic Mean Girls video that is bound to be recreated by many groups of people (myself included *winks*) Enjoy lovely strolls down Orchard Road with the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations and eat all the yummy goodies to your hearts' content! It's been a hard year, and we all deserve a nice break. December is also a reminder that 2017 is coming to an end, and 2018 is coming soon! Over the year if you've accumulated a lot of things from your online shopping, then I'm sure you are in dire need to tidy up your house before the new year starts. What better way to welcome a new year with a neat and clean house! A clean house is a happy house and a happy house makes a happy person.

Onward to minimalism!

 

If you feel overwhelmed, anxious, and defeated around the idea of decluttering your homes, don't be! There are so many benefits of a clean tidy house: you have less to clean, less debt, less to organize, less stress, more money and energy for your greatest passions. And of course a neat house is pleasing to the eye and perhaps even the soul. However, looking at the disastrous state of your home may leave you wondering: how in the world should I even begin?! Fret not, your girl has your back!

Rule 1

Take 5-1o minutes to walk around your house and mentally decide what things you definitely need or don't need. Keep in mind that you should declutter room by room for maximum efficiency.

Rule 2

Grab a ton of boxes or bags to place all the unwanted items. (bonus points if you separate your items into recyclables, donations, resell and trash) A lot of us are guilty of impulse buying and sometimes these things are hardly used, so why not give it to someone else who could make great use of it? You are doing a great deed and you can clean your house at the same time, killing two birds with one stone. You could also recycle them or even start a garage sale to sell a few valuable items and earn back some of the money you spent.

Rule 3

Commit to your goal of decluttering, as it might take a few days (Rome wasn't built in a day you know!) So set mental goals for yourself, give deadlines for each room and it'll become a more tangible goal with minimal risk of procrastination.

 

Before I give you some tips to declutter each room, let me share some of the usual pitfalls in decluttering as well as how to overcome them.

1. Getting Over Sunk Costs

Sunk costs are costs that have already been incurred and cannot be recovered. Many of the things in our houses are sunk costs except for rare instances where the value of an item increases over time (like gold). A lot of people tend to fixate on the money they spent on their belongings and can't bear to get rid of them. Over time your things will accumulate and you'll get closer and closer to being a hoarder. *gasps* So, since you can't get your money back, you should only think about the value that thing can add to your life in the future. If it doesn't add much value, toss it. Understanding this concept of sunk costs can help you make more rational decisions about what to keep and what you should toss as well as a means to control your impulse spending in the future.

2. The 80/20 Rule

We generally only wear 20% of the clothes we own, 80% of the time. (The comfy loose t-shirts, sweatpants and shorts) And this rule applies to other items too, like bags, games, CDs, etc. Your mission is to figure out what the 80% of things that you only use 20% of the time are and toss them appropriately.

Bathroom Tips

 

Kitchen Tips

 

Bedroom Tips

 

Living room Tips

There you have it, some great tips and guidelines to help you reel in the new year with a clean, clutter-free house. Everything mentioned is most definitely doable so put your mind to it and get cracking!

 

It seems to me that it was just a few months ago that I was making New Year resolutions for 2017. And yet, here we are nearing the end of it. This year was an overwhelming one – we’ve had everything from controversial elections to royal wedding bells. But we’ve all made it to our favourite part of the year – the end. If you, like me, think the year passed way too quickly for comfort and want to let loose a little before greeting the brand new year 2018, here are 5 events happening around Singapore where you can let your hair down.

1. Marina Bay Singapore Countdown

 

If you think New Year’s Eve is all about fireworks, then Marina Bay Singapore Countdown is where you should be at. But there aren’t just fireworks this year – you can expect carnival rides and games, a charity trail, fringe events and projection mapping displays. There are events happening all around the Marina Bay and Civic Districts so there would not be any chance of you getting bored sitting in one place.
Where: Marina Bay and Civic Districts; closest MRT is Promenade
Entry fees: Free entry

2. Haji Lane NYE 2018

 

Fireworks aren’t your thing? Perhaps you want to go back to the carefree days of the 80s and 90s and groove to the smooth beat of some RnB and Hip hop. If so, then head on over to the Haji Lane Street Party: NYE 2018. Hosted by Piedra Negra and Blu Jaz Cafe, with beats by DJ Jag and DJ Gravity, this is a party where you can dance your heart out.
Where: 241 Beach Road, Singapore 189753; closest MRT is Bugis
Entry Fees: Free

3. Silent Disco Asia

 

The thought of dancing appeals to you and your friends but everyone wants different music. Well, you can dance to your own beat at Silent Disco Asia happening at the ArtScience Museum. You’ll be spoilt for music choice as you can dance to the tunes of three DJs spinning at the same time. Plus, being at the ArtScience Museum guarantees a spot to see the fantastic fireworks as well.
Where: ArtScience Museum; closest MRT is Bayfront
Entry Fees: Tickets cost $60. You can book here.

4. Super Night New Year’s Eve Dinner at The Ritz Carlton

 

Wouldn’t a sumptuous and extravagant dinner be a great way to wrap up the year and ready yourself for the new one? Not only would you be able to relish a great buffet dinner, there are unlimited pours of champagne and wine. Additionally, if you want to continue to party in style, there is live entertainment at the dance floor at Chihuly Lounge.
Where: The Ritz Carlton, Millenia Singapore; closest MRT is Bayfront.
Entry Fees: Reservations required. From SGD 388 per adult. From SGD 194 per child (12 years and below)

5. A Wander Soirée: Countdown by The Quay

 

At A Wander Soirée, not only will you be entertained by our very own 987FM DJs – Sonia Chew, Joakim Gomez, Charmian Tan & Gerald Koh, you can also be pumped up by sets from a local band, Shirlyn & The UnXpected. With street drummers, Poi dancers and The Mirror Man, you can be sure to enjoy the festivities. If all that gets too boring for you, you can also party it up at the clubs nearby like Attica Singapore, f.Club Singapore, Get Juiced, Level Up and Zouk Singapore or grab a bite to eat at the myriad of restaurants and bars.
Where: Clarke Quay Fountain Square; closest MRT is Clarke Quay
Entry Fee: Free
So there you have it, a list of places you could go to usher in the New Year. No matter how you choose to spend New Year’s Eve – dancing at a party surrounded by friends, sipping champagne at a classy dinner or even at home with a glass of wine and fuzzy slippers on – you should relax and bask in the jubilation for all that you have done for the year. Now, onward to the next!
Happy New Year!

Written by Annmaria Patteri

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