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 Italy 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! :)

Our anniversary: Cardboard apartment, Christmas pudding, Murano glass charm

godiva craft apartment

My dear gave me a really *wonderful* present during our anniversary. It so happens that our anniversary also falls on Christmas so I had two gifts! She made this apartment out of craft paper and cardboard on a Godiva chocolate box base I had given her.

vows exchange

The entire creation is very intricate – there’s a lot of detail to everything, including a vow exchange, appropriately put inside a recycled Pandora charm box. <3

mailbox

It’s very beautiful and creative, and the Godiva box used as a base is a bit of an inside thing. She had given me the *cover* the previous month and now it’s a set with the *base*. I had originally given it to her as a trilogy of premium chocolates. Haha!

cardboard apartment

The gift is actually a MasterChef Australia dinner @ the apartment. Geddit? She got 4 x RM 50 worth of vouchers from winning a contest – thus, the apartment inside a cardboard apartment. :D The questionable thing about the vouchers it that they state that each one can be used on a per table, per meal basis. I thought that was a bit dodgy – this was the first prize of the contest!

christmas present

She had already known about the set dinner, it’s something we both like since we watched Season 5 together. She was prepared to pay the rest of the balance and use just a RM 50 voucher due to the rules but it turns out that the supervisor accepted all the vouchers, so that’s good.

chocolate covered pretzels

I also got a box of chocolate pretzels as a Christmas gift! :D

secret candy surprise

This is something that stems out of when she always used to cook for me. I’ll eat from her Tupperware boxes, wash them, and fill them with “secret candy surprises” so when she opens them, she’ll see her favorite candy as a gesture of thanks.

murano charm

I got her something that had always been missing from her Pandora bracelet, which is a Murano glass bead charm! She had originally mentioned that it seems a bit uncomfortable and clunky but I had seen her looking at it in the brochures so I got her a nice pink and purple one!

christmas anniversary

I also got a cute, red box to keep the charm inside. I found it while browsing through the Christmas stuff aisles and thought it would be nice to hide the charm in since I always seem to give her the same thing each anniversary. Heh. I also bought a tiny card to write a message to her.

christmas mini pudding

Pandora also sent me a RM 50 voucher for being a Pandora Club Member. Unfortunately, I had listed that I wanted to cash it in at Paradigm Mall instead of TCM and it expired on the 31st December 2013 so I didn’t get to use it at all!

pandora murano charm

I also got her another charm as a Christmas present – thus, this is the anniversary where she got two charms instead of one! I got her a Christmas tree charm so she’ll remember that this is our anniversary which coincided with Christmas! smirk

boiling christmas pudding

It was quite late when we did our gift exchange and I had bought a small Christmas pudding just for this dual-celebration.

christmas pudding

The mini pudding is quite nifty, you just need to dump the entire packaging into boiling water for 20 minutes! The wrapper is heatproof and it warms up the Christmas pudding nicely. It tastes good – there’s lots of brandy inside (thus the Tidak Halal sticker) and just the right portion for two.

loving

We had it with a scoop of ice cream to end the night with. I’m lucky to have you dear! Thanks for the thoughtful and loving MasterChef dinner anniversary gift and the house which you built. *hugs*

Our MasterChef Australia 5-Course Dinner @ the apartment

masterchef australia dinner

A MasterChef dinner? I was puzzled when my dear gave me this as a very special and memorable Christmas present. I was curious about how you can have a MasterChef dinner in Malaysia and we arrived at the apartment @ the Curve after making reservations.

masterchef dinner malaysia

It turns out that there is a special, limited edition degustation menu from the judges and contestants of MasterChef Australia Season 5. This is totally legit, the recipes were licensed to the apartment and my better half had won RM 200 worth of vouchers so she treated me to this delicious dinner.

masterchef degustation menu

There are three (3) main courses to choose from – Stuffed Turkey with Pumpkin Puree (RM 128++) based on Samira El Khaffir’s Stuffed Chicken with Pumpkin Puree recipe, Seared Steak with Hollandaise Sauce, Roasted Pumpkin, Cauliflower & Pine Nut (RM 148++) by Michael Todd and Confit Salmon (RM 98++) by Samira – the contestant we both dislike immensely. Haha!

Amuse-bouche

amuse-bouche

This was a duo of grilled cherry tomatoes with herbs on nachos. There’s only two on the plate (which is the standard plate the apartment uses for appetizers and thus a bit worn looking) which was a little bit weird, plating wise, coz you always put three (3) servings or another odd number. I only realized this when my better half told me about it. It’s a wonderful start though – this is a delicious complimentary starter from the chef.

Appetizer
Braised Lamb Shoulder Tostada (Andy Allen)

lamb shoulder tostada

We both loved this as well. My dear said the lamb didn’t have too much of a gamey taste so it suits her. I thought it was executed well and the lamb shoulder gave a nice texture to put on the tostada. It’s just a little too similar, texture-wise, to the amuse-bouche. I loved the juicy pomegranate seeds strewn throughout though – it was nice!

Soup
Carrot Liquid with a Hint of Blood Orange

carrot soup blood orange

The plating is well thought out – the blood orange comes in a shot glass so you can pour as much (or as little) as you want into the carrot soup. The soup has a very spicy end note though so my dear didn’t manage to finish hers. I loved mine though, I thought the acidity of the blood orange balances out the creaminess of the carrot soup.

Sorbet
Summer Peach Granita

summer peach granita

A wonderful interlude before the main course! The sorbet is in nicely large granulated form so it’s great as a palate cleanser before our mains arrived. There’s no attribution to this and the soup but I think I saw it in one of the MasterClass episodes from one of the judges – think it was Gary.

Main Course
Confit Salmon (Samira El Khaffir)

salmon confit

This is what my better half ordered. It’s the only one that she could have gone for considering she doesn’t like beef. I don’t like cooked salmon in general coz restaurants tend to overcook it but this one was done very nicely. It was cooked to perfection!

confit salmon

The entire salmon was nicely seasoned and pink and there’s none of the dryness that comes from overcooking this piece. I tend to prefer raw salmon sashimi but this changed my mind – it was juicy and tender, with all the natural taste of the salmon brought out.

Main Course
Stuffed Turkey with Pumpkin Puree (Samira El Khaffir)

samira turkey

I was torn between Michael Todd’s Seared Steak with Hollandaise Sauce, Roasted Pumpkin, Cauliflower & Pine Nut and this one and decided to go for the turkey since it’s Christmas. This recipe is based off of Samira’s Stuffed Chicken with Pumpkin Puree. It was quite an interesting dish as the Middle Eastern influence was *really* apparent in the dish.

rice stuffed turkey

The turkey is stuffed with a basmati rice and spice mix! That’s the most fusion stuffing I’ve ever come across and it kinda, sorta works. I can’t say I’ll give this 10/10, more like 7/10 – I enjoyed it but it wasn’t mind-blowing. There’s something to be said about eating a Middle Eastern inspired turkey and not all of it is good. smirk

Notes on service: The waiter took away her plate while I was still eating. She had finished her confit salmon but I was still halfway through my turkey. I thought that was quite rude – you never start clearing plates until everyone is done in the service industry. It’s a major service no-no.

feedback form

Also, he didn’t always serve the woman first, which is another service faux pas. However, the waiter was always polite and kept refilling our cold water so I mentioned this to the supervisor, Julito, who apologized profusely and gave me a feedback form to file my grievances.

masterchef vouchers

It seemed that they didn’t know this basic rule of etiquette about clearing dishes but the supervisor was professional throughout and the waiter was just plain ignorant so no harm done. The bill came up to RM 280++ so it was about RM 90 after the RM 200 vouchers was used.

Dessert
Modern Baklava (Samira El Khaffir)

modern baklava

This is an absolutely wonderful end to the dinner! The baklava was *cloyingly sweet* but I mean that in the most complimentary way. There’s two sauces that comes with the dish – one is sweetened condensed milk based and the other something akin to caramelized sugar. It was decadent and delicious! We both polished our plates! Haha!

masterchef dinner us

Thanks for the thoughtful gift dear! We both enjoyed our MasterChef Australia Season 5 dinner with recipes from the judges and contestants and would go again, except that was the last week of the promotion. It’s a wonderful Christmas present coz we both went to Australia at the beginning of the year as our first trip overseas and we both watched MasterChef Australia Season 5 together. <3

Our Christmas / New Year Turkey, Brussels Sprout and Peach Trifle Dinner!

turkey trimmings

This is our first time cooking a turkey together for the parents and kids! I wanted to purchase one but I was told that turkeys were all sold out. Thus, I bought the sides so we can concentrate on roasting the turkey! I got Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts (RM 50) and a Strawberry & Peach Trifle (RM 100).

stuffing turkey

It came in two huge boxes (think that the bigger box originally was supposed to have a turkey inside but they ran out) that delighted the kids – especially the trifle.

plan b

I had slated it for pickup at 6 pm so we can have it just as our turkey has finished cooking, but it turned out that the process took longer than that. Haha!

The story of how we got the turkey:

box

It’s a rather funny anecdote that we’ll look back and laugh at. My dear bought me a MasterChef dinner as a Christmas present and I thought I’ll call ahead and book a turkey. I know it’s sold out, I had already gotten the sides, but I had a sneaky feeling that frozen turkeys are in short supply too.

turkey discussion

I was right.

chestnuts

I called BIG and asked if they had frozen turkeys and the guy said he’ll go and check. He said there’s one left and it’s about 3 kg. I told him I’ll take it and I’ll pick it up in about 2 hours time. He got my name and number and we went to Publika after dinner to get the elusive turkey.

fresh herbs

However, when I got there, I was told that the frozen turkeys were all sold out!

stuffing

I think the dude was kinda sick of answering questions like these, there are signs saying so all over the place. Haha! I told him that I had called ahead just now and there was a definite thawing as he asked for my name…

turkey booking

…and sure enough, there’s a turkey booked under my name!

frozen turkey

I was quite pleased that they really did hold the turkey for me instead of putting it outside where anyone who’s faster can grab it. We’re both happy with the service (but not with the guy – you should always be jovial when asked a question, regardless of whether it’s the 1,000th time someone asked the very same question smirk).

turkey stuffing

I also bought the stuffing for the turkey and some other miscellaneous stuff. The turkey was RM 88.72 for a 3.18 kg bird and the total grocery bill came close to RM 300!

preparing turkey

It was just one day till dinner with the in-laws and the kids and the turkey was *still* frozen so we couldn’t brine the turkey. This is the most basic recipe but it turned out delicious! I just thawed the frozen turkey overnight and then put it in the fridge when it was fully thawed.

turkey oven

I chucked it into the oven at 220 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes before turning it around. It’s supposed to be a self-basting turkey but you do need to baste it every now and then. I used the simplest recipe to cook the turkey (from theKitchn.com).

basting turkey

I rubbed butter all over the turkey and stuffed two halved lemons into the cavity.

stuffing turkey last

I didn’t truss or stuff the turkey, just wrapped some bacon around the breast and put it in 2 cups of water and left it in the oven for as hot as it would go. It took us 3 ½ hours to cook the turkey!

carving turkey

Before the last 40 minutes, I prepared the stuffing using a gourmet stuffing blend hand packed from the Shropshire Spice Co in the UK. It’s an apple with cranberry and roast chestnut stuffing and I just needed to add 700 ml of water (for the 2 packs) and a huge pat of butter before, well, stuffing this Pink Lady apple based mix into the cavity.

inspecting trifle

It was a bit too much stuffing so I left some out so it looks like the turkey has laid some stuffing. Haha!

peach trifle

The turkey was rested for 20 minutes before serving.

roasted turkey

We had spaghetti with bacon (cooked by my dear) with the turkey and it tasted quite good! I still have leftover turkey, the kids loved it and the in-laws ate quite a fair bit too, so I reckon we did well with our turkey!

brussels sprouts

The Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts wasn’t that big of a hit but I thought it improved my view of Brussels sprouts. I didn’t really like it when I was in NZ and Australia due to the bitterness but it seems like the new genetically modified ones in the last decade are less bitter. It tastes quite good in fact!

trifle

The Strawberry & Peach Trifle was the true hero though – it tasted wonderful! I like the jelly-like cake bottom, and the peaches and cream in the middle and the strawberry topping cuts down on the sheer sweetness with some acidity. We finished that 1 kg trifle on the night itself!

turkey dinner

It was a good Christmas / New Year turkey dinner though – we had it on the weekend, which is neither Christmas or New Year but our own family get-together. We all had fun, the only thing that was missing was some Christmas crackers! :D

il panettoncino

(and we couldn’t even start eating the panettone or mince pies that we had so we saved it for this weekend)

Christmas Eve Dinner @ Senja, Saujana Hotel

christmas eve dinner

Senja is an Italian restaurant despite it’s Malay sounding name. The food is prepared by Chef Filippo Giunta, a friendly Sicilian which I got to meet later. It is best known for it’s homemade pasta and pizzas (they even have a firewood oven) and the ambiance – it’s built on stilts above a man-made lake and the view is quite pleasing.

senja saujana

I was there to check out their Christmas Eve Dinner. I haven’t been here for a while and I thought I’ll come and check out their new pasta machine. Thanks for the invite Azimy and Azirah and it’s a pleasure to meet you Karen!

bread

The five course meal was preceded by their wonderful home-made bread, which I absolutely loved. It came with four different types of dip – the whole olives and sun-dried tomatoes being two of my favorite.

Schiuma di Papate con Capesante ed Aneto
Potato Mousse with Scallop and Dill Oil

scallops

This is the first course proper – the amouse-bouche. It’s a nicely cooked piece of scallop topped with black caviar with potato mousse and dill oil. I thought it’s a nice start for the Christmas Eve course.

Capaccio di Manzo con Rucola e Dressing al Parmigiano
Carpaccio of Black Angus with Rocket and Parmesan Dressing

black angus carpaccio

I really, really liked this. The circular tissue-thin Black Angus is aged well so you can taste the intense flavors in this apt appetizer. I wish I could have more of this. Perfectly dry-aged (I think, forgot to ask) beef.

chef filippa giunta

There are three main courses you can choose from:

Linguine con Funghi Selvatici e Tartufo
Homemade Linguine Pasta with Wild Mushrooms and Black Truffle

linguini black truffle

This would be my recommendation for the main course if you’re not one of those people who must have turkey on Christmas Eve. I’ve seen how they make their pasta in-house and the linguine is cooked to perfection – dictionary definition of “al dente”. I enjoyed the simplicity of the dish, spruced up by generous shavings of black truffle.

Salmone in Padella Sevito con Spinaci, Salsa Prosecco e Caviale Nero
Tasmanian Salmon served with Butter Spinach, Prosecco Sauce and Black Caviar

salmon

There’s nothing wrong with this dish, but it didn’t quite hit the spot for me. It’s a generous slice of salmon on top of spinach and it was the first main dish that I ate but I felt that the salmon overpowered all the other flavors in the dish and it was a tad overcooked but then again I won’t pretend to be a food critic. Heh. I just felt that the other two dishes were much better.

Petto di Tacchino con Mele Verdi, Funghi in Padella e Riduzione al Vino Porto
Stuffed Turkey Breast with Poached Granny Smith Apple, Cepes Mushroom and Port Wine Sauce

turkey

I really liked the crisp turkey skin and the juicy turkey meat. I loved the stuffing. It’s a classic Christmas dish that has everything done right including the apple cubes beneath the turkey that gives it a sweet dimension. Highly recommended, I would go for this or the pasta for the main course. Come to think of it, I’ll recommend this, coz you can have pasta any other time. ;)

Panettone Tradizionale con Crema di Mascarpone e Caffe
Traditional Panettone “Tiramisu” with Mascarpone and Coffee Cream

panettone tiramisu

This is hands down the best dessert I’ve had this month, or maybe even this quarter. I might even hazard to go “this year” due to this wonderful creation from Chef Filippo Giunta. It’s not a regular tiramisu made with Savoiardi – that has been made passé with this “tiramisu” made from Panettone. Just think of Savoiardi being substituted with Panettone Antica Ricetta and you’ll have an inkling of what this marvelous dessert tastes like.

It’s awesome – there’s no other word to describe it. The Mascarpone and coffee cream dominates the Panettone that has been rendered soft and yielding and the burst of fruitcake combined with the thick, cloying cream resulted in a truly fearsome dessert. It’s delicious! :D

panettone

This is the Panettone used for the Christmas Eve Dinner dessert at Senja. It’s the specialty Christmas cake of Milan which traces its roots to an ancient Franciscan cloister in Saronno. It’s orgasmic – there’s a bit of fruitcake to remind you of the festive season and I was very impressed by this dessert. The Mascarpone and coffee cream slathered on top of this Panettone “tiramisu” takes the cake (haha). I’ll go just for this dessert again!

christmas cookies

We also had mince pies, biscuits and gingerbread cookies after the meal and I was so enamored by the Panettone “tiramisu” that Chef Filippo Giunta came out with what the dome-shaped Christmas cake. The Christmas Eve Dinner at Senja, Saujana Hotel is priced from RM 160++ to RM 280++ with optional wine pairing.

wine

They also have a New Year’s Eve set dinner priced at the same range where you can watch fireworks by the lake. Senja Restaurant is also starting a new tradition of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day brunches with buffet style antipasto and desserts from RM 90++. They can be reached at 03 7843 1234 for reservations. Oh, and they also sell that Panettone cake by itself but it won’t nearly be as good as the one made into “tiramisu”. Heh.

Presents for each of the 24 days leading up to Christmas!

christmas advent calendar

That’s the modern adaptation of the advent calendar and I think it’s a wonderful concept! It’s basically a countdown to Christmas and having small gifts for each days leading up to the final big present on Christmas Eve. You can make one that gives out:

ice cream

A nice bowl of ice cream on the first day

theatre

Tickets to the theatre for the second day

dinner

A nice dinner outside for the third day

theme park

A trip to a theme park for the fourth day

iberico ham

A nice leg of Iberico Ham for the fifth day

romantic hotel

A night’s stay at a romantic hotel for the sixth day

nature

A day trip getting reacquainted with nature for the seventh day

parfait

Back to a nice parfait for dessert on the eighth day

…and so on up till the 24th day which would be Christmas Eve!

It’s a really fun way to get into the spirit of Christmas and get the holiday festivities going.

It’s also the time to get gifts for loved ones – your friends, family and maybe even yourself. ;)

ikea table

One of the pieces of furniture I kept when I moved to this studio is a small table I bought from IKEA that my friend Jamie kindly painted for me. It has since been sitting at a corner of my living room, accumulating all sorts of stuff (which I have unceremoniously dumped under to take this photo).

I moved into a fully furnished studio but you still need the little touches that will personalize it and make it truly your own.

dali

Well, not the trippy stuff that Salvador Dali dreamt up (although tickets to see them would make a great addition to your own advent calendar). For more practical items (that is, things rooted in the real world) IKEA has introduced advent calendar to Malaysia – a tradition that is celebrated in a lot of Nordic countries like Sweden.

advent calendar

It has great bargains for the 24 days leading up to Christmas Eve – the awesome thing about The 2012 IKEA Advent Calendar is that you can see the deals that are coming up by hovering over the day. Keep in mind that the deal is only valid on that day itself so it’s a great way to buy gifts for loved ones at a good deal.

The best thing about the IKEA Advent Calendar is that you can actually peek at deals in advance so you’ll know what the promotions are on a certain date. The deals are really good too – you know that IKEA already operates at a low profit margin so that you can get quality products at the best deals ever.

trofast frame

I’m personally waiting for their TROFAST pine frame at RM 169 (discounted from RM 249) on the 23rd December. It’s actually categorized as toy storage for children but you can use it to store a wide variety of things – I’ve mentioned that my condo lacks space so all my stuff (various personal souvenirs from travels) can go right into this – it’s a great way to save space! :D

However, for this, some of the prices on furniture are marked down as much as RM 100 – like this queen size Sultan Tarsta mattress pad:

mattress share

…also if there’s something that catches your eye you can always hint to your friends by sharing the deal on your Facebook Wall. ;)

Here’s the link to The 2012 IKEA Advent Calendar so you can help ease your friends Christmas shopping. Heh.

Merry Christmas from Bali!

I believe this is the *only* photo I am ever going to post from last night. It was fucking awesome, and there’s a fantastic story behind it. This was taken in the infamous Poppies Lane II in Kuta.

bali christmas

There were three cameras taking this very same group shot. My travel companion, who prefers to remain anonymous – thus the mosaic – should be so lucky that the other two cameras belong to the girl in blue (Australia) and the guy beside her (United States) so chances are if it turns out on Facebook, it’ll never lead back. Haha.

Let me tell you something about Christmas in Bali. You can say what you want about the Poppies Lane party scene but I will tell you:

It was legen…wait for it…dary!

Merry Christmas everyone! smirk

Express Christmas

express christmas

Have you heard of Express Christmas? No? Well, it’s when you can’t celebrate it on the day itself, so you wing it, gather a bunch of friends and celebrate it in advance.

me

…and that’s just what I did at Sid’s, TTDI.

sids

You can’t have a proper Christmas party without some beer…

drinks

Buckets of Heineken to spread the festive cheer. I figured Heineken would do the trick nicely – it’s a cool and refreshing beer perfect for our climate. It doesn’t exactly snow here so mulled wine and warm eggnog doesn’t provide the same satisfaction.

trick

There’s this trick where you try to blow a distorted cap into the bottle. It can be done, just like that balance-the-coin-on-the-lemon-suspended-in-liquid tipping jar. It’s just close to impossible.

samantha

Samantha tried it.

kim

Kim tried it. Both to no avail.

newlyweds

Oh, speaking of which, say hello to the newly-weds. :)

reindeer

Lainey had this reindeer thing on her head. That’s me with the Santa hat…drinking on the job. Rudolph go! :D

beer jenga

Heineken Jenga. I built this slightly (actually very) unwieldy contraption with a bit of help from everyone.

heineken jenga

Rules: Everyone pulls one bottle and the person who makes it fall drinks. Kids, do not try this at home or at all. ;)

santa

You wanna come sit on Santa’s lap? ;) I can’t grant you a wish but I do have…er, lollipops to give out. smirk

stupid trick

Kim also pulled this trick on me. It’s really funny, ask her to show you.

group

Christmas is all about good company. I’ll be in Bali for Christmas so I’m glad I got the chance to celebrate my own Express Christmas with my closest friends. :)

Santa can you hear me?

I have been so good this year. Well, maybe not, but with Christmas around the corner it’s time to write the letter to the good ol man up North and ask for the things that you want for Christmas!

1. A partridge in a pear tree

I’m totally serious. I would love to have a partridge in a pear tree. It would be remiss not to ask for this. How many people have actually gotten a partridge in a pear tree?

Patridge-by-John-Coulter

No? Well, there you go. ;)

2. Turducken

Christmas used to be all about turkeys. Well, not anymore. Turkey is so ’90s. The thing to have on your Christmas dinner table this year is the turducken. What exactly is a turducken?

Turducken

Well, put simply, it’s a chicken stuffed into a duck which is then stuffed into a turkey. Now how about that!

3. Travel the world and the seven seas

I love to travel and though I’ve been to Europe, Korea, China and several other SEA destinations this year, I would love to spend more time at each place…taking my time, going through every nook and cranny of the places I step foot on.

stonehenge

I’m particularly interested in doing the Trans-Mongolian Railway, which no self respecting traveller can call him/herself that until this ritual is complete. Starting at China and going all the way to Russia. I’ll send you a postcard from Russia (with love).

The Eurorail coming-of-age trail blazing is also something I’ll want to do – a pass to travel all around Europe at your own leisure. I’ll make Ireland my first stop, I’ve never been there and it’s home to St James Gate Brewery in Dublin, which produces the fine brew we call Guinness. :)

4. A new car

I’m not one for material possessions and love experiences more than anything. However, my old car has been through a lot of…er, vehicular mishaps and it seems like EVERYTHING is wrong with it. I probably should send it to a workshop but I fear that it would cost more to fix than to purchase a new one.

How I’m going to pay for the down payment and monthly instalments would require very creative budgeting but hey, since this is a wish list…

5. 5 gold rings

Seriously.

5_gold_rings

I’m so broke right now that 5 gold rings sounds (no pun intended) just about right.

6. A job as a travel writer

Somewhat related to the above, I know that the industry is hard to break in and not as glamorous as it sounds. It’s often a low paid job where you most likely have to top up the balance yourself and you spend a lot of time writing and compiling and doing good ol fashioned legwork. I even hear the Lonely Planet writers have to take a course in self defence before they even get sent out.

bath

However, despite all that it’s something I would love to do. It’s not about the money, it’s about setting your own hours and doing what you like.

7. A new digicam

I have a dSLR and a compact digicam and I tend to use the latter more since it’s shockproof and waterproof, two important qualities when I bring it on my vacations. However, all the trips and travels and misadventures has given it a good beating and I wouldn’t mind getting another one for Christmas. :)

8. Get to see my family more

I must admit, with my family scattered around, it’s hard to have the traditional annual family vacations that my father set a precedent for ever since I was a kid. My sister is married with a baby daughter in New Zealand with my mom and my dad is in Sarawak while I’m working here.

family

Blood runs thicker than water after all. The warmth of having family and giving and receiving support is, pardon the cliché, invaluable.

My dad and I used drink together and my mom has been known to have a pint or two herself. She actually can drink the two of us under the table if she sets her mind on doing it. Heh! It’ll be good to have a family get-together where we can just sit around the living room, nursing a pint of Guinness.

9. A notebook

No, not the ones made from trees, I have come to the conclusion that while having a 17” widescreen notebook is great when you’re at home, lugging all of it in its 2.7 kg glory while travelling is decidedly not.

One thing on my wish list would be for a small and compact notebook where I can write, access the net and run Photoshop while travelling.

10. Get another tattoo

I’ve always wanted to get another tattoo – I even know what I want it to be but I’ve put it off for years, going for piercings instead. I don’t know why I’m procrastinating on this since it’s not on public skin e.g. visible so it’s not a work related issue.

tattoo

I want a full color piece on my left leg, starting from the ankle up to the knee. It would be a rotting female corpse hand reaching up from the grave and gripping me, raking her fingernails and drawing blood down as a reminder. I guess the subject of the reminder is personal since I’ve subconsciously put it off for so long but I want to get it done soon.

11. More personal time

I would love to have more personal time for me to do the things I like. I love reading and have recently completed the Millennium trilogy – a series of novels which centres on Lisabeth Salander, a rather unique and likable character whom I can relate to.

books

I tend to be a voracious reader but I never stray far from my favourite genres – I picked this out on a whim and I’m glad I did. It’s a good read and I aim to do more reading – preferably not just on the porcelain throne. ;)

12. A Christmas dinner with friends

Since my family won’t be together during Christmas, I’ll love to have a nice Christmas dinner with friends complete with several pints of Guinness. Christmas is all about sharing, gift exchanging, letting them know how much they mean in your life and nothing beats a good dinner recounting with your closest friends – sharing stories, spending quality time (which all of us lack with work and everything) and just being together with good food and drink.

guinness girl

On the same note, Guinness is having some consumer promos on their Facebook so it’ll be a great place to find an outlet to have pre-Christmas and Christmas events where you can celebrate the festive season. Surf over to Guinness Malaysia Facebook for more details.

You’ll also get a gift all month long, courtesy of Guinness when you buy 6 pints of Guinness Draught or 1 bucket of Guinness Stout – a heritage collection glass with old Guinness ads! =D

There is also going to be games (Merry Mat anyone?) and surprises at selected outlets starting from 17:59 (the year Guinness was founded). That’s one minute before 6 pm.

guinness

Well, since I’m not going home for Christmas this year, I figured I’ll grab 4 of you and we’ll throw our own mini-Christmas bash instead! I’ve arranged for a cosy dinner for the 5 of us at Backyard in Hartamas, KL on the 22nd December at 7:30 pm.

I’ll select 4 of the most creative answers we’ll all have a great time this Christmas! Don’t worry about drinks and food, it’ll be on me! It’ll be fun, just comment here and and tell me “What you want for your Merry Guinness” this year. Make yourself available on that date and we’ll have an awesome time! My treat. :)

‘Tis the season to be jolly

purple_christmas_tree

It’s that time of the year again! The time where shopping malls are decked out with Christmas decorations and refrains of Hark the Herald Angels Sing echo through the centralized speakers. My friend Mel dropped by KL this weekend and we decided to have dinner at Finnegan’s.

feast

I bumped into Jolene there who sagely commented that I always seem to have a beer in my hand whenever she sees me. Heh! It’s true, I’ve grown quite fond of Kilkenny lately and they have a RM 50 for 3 pints promotion going on in some outlets.

kilkenny tap

Dubbed the Cream of Irish Beers, Kilkenny has an interesting history – it didn’t originate from a traditional brewery but from the holy cellars (I presume) of St. Francis Abbey in the 14th century. Put simply, it was Franciscan monks who started making this particular beer.

Interesting, eh?

kilkenny

Kilkenny is an Irish cream ale that’s smooth and rich – qualities which I rate highly. I’m a huge fan full bodied beers and stouts. It’s perfect for the festive season, although we don’t get very cold weather over here.

sandwiches

We shared a stew, open sandwiches, and a pork knuckle which nearly killed us (too much food for two people). I guess overeating is also part of the festive ritual.

pork knuckle

Kilkenny promotions are available at selected outlets throughout the country. I’m going to try my hand at “Cooking with Kilkenny” (has a nice ring to it, eh?) next! I plan to use Kilkenny in a recipe to see how it goes.

Find out more about Kilkenny here. I have a feeling this beer is going to be big in the coming years! You can get it at most Irish pubs (Finnegan’s, Delaney’s, Malone’s) and it’s also available at on tap in WIP, Sid’s, Royal Oak, Bulldog, Laundry and Jarrod and Rawlins. Here’s to more festive seasons with Kilkenny!

dinner

Fa la la la la, la la, la la!

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