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The Year of the Rabbit: Our House is a Very Very Very Fine House

Winter is drawing to a close; spring is on the horizon and a fresh new start approaches with the Chinese New Year this week. The holidays are such a busy time that New Year’s Day is often just another celebration and might not feel as real and special as it should. Chinese New Year resonates with me this year more than any other because it symbolizes a second chance at new beginnings. It seems everything is new right now and a perfect time for a fresh start. A new blog, new kitchen, and new students all give reason to celebrate, but it’s also bit overwhelming and makes me crave things of comfort like my “old” cashmere sweater with holes in it.

Do you ever notice how certain material things we’ve had for a while make us feel safe? We have comfort food but we also have comfort clothes. Certain garments offer us stability. My cashmere sweater is like my security blanket; it’s familiar and safe and I know the way it will make me feel. I want to wrap myself up in what I feel comfortable in.

We typically recognize January 1st as the first day of the New Year. I like the idea of celebrating again on February 3rd. This is the year of the rabbit and predicted to be a gentle year full of good luck. This will be a refreshing change to the dramatic year of the tiger. The rabbit is calm, quiet, flexible, positive, and peaceful. It’s a good year to be home. The motto of the rabbit is to retreat; as a cancer zodiac sign, I’m good at hiding under my shell but as a dragon Chinese sign I still have trails to burn!

As with anything new, there is hope and optimism for new beginnings. At our house we have been remodeling our kitchen and with that comes clearing away old energy by cleaning, making repairs, painting, washing windows.... It feels good to start over and have a positive change and outlook.  The beginning is the most important part of the process, but it’s also the messiest!

I’ve always found the Italian language to be the most perfect language there is. There is a word for every feeling, food, and sense. A phrase that’s been on my shoulders is ‘sono a pezzi’ which means really tired, exhausted, or sad. Too much newness can be overwhelming! Like a typical teacher, I don’t care for change! I want my routine and schedule to be consistent. I think of David Bowie’s Changes...

(Turn and face the strain)
Just gonna have to be a different ‘woman’
Time may change me
But I can't trace time

I’m ready to sing Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s  

Our house is a very, very, very fine house
With two ‘dogs’ in the yard
Life used to be so hard

Even though it’s not quite complete, the energy is already different. A new buzz surrounds our family and it is welcome like the lucky year of the rabbit.  But this ‘sono a pezzi’ feeling won’t quite leave me alone. I honestly haven’t enjoyed my new kitchen to the fullest yet due to these butterflies in my stomach that are also buzzing in my head? How do you make the new feel comfortable? I think ‘just do it’, dive in, open some fortune cookies and say Gung Hay Fat Choy!

On my menu to celebrate Chinese New Year and welcome the rabbit and all things new my family will enjoy cold sesame noodles, a crowd pleaser for the young and old! Whatever Chinese sign you were born under, the New Year is a time for feasting with family and friends.

If you have trouble mustering the energy to get started on something new, it might help to think about something that was repeated to me very often as a child. “Make sure you start each race with your best effort. You don’t have to be a head at the beginning to win at the end, but it sure increases the odds that you will.” I hope you get a great start!

Ashley’s Cold Sesame Noodles
1 lb Chinese egg noodles (or spaghetti)
1 small piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T brown sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 T rice wine vinegar
3 T soy sauce
1-2 t red chilli sauce like Sriracha
1 T toasted sesame oil
6 T water
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Add a generous handful of toasted sesame seeds and cilantro for garnish

In a blender, add ginger, garlic, sugar, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, chilli sauce, sesame oil, and water. Process until smooth and refrigerate for about an hour. Cook the noodles in a large pot of salted water and marry together with the peanut sauce. Garnish with scallions, sesame seeds, and cilantro.

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

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