Happy New Year of the Fire Rooster

The first day of the Chinese New Year of the Rooster will be on January 28 when you will hear “Gong Xi Fa Cai” or “Gong Hey Fat Choi” well wishes (they both mean wishing you abundance of wealth.)

This year is one for the fire Rooster; the last time this occurred was in 1957. For each zodiac sign, there are five types – gold, wood, water, fire, and earth. Each type has a different personality.

Everything is celebrated in red – you will see children wearing red jackets, adults giving red packets to the younger ones, good tidings written on red paper, etc.

San Francisco and London have apparently the largest celebrations outside Asia.

Let us celebrate the Chinese New Year with some scenes from the flower markets last weekend in The San Francisco Chinatown – lots of red!

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and energetic year of the Rooster!!

First, a beautiful red Rooster from Guangdong, China!

Wishing you abundance every year!


All sorts of Rooster ornaments!


The sound of the mandarin orange in Chinese resembles luck and blessings.

 The most popular surnames in China:

Amazing human flexibility and strength!


Some Kung Fu movements!


And sharing this beautiful rainbow photo shot by a neighbour during our stormy weekend!

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Happy New Year and Favourite Recipes (Simple)

Wishing you all a blessed, happy, and healthy New Year.

How about some healthy and simple recipes to kick off the New Year?

Here are some gluten-free and gut-healing recipes from one of my favourite functional doctors, Dr. Axe – his best ones from 2016!

No-bake coconut cookies with cacao nibs – yum!!  From: Dr. Axe

Total Time: 20 minutesServes: 18 cookies

INGREDIENTS:

2–1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats

1 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut

2-3 tablespoons cacao nibs

1 tablespoon flax seed (whole or ground), optional*

2/3 cup honey

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 cup almond butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 tablespoons cacao powder or dark cocoa powder

coconut sugar to sprinkle on top

Himalayan pink salt to sprinkle on top

DIRECTIONS:

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the oats and coconut flakes well and set aside.

In a medium pot over medium heat, combine the honey, coconut oil and almond butter, cocoa or cacao power and stir continuously until the mixture is melted and mixed evenly.

Remove from heat and add in the oats, cacao nibs and coconut flakes stirring continuously. Add the vanilla extract and continue stirring until mixture becomes thick.

Drop heaping tablespoons of the mixture onto the cookie sheets. Lightly sprinkle coconut sugar and sea salt on top of each cookie. Place the cookie sheets in the freezer for at least 20 minutes, or until you’re ready to serve.

Take the cookies out of the freezer and allow them to thaw for 5 minutes before serving. Store any leftover cookies in a sealed container in the freezer.

Tram ride in Hong Kong at night

One of my favourite forms of transportation in Hong Kong is tram ride. It is a great way to observe the life in Hong Kong, especially from the train’s I pper deck, as the train moves slowly and steadily around the urban areas in the Hong Kong Island.  Here was a short trip from the Wan Chai area to the Central business district in Hong Kong, arriving at the Landmark, with its colourful Christmas decorations.  

     

  

Charming Victoria B.C.

After spending almost ten days in Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, I decided it is one of the best places to have a relaxing vacation.

Victoria, the capital of B.C., is actually on the Vancouver Island not Victoria Island and is famously known as the City of Gardens and, if I may add, the City of Bikers, as 10% of residents bike to work! The city was named after Queen Victoria and was established as a Hudson’s Bay fort in 1843. The first Chinese in Canada settled in Victoria due to the gold rush. Its food scenes are not only British but also very diverse, and locals and visitors enjoy cuisines with the freshest ingredients including seafood, veggie, and fruits.

Although it is on an island and has a population of about 350,000, there are direct flights from its international airport to cities such as Toronto, Calgary, Montreal, Seattle, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Cabos and also Cancun. The airport is extremely friendly.  There are more cool facts about the City here.

What I enjoyed the most is its natural, untouched beauty, its relaxing pace, friendly faces as well as its Britishness. I was fortunate enough to stay with my Dad’s high school friend, who lives a 10-minutes walk from woods, park, and beach! Compared to Vancouver, Victoria has milder temperature and less than half of the rain with precipitation falling between November and February. No wonder it is popular with retirees.

Here are a few moments that I have treasured:

Ferry ride (1 hour 40 minutes) from Vancouver to Victoria
Rock and sand at Mount Douglas Beach
Beautiful flowers with the Parliament in the background
The tourists’ favourite – Empress Hotel and the Inner Harbour
Strolling in Downtown
Sunset in the Harbour
Along the Oak Bay Marina
Horse carriages all over roads lining the Inner Harbour
Rural beauty along trails in Mount Douglas Park
Breathtaking Ogden Point Breakwater – 1 mile to the lighthouse at the end – photo credit to Melichard at Tripadvisors.com

  
The Galloping Goose Trail, running on the previous Canadian National Railway, weaves through rutal, urban and wetlands
 
  

Simple Rituals for Happiness

Happiness depends upon ourselves.

~ Aristotle

Eric Barker, one of my favorite writers about science-based awesomeness, wrote this piece today about what simple daily rituals (neuroscience-based) that can make one happy.  He said, what if I tell you 8 glasses of water do not make you happy (but just make you go to the bathroom a lot) but 8 hugs do?

From my experiences, happiness and kindness are contagious. One of the best ways to spread happiness is just to smile at people.  And now, a touch on the arm will do that too.

Read here to understand why touches, hugs, massages can bring you more happiness but also why kisses can likely bring you more salaries!