Blog giveaway: Get a weBoost Drive 3G-S (worth RM 389) just by commenting!

Check out the animation video above!

sand animation

I took this video during the weBoost launch at Connexion@Nexus Bangsar South on 29th October 2014. It’s a very apt visual description on what weBoost is all about and how it works. weBoost is made by Wilson Electronics, the Utah based global leader in cellular signal boosters and they’re bringing two of their award-winning lines to Malaysia.

weBoost launch

The weBoost line of products works by boosting both voice and data signals for 2G and 3G and best of all, it works with *all* cellular carriers. It’s carrier-independent so it doesn’t matter which telco you signed up with. It also works seamlessly when you’re moving from outside to inside the enhanced area so there’s no need to end your call and reconnect when you’re walking outside into your office or your car.

weBoost me

The signal is automatically boosted when you’re within the weBoost coverage area.

weBoost Connect3G

The Connect 3G is meant for homes and offices for those who depend on reliable connectivity indoors. It captures the outside, usable signal and amplifies it before redistributing the boosted and usable signal throughout the entire home/office and will be launched soon, so stay tuned!

weBoost Drive3G

The Drive 3G-S is an all-in-one phone cradle and signal booster and the best thing about this in-car device is that it can extend your phone battery life by as much as 3 hours of talktime (average 20% better battery life) when you’re using it. It also boosts both voice and data.

weBoost

I got a unit of the Drive 3G-S to test out and I must say that I’m very impressed. I can already think of the variety of uses for this unit – as someone who uses Google Maps/Waze a lot, I need a cradle for my car anyway. This does away with 3rd party car cradles and also extends the range where a call can be made, virtually eliminating areas of poor coverage.

weBoost 3GS install

It’s very easy to install too!

weBoost 3GS review

Step 1: Clean the area you want to install the cradle with the provided alcohol wipe

weBoost 3GS mount

Step 2: Peel back the adhesive from the backing of the mount (allow 24 hours to cure before attaching Drive 3G-S)

weBoost 3GS unboxing

Step 3: Hook up the antenna into the Drive 3G-S

weBoost antenna

Step 4: Put the magnetic antenna on top of your car

weBoost test

Step 5: Plug in the power source and hook up the mini-USB to the port on the Drive 3G-S

weBoost LED

That’s all there is to it! You can see the Drive 3G-S light up via a small LED light to the side to show that it’s powered up.

weBoost 3GS adhesive

You’ll also realize that there’s no need for DIY skills on your part – the cable that leads to the antenna can be just strung directly out and your door closed over it. It won’t damage the cable – it’s very strong – as you can see there’s a soft polymer at the car door seam which allows the cable to securely go outside and to the antenna at the roof of your car.

weBoost antenna placement

I experimented with antenna placement and found that it works best when it’s directly upright and at the center of the vehicle roof at least 16 cm away from windows. It’s a very strong magnet – you won’t have to worry about it flying off even if you’re quite the speed demon.

weBoost 3GS arms

The cradle can fit any sized phone too – there are attachments called “arms” provided that can be secured to existing latches on the cradle. You can just slip them in and out until you find a snug fit for your phone.

weBoost 3GS cradle

My smartphone has a very unusual on/off button – it’s to the side instead of to the top but that doesn’t present a problem. There are different shapes and sized arms which allows you to fit the slimmest basic phone to the largest smartphone.

weBoost signal

My experience driving around with the Drive 3G-S was very positive. I know certain areas are prone to weak (but not non-existent) signals e.g. tunnels and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I can now make calls from previously blocked areas.

weBoost 3G data

There is also a notorious stretch of poor coverage area when you drive to Ipoh where the signal is weak from the surrounding hills and I’m here to report that you can use the Drive 3G-S to even watch YouTube videos at the usually denied area. Not that I recommend you do that, this was just a test, you see. *cough*

weBoost 3G data test

The Drive 3G-S also provided me with strong signal strength even at my in-laws place, which is notorious for having a weak signal. Did you know that your phone actually uses up battery life when you’re in a weak reception area coz it’s constantly jumping between cell towers and trying to get a better signal?

weBoost 3G voice

The weBoost Drive 3G-S resolves that problem by providing you with longer battery life and better voice and data signal with the all-in-one cradle so it’s really useful to people like me. If you drive around a lot in the city where there are weak coverage areas or want to have constant connectivity during road trips, the Drive 3G-S will be a useful investment indeed.

weBoost data test

I have had my car break down once on the KL-Ipoh route and it was at a weak coverage zone and I actually had to walk to find a usable signal and that’s an emergency where I wish I had the Drive 3G-S. I drove through that area again and managed to get both voice and data signal from the weak coverage area due to the hilly terrain.

weBoost 3G

This product will soon hit the shelves in Malaysia and if you want to be one of the first few Malaysians to own it, good news:

I have one (1) brand new weBoost Drive 3G-S Cellular Signal Booster (worth RM 389) to giveaway on sixthseal.com! You just need to answer the following two questions in the comments section:

1. Name the two weBoost products that were recently launched in Malaysia
2. Why do you need a mobile booster in your daily life?

Participants must be based in Malaysia and the contest will end on 30th January 2015. Just comment with the answers and your email address and I’ll choose one lucky winner from the comments.

Yee Sang Dinner @ Celestial Court, Sheraton Imperial

Sheep Yee Sang

I just had my first yee sang dinner of the year last night. This salmon yee sang is made with shredded vegetables made to look like the Chinese character for “sheep” (羊) coz the Year of the Sheep is coming up.

Celestial Court Imperial Sheraton

It’s just less than a month till Chinese New Year so the annual “lou sang”/“sau kong” (traditional end-of-work before CNY company dinners) sessions are starting to kick in gear. This one was held by Tourism Australia at Celestial Court at Sheraton Imperial KL.

Prosperity Salmon Yee Sang

Prosperity Salmon Yee Sang

I love how they made the raw fish salad to look like the Chinese character for sheep – 羊. I didn’t actually notice it until someone pointed it out. The waitresses poured in all the ingredients and each one signifies something e.g. fish for 年年有余 (Abundance throughout the year), oil for 一本万利 and 财源广进 (May you have 10,000 returns with your capital/Numerous sources of wealth), carrots for 鸿运当头 (Good luck coming) and even the crushed peanuts for 金银满屋 (Household filled with gold and silver).

Tossing Yee Sang

It’s a highly ritualized service and a lot of places actually states the auspicious Chinese phrases out loud as they pour in the ingredients. We tossed the salad while wishing for various things, mine was for family and more vacations and travel for 2015. smirk

Double-boiled Baby Abalone Soup with Sea Cucumber and Fish Maw

Double boiled Baby Abalone Soup with Sea Cucumber and Fish Maw

I really liked this clear soup – the baby abalone is super tender compared to the wedding dinner I went to last weekend. The broth tastes amazing too, the seasoning is just right and the sea cucumber and fish maw just slides down my throat.

Roasted Crispy Chicken with Golden Garlic Sands

Roasted Crispy Chicken with Golden Garlic Sands

This is my least favorite dish in every Chinese banquet and I don’t usually partake much but the golden garlic “sand” that goes with the roasted chicken is very nice.

Homemade Stuffed Scallop with Dry Scallop and Spring Onion Sauce

Homemade Stuffed Scallop with Dry Scallop and Spring Onion Sauce

Delicious! I liked the thick, reduced spring onion sauce which was heavily seasoned with dry scallops – it coated the stuffed scallops and added a lot of flavor and a slippery texture prized in traditional Cantonese cuisine. The stuffed scallops were very flavorful and I couldn’t help popping more than a few of these babies into my mouth.

Pan Seared Red Garoupa with Flower Fungus, Bird Eye Chillies on Lotus Leaf

Pan Seared Red Garoupa with Flower Fungus, Bird Eye Chillies on Lotus Leaf

The fish dish is my favorite dish in banquets! I like how this one was presented on a lotus leaf and it’s pan-seared instead of steamed, giving it the Maillard reaction and caramelization that adds a note of sweetness to the fish.

Red Grouper

It was slightly overcooked though and I felt it should have come before the saltier stuffed scallops dish but it’s still great paired with my white wine.

Braised Beancurd with Fish Paste

Braised Beancurd with Fish Paste

I was quite surprised to find out that I actually rather enjoyed this dish. I eat everything but there are certain things that I don’t like (but will still try) – beancurd/tofu being one of the examples. This doesn’t taste like tofu at all, it’s stuffed with fish paste and the tender texture of the beancurd contrasted nicely with the slightly resistant fish paste made in-house.

Fragrant Wok-fried Flat Rice Noodles with Black Bean and Seafood

sss

The staff at Celestial Court at Sheraton Imperial offered to portion every dish (including the fish) which I thought was great. It’s a service that’s expected in higher end Chinese restaurants nowadays, although you can refuse, of course, it’s up to each table’s preference. I don’t know what that says about the evolution of community dining but even our family opts for that when we eat out in Singapore.

The kueh tiaw was actually pretty good, if slightly oily, and each bowl had a large prawn, slice of fish and scallop.

Screw Pine and Coconut Milk Crème Brulee, with Raspberry Jam, Grilled Jackfruit, Crispy Rambutan and Lotus Root Dessert presented by Chef Sherson Lian

Screw Pine and Coconut Milk Crème Brulee, with Raspberry Jam, Grilled Jackfruit, Crispy Rambutan and Lotus Root Dessert presented by Chef Sherson Lian

This dessert was conceptualized by Chef Sherson Lian (have seen him on AFC before) who coincidentally sat on the same table as I did. It’s supposed to be a local crème brulee made with local ingredients, which begs the question about the glaring foreign ingredient in the dish – raspberry. It turns out that the component was supposed to be roselle jam but the roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) came too late for it to be incorporated into the dish.

I loved the crispy battered rambutans, pieces of jackfruit and lotus root and I can see the direction it’s going – excellent stuff.

It was a great finish to the first yee sang dinner of the year and I polished off my (rather large) portion. :)

Chee Keong & Mei Sze’s wedding @ Summer Palace

Chee Keong Mei Sze Wedding Banquet

This is the first wedding we attended this year! I had missed a friend (and co-worker) wedding in December 2014 due to prior commitments, so this is the first wedding of 2015. It’s a bit unusual as the traditional Chinese wedding banquet dinner was held on a Sunday night and the restaurant was quite far in Putrajaya Marriott Hotel so we got home quite late yesterday.

Summer Palace Putrajaya Marriott

The bride and groom had a ceremony earlier in the day which culminated in this wedding dinner. I knew the couple from a previous trip to Bangkok and the 9-course banquet was held at Summer Palace – the Chinese restaurant at Marriott in Putrajaya.

HB Ling Wedding

It’s a very nice place for a wedding – I’ve eaten here before at a company dinner and the food wasn’t too bad but the scenery and service is the main selling points. The servers are very conscientious about changing your plates after every course and I had a glass of The Macallan 12 year old for my drink.

Deluxe Five Happiness Combination Platter

Deluxe Five Happiness Combination Platter

This is the first course and instead of the traditional “Four Seasons” plate with four food items this has five different hot and cold elements. There’s also the increasingly common theatre that goes with the first course, with the servers getting in line and doing a performance before grandly putting the first plate on your table.

Deep Fried Salted Egg

I first saw this at my sister’s wedding in Sibu but it wasn’t present at her wedding in KL. We thought the cold pork belly/duck breast slices were the best part of the dish – it was lying on a bed of pickled jellyfish which provided a wonderful acidic element. We also loved the boiled and deep fried salted egg.

Double-boiled Chicken Soup with Baby Abalone, Top Shell & Chinese Herbs

Double boiled Chicken Soup with Baby Abalone

Shark’s Fin Soup has gone out of vogue since the environmentalist types and the wannabes/sheep started a crusade against it. I’m personally ambivalent about the issue, as most people who really understand the issue, with the entire hypocrisy (and racism) of Sea Shepard and other militant environmental organizations on one side and the heritage of Icelandic culture (hákarl – fermented Greenland shark), Canadian legal seal meat and Japanese/French proudly unapologetic cuisine on the other.

However, I think the substitution of shark’s fin soup with a clear soup with premium ingredients like abalone, fish maw, top shell (magpie shell) and such is a good thing too and it tastes better and there was been a spate of fake shark’s fin going around in the few years before it became the “S-word”.

This is a good example of a nice clear soup which highlights the abalone, top shell, chicken and fish maw and it’s individually portioned beforehand.

Roasted Sesame Chicken & Roasted Chicken

Roasted Sesame Chicken

The chicken done two ways is a nice twist on the traditional roasted chicken. However, I’m not a huge fan of chicken done this way – there’s no sea salt or plum sauce for the slightly overcooked and dry roasted chicken and the roasted sesame chicken wasn’t much better.

Steamed Mandarin Fish “Unicorn” Style

Steamed Unicorn Fish

This seems to be the latest trend in serving fish at Chinese banquets! The fish is totally de-boned and filleted. The fillets of fish is then wrapped around a long, tubular “fish ball” and presented on the carcass of the fish so it looks like rolled up fish flesh.

Unicorn Fish

I’m a purist so I still prefer steamed fish served whole but I have to admit, this “unicorn style” platters of fish is very easy to eat, and the fish ball inside makes it taste artificially good with lots of MSG!

Chilled ‘Ming’ Prawns with Mayo & Stir-fried Prawn Balls with Butter Cream

Chilled Ming Prawns with Butter Cream

This is the best dish that we had the entire night! There’s huge prawns done two ways, and they’re all de-shelled and de-veined. One is cooked in a sweet and wet butter/mayo sauce and the other is deep fried in butter. It’s very creamy and I love the huge, juicy prawns – I had three and my better half had two.

Braised Assorted Dried Seafood with Broccoli

Braised Assorted Dried Seafood with Broccoli

I love the texture of sea cucumber! I’ll actually order this if I see it around. There was a RM 60 PNG (Papua New Guinea) sea cucumber promotion at Glory Cafe in Sarikei when we went but I was too full to order it. The sea cucumber here is done well, thickly sliced and full of slippery and chewy collagen. I also liked the mushrooms – very flavorful, especially with the bits of dried and rehydrated scallops in the reduced sauce.

Special Three Layered Fried Rice

Special Three Layered Fried Rice

There’s nothing special about this dish – it’s just rice done three ways. There’s plain fried rice on top, rice fried with light soy sauce in the middle and cooking caramel (dark soy sauce) fried rice at the bottom. That’s what causes the layered coloration and it was very oily – this is a dish for people who’re still hungry to fill up before dessert is served.

I know people who eat this way – main dishes only (fish, chicken, pork etc) with no accompanying rice in a multiple course banquet where they fill up on fried noodles or rice as the last course, it’s a different style of eating but we were too full at this point to eat more than a spoonful of the rice to taste it.

Special Dessert Combination

Special Dessert Combination

This is actually pretty decent! They made the crushed peanut covered mochi to be flavorless (except for the smoky and nutty accents from the peanuts) so the sweet component comes from the mung bean shaped and moulded into a cartoonish ear of corn.

It’s meant to be eaten together and it’s a good pairing.

The Chinese characters makes a lot more sense than the English translation though. Haha.

Chilled Mixed Fruits with Avocado Cream

Chilled Mixed Fruits with Avocado Cream

This is the highlight of the dish and it was what we had saved up space for. We both thought an avocado based dessert sounded delicious and we’re glad we waited for this even though a lot of people were leaving at this point to beat the traffic and try to get home before a work day. It has a wonderfully rich mouthfeel and a nutty flavor that’s very morish. Delectable!

Chee Keong Mei Sze Wedding Photo

Congrats and all the best to the newly-weds! :)

Say YES!

Christmas Turkey

It’s the festive season now! Christmas just passed and we have also welcomed 2015 not long ago. You’ve eaten your roast turkey dinner and pandoro and it’s time to usher in 2015. There’s awesome shopping deals everywhere, so where do you put your hard-earned money?

Christmas Photo

Well, for me it should be something which you use everyday. No point in getting a huge stuffed bear (even if it’s on sale) if you’re not going to do anything with it.

Huge Stuffed Bear

Cell phones on the other hand, is an essential tool in today’s life. You need it to take selfies, call people, chat on Whatsapp, play games, basically everything you do is revolved around the smartphone and DiGi has got an awesome deal for you!

Christmas KL

Need a new phone to replace your old one? Looking for a better model for the new year? Or just getting a backup phone for you or a loved one? This is where the deals start to get awesome!

These are just some of the range of smartphones you can get for free with DG SmartPlan!

DG SmartPlan Free Phones

Just to illustrate on the discounts that you’re getting, here’s what you would normally pay for it:

Lenovo A606
RM 139 with DG SmartPlan 78 or FREE with DG SmartPlan 108
Asus Fonepad 7
FREE with DG SmartPlan 78
Samsung GALAXY Grand Prime
RM 249 with DG SmartPlan 78 or FREE with DG SmartPlan 108
Samsung GALAXY Grand Quattro
FREE with DG SmartPlan 78
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G
RM 209 with DG SmartPlan 78 or FREE with DG SmartPlan 108
Xiaomi Redmi 1S
FREE with DG SmartPlan 78
Huawei Honor 6 (LTE)
RM 599 with DG SmartPlan 78, RM 359 with DG SmartPlan 108 or FREE with DG SmartPlan 148
Xiaomi Mi 3
RM 389 with DG SmartPlan 78 or FREE with DG SmartPlan 108
ASUS Zenfone 5
FREE with DG SmartPlan 78
Lenovo A536
FREE with DG SmartPlan 78

In addition to the free phones, new signups can get free extra 2,400 minutes and 2,400 SMS and that’s a deal that’s only valid during the Jualan Terhebat DiGi. It’s always useful to have plenty of call minutes and text messages coz wishing someone makes it all that more sincere when you take the time to pick up the phone and call instead of just using a massive cut-and-paste Whatsapp message (and don’t fool yourself, everyone knows it’s cut and paste ;)).

However, data is very important too, I’ll say it’s essential in this day and age, and that’s why DG SmartPlan offers one of the best data packages around:

DG SmartPlan 2014

DG SmartPlan 78 offers a total of 3 GB of data per month, DG SmartPlan 108 gives out a whopping 5 GB of data and DG SmartPlan 148 is for the power user with 6 GB total of data. There’s a plan for every user and need.

There are also a lot of extra benefits when you sign-up:

DG SmartPlan Extra Benefits

Yup, weekend calls are free from DiGi to DiGi and there’s unlimited music streaming via Deezer too. My favorite has got to be unlimited surfing via Opera Mini – please feel free to browse my mobile friendly but image heavy blog at sixthseal.com. Heh. Seriously though, with free Norton Mobile Security, you can surf anywhere without having to worry about malware and there’s free DiGi Visual Voicemail.

I’m personally on the DG SmartPlan as well. You can send a Whatsapp my way if you don’t believe me, my number is 016 888 2069 and it’s free for you since the DG SmartPlan offers free Whatsapp too! Just surf on over to the Jualan Terhebat DiGi to get more details or purchase a new smartphone at great deals. You get up to RM 200 rebates if you’re switching to DiGi too! Don’t miss out!

P/S – Just don’t send me any naughty photos, I’m past the age where I’ll snicker at them.

I made my own chocolate bar at the Kit Kat Rubies launch!

Kit Kat Rubies Group

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Kit Kat Rubies launch at The Royale Chulan Damansara Hotel. This is in fact the worldwide première of the Kit Kat Rubies as the opening launch is in Malaysia – that’s right, we’re the first ones to get it! :)

Kit Kat Rubies Photo

There were selfie props at the photo wall so I decided to take one with Aud and the two girls dressed up in Kit Kat Rubies attire. They’re supposed to take a photo of us, but I thought it’ll be nice to have a photo with them flanking us. Haha.

Kit Kat Rubies Packaging

The event started soon after that and Mr. Sachin Goel (Business Executive Manager, Confectionery Business Unit, Nestle Products Sdn Bhd) and Mr Thierry Martin (Innovation & Renovation Manager, Confectionery Business Unit) went up for the launch gambit.

Kit Kat Rubies Presentation

It was our first look at the Kit Kat Rubies packaging…

Kit Kat Rubies Launch

…which opened up to show a beautifully crafted two-tiered box which opens up both ways to show off an array of Kit Kat Rubies!

Kit Kat Rubies

This gem of a chocolate is individually wrapped and contains an indulgent piece of rich chocolate truffle filling with a crispy wafer centre, and pieces of hazelnut encased in silky smooth milk chocolate. The chocolate truffle cream is created from the finest ingredients brought in from Spain and the crispy wafer centre stays true to the Kit Kat name.

Kit Kat Chocolatier

I had a chance to go up while Mr. Thierry Martin was conducting a chocolate making workshop and mixed my own liquid chocolate. This was an extremely fun experience for the media, each of us got the opportunity to make our own chocolate bar with the ingredients we wanted!

Liquid Chocolate

I opted to put everything except nuts into my chocolate since I wanted to make this for my better half and she didn’t like chocolates. I had these to choose from:

  • Strawberry pieces
  • Chocolate crumble
  • Crisped cereal
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts

Making Chocolate

I mixed the top three together well in my liquid chocolate before pouring it into my mould. We had name stickers on the moulds so we won’t mix it up while it set. I actually took a photo of the ingredients we had to work with and used Whatsapp to send it to my dear to ask what she wanted in her chocolate.

Chocolate Moulding

It took a while for the chocolate bar to set but as soon as that was done, it was packed up and I rushed to pass my better half her personalized handcrafted chocolate bar:

Handcrafted Chocolate Bar

We were the first to sample the Kit Kat Rubies and there was a lot going around during the Kit Kat Rubies launch. It’s really indulgent – I loved the chocolate truffle and hazelnuts inside the silky smooth milk chocolate that holds it together. The crimson red individually wrapped pieces adds a touch of class and makes it perfect for sharing.

Kit Kat Rubies Individual

Kit Kat Rubies is an ideal gift for the festive season too – the 2-tier packaging is beautiful and it’s perfect as a gift! No matter the occasion, be it Christmas (it lasts for 12 days), New Year, or even Chinese New Year, Kit Kat Rubies would be an excellent gift. It works for birthdays, celebrations or even just giving for the sake of giving.

Kit Kat Rubies Media

I loved the Kit Kat Rubies launch, especially the chocolate making workshop and the unveiling of the product – it was a lot of fun and all of us enjoyed it immensely. I know what I’m going to give as gifts for this festive season! :)

Our Pandoro Party!

Kid Eating Pandoro

We’ve been eating a lot of panettone this year so I got a large pandoro this time. I love eating panettone and pandoro but I’m usually the only one who ends up finishing it. I can snack on it all night long – that’s how much I love the stuff.

Pandoro Verona

However, I opened a 1 kg pandoro last night and the kids loved it! smirk

Pandoro Mountain

There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between a pandoro and a panettone – even Jamie Oliver got it wrong. He referred to a pandoro as a panettone in his program “Jamie’s Cracking Christmas” and no one in the production crew thought to correct it. Panettone is from Milan and it’s a brioche like bread filled with pieces of fruit while pandoro is from Verona (popular in Venice too) and very distinctively shaped. There are six different types of Christmas cakes in Italy!

Pandoro Sugar

A pandoro is very different from a panettone – it’s a frustum shaped soft sponge like cake, very light, with a heaping of powdered icing sugar on top. There’s a packet of icing sugar included in the box for you to dust the top. You can either dump it right on top or roll the pandoro around it and I chose the former. The 8 pointed star of pandoro makes it look like a snow covered mountain!

Slicing Pandoro

The kids loved pulling pieces of the pandoro and eating it with the powdered vanilla icing sugar! :)

Pandoro Icing Sugar

It was a lot of fun and it’s delicious too! Some people don’t like the bits of fruit in panettone and I’ve seen pandoro grow in popularity this year – it’s plain, but that doesn’t mean it tastes simple. The texture of pandoro is softer than panettone and it’s great when you eat it with ice cream or gelato! It has a different texture altogether and it’s perfect for a Christmas centrepiece.

Pandoro Party

I think we ate 1/3 of the 1 kg pandoro within 30 minutes! It’s supposed to look like the Italian Alps during Christmas and it sure is a wonderful sight to behold! We’ll be getting another one next year, in addition to a pandolce (a Genova classic) or a panforte from Sienna.

The 4 hour Christmas Eve sale!

Donutes Bakery

I was at my local bakery in anticipation for their 4 hour Christmas Eve sale where *everything* is 50% off. It was crazy, there was a velvet rope at the front due to the large amount of people queuing up. I’m a member at Donutes so I got advance notice of this, but there’s no additional benefits for members at this sale (usually we get 5% off).

Donutes Xmas Promo

I think I waited 30 minutes just to get in – there was someone there for crowd control since there’s only a small amount of space inside so someone has to come out before another person is let in. Worse still is the people queuing for the entire family! I don’t know why they allow that, it makes the wait even longer than it should be.

Donutes Xmas Queue

Everyone got heaps of stuff since 50% off is a great deal and it applies to everything from drinks to cakes. Unfortunately, all of their cakes were sold out way before I came so I didn’t manage to get any of the large ones.

Donutes Xmas Bakery

I did get some gingerbread reindeer for the kids and also a panettone style cake they call “Fruity Christmas”.

Donutes Xmas Line

The queue at the cashier was insane as well but it was worth it coz for everything I got…

Donutes Xmas Bill

…the bill came up to only RM 30.30! :)

8 fun things we did for our Christmas Eve celebrations!

Christmas Photo 2014

It’s Christmas Eve today! We actually celebrated this year’s Christmas dinner earlier since the kids have tuition and other Christmas party commitments later in the week. Here’s 8 things we did this festive season:

1. Christmas crackers

Pulling Christmas Cracker

This was the first order of the night! We each had a Christmas cracker (the kids had two) and everyone pulled theirs with a partner.

Christmas Cracker Toys

I got a mini basketball game but the bigger one was looking at it with more than a little bit of envy. Haha. I could see it in her eyes but she was too polite to ask me for it so I exchanged mine with hers (a small deck of Mystery Calculator cards – the least popular one).

Christmas Crackers Kids

The smallest one got a purple hairband and a really cute pair of badminton rackets (complete with shuttlecock) which you can actually play with. The party favor my better half got was a pirate eyepiece. The biggest one also got a deck of cards – tiny ones but a complete 52 card deck. There were also selfie props in the box, which we used for our family Christmas photo.

2. Turkey dinner

Christmas Eve Turkey

I had roasted a turkey with cornbread stuffing and demi-glace earlier in the day and we all ate till we were fit to burst. It’s such a huge bird that I think I’ll be eating leftovers for at least a week!

Turkey Demi Glace

It’s all good though and the demi-glace was delicious!

3. Chocolate Monopoly

Chocolate Monopoly Kids

Dinner done, the kids couldn’t wait to break open the Chocolate Monopoly set so we all played a complete round. You’re actually supposed to eat the chocolates in the middle if you land on a particular color which is already taken but the kids unanimously decided to “keep the chocolate Monopoly pieces forever” so they can play with them next time.

Playing Chocolate Monopoly

I thought that was funny and adorable so that’s the way we played it. No one has ate even a single piece of the Chocolate Monopoly up to now. smirk

4. Eggnog

Borden Eggnog

I bought a quart of Borden Eggnog and doled it out while we were finishing the Chocolate Monopoly game. The bigger one liked it but no one else did except me – I *loved* it. Borden makes a really good eggnog – if you like *ultra thick* custard-like consistency. It’s like drinking crème caramel without the caramel.

It’s so thick you can hear the “glug glug glug” as it attempts to pour out:

The eggnog is more custard than liquid and spiced nicely with cinnamon too and it’s delicious when mixed with a little cognac (none for the kids, of course). Lovely stuff that you see on the shelves once a year.

5. Pandoro

Pandoro

We ate a lot of panettone last year and this year and we decided to get a 1 kg pandoro for Christmas Eve dinner instead. Pandoro is the speciality Christmas cake for Verona (it’s also popular in Venice) and tastes completely different from panettone (which is from Milan). There are actually six (!!!) different regional Christmas cakes in Italy.

Pandoro Classico

I thought I wanted to expose the kids to different foods and since we already ate panettone, it was pandoro for the after-dinner dessert. Pandoro is also a sweet leavened product that’s dusted with sugar and shaped like a frustum. I love pandoro, you can scoop out the middle and add gelato inside and it’s meant to look like an 8-sided snow mountain.

6. Christmas tree

Christmas Tree

I wanted to get a large real Christmas tree (it’s about RM 600) but my better half forbade it. The trees actually shed a lot of needles every day so it can be a chore to clean up after it. We settled for a fake miniature Christmas tree instead.

7. LEGO time

LEGO City

This was the part which the kids were most looking forward to. They have been huge fans of LEGO since the LEGO movie came out and we encouraged their creativity – it’s good for them. The collection that we’re getting for the kids is the LEGO CITY range and I bought them a large set with a large police set-up with boats.

Building LEGO

It basically involves a generic LEGO bad guy escaping with pilfered cash and jewels in a boat while the police goes after him. The amazing thing is that the boats actually float in water! We each assembled a section and I finished up the most difficult part where a thread had to be tied into a hook to attach to the LEGO police boat – it actually has working parts that moves to winch the boat up!

LEGO Floating Boats

We had a lot of quality time together with the kids on this one – various scenarios were enacted and played out. I role-played the lazy LEGO police who would not move out with the truck containing the boat until the kids got the police lingo right. Haha.

LEGO Working Winch

We actually have a new site dedicated to LEGO minis now, it’s primarily done by my awesome better half, who takes amazing posed photos with our growing collection of LEGO minifigures – the site is called tumblingminis.com

8. Family photo

Christmas Photo

This is our Christmas 2014 family photo! It was taken with the selfie props from the Christmas crackers and I thought it made for a nice photo. It serves as a digital Christmas card too – I sent it to my dad and my sister and they both loved it to bits.

Here’s wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us! May the festive season bring you joy, peace and love. :)

Roasting our Christmas turkey with corn bread stuffing and demi-glace

Christmas Turkey

I got a beast of a bird this year for the annual Christmas roast turkey dinner!

Huge Frozen Turkey

It’s a huge 6.5 kg (14 pound) young turkey for RM 192.71. This is over twice as big as the turkey we roasted last year. I was actually torn between getting this and a capon (castrated rooster) so I asked the kids what they wanted.

Turkey Breast

It was a resounding vote for turkey coz they liked the turkey that I roasted last year for Christmas. smirk

Turkey Cuts

There’s no shortages for non-halal turkey this year so that’s a good thing for us. I have no idea what makes a turkey halal or non-halal (probably due to the way it’s slaughtered) but this was a different brand called Norbest from the US and there were large signs warning of it’s haram (forbidden) status to Muslims which I always found a little strange since Christmas is a Christian (or at least secular) holiday.

Defrosting Turkey

I’ve actually cooked with this particular brand of turkey before and since I had just 24 hours to get it right, I used the Fast Defrost method by dunking the entire turkey into water and changing the water every 4 hours.

Trussed Turkey

It was what I did last year too but on a more urgent time scale since this was a heavier bird. Haha.

Cornbread Turkey Stuffing

We also got a pack of demi-glace and corn bread stuffing for a more expedient roast (plus, these two taste really good).

Chopping Vegetables

I chopped up a cup of yellow onions and celery

Onion Celery

…and sautéed them in butter,

Turkey Stuffing

…before adding it to the corn bread stuffing and gravy.

Giblets Bag

Next it was time to clean the bird, take out the bag of giblets (this is arguably where the old school gamer term gibs originated from for those of us who played shooters like Doom, Quake and Unreal back in the days) and pat it dry.

Stuffing Turkey

I stuffed the cavity of the turkey with my newly made corn bread stuffing mix and (with some difficulty) got it into the preheated oven at 200 Celsius.

Turkey Stuffed

I covered the turkey with aluminium foil and took it off after 3 ½ hours to brown the top and here’s what my turkey looks like after 4 hours!

Turkey Oven

This turkey has a built-in meat thermometer that pops out when it’s done, although we used our own to check too:

Turkey Pop Out Device

I started the demi-glace while the turkey was resting and it was lovely – this is restaurant quality demi-glace, RM 14.95 for ½ cup but it’s awesome! It has reduced white wine inside and you can add your own wine in lieu of water for a tastier demi-glace (make sure to cook off the raw alcohol).

Demi Glace

My better half and the kids loved it!

Carving Turkey

The young but large turkey was carved up according to everyone’s preference – the smallest one wanted a drum while I had an entire leg, the biggest one wanted the huge wing and my better half got a slice of prime breast meat.

Little Kid Eating Huge Turkey

Christmas dinner is always my responsibility and I’m glad we had so much fun with our celebrations – it took me quite a bit of planning and shopping to get enough activities to keep the kids entertained. There’s Christmas crackers, eggnog, presents, and more – Christmas is definitely not over yet!

Merry Christmas everyone! :)

12 things I bought for Christmas

1. Chocolate Monopoly

Chocolate Monopoly

This is an awesome find for RM 59.95! It’s a licensed Monopoly board game but all the cards, game pieces and property are replaced with chocolate pieces. The rules are somewhat similar but it’s of the spinner variety (there is no Monopoly money) so I thought it’ll be a great game for us to play with the kids on Christmas coz you can eat the chocolate pieces afterwards.

2. Christmas crackers

Tom Smith Selfie Christmas Crackers

An essential for the festive season, Christmas crackers are large pieces of cardboard with a snapper firecracker inside that explodes with a bang. The fun bit is that there’s miniature toys inside – usually tiny keepsakes that can range from a small compass to fart cushions. I bought a pack of six of the Tom Smith luxury version (RM 59.90) – one each for us and the kids plus two extra for my dear’s parents.

3. Snickers Slice n’ Share

Huge Snickers Slice Share

This is a *gigantic* bar of Snickers! It’s not pre-cut so it’s a solid block of candy that weighs 453.6 grams. You have to slice it into pieces yourself, thus the name. I’ve never seen this format before. I think it’s specially made for the 2014 festive season since it fits well with the large family dinner and sharing theme. This solid 1 pound (!!!) block of Snickers costs a staggering RM 68.95.

4. Porky Salt

Porky Salt

Haha! This is made by Garam Haram which literally translates to Forbidden Salt (and it rhymes too). It’s a play on the fact that pork is forbidden (haram) to Muslims and this is literally bacon infused salt. Porky Salt is a local artisanal product that’s just RM 15 and I can think of many ways to use it this Christmas dinner, whether we roast a traditional turkey like last year or go Asian.

5. Panettone

Panettone

What is Christmas without panettone? This brioche like edible is a Christmas staple in Milan and I’ve only seen it suddenly appear on the market in the last few years. I went to an Italian restaurant and had a wonderful “tiramisu” made with panettone in 2012 and I thought it was lovely. We also bought one last year for our Christmas celebrations. It’s tastier than the rock solid fruitcake that we’re used to eating before panettone started to flood the market as an alternative.

6. Giant Juicy Fruit

Giant Chewing Gum

Yup, this classic by Wrigley’s is supersized for the holidays! smirk I loved chewing on these when I was in high school – so much so that my Physics teacher in Christchurch called me “Eater”. Needless to say, I wasn’t a model student but I quite liked that nickname. You can eat in most classes in New Zealand (they’re not as strict as over here) but that particular educator didn’t like anyone doing so.

7. Huge roll of Life Savers

Giant Lifesavers

This classic sweet has put on some weight for the festive season too. The plus sized roll of Lifesavers is now 30 times as large as a regular roll! I used to eat this in high school too, it was cheap and I’m particular to the Musk flavored ones but you can’t find that flavor outside of Australia and New Zealand for some reason. Musk is not a popular flavor except down under.

8. White Cheddar Popcorn

White Cheddar Popcorn

You know how some people decorate their Christmas trees with popcorn? Well, not us, we prefer to *eat* popcorn. Especially if it’s this expensive! This bag of savory popcorn costs RM 21.90 and it’s made in the US by Angie’s. This is the White Cheddar flavor and they use all natural organic ingredients. It also checks all the healthy tick-boxes by being gluten-free, low trans fat, and whole grain.

9. Crème Brûlée

Creme Brulee

I accidentally bought this RM 12.50 packet of crème brûlée, thinking it was crème caramel. I love the latter, have eaten heaps of them as a kid (my mom used to make them) but it seems like they dropped off the face of the Earth! Since the advent of crème brûlée, the preparation without the blow-torched hard crack top seems to have disappeared. It used to be served in coffee-shops and I’ve been missing crème caramel since.

10. Christmas hampers

Christmas Hampers

‘Tis the season to be giving! I bought a RM 280 Christmas hamper for my better half so we could open it on Christmas Eve. I was torn between the one inside the sleigh and the one that’s in a large tube wooden reusable box (there’s only a RM 20 price difference) and after much consideration, chose the former. The retail assistant told me they both contain the same thing, it’s the wooden sleigh that’s more expensive due to craftsmanship.

11. Valrhona chocolates

Valrhona

It hurts my brain to even see this. Haha! We had gotten Valrhona chocolates from France – they have really good single origin Grand Crus and it’s the chocolate of choice for many high end Parisian fine dining restaurants. It’s very expensive to source your own Grand Crus from small gourmet purveyors like what Michelin starred restaurants do so this is the next best thing. I found it while shopping at BIG in Publika – I didn’t even know Malaysia stocks this.

12. Eggnog

Eggnog

You can’t have Christmas without eggnog. I have tried making my own but it’s a time consuming process if you have a turkey and other sides to take care of and store bought tastes just as good. They even have eggnog with alcohol included (mixture of brandy, whisky and rum for 14.75% alcohol) for RM 85.90 for 1.75 litres but if you have your own spirits, you can just get the regular 1 quart (946 ml) Grade A Eggnog for RM 23.90 and add your own to taste.

Short mention:

Christmas Hamper Ling

I used my credit card to purchase this Christmas hamper that I got my better half. I wanted to get my dear something nice and this beautiful reindeer sleigh contains all her favorites – hot chocolate, cookies, Turkish Delight. There’s even some marshmallows for the kids and a stuffed toy that looks suspiciously like Olaf from Frozen. I’ve been using my Maybank credit card for *everything* since I can get my purchases for free with their I LOVE 100% Cashback campaign! Just spend with your Maybank cards from now until 31st January 2015 and get your expenses paid off!

Check it out – there’s nothing better than getting your festive season spending paid off with a 100% cashback to spread some festive cheer! :)

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