Hong Bao's (red envelopes) are a staple of Chinese New Year like candy is to Halloween. You just can't celebrate it without it. I had the chance to share with Lexie at Smartshanghai.com recently how to make hong bao's, that is super easy to do and all it takes is about 5 minutes. You'll just need scissors, double-sided tape or glue and this template.
The Chinese New Year of the Rooster officially begins on January 28th. How will you celebrate? If you're in Shanghai and looking for a festive CNY meal without the work of cooking it yourself, go check out Ginger Modern Asian Bistro on Xinguo & Hunan Lu for their Chinese New Year set menu. Feel up to preparing a feast for friends and family? Make sure you check out this handy guide on lucky foods to eat for CNY and decorate your table with one of our paper patterns like Ginger did! 新年快乐! 恭喜发财!
Simple autumn table centerpiece decor with paper. Scrap paper can be used to complement any table centerpiece. These were created recently for a champagne launch held in Villa La Bec's beautiful dining rooms.
Lovely afternoon with Mary, Ying, Anna, Bronwyn, Clara and Denise making these simple, but beautifully elegant flower branches at Suzhou Cobbler's studio on June 1.
Come join me for an afternoon of flower making at Suzhou Cobbler's new studio in the Hamilton House on June 2 from 1:30pm-4:30pm. Below are the details and sign-up info.
I seem to have discovered a small cache of gift tags in my inventory and I'm putting them up for a Flash Sale tomorrow at the SAS Puxi Spring Bazaar from 11am-4pm. Any 6 tags for RMB15! Hope to see you!
I can't seem to use enough exclamation points to describe India without looking like I've been paid to do that, but I can't help myself as it's truly an incredible country with so many facets to it. I recently joined six girlfriends on an India adventure that took us from Bangalore to Hampi to Badami and finally to Goa. The journey was made entirely on the road with a driver and a van, many bottles of water, many bottles of wine, many pieces of luggage, many Pepto-Bismol pills (it worked!) and one snack bag.
The roads to all our destinations were surprisingly smooth and well maintained, but I can't say the same for the driving or rather the India-way of driving. The India way of driving is to assume that every driver on the road has their foot on the gas pedal to go-forward (of course, why else would you be in a vehicle??), and no one will brake. And if there is a slower vehicle in front of you, the unwritten road-rule is you can't slow down, you must pass the slow-moving vehicle by going into the other lane irrespective of the fact that the other lane has on-coming traffic heading right towards you. If I was a younger me and if my traveling companions were a younger them, I think we could have had some fun with this type of driving and made a game of how many vehicles we could tap out of our windows (and drivers we could have fist-bumped) as we passed them---because we most certainly could have, and with very little effort. Despite this style of 'bumper-car' driving, I would do it again and highly recommend it to get to Hampi and Badami, ancient cities with an incredible rich history, architecture and landscape.
Against a backdrop of mostly beige, browns and grays, the colors of India pop out vividly and beautifully in stark contrast to its surroundings. Even in the rural villages of Hampi and Badami, the vivid colors that are seen on homes, temples, architecture, textiles, cows...everywhere, is pure joy. Even the simplest of homes are saturated in bright and rich colors.
Doorways + Windows
Captured from the beautiful, ancient temples in Hampi and Badami.
Goa was such a surprise for me. I don't know why, but I envisioned a flat, beachy city, but what I got was a hilly, expansive state! The old city of Panaji was delightful with its Portuguese influence and art-deco styles.
One of my favorite memories growing up in New York, was how my family celebrated Chinese New Year. We were lucky that our grandparents and all of our aunts, uncles and cousins, from both sides of of the family, lived within 30-45 minutes away and every Chinese New Year there was always a massive gathering at our house in Long Island. Somehow, in between the endless Mahjong rounds being played by the adults--often with 2 tables going at the same time; the dice games being played by those left out of the Mahjong tables; the hong bao's passed to the kids and unmarried; paper money being folded and burned to our ancestors, an abundant amount of special Chinese New Year dishes miraculously got prepared and cooked and spread out on our dining room table. Our long table would have at one end, a mini-altar that each family member--old and young, would have to perform the 'honoring-of-the-ancestor' ritual: light an incense stick, bow three-times with the incense in between your pressed palms and then stick the incense in the urn. We were only allowed to eat after the spirit of our ancestors first 'enjoyed' the food.
I love Chinese New Year. I love all the rituals and symbolisms. It's a perfectly timed holiday that comes after the celebrations and festivities of Christmas and New Year's Eve. You never really have a chance to experience any post-holiday blues---because Chinese New Year is right around the corner!
My cousin Christine recently celebrated an early Chinese New Year dinner with her family. I love the decorations she created and how festive it all is. Her daughter created the fortune cookie dip. As a kid I was never that creative. All I was ever focused on were how many hong bao's I was going to get!
I often have bare branches from flowers that have dried up and fallen after the Christmas holidays and instead of throwing them out, I save them (when I remember!) to 're-flower' with paper flowers made from leftover wrapping paper.
Paper Willow Branch (below)
These flowers are super easy to make. You just need scissors, crafting wire and something round for tracing. Cut out a fairly large circle using either a circle cutter or trace out a circle using a coaster or anything round; fold each in half, horizontally; roll or fold each into itself and punch a small hole at the bottom to thread your wire through and then wrap it around each branch. The more willows on each branch the better! I stuck my branches in a ceramic pot and stuffed it w/ green tissue paper to hold it in place.
Rolled Flower Branch (below)
I found this branch in a flower market and just loved its symmetry. With Chinese New Year around the corner, I wrapped it in gold satin ribbon (the color gold symbolises good fortune and wealth for the Chinese, which is why you see it a lot in their home decor) and used a glue gun to secure down certain ends. I then made some rolled flowers (I like this YouTube tutorial) from leftover wrapping paper and hot glued it to certain points of the branch. Because my flowers turned out not-so-tight in the middle, I dropped some dried white berries to fill it up (kind of looks like little bird eggs) and stuck some dried sprigs in it too. If I had enough time, I would have added some more rolled flowers on top. The finished look makes for a nice little elegant display, I think!
Chinese New Year is almost upon us! February 8th, ushers in the year of the Monkey. New Year decoration is serious stuff (no monkeying around with this holiday!) and every person on this planet of Chinese heritage will celebrate it in some shape or form--- through food (copious amounts and all having some kind of symbolism to it), money (giving and receiving in red envelopes or hong baos), and family gatherings. AD Magazine China's February issue featured beautiful Chinese New Year home decorations, which I was fortunate to be a part of, along with my pals Denise at Suzhou Cobbler and Betty at Ginger.
Behind-the-scenes of the Feb issue of AD China's CNY Deco feature. Paper Flowers by Paper Tiger Shanghai; Food by Ginger; Home and other deco by Suzhou Cobblers.