Lunar New Year 2016

I think this is my 3rd or 4th Lunar New Year (LNY) that I could not be home in Singapore. It is a big deal back in Singapore, and is even bigger than Christmas/Thanksgiving here I think. It is an opportunity to gather with all my extended relatives, catch up and visit everyone. The whole country buzzes with excitement, happy LNY music, and is decked out in red, gold and other “prosperous” colors. We get to put on brand new clothes on the first few days of New Year, and get all dressed up for the visitations around the country. There are red packets (of money) that are given to children and singletons, and lots of delicious Lunar New Year goodies to snack on. Ample pineapple tarts, love letters and what have you, at every single house we visit. I miss it all, and even though it does get tiring running around the place seeing everyone, it’s always fun to hang out with my cousins whom I grew up with, and hear updates from my other relatives.

Since last year, we started a new tradition to chat on Skype with my closest relatives during their reunion dinner at Lunar New Year Eve. S and I get up early (night time over there) and chat with the family.We update everyone on our life here and they tell us about theirs too. It is a precious time together, us being so far away most of the time and essentially leading parallel lives with them. Going forward, we probably will not get many opportunities to go back during LNY because it is usually in the middle of the school year/work year for us. So this Skype tradition might continue over the years!

Here are some photos from our time together. I guess technology does have its perks some days!


Saying hi from 10,000 miles away.


Hanging out via Skype


A modern family photo!


The spread at reunion dinner that we are missing out on.


The family doing ‘lou hei’ – a Lunar New Year tradition


I’m a profile picture in the obligatory cousins (in order of age) photo on the first day of Lunar New Year LOL.

On the U.S side, S and I had our own reunion dinner at a local restaurant in town. While the food is drastically different, as you can see, the idea was the same. Here is our spread: IMG_2982We had a huge cajun chicken pizza and a massive platter of seafood pasta.

It will be interesting to see how we create our own LNY traditions over the next few years, and find our own ways to celebrate. It is still LNY now, so here’s wishing everyone a very happy Lunar New Year!! May you have blessings abound in the year to come. 🙂

❤ Joy


It is the Lunar New Year, and that means I am 1 year older (in the lunar calendar). I am turning 29 this year, which is a little too close to the big 3-0 than I would like it. However, I am a pretty happy 29 year old, and my ever optimistic husband always tells me that at 29, my life the way I have it, is pretty darn good. So I decided I shall list all the things that my (almost) 29 self loves about my life right now.

  1. I have an adorable little family. S and I have an awesome marriage, and our two precious kitties are the luckiest little things in the whole wide world. Our home environment is comforting, supportive and extremely loving.
  2. I finally get someone special to celebrate Valentine’s Day with (even though we probably won’t really do anything), after 26 years+ of being single. I have always known I am a relationship person, and cannot be happier in a duo.
  3. I am older, wiser, and have actually been through stuff and survived it. I won’t go into details of my sob stories, but I know myself so much better, have been to the depths of sorrow and had the worst year of my life not long ago. I fought hard, I stood brave and now I live to tell the tale (just not right now). I am actually proud of who I am and what I have achieved in life.
  4. I am much more comfortable being a Hufflepuff. I know this sounds weird to non-Harry Potter-nerds, but it simply means I am now content with being the friendly, trusting, kind, caring soul I always have been, since I was a kid. When I was younger, I always felt I was boring. After all, the loudest and most obnoxious people get the most attention and sadly, get the most things. I don’t say provocative things and am nice to people, and when taking Harry Potter sorting hat quizzes, I always get Hufflepuff. I used to get so disappointed, wishing I was something else cooler. But after everything I have been through, I am happy I am who I am. I am glad I am the person who will be fair and kind even in the face of people trying to take advantage of me. I am glad I am the person who is loyal and good. If it isn’t cool being a good person, then I’ll rather forever be uncool.
  5. I am pretty content where I am in life. I don’t have all the money in the world, nothing really figured out, I live in a tiny apartment with my husband in a foreign country 10,000 miles away from my hometown. But I am happy every day, I smile all the time. I love hanging out with my husband and my cats. I am safe, and living in a fairly open-minded, diverse country (though I didn’t always know this is where I would eventually end up in). It’s simple, but oh so wonderful.

And there, being 29 is actually pretty awesome. I am no longer a kid, people take me far more seriously, and I am a full fledged adult (doesn’t feel like it at times though) with the freedom to pursue life. You know what, maybe I will stay 29 forever. Hahaha….

❤ Joy

Care Pack!

So this morning, I received a package from my parents in Singapore. It is such a warm fuzzy feeling getting stuff from home. Most of the time, these boxes from home contains small little things that remind me how much my parents think of me. There is a lot of everyday practical items that my parents bought over time and consolidated to send to me. They are very special to me and makes me feel like my parents are there with me every step of the way. I know how expensive postage is and am always touched that my parents love me so much they still send stuff all this way to me. I know I am always on their mind just as they are on mine. My parents are the most amazing people I know, and I always tell people that so much of who I am is because of them. We didn’t have a lot growing up, but we always had enough. I know my parents worked hard every single day of their lives to provide for us and I will not be anywhere near where I am in life now if not for the both of them.

It is difficult starting life in a new country and being so far away from them. Even though I have travelled and lived all over the world, homesickness still hits me as hard as ever. I miss the food and my family in Singapore the most. There will always be a piece of Singaporean in me, even if I am to spend the rest of my life here in my newly adopted home, with my new family. I cannot wait to bring the Mr back to Singapore and show him the place I grew up in and share some good Asian food with him. I am also determined to show my children, in the future, this part of their heritage, hard as it may be. My husband and I want to create a family that celebrates both cultures and we want both countries’ flags to fly in our home because our family is both Singaporean and American. Cross cultural families are not a walk in the park. Just watch the Big Fat Greek Wedding (Oh yes, I have a big extended family)! It is a struggle and there are days when gets so frustrating, we are at a lost as to what to do with the differences. Those are times when we have to sit down together and decide how we want to adapt our individual cultures into our new family looking ahead, what are most important to each of us, and what we choose it to be. In some sense, we end up creating our own unique blend that makes up the culture in our little family. It take continuous work, understanding, patience and compromise, but we are committed to making it work. Our Singaporean American family will always be different here, but it will also be amazingly unique and special.

Anyway, here’s a peek into my latest package from Singapore and the happy thoughts it brings! Big hugs to my loved ones halfway across the world!

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For SG50 (50th birthday of Singapore), every household gets a free goodie bag and my parents sent me the ones they received! It’s such a nice gift from them, along with some SG50 commemorative notes they got for us. 🙂 There were also some food items, some practical items for the house/the car, and some cute trinkets (not in photo).


Old school lanterns for the Mooncake Festival that has just passed. These bring back childhood memories as we use to light them up and walk around the neighbourhood on the night of the Mooncake Festival/Lantern Festival (with a few which burnt to crisp when we were not careful with them).

Here’s to all the cross-cultural families all over the world, may we create unique loving homes everywhere and always celebrate our diversity and differences!

❤ Joy

Revival of the Dollhouse Diaries

I think it is time to revive this blog. I started it more than a year ago when I moved into the dollhouse, a little apartment of my own. While I have lived in plenty of places all over the world alone over the years, the dollhouse was pretty special as its candy coloured walls reflected my personality very well. I am idealistic, romantic, imaginative and always full of madcap ideas and creative pursuits. Behind the girly girl who keeps believing that she will one day find her happy ending though, is also an adventurous streak and a bright sense of wonder. That has taken me all over the world, to about 20 different countries, into countless communities and cultures besides the one I grew up with. It was an enriching, interesting time in my life and I have collected so many amazing memories and stories to tell for a long long time. The nomad lifestyle may seem enviable, but it wasn’t quite for me. After about 10 years moving around, I have been searching high and low for the right place to hang my hat, and I think I may have finally found it.

You see, while I was wondering when my fairytale would happen, it was already in progress. I met a kind, good natured man who turned out to be my soulmate. After meeting many mediocre to downright despicable men in my adventures, I knew a good soul when I met him. Our love story does not consist of dramatic scenes you find in movies, but it is peppered with sweet memorable little moments that make us smile. We went through plenty of stuff together and grew to love each other more with each challenge. About a month ago, we decided we wanted to spend the rest of our life together and made it official. I became a Mrs, in a land 10,000 miles away from where I was born (and where all my family is).

I had a 26 year long phobia of cats, but this man I met, he loves cats. He had one, when we were dating, and somehow I learnt to overcome my fear and fell in love with that kitty. That kitty was an old sick cat, and he passed on to kitty heaven a while ago. We were devastated, and ended up looking at kittens at the nearby animal shelter. A litter of kittens were abandoned and the shelter took them in. We could not leave without bringing one home and we chose the little guy that was trying to escape the cage when we opened it. We named him Olaf, after the adorable snowman in the movie Frozen. That started our little family. Papa L, Mama L and baby Olaf. One day, we found a starving cat outside our door. We tried to find its owners for weeks, but to no avail. The cat was so thin it broke our hearts. We fed her while we tried to find its owners, but eventually realised we probably never will find them. We decided to take the cat into our home and I named her Anna, after the princess in Frozen, because Olaf and Anna were good friends in the movie. The beginning was rough, Olaf and Anna were fearful of each other and there was hissing. However, over time, those 2 learnt to live together as siblings and now play together every day. It makes us so happy to see them being silly together and in each other’s company. Our family was coming together, and it is so heartwarming to see them each day.

Now, I’m a full time Mrs, basically taking care of the kitties while my Mr brings home the bacon. The circumstances made it so that for now, I cannot take on a job yet, and so I’m in limbo. I have decided that since I have time once again to experiment around the house with little cooking projects, hobbies and crafts, I would revive this blog and share my little stories and ideas. It will also be a place to share some of my daily adventures with our two furkids and the Mr.

The blog will remain as the dollhouse diaries even though I no longer live in that little apartment. I think the dollhouse is a part of who I am, and that sense of wonder and belief in the power of being good, of love and of fairytales and happy endings will never depart my soul.

Welcome to the dollhouse. 🙂

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❤ Joy