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大寒 (Dahan) Great Cold 20 Jan 2018

大寒 (Dahan or Great Cold) which falls on 20 January in 2018 is the last of the twenty four solar terms under the traditional Chinese calendar. It is time to get rid of the old and bring in the new for the upcoming new year. This is also a period when Chinese companies hold year end parties 尾牙 (wei ya) for their employees and offerings to the kitchen god are traditionally made.

小寒 (Xiaohan) Minor Cold 5 Jan 2017

小寒 (Xiaohan or Minor Cold) which falls on 5 January in 2018 is the second last of the twenty four solar terms under the traditional Chinese calendar. It is a time for eating warming foods like mutton hotpot, exercising/strengthening one's body and starting preparations for the upcoming Spring Festival such as writing spring couplets and buying New Year decorations. Some traditional regional foods eaten during this period include cabbage in Tianjin, vegetable rice in Nanjing and glutinous rice in Guangdong.

Warped Loom for Unicorn Magic Scarf

Unicorn Scarf 1

Just finished warping my loom for my new "Unicorn Magic" scarf. It will be handwoven totally with my hand-blended, handspun yarn. I had personally designed the yarn to be inspired by unicorns with a sparkly pastel mix of mostly superfine merino, silk, cashmere and angelina. Also added in another yarn as accent (handspun from "Aurora" art batt from Wild Hair Studio).

冬至 Dongzhi Chinese Winter Solstice Festival 22 Dec 2017

 

22 Dec this year is 冬至 (Dongzhi) Festival or Winter Solstice in China. Winter Solstice, of course, as in other countries is the shortest day of the year and marks the peak of winter. 冬至 (Dongzhi) was the first of the solar terms in the traditional Chinese calendar to be fixed and an important festival that occurs from the 21 to the 23rd every year. Depending on the region, families gather to make and eat traditional foods to celebrate such as dumplings 饺子 or wonton 馄饨 (Beijing) in the north and tangyuan 汤圆 (glutinous rice balls) in parts of the south.

大雪 (Daxue) Major Snow 7 November 2017

Night Snow

 雪 (daxue) meaning "Major Snow" is the 21st solar term under the traditional Chinese lunar calendar and the third winter solar term. The weather turns colder and there is a greater possibility of snow, especially heavy snows.

I have copied out Tang dynasty poet 白居易 Bai Juyi's 《夜雪》(Night Snow) with a glass pen and black ink with blue shimmer (the shimmer is hard to photograph).

For those curious, a English translation of the poem is here.

陋室铭 Epigraph on my Humble Abode with a Jinhao Fountain Pen

Experimenting with my new Jinhao pen model 450-9 (this particular model is called “乌云” meaning "Dark Clouds"). It has a bent nib and I am using a shimmery peacock green ink with gold powder.

The calligraphy(yes, I know I need moar practice) is an excerpt from 陋室铭 (Epigraph on my Humble Abode) by Liu Yuxi 刘禹锡 (Tang dynasty).

山不在高,有仙则名。 水不在深,有龙则灵。(rough translation of mine)

A mountain needn't be high;

It is famous so long as there is an immortal on it.

The waters needn't be deep;

It has spiritual powers so long as there is a dragon in them.

小雪 (Xiaoxue) Minor Snow 22 November

小雪 (Xiaoxue) meaning "Minor Snow" in the second winter solar term under the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. It marks the beginning of snowfall in North China and there is a folk custom of making preserved pork and sausages at this time so that they would be ready to eat in time for the Spring Festival. In the south, some areas will eat glutinous rice cakes.

Nostalgic Traditional Singapore Chinese Biscuit 耳朵饼 (ear biscuit)

Ear Biscuit

This is a kind of old-fashioned spicy but sweet Chinese biscuit popular in my childhood. The specks on top are white sesame. If you are from Singapore or Malaysia and of a certain age, you might recognize them though I'm not sure if youngsters still eat them nowadays. They are called 耳朵饼 ("ear biscuits") because they are spiral-shaped like ears. I think the spicy taste might be from Chinese five-spice powder. I never really liked them as a kid because I've always hated the weirdly spicy taste.

Here's a recipe from someone else:

Ear Biscuits Recipe

Start of Winter 立冬 (Lidong) 7 Nov

 

立冬 (Lidong) is one of the 24 solar terms under the Chinese lunar calendar and marks the start of winter as its name suggests. Under the old agricultural society, it's time to rest, prepare the farm for winter and eat nourishing food for good health to fortify oneself against the coming cold. In Northern China, it is customary to eat dumplings on this day. In Southern China where the weather is warmer, meat/fowl/fish is eaten.

The World of Chinese Fountain Pens

Model 999: Twin Dragons Play with Pearl from Chinese fountain pen company Jinhao

From 龙笔世家金豪钢笔 Taobao shop

Fountain pens, a product of the West would seem at first glance to have little to do with Chinese culture. However, China has a huge domestic fountain pen market.