Our Mid-Autumn Festival 2015

Mid-Autumn Festival

I was out with the kids last week when we saw a shop selling lanterns for Mid-Autumn Festival. These are the newer cellophane type lanterns instead of the paper ones we had as kids.

Mid-Autumn Lanterns

I remember the bigger one got a similar type during Mid-Autumn two years ago – it was a dragon and she wanted the *same* one for this year. Haha.

Godzilla Lantern

We all chose one and in the end she went for a dinosaur (looks like a baby T-Rex with wings – Godzilla?)…

Goldfish Lantern

…while her younger sister went for a goldfish.

Rooster Lantern

I made my better half choose a rooster coz I thought it represented our Zodiac, but I was wrong, we share the same star sign in Western astrology, but different ones in the Chinese 生肖.

Elephant Lantern

I got myself a jumbo elephant for no particular reason.

Mid-Autumn Lantern

We played outside the house and the kids were so afraid of burning down the lanterns (coz a similar thing happened in 2013) that they ended up playing with the candles instead. :)

Playing with Candles

It was a lot of fun though and we also had a whole bunch of mooncakes. I’ll get on it, the annual mooncake roundup is coming up tomorrow!

6 things we did during our Raya staycation

1. Had dinner at one of the best restaurants in KL

Sage KL

My better half surprised me with this treat. It’s actually the second most expensive meal we’ve ever had in KL (the first being the Michelin star Le Gavroche chef who came to town) but I thought it was worth it. Delicious appetizers and mains – thanks for booking us dinner at Sage dear.

2. Watched Ant-Man

Ant-Man

I’ve been wanting to watch Ant-Man for a long time. We even had passes to the premiere screening but missed it coz I thought it was the next day. Thus, I got ourselves Premier Class tickets (RM 63) at The Gardens to go watch the movie. I had actually wanted Gold Class but my dear thought it was too expensive. It used to cost RM 40 per pax but that’s the price of Premier Class now – Gold Class is double.

GSC Premier Class

It’s still quite an exclusive viewing experience though – the seats are all couple seats, which you can remove the middle partition so you can snuggle up together. That’s actually a *necessity* since the air-conditioning was so cold everyone in the Premier Class cinema was shivering. It’s still better than watching it in their regular cinemas though, this is a more intimate environment where no one talks loudly or uses their mobile phones – the higher ticket prices weeds out most badly behaved cinema goers. Ant-Man was awesome, a nice conclusion to Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

3. Ate escargots and drank Valrhona hot chocolate

Yeast Mid-Valley

We had lunch at a Parisian style bistro/bakery which also serves wine. I had Escargots a la Bourguignonne while my dear had a ham and cheese croissant (Croissant au Jambon et au Fromage). This was our lunch the day we checked in, she also had a Valrhona hot chocolate – we bought a lot of the famous French chocolate a while back, it’s not for kids, their single origin stuff is utterly bitter, in a good way.

4. Walked around the mall

Lifejuice Gardens

We loaded up with fresh cold pressed juice before spending most of the day walking around the mall. My dear wanted to get a clutch bag and we went to most of the stores in The Gardens and Mid-Valley but couldn’t find one that she wanted. I was secretly observing at what kind of bags she was looking at so I could KIV for our anniversary. smirk

Lifejuice

The Sun Kissed Stress Reliever (RM 13) is a mixture of ginger, red apple, pineapple, orange, carrot and grapefruit in a glass bottle. I liked the Nutty Professor Energy Booster (hazelnut, almond, cashew, soy milk, raw cacao, Medjool dates) and 50 Shades of Grey Stamina Booster (Earl Grey team hazelnut, Himalayan salt, coconut, agave necter) too.

5. Chilled in our hotel room

St Giles Gardens

I booked a room as St Giles The Gardens, the best hotel among the 3 at Mid-Valley. I also considered Pullman Bangsar (which has a shuttle service to Mid-Valley) but ultimately wanted to stay at Mid-Valley itself since we were out almost the entire day!

6. Had a hearty breakfast

Antipodean

This was at Antipodean, which my better half wanted to try. It was decent and cheap (relatively) fare but not as good as their original Bangsar Telawi II outlet, probably due to the huge crowd here. We had to wait five (5) minutes in queue while we got seated and that’s considered a very quick seating. The service was good though and I quite liked my order of Eggs Marlborough with Salmon.

I think we spent only 10 hours or so total in our room but it was fun and we got to spend the time with each other during our staycation. :)

Our Hari Raya Aidilfitri Staycation @ St Giles The Gardens

The Gardens Hotel

I decided to surprise my better half with a night at a local hotel during the long holiday weekend. Yup, it’s our biannual staycation, where we spend a night (or two) at a KL or PJ hotel and chill, eat and shop. My better half suggested Mid Valley this time but I don’t really like Cititel Hotel (although it’s the cheapest option, the rooms reek of cigarette smoke).

MidValley Gardens

Thus, it’s down to St Giles Boulevard or St Giles The Gardens. The latter is slightly more grand, a step up in both standards and price so I splurged a little and went for that. The rooms are significantly larger than St Giles Boulevard (27 sq m) and make the ones at Cititel Mid Valley (18 sq m) look almost like closets. smirk

St Giles The Gardens

All three hotels are managed by the same people – it’s supposed to be for different segments of the market with St Giles The Gardens as the premier choice, with larger rooms (38 sq m). I paid USD 116.26 (RM 442.35 per night) for our room and thought I overpaid coz I forgot to switch the currency to MYR. It turns out that MYR was even more expensive at RM 452 so it’s a good thing I have a PayPal account with USD inside.

St Giles The Gardens Rooms

I almost went for the 72 sq m 1 bedroom suite which is about RM 80 more but I ended up going for a deluxe room instead and the extra cash went towards a single glass of wine (more on that later).

St Giles The Gardens Us

It was a lot of fun, we crammed all the things couples do into a 24 hour period – ate at a restaurant rated as one of the best in KL, watched a movie we’ve missed and enjoyed each other’s company. It was a great and relaxing staycation, plus we managed to stay within the budget of RM 1,500 for everything – can’t wait to do it again! :)

I’ll write more soon.

Mother’s Day: Haagen-Dazs ice cream cake, Garrett’s gourmet popcorn, Tiffany’s heart pendant

Garrett Mix Popcorn

I wanted to get my better half something she’s never had before so I popped into Garrett’s to get some of their Chicago Mix (sweet Caramel Crisp with savory Cheese Corn) popcorn. I thought she’s never had it before but it turns out that I was wrong. -_-

Garrett Popcorn Malaysia

I got the new Mother’s Day Garrett Blossom Tin coz I knew my dear likes nice packaging (which she will repurpose). It’s a new tin that came out for the season, which I thought was pretty strange coz popcorn is not something I associate with Mother’s Day.

Garrett Mothers Day Popcorn Tin

Go figure.

Garrett Blossom Tin

Interesting fact: Garrett’s was sued over the usage of the term “Chicago Mix” so they call their 1/2 sweet caramel popcorn and 1/2 savory cheese popcorn Garrett Mix now. This took effect in the United States, but stores in Malaysia still uses Chicago Mix for this sweet/savory popcorn mix.

Tiffany Co KLCC

I also got her a pendant from Tiffany’s & Co.

Tiffany Pendants

I had called up in advance to reserve a double interlocking ring pendant. I had given her one almost 2 years ago and I wanted to present her with an updated version from the TIFFANY 1837 collection. I went to the Tiffany’s outlet in Suria KLCC and got the full VIP treatment, which was quite nice. smirk

Tiffanys VIP Treatment

I was seated and given a range of products to look at. However, the item I was interested in was a demo unit, which I didn’t want, so I looked at the other options before finally settling for the Elsa Peretti Open Heart Pendant.

Elsa Peretti Tiffany

This is a double heart design – one heart in sterling silver and the other heart in 18k rose gold. It’s RM 2,600 but money well spent coz she loved it! This actually happened during her birthday but I never got around to posting about that so I’m incorporating it into this post.

Tiffany Double Heart Pendant

Come to think of it, I haven’t had time to post about our monthsaries too, so I’ll do a round-up post soon – 8 things I did for the past 8 months or something like that. Haha.

Haagen-Dazs

Back to Mother’s Day, I also got her a Haagen-Dazs ice cream cake!

Haagen-Dazs Girls

They have a Mother’s Day promo which gave out a free minicup multipack (4 x cups in a box) with every order of a 1 kg ice cream cake so I ordered a Double Chocolate Royale.

Haagen-Dazs Reserved

It costs RM 149 for a 1 kg ice cream cake (pure ice cream only, none of that cake or sponge fingers nonsense) which makes Haagen-Dazs a little more expensive than Baskin-Robbins (you can get a HUGE 9″ cake with ice cream scoops on top for the same price) but I think the former is trying to brand itself as more exclusive.

Haagen-Dazs Custom Ice Cream

However, we always eat at Baskin-Robbins (in fact that was how we met) so I went for Haagen-Dazs for the Mother’s Day cake.

Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream Cake

I know she’s never had this before and had to book in advance to get the flavor we want (it’s usually Macadamia Nut otherwise) so it’s specially custom made.

Blurry Mothers Day Selfie

Here’s our blurry Mother’s Day selfie.

Double Chocolate Royale

The kids loved it and we had so much fun playing with the dry ice too!

Dry Ice Experiments

You can actually dump dry ice in a tub of water with some liquid soap and it’ll produce lotsa bubbles which pop with smoke (actually CO2) – the kids absolutely enjoyed that so it was a great Mother’s Day! <3

Birthday Dinner @ Payung Cafe Sibu

Payung Cafe Sibu

Don’t you want to go to some other place?” I asked my better half. She’s been eating at the exact same two places last time she was here – Aloha Cafe for lunch and Payung Cafe for dinner, so I suggested Baba & Siam but she really liked the durian ice cream we had last time at Payung Cafe so we ended up here for dinner, three days after we had another huge dinner with my sister and her family (who also loves Payung). smirk

This is my birthday dinner – my dear had flown down from KL to celebrate slightly less than 24 hours with me and we had:

Guava Salad (RM 8)

Guava Salad

This is our starter. Payung Cafe has a range of salads and most of them are great. I especially recommend the Herbs Salad (RM 8) but since it was a hot day, we went for the Guava Salad. It’s a lovely dish of guava with calamansi lime, crushed nuts and other herbs. It’s extremely refreshing!

Mushroom Roll (RM 8)

Mushroom Roll

This is a dish that has gone through many, many recipe tweaks since it was first introduced 8 years ago. I was among the first people in Sibu who first came when Payung Cafe opened in 2008 and spread the word that it was a great al fresco dining place offering the best of South East Asian (and a couple of Western) dishes.

Starfruit Prawns (RM 16)

Starfruit Prawns

I love this stuff – it’s starfruit (carambola) cooked with large prawns. There are three inside and the rest is cut up starfruits and other vegetables. It makes for a good combination. My dad ordered this one.

Thai Green Curry Chicken (RM 19)

Thai Green Curry

My better half’s order – she didn’t even have to think twice. Thai green curry is usually very spicy (at least if you eat the original from Thailand) but this is a much more muted interpretation meant for sensitive local palates.

Otak-Otak Fish (RM 12)

Otak Otak Ikan

This is a Payung Cafe staple that we all ordered to share. It’s homemade and all of their dishes comes with rice (RM 2) and we also wanted to have otak otak so the owners were kind enough to deduct RM 1 from our fourth dish – we ordered four in total for a party of 3 so we didn’t need the extra. It’s usually RM 13.

Sour Chicken (RM 18)

Sour Chicken

This is one of their daily specials. I’ve had the duck version and I like how they use Cambodian spices and herbs to make this dish – it’s quite nice. Payung Cafe also uses chicken legs only in their dishes so you’ll get cuts of drums and thighs.

Mulu Ice Cream (RM 10)

Mulu Ice Cream

We ordered one dessert for each person – this is mine, the ever-changing Mulu Ice Cream. This too has gone through several revisions, it used to be round, then a square slice, then a rectangular slice. It’s not cake – this is a sandwich of two chocolate ice cream layers with muesli in between, which is then topped with vanilla ice cream. I really like this coz of the textural aspects, there’s muesli sprinkled on top too.

Durian Ice Cream (RM 8)

Durian Ice Cream

This is a delicious concoction of homemade vanilla ice cream with durian paste. It’s delicious when they’ve just made it and it tastes like real durians instead of dodol (a local confection made with durians). It’s the reason my better half loves this place.

Jelly Pisang (RM 8)

Jelly Pisang

This is a classic Sibu dessert – it used to be served with shaved ice and bananas and Jello. Nowadays, it’s almost extinct. To the best of my knowledge, there’s only two places who still serves this – Peppers Cafe @ Tanahmas Hotel and here. This is the higher end version with homemade ice cream. It’s pictured next to Roselle Juice (RM 6) – a refreshing drink made from the roselle plant. It’s misspelled as Roxelle Juice in the menu.

Payung Cafe Birthday

It’s a wonderful dinner, made even better with the awesome company – my dad and my better half. My dad insisted of picking up the bill and treating us to the meal since it’s my birthday. The total for the three of us came up to RM 132 which is very reasonable for the amount we ordered and true to this word, the owner took RM 1 off the bill. :)

My birthday conspiracy (which makes for reasonably good reading)

It’s times like these that I think there’s a higher power somewhere looking out for me. smirk It just so happened that I was back in my home town during my birthday (which coincides with Ching Ming) so I didn’t have much to do on Saturday night. I thought I’ll give a friend of mine a call and get some ketamine and treat myself to a nice k-hole for my birthday.

He didn’t pick up when I called him.

(I learned later this was a blessing in disguise)

Right after that, I went down and my dad asked me to pick someone up from the airport. That’s highly unusual, especially since he didn’t say who (my sister and her family had already gone back).

I pressed him for details and it turns out that my better half (whom I love to death) is coming to Sibu to celebrate my birthday with me. My dad had known since Tuesday (!!!) when she contacted him to arrange this conspiracy surprise.

The phone rang right after he told me – it was my friend, calling back. He said he missed my call since he took his daughter out and asked me what was up. I said nothing much and hung up.

*PHEW*

If you have skipped the beginning of this tale, this is the same friend whom I was about to arrange to get some ketamine for a personal birthday treat to myself.

What would have happened if my dear had arrived smack dab while I was in a dissociative state where I was thinking more about 4th and 10th dimensional beings and pondering the reality of our existence?

(or maybe that she was some kind of ketamine induced visual and auditory hallucination)

HAHAHA

Like I said, there is a God.

I’m kidding. That’s a heavily Photoshopped picture of salt (sodium hydrochloride) crystals packed in baggies to look like the real thing. It was pink Himalayan salt to boot, which had me adjusting all the contrast and levels and RGB details to make it look white and similar to ketamine crystals.

(either that, or I really digged out the real thing from my photo archives from years and years back action)

This is a highly elaborate running inside joke that I have with my dear, I seriously have quit all recreational substances, pharmaceuticals and anything that might even remotely alter my state of mind. No wink wink, nudge nudge stuff, this is for realz yo. I don’t even drink much anymore.

There’s no ketamine.

I love my dear to bits and she’s everything to me – I have always been true to her and haven’t touched anything mind-altering for almost three (3) years, ever since I have been with her.

Sarawak Laksa

Me and my dad picked her up from her airport and we went to Aloha Cafe to eat her favorite Sarawak Laksa.

Payung Cafe

The three of us also had a very nice dinner at Payung Cafe at night.

Braun Buffel Birthday Gift

She came bearing gifts too – a Braun Buffel wallet and a UNIQLO shirt.

Braun Buffel Grey Wallet

My wallet has been a sad specimen for a long time and I think she noticed that and got me a really expensive and nice grey one from the German premium leather designer.

Frankfurt Passport Stamp

I love that she has a passport stamp of last year, when we flew to Germany and France – it’s dated 5th of April 2014, my birthday.

Sibu Passport Stamp

This year, she has a stamp on 5th of April 2015 but this time in Sibu. It’s small things like this that means a lot to her and a lot to me too coz it shows how much she cares that she spends every birthday with me (despite telling me she will not this year coz she’s busy with GST to make the surprise better).

I love you dear. I’m glad you flew down all the way to surprise me and planned it with my dad. Thanks for all the gifts and most of all for gracing my birthday with your presence, even if it was just one day.

Birthday 2015

It’s the best birthday ever! You make my life better and you make me a better man by just being in it. <3

LEGO Friends LIVE @ Legoland Malaysia

LEGO Friends Concert

LEGO Friends LIVE is actually products and cartoons turned into real people for a musical. These are the little one’s favorite characters in LEGO! She watches the cartoons religiously and knows all about Andrea, Mia, Emma, Olivia and Stephanie. Her bigger sister is more into Chima nowadays.

LEGO Friends Dancing

Little E was looking forward to seeing the LEGO Friends characters in real life! smirk

LEGO Friends Stephanie

We were at Legoland over the weekend and we actually spotted the characters of Lego Friends twice – once when we were having breakfast in Legoland Hotel on the first day and the second time just as we were entering the park on the second day.

LEGO Friends Legoland Malaysia

Unfortunately, we were in the midst of eating the first time so we didn’t go out to take photos with the girls of Lego Friends and we wanted to get a family photo with a LEGO character the second time and by the time we were done the cast had finished their photo session and walked past us to get ready for their first show.

Real Life LEGO Friends

We could actually enter the Legoland Theme Park at 9:30 am since we were staying at the hotel (a full 30 minutes before everyone) and I’ll write about both the Legoland Water Park and the Legoland Theme Park separately.

LEGO Friends Cast

I just wanted to talk about us experiencing the first ever LEGO Friends musical performance in Asia!

Giant Balloons

There’s giant balloons which they threw to us and we bounced around back to them – a nice interactive touch!

LEGO Friends LIVE

It was quite a surreal experience – having watched the cartoons from the little one’s iPad, it took a bit of processing to see real life people looking and dressed up like LEGO Friends characters and *acting* like them too! They each have different personalities which are amped up in the musical performance.

I filmed a video of the sound check, skit, interaction between the real life LEGO Friends and a bit of the start of the concert. I loved how they really got into character – the kids enjoyed it, and so did we! I got the little one a nice purple t-shirt of LEGO Friends too (the bigger one wanted a LEGO Chima one).

LEGO Friends Real Life

We had an awesome time, it’s a good thing we made the time to drop by LEGO City Stage to see this musical. More about our family Legoland trip soon! :)

Nooodles @ Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport

Nooodles Huge Bowls

We woke up bright and early for the flight to Johor to go visit Legoland – it’s a good thing we’re flying from the (much nearer) Subang Airport. None of us has eaten breakfast and since we have been eating a lot of fast food lately, my better half opted for this place.

Nooodles Subang

It was totally deserted, except for us.

Hong Kong Style Wantan Mee Soup (RM 10.90)
A Hong Kong favorite, soupy wantan noodle

Hong Kong Style Wantan Mee Soup

This is what my dear ordered – the soup is actually quite good, but nothing like the authentic wantan mee I had in Hong Kong. The crispy wantan is a nice touch though and there’s a lot of vegetables inside. Healthy!

Chicken Porridge (RM 8.90)
Porridge served with boiled chicken

Nooodles Chicken Porridge

The kids shared this huge bowl of porridge coz they didn’t want noodles. I think the Nooodles signature dish (literally) are these *massive* bowls which makes the portion look like Thai boat noodles. It’s actually a regular portion, the extra large serving bowl just makes it look small.

Chicken Herb Noodle Soup (RM 13.90)
A traditional recipe of herbal broth with steamed chicken, a favorite for the seasoned traveler

Chicken Herb Noodle Soup

This is my order – it came with a drumstick and the herbal soup is really different from a Chinese style execution. I’m not sure what is up with the odd menu description (seasoned travelers?) but it was pretty decent for airport food. I quite liked how the goji berries were mixed in with more Malay style herbs.

Nooodles Family

Nooodles is a halal outlet and the cooking style reminds me of the food I used to eat when I was living in SS6 – Malay interpretations of Chinese dishes. That’s not to say it’s bad, but it’s certainly different. I wouldn’t go again since the food wasn’t that great but it was good to fuel up before our epic Legoland trip!

I thought the timing was awesome too – we even brought our Emmet minifigure to Legoland Hotel so we could take photos for tumblingminis.com. smirk

Greetings from Legoland Malaysia!

Greetings from Legoland Malaysia

We’re here on a 3D/2N adventure with the kids before school starts! We were at the Legoland Water Park for the whole day yesterday and we’re going to the Legoland Theme Park today. It’s a good thing we’re staying at the Legoland Hotel coz guests can enter the park earlier at 9:30 am before it opens to the general public.

The rooms are gorgeous, will write more about it when I come back. It’s time to go get some breakfast – we had room service last night coz the kids were tired and it wasn’t good at all. Unfortunately, most of the items were cold and one dish was inedible (stringy, dry chicken) but otherwise the experience here is great. The service and attentiveness of the staff is awesome!

*cue Everything is AWESOME!!!!* smirk

3 delicious pork jerky sandwiches a.k.a. How to use up your CNY bak kwa

Pork Jerky Sandwiches

I bought a lot of bak kwa (pork jerky) for Chinese New Year and we’re still eating them now! Part of the reason is that we’ve gotten gifts of pork jerky as well so the stock keeps on piling up. Fortunately, I like bak kwa and I’ve made three (3) sandwiches made with pork jerky that would satisfy any tastes – one is hot, the other is room temperature and the last one is cold.

1. Open Faced Pork Jerky Sandwich with Gui Fei Meat and Pork Floss in an Omelet

Open Faced Pork Jerky Omelet Sandwich

This is a hot sandwich that I like to make in the evenings. Gui Fei meat is another popular product during CNY – it’s Chinese bacon, smoked with spices. I’ve been baking a lot of bread lately and Red Bean Toast is one of my favorites. I got the idea from a Taiwanese bakery, it makes the bread slightly sweet. I’ll use two eggs with a splash of milk to make the base and add in the pork jerky, Gui Fei meat and sprinkle some pork floss on it before buttering the thick slice of bread and grilling it. It’s delicious!

2. Pork Jerky Sandwich with Pasta and Arrowhead Chips

Pasta Arrowhead Chips Sandwich

The best thing about this sandwich is that it goes very well with arrowhead chips (ngaku chips). I use whatever leftover pasta my better half has and pile it on top of a slice of minced pork jerky. This works best with minced pork jerky instead of the tougher sliced pork jerky for some reason. Just put another slice of regular bread on top and serve with lots of arrowhead chips for a quick late night snack.

3. Bagel with Pork Jerky and Salad

Pork Jerky Salad Bagel

This is my favorite cold pork jerky sandwich! I use a bagel shaped bread (it’s actually more like a brioche) and slice it in half before adding a slice of sliced pork jerky. I like carrots so julienning 1/3 of a stick with a mandolin works for me. I also added some thick sliced cucumbers and mayonnaise on top. There’s lettuce on the bottom of the pork jerky and some sweet corn on the side. It’s a perfect cold sandwich, eat this chilled for the best effect!

My Little Helper

It’s quite fun to think of new combinations! I have one hot, one cold and one room temperature sandwich which I can modify around. Best of all, I have my own little helper! Haha.

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