My very own “Three Star Gods”

After being distracted by the two snakes in one day ordeal at the pottery place, I gave up on my trying to choose a Peranakan piece, and instead choose to get my very own trio of Chinese deities.

Three wise men are Chinese gods who are ” Fu, Lu, & Shou”. They are also called gods of Longevity, Prosperity, and Fortune. They are used in Chinese culture to denote the three attributes of a good life. The start of the worship of these Gods is said to be from Ming dynasty, however they are no longer worshipped in the traditional sense, but they are considered auspicious by Chinese around the world.

Fu , is the happiness and wealth god, he stands for good luck and harmony, is taller than the other two Star Gods when being represented artistically, and is always placed in the center. Favors are asked of him on the twentieth day of the seventh lunar month. He holds a gold ingot.

Lu is the god of rank and affluence, stands for authority, power, and wealth. He is often depicted as holding a child or a sceptre of power. He symbolizes one’s ability to better oneself and reap high rewards. Having many children is considered a blessing by Chinese.

Shou is the god of good health and longevity. He is recognized by his high, domed forehead and the peach which he carries as a symbol of immortality.

These gods are often seen as a set in many Chinese homes. Depictions of them are used widely in feng shui.

How to Place Three Wise Men:
Fu, Lu, and Shou should be placed side by side in one row – Fu is on your left side, Lu is in the center and Shou is on your right side when you look at them. They can be displayed on the table in your living room or dining area facing inside (not directly facing the main door if facing outside). The level of table can’t be too low. In addition, you cannot display them under the beam or facing to the bathroom.

So many superstitions, taboos, should & should not rules to follow! Fascinating!!

IMG_2466-0.JPG

Advertisements

Two Snakes in One Day!

Can you believe it??!! I saw TWO snakes in ONE day!! And I didn’t have a heart attack!!!

Well, maybe my heart was pounding a bit. Okay, I was terrified.

Here’s the story: I was with my Singapore BFF Jacki and I were off on one of our weekly adventures. (Jacki is a Philly girl and has the exact same personality as me, except she swears more.) Each week we take a day to try something new in Singapore, and each time we find ourselves in some type of unforgettable situation.

Last week we met at Starbucks, decided to walk to the Peranakan Museum, but we got lost, we were so busy chatting & giggling, the we walked the wrong direction without realizing it for about 30 minutes, and ended up having to take a taxi to the museum. Neither of us knew anything about this place, all I knew was that I loved their pottery. So, we took a guided tour of the place, which was fascinating.

I found this sign interesting, their expectations of the girls. Practically from the day the girls are born, they are taught how to be good wives, and their marriages were planned & arranged starting when they were about 8 years old, with the ceremony when they are about 15 or 16 years old.

DaughterInLaw

This is a photo of a small part of a large tablecloth that was displayed under glass. It was absolutely gorgeous. I have always enjoyed crafting … embroidery when I was a young girl, making garden art, and recently, I have become obsessed with crocheting. But this beadwork was nothing like I have ever seen or can imagine someone making!! This picture doesn’t do it justice.

Tablecloth

“A million glass beads make up this tablecloth, and is the largest example of Peranakan beadwork known. It’s original design shows various European and South American birds and flowers, with only a few Asian species. Parrots and macaws stand on branches with butterflies and dragonflies hovering nearby. The tropical hibiscus and pineapple can be seen along with the many European flowers. The combination of pink and yellow on a turquoise background is characteristic of Penang Peranakan beadwork. During the 12-day Peranakan wedding, the family would decorate the table with prized pieces of silver and porcelain, as well as gifts and, of course, food.”

There were displays of their beautiful pottery, which is known for the pastel colors, painted on the inside and outside of all the pieces.

Now, flash forward to this week: Jacki and I decided to check out a local pottery place, where they sell the Peranakan pottery. This stuff is gorgeous, and we both hoped to pick up a few pieces as souvenirs.

This is where we saw the snakes. Granted, this place is on the edge of Singapore, and there is lots of green space (jungles). In fact, there is a sign nearby that explains what to do if you see a snake, or a wild boar (yes, there are wild boars here!).

http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/environment/story/5-things-about-wild-boars-singapore-20140729

But never actually thought I would encounter a snake, let alone TWO in one day!!

After Jacki carefully parked her car (she’s not a very good parker, not nearly as skilled as me) and we were walking through the lot, sure enough, my hawk eyes spotted a snake slithering across the gravel road we were walking on. After nearly hyperventilating from shock, and searching frantically for my phone so I could take a pic, we realized that the nearly 2 foot long snake was in a hurry, and off it went under some thick greenery where it disappeared from sight.

So exciting!! We continued on into the outdoor pottery store, where we giggled and laughed about finally seeing a snake, still a bit nervous on edge. I mean, this is an open air store with stacks and stacks of large crocks laying around. There could be more snakes anywhere. Bigger snakes. Maybe huge snakes who were not in a hurry. And were hungry.

Well, we quickly forgot about the snakes, as we were happily hunting for some good finds. Here are some photos of the Peranakan pottery:

TurquoiseW:PinkBorder

TurqoiseW:YellowBorder

PinkW:YellowBorder

PinkW:GreenBorder

GreenW:PinkBorder

Anyhow, they next thing I knew another customer was pointing to a basket on the floor, about 4 feet from where I was standing, and sure enough, there was a snake in it!! It was quickly swished out of the basket and away from me and the other customers. I was nearly breathless with shock, hanging onto Jacki, who was equally traumatized.

No, I didn’t get a picture of that snake either.

And there you go, two snakes in one day!! Last night I was telling this story to my friend, Uncle Lim, a local Singaporean, who insisted that seeing two snakes in one day is good luck. I think what he means is

“if you see two snakes in one day and live to tell about it, then you are lucky”.

http://www.peranakanmuseum.org.sg/home/home.html
http://thowkwangclayartists.wordpress.com
http://www.themarthablog.com/2010/07/visiting-a-dragon-in-singapore.html

Human Body Experience

The Science Center Singapore recently had an exhibit called “The Human Body” and from the little I had seen and heard about this temporary exhibit, I just knew I had to take my kids to experience this.

It was quite interesting, to say the least. It all began with a journey down the food tube:

FoodTube

SwallowedAlive

And yes, you were then swallowed alive!

LauraSittingInMouth

You literally climb into the mouth to begin your journey through the human body! I nearly peed my pants laughing, this was so funny. After traveling down the esophagus, then we were in the stomach. Next we found our selves in a pulsating lung, and in the picture below, here I am in the blood stream!

InTheVeins

After trying to keep up with Maria, Shane and Cale, who didn’t find this exhibit nearly as funny as I did, I found myself pushing my way out through … you guess it … the bum!

LauraAtTheBum

Only in Singapore my friends. Only in Singapore.

Oh, wondering what the next exhibit will be? I saw this sign while standing in line for our tickets, and yes, I do believe that I will be taking the kids to this one as well.

ScienceOfSex

http://www.science.edu.sg/Pages/SCBHome.aspx

Swimming in the USA, Summer ’14

This past summer, the kids and I traveled to back to the USA for eight weeks, our plan was to visit family and friends, but our main goal was to re-connect with our Hudson Wisconsin coaches and compete in some competitions. Our transition to swimming in Singapore has been difficult, and the kids were desperate to get in the water with their coaches Jen and Bob.

With such a short time frame to work with, we decided to schedule in as many swim competitions as possible. We landed in Minnesota on June 7th, and the boys were at the University of Minnesota at 6:30 am on June 8th. They were exhausted, jet-lagged but thrilled to be back in familiar swim territory with their Minnesota teammates. I knew better than to sign up Maria to swim, that girl was all about seeing her friends, and me? well, I was so jet-lagged it was a miracle that I didn’t fall asleep in some random stairwell somewhere in the Natatorium.

UofMwithTheGirls

The rest of the summer went much the same way … early morning swim practices and afternoon swim practices as well. If the kids weren’t at practice, they were busy with friends. Weekends we were at competitions. It was a rush of busy-ness, and the kids were totally in their element. I loved every single second of it!!

Our second meet was at the University of Iowa for a “Swim Pink” fundraising meet for Breast Cancer.

Shane @ Swim Pink

Here is a selfie of Tina and I .. she is mom of Michael, and she is the ultimate swim mom, full of grace and humility, despite her son breaking 70+ USA National Age Group Records.

WithTinaAndrew

From there we went to Eau Claire Wisconsin,

20140629-083643-31003189.jpg

Shane and my dad chilling out poolside between races:
20140629-083453-30893689.jpg

My boys!
20140629-083028-30628444.jpg

then back to Iowa for Speedo Sectionals,

IMG_3883

Prelims100Free

back to the University of Minnesota for the State Championships,

FirstPlacePatch

and then to Oklahoma for a zone meet. Shane did well at all of his meets, but his 100 Freestyle win by out touching his competitor was the most exciting for me. It was such a close race!

100FreeOutTouchedToWin

Shane earned the High Points 2nd Place Award for the 13/14 boys, representing Team Minnesota.

ShaneWithHighPointsAward

TeamMinnesota

A couple photos of Maria ( who gave permission to post photos as long as you cannot see her face. Really Maria??) and Cale:

Fly3.2014

Underwater2.2014

Breaststroke8*.2014

Breaststroke7*.2014

BackstrokeStart3.2014

And finally, one last selfie! Wendy and I were supposed to be taking pics of our daughters posing together, but we were sneaky and took a selfie of ourselves instead. We’re like that!

WithWendyGirlsThoughtWeWereTakingTheirPicture

Singapore Sling

Yummy! The Raffels Hotel is a must-see here in Singapore. The Long Bar is famous for the Singapore Sling, and of course Trent and I just had to have one (or two) of these.

SingaporeSling

Here’s some information I found on-line:

“The Singapore Sling is a South-East Asian cocktail. This drink was developed sometime before 1915 by Ngiam Tong Boon, a Hainanese bartender working at the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel Singapore. It was initially called the gin sling – a sling was originally an American drink composed of spirit and water, sweetened and flavored.

Most recipes substitute bottled pineapple juice for fresh juice; soda water has to be added for foam. The hotel’s recipe was recreated based on the memories of former bartenders and written notes that they discovered regarding the original recipe. One of the scribbled recipes is still on display at the Raffles Hotel Museum.

Recipes published in articles about Raffles Hotel before the 1970s are significantly different from current recipes, and Singapore Slings drunk elsewhere in Singapore differ from the recipe used at Raffles Hotel.

The current Raffles Hotel recipe is a heavily modified version of the original, most likely changed sometime in the 1970s by Ngiam Tong Boon’s nephew. Today, many of the Singapore Slings served at Raffles Hotel have been pre-mixed and are made using an automatic dispenser that combines alcohol and pineapple juice to pre-set volumes. They are then blended instead of shaken to create a foamy top as well as to save time because of the large number of orders. However, it is still possible to request a shaken version from bartenders.”

Our drinks were shaken, and they were mmm-mmm delicious.

BartenderMakingDrinks

Trent wasn’t too crazy about his sling, he said it was too sweet!

TrentWithDrink

And so I had to force myself to drink his, and mine.

LauraWithBartender

LauraWithADrink

Nothing like slurping up $55 worth of sweetness at the famous Long Bar!!

LongBarSign

menuPicShowingPrice