A very LEGO x Pandora Essence anniversary

Emmet

We just had our latest anniversary and I surprised my better half by going to the official LEGO shop in Malaysia and getting something for her. I wanted to get the Emmet figure from The LEGO Movie but you can’t get it now. You have to get it in one of the official LEGO movie sets.

lord business evil lair

I got the Lord Business Evil Lair (RM 349.90) from the end scene in the movie coz it has all the LEGO characters that she likes. We plan to build it together with the kids…and GLUE IT ALL UP WHEN IT’S DONE!

That’s a joke from the movie, BTW. Haha.

LEGO Minifigures Pack

I also got the collectible LEGO Minifigures (RM 14.90 each) which are all the rage now. I picked three – one for my dear and one each for the kids and let them choose. The big one managed to get the one that she wanted (a spaceman with spacesuit) and the little one got a cowboy. My better half got a princess with a dog frog.

I didn’t get one for myself since the big one has two Player 1 LEGO minifigures (you don’t know what is inside until you open it) so I’ll select one as my own avatar. smirk

LEGO Store Malaysia

I also got an official LEGO ice cube maker (RM 30) which makes the red brick sized LEGO ice cubes. I thought my dear would appreciate it in her overnight oats endeavours – I suggested freezing bricks of LEGO milk or using it as a mould to make see-through raspberries suspended in clear gelatin LEGO bricks as a food decoration.

Lego Shop

My better half has always been very thoughtful with her gifts and I love that she keeps me in her heart and always thinks of me in everything she does. She got me a very nice pair of flip flops coz my favorite pair I bought from Club Med Bali has literally been worn to rags. She also got me lots of imported chocolates!

ling food

She always keeps me fed with her delicious home cooked food and writes thoughtful and loving cards for me too.

one i love

I’ve been keeping our story with Pandora charms and the last one I got her was a Princess heart with zirconium and gold crown. I also wanted to get her a new Pandora bangle style bracelet last month since her bracelet is so full now that it’s impossible to fit any more charms!

pandora princess charm

I had casually asked her what she thought about the Pandora Essence line (which is a new line meant for a more mature audience) and I remember her telling me that it’s nice but it’s a bit unfortunate that it’s not compatible with the regular line.

pandora essence collection

Well, since her Pandora bracelet has already been filled to capacity (we’ve been together for almost two years) I thought I’ll bring her out and surprise her with a visit to Pandora to get her fitted with the new Pandora Essence bracelet!

love essence charm

I also got one Pandora Essence charm to go with the bracelet – these charms are not interchangeable with the regular line but it’s nice coz it won’t move around – there’s an inner coating of some kind which prevents it from shifting. The first charm I got to start is aptly called Love.

pandora essence

Pandora Essence has many different charms named after characteristics e.g. Caring, Determination etc and I thought it’ll be nice for her to wear a new bracelet while I get her old one cleaned since I can get that done free of charge (due to my almost monthly patronage of Pandora). I plan to build our stories on Pandora Essence for the time being and get *another* regular Pandora bracelet for her after it’s filled…

LEGO purchases

…so we can continue creating more new stories in the future on a brand new bracelet! <3

The Curious Case of the “Half Price” Bakery

half price bakery

I was getting a loaf of bread from my usual bakery when I overheard a couple of students whispering and gesturing excitedly beside me. The bakery is open 24 hours and thus attracts a huge clientèle of mostly college kids who hang out there to “study”. It was about 2 am in the morning and I was just about to go to the cashier when one of the students leaned in consiprationally and murmured:

The butter milk buns are “half price” today, if you want to get them.

half price buns

Puzzled, I looked up and saw it was RM 5.20 for a small bundle of five buns – there was no mention of there being a 50% discount. This bakery doesn’t do discounts since it’s open 24 hours and they just cycle out their products instead.

What do you mean?”, I enquired, slightly baffled.
There’s a new guy behind the counter and he’s ringing up the buns as RM 2.50 for a pack”, the student breathlessly told me.

I’m not as excited as the college kids about potential savings by shafting it to a faceless corporate entity, but it did seem funny to me. I know that there’s a single bun version for RM 2.50 – the lowest price point of anything in the bakery. I’ve also had the 5-pack bundle before and thought they were quite good – especially if they’re just 50 cents per small bun instead of the RM 1+ it usually costs. smirk

I grabbed the pack and went to the cashier, and sure enough, the new guy rang it up as RM 2.50 when it came to the students turn. He also rang it up as RM 2.50 for me. I saw the supervisor beside him and was about to tell him about the mistake when I thought, why ruin the students fun?

half price bill

Let’s see how long they can keep this up.

I went there again the next night, and lo and behold, there was only a single pack left! There’s usually about 6 packs stocked on the shelves, it’s not a very popular item, but word seems to have gotten around and it’s *open season* on the “half price” butter milk buns.

I glanced outside and saw that the new guy was still on duty, and added it to my purchases to see if he’ll still do the same. Surely, he must have learnt of his mistake! How can a bag of 5 buns be as cheap as RM 2.50? Doesn’t he know better? Has he never looked at the bakery’s offerings? Most items are around the RM 6-10 price point!

buttermilk buns

Nope, it turns out that he was totally unaware of his mistake, and rang it up as RM 2.50 again.

I went again earlier today and saw that the new guy has left. I had a bag of the butter milk buns with me and it was finally tabulated at the correct RM 5.20 price. It was the supervisor behind the counter and I finally got the chance to ask him – “Did you know the new guy was scanning the bag of 5 buttermilk buns as RM 2.50 for a couple of days?”.

full price

He replied in the affirmative and said he’s been let go as a result of that. It turns out that they were selling out of the bags every single day, so they made more as a result but the books at the end of the day didn’t add up. They just realized what he had done after 4 days!

Oh well, I was sick of eating buttermilk buns every day anyway. :)

Angry Birds Board Game Review: Playing real life Angry Birds with the kids over the weekend!

playing angry birds board game

We brought the kids to Kidzania over the long weekend and after that we went to Borders to get some stationary for them. The big one needed some color pencils for school and while we were browsing, I saw an Angry Birds board game for RM 99.90 and thought it would be fun to play with the kids.

angry birds the board game

I was actually quite curious and looking forward to playing the game too. smirk

angry birds board game

This is called Angry Birds: On Thin Ice. There’s also Angry Birds: Birds in Space and Angry Birds Happy Holidays Edition. We brought it back and opened it up – there’s two Angry Birds inside, the most recognizable big red one and the more streamlined yellow one. I know they have names, the kids told me but I totally forgot what the names of the birds are.

angry birds card game

It’s a lot of fun! There’s 3 levels of difficulty represented by 3 different stacks of cards and a “free building” deck of cards. Your mission is the same as the game – to knock down the green pigs!

game of angry birds

There are three (3) pigs included with the game and each stage will incorporate them. The level is built according to the card you draw and it also states which Angry Bird you can use, the order you use them, and how many times e.g. Yellow Bird, Yellow Bird, Red Bird. You need to knock down all the pigs to clear the stage and you get 100 points for each pig, plus 100 bonus points if the pig is wearing a helmet (*and* you manage to bump it off their porcine heads).

You also get extra points if you’re the one to clear the stage e.g. “kill” the last green pig. It’s 100-300 points, depending on the level. The fourth card deck is a method to keep track of scores – each card is 100 points and the first person to reach 1,000 points wins!

building angry birds

It turns out that building the set is the hardest part – the blocks are all very wobbly and prone to falling down if you even breath hard on them. It’s designed that way so that you can easily break the tiles and destroy the level, just like the game, when the bird launches.

angry birds board game card

I thought it was quite ingenious! It’s also very realistic and faithful to the original game – the “ice blocks” can be *cracked* and split in half, since it’s actually two pieces fitted together. The most interesting block is the TNT crate – it functions in the same way as the game!

angry birds launcher

The TNT crate actually has strong springs inside so when you close it up, there’s tension and potential energy. This energy is released when you either:

1. Hit the TNT crate with a bird
2. Make the TNT crate fall down

angry birds board game complete

When one of the above two criteria is met, the TNT crate will actually “explode” and send pigs and blocks flying around. Haha!

Here’s how the TNT crate looks like when it went off. This is a video I took of me and the kids playing the Angry Birds: On Thin Ice board game.

angry birds on thin ice

Board games nowadays are so canggih and innovative – I’ve never seen stuff like this as a kid. It really jacks up the kids imagination and they all had a lot of fun launching the Angry Birds at the “levels” (which are sets that you build according to the cards).

angry birds launching

It made for a fun Sunday afternoon playing together with my better half and the kids! :D

Your body is your amusement park temple

dialysis

I have treated my body (and mind) as more of a amusement park instead of a temple. I have done that for almost half my life, searching for the next hedonistic experience and by the time I realized that you can’t just do that and expect to live forever, it was too late.

kidney damage

You see, I used to have nothing to live for (or thought I didn’t). In my short sightedness, I have taken various interesting pharmacological agents to excess, damaging my kidneys in the process. I even needed an emergency dialysis and nearly didn’t make it – the doctor fully expected me to die and I was obstinate enough to recover.

home funeral

I have so much to live for now. My mom has passed but my dad is still around and I want to take care of him. I also have the best partner ever, which I’m very lucky to have. My better half is the best thing that has happened to me and she really set my life on the straight and narrow. I have two kids that I love to bits and I like to be there for them too!

jacuzzi

I am starting to live a very healthy lifestyle now and part of that includes exercise. You really can’t have a healthy lifestyle without exercise. I run, swim and play badminton with the kids (and sometimes my better half, who is, naturally, better than me).

family dinner

We Malaysians like to eat (a lot) and most of the time, the food that we eat is superbly unhealthy. That’s all fine and good but it needs to be balanced out by having an active lifestyle.

mooncake family 2013

The 1 thing that matters to me is being healthy enough to take care of all my dependants and to give them a happy life.

happy us

#matterstomeMY

kids

I can’t very well do that if I die of obesity related complications like heart disease or diabetes and I don’t want to give up eating well so I have to exercise a lot. It’s the best way to have a healthy lifestyle.

morib goldcoast us

I swim…

riding bicycles

I cycle…

run

I run…

bicycles

It doesn’t really matter what kind of exercise you do as long as you do it – but if you run, you might want to download the Allianz Pacer app from Google Play or iTunes.

setting sun

Allianz’s priority is to help Malaysians to start taking care of what matters to them most, with a special focus on your health. They’ve set up Allianz Pacer – which is a social running community. It’s really quite interesting.

swimming with kids

Go and Like the Allianz Malaysia Facebook and participate in the sharing now!

family trip morib

#matters2meMY

My new place: Back breaking house-moving, wooden floors, dumpling festival

moving house

I almost died during the weekend. Either that or I’m alive with muscles on top of my muscles. I moved three (3) full carloads of stuff from my old place to my new place. I didn’t get a lorry like the previous time coz all the stuff is unpacked e.g. requires multiple refilling of boxes, of which the contents will be dumped at the new place. smirk

packed car

Luckily, my kind landlord from my previous apartment (!!!) at 10 Semantan Serviced suites helped me move! Thanks for that!

bedroom

My better half also helped me clean up the place and we now have a nice temporary bed to sleep in. It’s mighty comfortable too – new mattress and new bed sheets!

bona sweden

The floor in the bedroom is really hard to clean though – it’s an oiled wooden floor which requires a Sweden made floor cleaner to actually clean. Regular cleaners just move the dirt around. The cleaner was provided but the agent didn’t tell me so we didn’t know until last night. -_-

his hers hibuscus

We’re getting settled into the new place! :) The curtains are done and this is the unit that I really wanted coz it has a nice view compared to all the others. I also set up our His and Hers toothbrushes, which we are *finally* using! Haha.

dumpling festival

We also had our dumpling festival dinner at the new place! My dear had set up a nice dinner on top of the *only* table which I brought over…

pacman table

…which is a custom-painted Pacman inspired table that a friend of mine made back in 2010. Yup, I still have it Jammie! :D

home fibre broadband

The last thing that needs to be done for everything to be up and running is to get the fibre optic connection hooked up. w00t!

spare keys

I also gave a pair of spare keys to my better half for her use. :)

My mom’s funeral

bagpipes

My mom passed on about two weeks ago and the funeral started at our home in Sibu followed by a service in Wesley Methodist Church with a bagpipe band before laying her to rest at Methodist Grace Memorial Park Cemetery.

moving casket

These are the photos from that day. We didn’t think about having a photographer around but one of my aunties kindly arranged to have her friend take the pictures and handed them to us.

home service

My better half flew back to Sibu too, it’s fortunate that my late mom has met her before and I’m glad she managed to take the time to come back. My sister and brother-in-law and my nieces and nephews are all here too – the family is all dressed in white.

home funeral

We don’t wear black for mourning unlike Western funerals, the immediate family is usually dressed in white for Chinese funerals.

coffin van

I went with my dad to accompany my mom’s casket on the van to the church.

church service

There was an hour-long service which a lot of her friends attended and me and my sister gave a speech.

movie

I also made a short movie to commemorate my mom that was screened at the church service.

moving coffin

The coffin was then carried to Methodist Grace Memorial Park to be buried (technically, no caskets are “buried” anymore – they’re double sealed in concrete)…

speach

…and we paid our last respects before coming back again 3 days later. I’m not sure if this is a Chinese custom or a Christian one though.

funeral service

I’m back in KL now after shuttling between here and KL and Singapore, doing the documentation for my mom’s sudden passing. She has been fighting cancer for a long time and a sudden deterioration made her unable to undergo her radiotherapy sessions, and relying on chemotherapy alone didn’t really help as she rapidly went from wheelchair-bound to bed-ridden to oxygen dependent.

wesley

Thanks again for all the thousands of people who came to visit and the others who send messages of condolences and funeral wreaths and food and other shows of support. It is much appreciated, all your kindness, during a difficult time.

coffin church

We will miss you mom. We hope you lay at peace knowing you have raised us well and we’ll do the best we can and be there for each other and dad until we meet again.

called home

Goodbye, mom.

(Called home 6th March 2014)

Dishes of Death: Cultural food for funerals

crispy floss sandwich

My late mom is Foochow while my dad is Henghua and they both have different cultural traditions for food after a death in the family. We’ve just done the 3rd day ceremony where we sweep the cemetery grounds and bring her photo back. It’s customary to eat together after this and the two different cultures have different dishes that you’re supposed to eat.

1. Chicken mee sua with red wine and boiled-fried egg

henghua noodles

This is a Henghua tradition. You’re supposed to eat longevity noodles cooked with chicken stock (real, not from a cube or bottle) and served with pieces of chicken and an egg that’s been boiled before battered and then deep fried.

There’s also locally fermented red rice wine used for cooking in this dish. The dish above replaces the mee sua with hung ang noodles (see below).

2. Fried thick beehoon with boiled-fried egg

foochow noodles

This is a Foochow tradition and we originally wanted to follow this custom since my mom is Foochow. The fried thick beehoon is known as “hung ang” over here – it’s best described as a cross between mee hoon and lou shi fan.

Unfortunately, we drove to three (3) different places and all of them were *closed* so we settled on eating just whatever we wanted, since my dad is Christian and doesn’t follow all these pantang (superstitious beliefs) anyway.

The picture above is a type of Foochow style fried noodles – the next best thing, which most people had.

3. Pork leg longevity noodles

pork leg noodles

I had this with one of my uncles. It’s stewed pork leg cooked with a specific combination of herbs and spices called pek ting yok (usually translated as 8 treasures herb). It’s RM 7 and I found it to be quite good and it fulfils the Henghua tradition of eating longevity noodles after a death and the subsequent visit to the family.

pork mee sua

My grandma was so worried that we didn’t eat this (she’s of the older generation) and cooked dry longevity noodles tossed in lard for us at night!

rojak tambi

As for us, since we don’t really follow tradition, you can even eat rojak tambi if you want. I just thought it was interesting, all the cultural believes surrounding death and I never got a proper explanation on why we eat a certain dish and not another. However, as in all cultures, the consumption of food after a funeral is the norm.

tambi rojak

I did a quick search and found out that the reason we eat after a funeral is to celebrate the life of the deceased…

death dishes

…and we’ve been doing it as far back as 12,000 years (!!!) since the Natufian people in the Stone Age!

My mom’s wake

mom wake

We’ve been quite busy getting all the stuff sorted out for my late mom – we’re heading to the cemetery in a couple of hours for another ritual. My dad practically stayed up for almost two days without sleep when he flew with my mom’s body from Singapore to Sibu.

mom vigil

My better half also came back with me for the wake (which is *different* from a funeral viewing here, the latter is done just before the coffin is buried and the casket is open instead of closed) and all of my relatives came over. A bunch of my friends turned up too, while I was sleeping in the afternoon, so I was a bit groggy when I talked to them – thanks for coming.

food

My uncles and aunties stayed up the entire night too but mostly we took turns to keep vigil over my mom’s casket throughout the two days she was here. We’re lucky to have all the help to meet and greet people – there were a couple of tables at our car porch that a restaurant provided so lunch and dinner can be served to everyone staying over. I was surprised to find out that it’s common practice for them to read the obituaries and offer their catering services.

cross wreath

There’s still a lot of things that require sorting out, so I’ll be updating intermittently and staying here until at least the weekend.

Thank you all for all the condolence messages, funeral wreaths, food and support.

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