It’s Monday! What are you reading?


Gung Hay Fat Choy, Gong Xi Fa Cai, Xin Nin Kuai Le on this first day of The Year of the Monkey. You may hear one of these greetings today depending upon the person’s family dialect. My ohana says the first one as they speak Toisan.

I am fourth generation, Chinese American so you can imagine how watered down my culture is for me. The only customs I practice are making sure the house is clean before the first day of New Year, if the husband has to sweep in the house to sweep inwards away from the exits, and I don’t wash my hair on day one so I don’t wash away the good luck. I basically take one for the team. I was going to make the keiki do it this year, but today is weirdly warm in the Bay Area so I’d rather not have smelly girls around with my hound dog nose.

You know what orchids are as they are lovely housewarming gifts that we were lucky enough to receive from the Jaravatas and from El. You also see a glutinous rice flour cake called nin gou (Cantonese) or nian gao (Mandarin). My maternal grandmother, or PauPau, makes it every year. She usually made smaller ones but after learning I like to eat it, I get a big one for myself. My mum taught me to cut it up into slices and wrap them up in plastic wrap and foil to store in the freezer. When I’m ready to eat a slice, I pan fry each side. You hear the sizzle from the carmelization. Nin gou is sticky and sweet.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Well, it’s obvious I’m running late on my It’s Monday! What are you reading? post, linking up with Kathryn. We actually were supposed to have gone to Lake Tahoe with the Jaravatas and Tams but you can read here why we had to bail if you’re curious. So our ohana traveled further up the Bay Area to the peninsula for my brother’s Super Bowl party which was just the ten of us. I brought cheesecake chocolate chip bars and oinked out on pulled pork sliders, wings, spanakopita, flat bread pizza, and kale salad. After the game was done, we had pumpkin cheesecake and my bars. Did you host or attend a Super Bowl party yesterday? If so, what commercials were your favorite? The Doritos baby was hilarious and I liked the first, Prius 4 one.

Princess Cupcake was thrilled reading the comments left on her Monday book post. I hope Monday book blogging visitors caught that she did write that post herself and weren’t misled by her old, baby picture. You can see here how beautiful my firstborn has grown. She’s a GATE performing student who is known for her academics and who gives friendship unconditionally. I learned and started to appreciate how goofy my daughter was when her fun, fifth grade teacher had mentioned it at our first, parent-teacher conference in 2014. And you’ve seen evidence of her voracious consumption of books. Her and her younger sister now store their library books on the fireplace mantle. Every day the tween is perusing her stash to see what she’ll be reading next; I believe she reads three to five books at once. Recently one night, my daughter stayed up all night to finish The Swap by Megan Shull. Princess Cupcake loved it. I am lucky to have such a wonderful child. I remember one time, she was reading a book that had a lot of swearing in it. My tween told me how she didn’t like that and didn’t finish it.


You know how I’m usually a fast reader. This 2016 I am behind as my Goodreads Reading Challenge tells me all the time, saying I’m five books behind. I’ve been giving priority to knitting deadlines and whatever else. I’ve only had time to read at night for about an hour before I go to bed.

While I work on my STITCHES West 2016 cowl, I listen to the Librivox version of David Copperfield. In high school I had read Great Expectations of course and have seen The Christmas Carol in its many TV versions. I thought it’d be nice to listen to a classic as there would be no way I’d read the physical version. (Although I have to say I do love seeing those old style covers on the classics at the bookstore.) I remember reading or hearing somewhere how Charles Dickens has places of rambling in his works because he was paid by the page? David Copperfield, which is considered his “child,” took some getting used to but now I like it. I get a glimpse into life during that time. And oh boy, talk about the freedom of beating a child which made me think of Filtch in the HP books who always wanted to torture students the old fashioned way. There are 20 YouTube videos and I’m only getting through the third one so I’ve got a ways to go.


As for eBooks, I need to check how many more days I have left to read my library’s Kindle version of Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs #1) by Jaqueline Winspear. One of you talked about this series. I really like this first installment! I am enjoying the time period after World War 1. It’s a window into fashion, mannerisms, and customs. I just finished up the section where you travel back in time to how Maisie came to be the investigator she is so now. I am excited to learn more about the mystery and what’s going on.

I am also reading the sixth Harry Potter book, The Half-Blood Prince. I didn’t get to finish all of Rowling’s books by the end of January for the #PotterBinge. It doesn’t matter because I am enjoying this book that I haven’t read as often as the first couple of books in the series. I feel like I’m on a broom flying along for the adventure.

Well I don’t know about you but my throat is parched and since I didn’t make my water quota yesterday, I need to make up for it today. Off to make my green tea. Have a good Monday and Happy Reading to you!



29 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What are you reading?

  1. I’ve been listening to HP:SS again. The problem is that while I have all the audiobooks, I don’t have them all in iTunes and I no longer have a CD drive on my laptop so until I steal the one from the living room and attach it to my laptop, I only have the two books hanging out. Reading cuts into my knitting time so I’m opting for audiobooks lately.

    Perhaps this week I’ll start getting the rest of the books into iTunes. That would be exciting 🙂


  2. I’ve just finished reading The Yarn Whisperer by Clara Parkes. I’ve read it a few times before and enjoyed it just as much as the first time. Bitten by Kelley Armstrong is next on the list. The Netflix adaptation of the novel has been my knitting companion at night for the last few weeks. I spotted on the credits that it was based on the novel, so it’s been ordered and I am waiting impatiently for it to arrive!


    • I like how you read a knitting memoir. I have Bitten on my TBR. It sounds good and how interesting there is a Netflix adaptation. I’ll have to check it out further; mahalo for mentioning it.


  3. Hope the New Year is a great one. Wonderful to have the customs in your family even if they are now down to the 4th generation. Your daughter sounds a delight and her love of reading is awesome. I hate that Goodreads tells us how far behind or ahead we are. Wish they’d cut that bit out!
    Hope your mother gets you some great NZ wool and Australian wood I believe is pretty good too. Sh!


  4. Kung Hei Fatt Choy! I hope you have a wonderful day with family. Wishing you good luck, good health, good fortune and happiness in the Year of the Red Monkey. I am SO jealous of that Nian Ko!! I don’t have any por por or lai lai to make it for me any more, so I think I am going to have to learn to make my own. I have a recipe somewhere… Miss it so much!


    • Thank you Wei and the same to you and your son! I’m so lucky to have my Pau Pau make it for me every year. I do need to learn how to make it though. My grandmother’s in her early 90’s now.


  5. Happy New Year! I love hearing about the traditions, even 4th generation it’s nice you observe them. I always enjoy seeing pics and thoughts on food as well. And I’ve heard good things about the Maisi Dobbs books, I’d like to read them at some point.


  6. I have only read one Maisie Dobbs book, but I loved it. That reminds me I must read more…

    The only one to stay ahead in the Goodreads Challenge (for me) is to have a small number goal. Mine has been 100 books for the past two years, and I exceeded it. Achievable goals, right?

    Thanks for visiting my blog.


  7. Have fun with your Potter binge and Happy Lunar New Year to you too! We have family in the US and we have been following their Superbowl parties on social media with fascination. 🙂


  8. Gong Xi Fa Cai! was the common greeting when we lived in Singapore. There were always lots of lucky bamboo plants to buy – some of them lasted for ages. Funnily enough, I’ve just finished a novel set in Singapore by Jake Needham. Now I’m reading about wartime Bordeaux.
    Happy new year!


  9. Interesting to hear of your traditions at the new year. I had never heard of not washing the hair.

    Thank you for commenting on Julie’s post. I am glad she vented and hope maybe she will do more of it.

    I bought Kushner’s book on Kindle to read aloud to her “WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE” and maybe it will spur more discussion. She is so bummed about being in the nursing home and the care she requires. After her surgery, she has to be in bed more and longer periods for wound care, and the nurses cannot also do the care when she wants it.

    So that is what I’m reading aloud as of today; we are 80% through Karen Vorbeck Williams second book (reading aloud) about the witchcraft trials in the 1600’s.


  10. I am sitting here drinking a cup of Yurba Mate [a green tea] and hope you enjoyed your cuppa.
    I am still reading The Poisonwood Bible and loving it. It is a story based on a missionary family living in the Congo in the early 1960’s and is told from several characters points of view,

    PS- Go antiquing and have fun with it. I grew up with antiques and going with my parent’s. If there is something you are interested in do some research first so you have idea of prices, regardless if it’s books, dishes, furniture. Do beware of ugly people that try to pass of fakes, sadly they are out there.


  11. Happy Chinese NewYear! We are Irish and Hungarian and Scottish, but I love love love the Chinese Dragon dancers that we see on the news on the Chinese New Year coverage.
    I am knitting and reading blogs. I also know how to read magazines on my iPad from my library. I’ve read many of the February issues: weight watchers, Food network, National Geographic, O magazine and the like.


  12. Happy Chinese New Year to you and your family. The orchids are beautiful.
    We got to spend Chinese New Year’s with our son and his Chinese born wife and our 3 year old granddaughter. The “sweet pea” received the traditional red envelope. 🙂 Although the rice cake looked yummy we resisted as my hubby and I are trying to loose weight.
    You sound so busy … and cheerful too. I hope you are enjoying your reading in between stiches and all that good cooking.


  13. Gung Hay Fat Choy! I’ve been reading and listening to LOTS this week – we had a long trip and my knitting project was too big to take, so I took another and didn’t even take it out of the bag but it meant I could read. I’ve finished The Girl In the Ice, which is a new release and was ok, the new Elizabeth Strout novel (loved it) and am almost done with The Life and Death of Sophie Stark. I’ve been listening to pocasts too! (Series 1 updates on Serial!!!)

    Hope you have a great week.


  14. I am second generation polish (but the watered down kind I guess) and I have a few traditions that I’ve kept they are intertwined with Catholicism as well. I love that the most I guess. I enjoyed reading your traditions for the new year. I’m reading Carry On that my son bought me for Christmas. Not sure what it is all about yet..


  15. I usually try to do something to celebrate Chinese New Year but this year it passed me by. I hope that you enjoyed the holiday! My family is Scottish, and we have the same tradition of cleaning the house before New Year’s Eve – Hogmanay!

    I missed your daughter’s post and just followed the link back to read it – what a great write up! I have never read Grace Lin but I have shelved her books repeatedly when I ran the school library. I love it when kids get excited about reading, and especially when they find a favorite author.If your daughter likes Grace Lin she might like Inside Out and Back Again, by Thannhaha Lai. I absolutely loved it. It is written in verse and is about one girl’s experiences fleeing Vietnam during the war. I loved that it was written in verse – it was the first time I had read an entire book in that format and it was really interesting and well done.

    Thank you for your comments and suggestions regarding Wyatt. I appreciate them!


  16. Pingback: R&R – Wooly Cakes and Wooden Spoons

  17. HI Stef!
    My background heritage is a 57 heinz mix–little British, little Cherokee, little French and who knows what else, really. If I feel the need for heritage and customs I embrace my husband’s lineage: Swedish, Norwegian and German, with more emphasis on the Nordic side. I secretly wished I lived in Norway! I am huge fan of Dobbs–in fact, such a fan that I own all 11 books in hardback-and am getting ready to buy the new 12th one,soon to be released! Glad you like them too.
    Take care of yourself-


  18. I hope that you had a wonderful New Year! We celebrated Tet on Sunday since Monday was a work/school day. There was the usual Vietnamese traditional foods like sweet rice squares steamed in banana leaves, sausages, sticky rice and boiled chicken not to mention the candied fruits. I always associate New Years with the food, and being with family of course!


  19. Happy New Year!

    I think it’s not only that writers like Dickens got paid by the page but that the stories were published piece by piece as serials, which is basically a TV show with lots of room for filler. I had the same response to The Count of Monte Cristo, basically. Hahaha.


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