Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Salam Ramadhan

Salam Ramadhan everyone!

Alhamdulillah, today is the 4th day of Ramadhan and it is going smoothly without a hitch. So far, so good. This is Aiden's 2nd attempt at puasa penuh (he did so well last year!) so I hope this year he'll nail it again.

We spent our first day of Ramadhan at Jakel Shah Alam and then Jalan TAR in KL. Hubby and I couldn't decide on a colour for the first day of Eid - grey vs dusty blue. We finally settled for the latter, so for the first time in a longggggg time, my 1st Eid outfit will be a simple store bought dusty blue kurung (versus a tailored triple lace grey modern kurung which has been relegated as a second day outfit). The entire experience was very challenging (and tiring!) for Aiden but he behaved well after I promised to buy him a 'fidget spinner' at the end of the day. After we found everyone's baju melayu, sampin and songkok, it was finally my turn to shop. I needed to find some anak tudung and magnetic pins. Just my luck, it started pouring cats and dogs. We decided to continue to the USJ Bazaar Ramadhan and then to our final destination; our first iftar at my in-laws' place.

In the end, I bought my anak tudung online - Naelofar's Warda inners are the best! Although I am salivating over the Duck inners... *sigh* And I really need to make a stop at KLCC to get Arzu magnetic pins... I read somewhere that their magnets are really strong...

As for my baju raya... I went quite overboard on Zalora. In the end, I managed to convince myself to return most of them. Especially since I have three outfits at the tailor (I completely forgot that I sent all my Sari material that I bought in India) and also because........ my boss told me that I will be flying for a business trip on the 3rd day of Eid, and away for two weeks! *cries* I digress...

The second day of Ramadhan was very laid back. Aiden and Ian had just recovered from a nasty fever/flu combo, so naturally poor Hubby and I were the next in line to be infected. Thanks to Cetrizine, right after sahur and Subuh we knocked off until mid-day! After Zohor, we went to the Shah Alam Bazaar Ramadhan, and three separate stores for groceries. Why three? Because none of the three had any squid nor tempe... the entire Klang Valley makan sotong goreng tempe agaknya? Nasib baik ade sikit lagi sotong in the fridge so we still managed to fulfill Aiden's request for salted egg squid for iftar. My in-laws' visited us for iftar too, so we had quite a spread that night! I also made some creme brulee for dessert - recipe here!

Aiden wanted to try caramelizing the sugar on his own creme brulee.

The spread for 2nd Ramadhan. Can you spot Aiden's favourite sotong telur masin?

The third day of Ramadhan (yesterday) was a working day. I signed Aiden up for a public speaking workshop, so I dropped him off before heading to the office. During lunch, my colleagues and I went to BSC to visit Hidaya International's booth (Neelofa's favourite jubah). Nak pengsan tengok the price... I just splurged on a pair of Ferragamo heels so lupakan sajalah niat nak shopping! Need to save for the Eid Duck too! *sobs*

After work, I fetched Aiden from his public speaking workshop. I am so glad I decided to send him to the two-day class! In the car, he animatedly recited his 'story' that he was going to present the next day (today)! He made so many new friends, and fasting didn't reduce his energy one bit. He even politely declined a biscuit that his friend offered to him! *so proud* Yesterday he practiced long and hard for his session today, and as I am typing this, he is in class, practicing for the parents' presentation, due to start in just under an hour. Johan Speaking Academy, thank you for such a wonderful program! You certainly boosted Aiden's communication confidence! *smiles*

So proud of my boy!

Anyway, before I run off to watch Aiden speak, I would like to wish my Muslim readers happy fasting. May we appreciate and make the most out of this blessed holy month. To my non-muslim readers, enjoy the scrumptious food at the bazaar Ramadhan. It's a once a year affair, so enjoy it while it's here!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Pandan Gula Melaka Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Oh my, back to back cake posts!

If you're not a big fan of pandan chiffon cakes, fret not! Pandan Gula Melaka (PGM) cake is NOTHING like the pandan chiffon cakes sold in stores. Like you, I had my initial reservations too. Until I sunk my teeth into my first PGM slice. Ahhhhh, love at first bite! Fluffy and soft, complimented by the satiny buttery taste of Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMB). Absolutely heaven in my mouth. I won't blame you, if you take second helpings!

Tips and tricks:
  • This recipe is originally for 24 cupcakes. Since I wanted to make a cake out of it, I doubled the recipe for two 8" cake tins.
  • If you want a whiter looking SMB, choose a 'white' butter such as SCS. Anchor and Tatura are more yellowish in colour. However for this recipe, since you'll be adding some gula melaka syrup, it won't really matter.
  • SMB is really quite forgiving. Mine turned into scrambled eggs but I quickly popped them into the fridge for 15 minutes and then whipped them again with my KitchenAid. After 5 minutes, those scrambled eggs magically turned into SMB. I recommend reading Sweetapolita's tips and tricks for SMB before your first attempt.

Okay, recipe time! So I mixed and matched a few recipes this time. The PGM cake recipe is adapted from BitterSweetSpicy, the SMB recipe is adapted from Azie Kitchen while the Gula Melaka caramel is from Azlita Masam Manis.

The naked cake, before flaked coconut garnish and gula Melaka caramel drizzle.

Pandan Gula Melaka
(makes 12 cupcakes, or double recipe for two 8" cakes)

200 gm superfine flour
1/2 teaspoon double acting baking powder
125 gm unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
160 gm (reduced from 200gm) caster sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
75 gm coconut milk (KARA) + 25 gm water
2 tablespoon pandan juice (blend 5 pieces of pandan leaves with 1 tablespoon of water, press through a fine sieve to extract the green juice, let it settle and the green extract will settle at the bottom)
Green colouring

  • Preheat oven to 180°C. Line muffin pan with cupcake liner or, if using cupcake paper cups, place cups onto a baking pan. If making cake, grease and flour generously two 8 inch pans.
  • Combine flour & baking power. Sift and set aside. 
  • Combine coconut milk, water, pandan juice and green colouring. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, on medium speed of an electric mixer, combine butter, vanilla & salt. Cream until smooth. 
  • Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
  • Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  • Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the coconut milk mixture. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, taking care not to over beat.
  • Fill paper cups or muffin pan with batter, 3/4 full. If making cake, divide batter equally into the two pans.
  • Place pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 25 minutes.
  • Cool cakes completely on a wire rack before icing. 
Check out those layers of SMB.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(Since I'm using Gula Melaka caramel to flavour the SMB, I've adapted the recipe slightly to reduce the sweetness)

50g gula Melaka, crushed
2 pandan leaves, torn lengthwise & tied a knot
1/8 cup water

4 large egg whites
110g granulated sugar (reduced from 200-220gm)
200g unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature (reduced from 300-350gm)
1 tsp pure vanilla paste
1/4tsp salt
  • To prepare Gula Melaka caramel, combine water, gula Melaka & daun pandan in a heavy-based saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until all the sugar has melted. Then continue heating up the syrup & let it reduce slightly, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, strain & leave aside to cool completely to room temperature. The caramel will thicken as it cools. If it becomes too thick, thin out with a little bit of water before using.
  • Combine egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk frequently, keeping it over the heat, until the mixture reaches about 70°C and the sugar has dissolved (rub some between your fingers - if it feels grainy, it hasn't dissolved). 
  • Transfer the mixture to a mixer with a whisk attached and beat on medium-high for about 5 minutes, until stiff peaks have formed and the mixture has cooled to room temperature. 
  • Turn down the speed to medium and start adding small chunks of butter, checking that it has incorporated before adding more. Keep beating until the mixture comes together, this will take about 5 minutes. 
  • With the mixer running, add in the gula Melaka caramel, one teaspoon at a time, beating until well combined between each addition. You need not use all the gula Melaka syrup. Just add enough.
A pool of gula Melaka caramel drizzle.

Gula Melaka Caramel
(To drizzle on the frosting)

50g gula Melaka
1 pandan leaf
1 tbsp water
1/2 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and cook until the gula Melaka has melted. If it doesn't thicken, add 1 tsp of cornflour that has been mixed with some water. Cook again until it thickens. Remove from heat and allow to cool down before using. Garnish the cake with some lightly toasted flaked coconuts, and then drizzle the gula Melaka caramel.

Don't be overwhelmed with the number of steps needed to make this cake. I assure you, it is absolutely worth it. Happy baking!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Whip It!

After a series of cakes for my in-laws' kenduri last weekend, I had plenty of leftover dairy and non-dairy whipped cream in the fridge. I hated the idea of it going to waste, so I decided to make two of Hubby's favourite desserts - Pavlova and Cheesecake! Both needed some amount of whipped cream in them, but I guess it still wasn't enough because there's at least half a box of each variant still in the fridge. Must find more recipes with whipped cream... Perhaps a batch of creme brûlée or some cream puffs are in order!

I apologize for the series of baking posts. This is turning into a baking blog pulak instead of a parenting one. Well mummies need to feed their husbands and kids with yummy cakes and such kan kan kan? And it's so close to Ramadhan so bagi chan lah with the calorie count.

I digress. Back to the cakes. First up, pavlova! I've always used Joy of Baking's recipe for my pavlovas and they've always turned out beautifully. But this time around I decided to make a chocolate pavlova instead, using Joy of Baking's tried and tested recipe. The only difference between the chocolate pavlova and the conventional pavlova, is the used of cocoa powder and chopped chocolates.

No chopped chocolates, please. Just stick to cocoa powder.

If you're not a big fan of sweets, I strongly urge you not to add the chopped chocolates in the batter. If you're like me, then add more chocolates!! *giggles* No, seriously, I have a high tolerance for sugar. Being half Kelantanese, I chugged the air gula to check for diabetes during pregnancy macam takde hal lah. But I really hate the thought of anyone having to amputate their legs because of my pavlova, so yes seriously, leave out the chopped chocolates.

Tips and tricks:
  • When beating sugar and egg whites, test to see if the sugar is fully dissolved by rubbing a little of the meringue between your fingers. The meringue should feel smooth, not gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth.
  • Do not take the pavlova out immediately after the timer rings. Crack your oven open just slightly, and let it cool down completely for a few hours.
  • If you're looking for a soft center in your meringue, bake it for 60 mins. If you prefer a slight crunch, do 75 mins. The longer you cook it and let it dry out (in the oven), the firmer it will be.
  • When constructing your pavlova, dip the center and keep the sides slightly higher so you can a slight well in the middle. This helps greatly when you're trying to fit the cream.
  • I tried using non-dairy whipped cream instead of the normal dairy one. Loveeee it! As the cream held well, it didn't make my pavlova 'wet'. Usually pavlovas break down pretty quickly due to the moisture of the cream and fruit. Definitely doing this again next time.
  • If you're looking for a cake to present to your future mother-in-law, this is NOT the cake to make. Takut nanti tak jadi kawin! This cake does not cut well, and is very messy to eat. You might as well spoon it into a bowl when serving.

Chocolate Pavlova
(recipe adapted from Joy of Baking)

120 grams egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or lemon juice (I did not use this cos I didn't have any)
200 grams castor sugar
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon corn flour
15 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
30 grams semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (please omit this!)
240 ml cold whipping cream (I used non-dairy)
Fresh fruit  of your choice - I usually use, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and kiwi fruit

  • Preheat your oven to 150 degC. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch (18 cm) circle on the parchment paper. 
  • In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and the cream of tartar on medium speed until you have soft peaks. Then add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat, on high speed, until the meringue is shiny and holds stiff peaks. 
  • Add the vanilla extract and vinegar and beat until combined. Using a small strainer, sift the cocoa powder and cornstarch over the top of the meringue and, with a rubber spatula, fold in. If you like you can then fold in the chopped chocolate.
  • Gently pile the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges.
  • Place the baking sheet into the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 120 degC. Bake the Pavlova for about 60 - 75 minute.
  • Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven (about two hours).
  • Shortly before serving gently place the meringue on your serving plate. Whip the cold cream in your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Mound the whipped cream into the center of the meringue and arrange the fruit on top of the cream. 
  • Serve immediately as this dessert does not hold well.
So messy... but so good!

Ok, next up! Mango Cheesecake. This is a simple, no-bake cake. All you need is a fridge! I usually stay away from cakes that do not need to go into the oven, but surprisingly this one was quite good. It is really easy to do too; the most difficult part of making it is waiting while it sets in the fridge! *chuckles*

Tips and tricks:
  • Do not make your mango purée nor cut your mangoes into cubes before the base crumb is done. The mangoes will sadly turn brown. If you really must, cover the puréed/cut mangoes with plastic wrap and store in fridge. Similarly, try to finish the cake in a day, or your cubed mangoes decorating the top of the cake will turn brown too.
  • You can substitute Marie biscuits with Digestive or even Oreos!
  • If you want to impress your future mother-in-law, try making this in small individual clear glasses or mousse jars, instead of a cake pan. Bonus points for presentation!

No Bake Chilled Mango Cheesecake
(recipe adapted from Dapur Tanpa Sempadan)

200 grams Marie biscuits
100 grams melted butter
250 grams cream cheese
60 grams castor sugar
2 mangoes, one puréed , the other diced
1 1/2 table spoon halal gelatine
125 ml warm water
200 ml cold heavy whipping cream

  • Pulse biscuits in a food processor or put biscuits into a ziplock bag and crush until it resembles coarse crumbs. In a bowl, combine crushed cookies and melted butter. 
  • Pour biscuit crumbs into a springform cake pan and press down with the bottom of a cup/glass to create the crust. Put in the freezer to let the crust set.
  • Use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. Fold in mango purée and beat until well combined. 
  • In a different bowl, whip the cream until thick and fold into the cream cheese mixture.. 
  • Whisk the gelatine and hot water in a small bowl until the gelatine dissolves. Stir into the cream cheese mixture then add half of the cubed mangoes. Mix well.
  • Pour the mixture on top of the refrigerated crust and flatten the top using a spatula. Keep in the refrigerator until set (about 3-4 hours).
  • Remove pan sides and transfer cake to platter. Just before serving, decorate with the remaining mango cubes.

As always, happy baking!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I Hope You Have A Glass of Milk in Hand!

This year, I procrastinated my plans for Teachers' Day. I had such big plans; I wanted to make a 'First Aid Kit' for the teachers - a box filled with white board markers, colored pens, highlighters, glue sticks, correction tape, sticker labels, metal clips, and even some chocolates!

In the end, I didn't have time to do such a thing. I think it had something to do with the fact that the Teachers' Day celebration was squeezed in between a long week of exams. Where lah sempat nak study paper Piñata lagi, nak go shopping lagi, nak packing lagi. *chuckles* In the end, I decided to just wing it by baking yet another batch of Congo Bars. (Replicating last year's gift... OMG I've stopped to an all new low!) *giggles* Of course, in an attempt to make it slightly different from what I did last year, I enlisted Aiden's help in drizzling some homemade Salted Caramel sauce on top.

So why Congo Bars, you ask? Logically I needed a dessert that was sturdy enough to withstand curious hands. I've tried giving macarons previously and I actually had to hand carry them to school. With Congo Bars, I knew they would survive a trip on the school van plus some swinging in the paper bag courtesy of dear Aiden. These are some tough cookies! But... not really, as the texture is soft, chewy and decadent, especially when they are slightly warm. Who can resist a buttery chocolate chip cookie in a chunky square form? Dip them in warm milk... and *drool*

Some tips and tricks for Congo Bars:
  • Some people call it Blondies because it is the blonde version of Brownies.
  • Use brown sugar instead of white caster sugar as it makes the bars thick and rich. And good quality chocolate will go a longgggg way.
  • You can customize your bars by adding some butterscotch chips or M&Ms to the batter, or sprinkle some almond slices on the top. You can also save some of the chocolate chips from the recipe, and sprinkle them on the top before baking, for some visual impact.
  • Do not overbake! As soon as you get a clean skewer, take it out of the oven. It should look puffy, soft, and golden, while the center will still be soft.

Anyway, let's get to the recipe:

Congo Bars
2 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
150gm butter
180gm brown sugar (reduced from 240gm of original recipe)
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla essence
325gm chocolate chips (I did half chocolate, half butterscotch)

  • Pre-heat oven to 170degC. Grease and flour generously a 10 x10 pan (I made 12x12).
  • Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar. 
  • Add eggs one at a time to butter mixture and stir well after each egg.
  • Add vanilla essence. Mix well.
  • Add dry flour mixture and stir until well combined.
  • Fold in chocolate (and butterscotch) chips.
  • Spread batter evenly into baking pan, using a spatula to even out the surface. Sprinkle almonds or chocolate chips, if desired.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Make sure you don’t over bake!
  • Cool bars completely. Cut into squares. Store leftovers in airtight container at room temp.

Individually packed for each teacher. Next time, must save some chocolate chips for the top!

Aiden hard at work.

Next up, the Salted Caramel sauce. So rich and creamy, it is perfect for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, cheesecake, sweet breads and more! And only 4 ingredients required... why would you even bother buying this from the stores?

Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction)

200g granulated sugar
90g salted butter, room temperature cut up into 6 pieces
120ml heavy cream (I used my favourite Anchor whipped cream)
1 teaspoon salt
  • Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a high heat resistant rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
  • Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.
  • Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.
  • Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes. A whisk helps if you find the butter is separating from the sugar.
  • Very slowly, drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while stirring. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble and/or splatter when added.
  • Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.
  • Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool down before using.

Congo bars drizzled with salted caramel.

You can make this caramel in advance. Make sure it is covered tightly and store it for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Warm the caramel up for a few seconds before using in a recipe. This caramel can be left at room temperature for a day if you're traveling or gifting it.

Happy baking!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


*Studying for his BM exams tomorrow*

Me: Aiden, what is ayat penyata?
Aiden: Erm.....
Me: Penyata!! What is penyata??
Aiden: Erm... The thing that you hit a lot of times with a stick?
Me: What???
Aiden: Piñata?

#Malayvocabfail *chuckles*

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

Slightly belated, but better late than never!

Happy Mother's Day to all my female readers. As a fellow female friend aptly shared, aunties deserve a Mother's Day wish too as they are like mothers to their nieces and nephews! *smiles*

So how did you celebrate Mother's Day? Frankly, I was more than happy to just do nothing on that day. The day before Mother's Day, my in-laws organized a kenduri tahlil and majlis menyambut Ramadhan at our home, and I baked four (yes four!) cakes for the occasion. (I'll share the recipes separately.) I could barely feel my feet by the time the event was over.

I must have had an adventurous streak or something, because it was my first time with all four cake recipes! I made Pandan Gula Melaka cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Rose Pistachio cake with Cream Cheese, Mango Cheesecake and Brownies Kedut.

The simple dessert table, nothing fancy whatsoever!

So when Sunday rolled in, all I wanted to do was just lay on the bed and do nothing! But still, my tummy rumbled for food so I decided to head down to find something to eat. As I was brushing my teeth, I heard Aiden (and his high pitched voice) squealing downstairs; something like "Quick, Mummy is coming down soon!" Suspecting something was up, I made a big fuss about coming downstairs, and Aiden actually ran up to block my way. I feigned confusion and asked why. He cheekily replied, "Erm.... I need to find some toys!" and insisted that I followed him to his room. *so cute*

As expected, the boys raided the refrigerator and similar to last year, they made a lovely breakfast in the garden, utilizing whatever they could find in the fridge. *chuckles*

Breakfast in the garden - nasi goreng, keropok lekor, and desserts courtesy of the cakes I baked the previous day.

Flowers were also something they picked up from around the house! Friso Gold graciously sent me a bunch of flowers for Mother's Day, and the boys shamelessly passed it off as their own. *chuckles*

After that, Hubby brought us all out for cake at Nutmeg in Bangsar Village 2. I asked, "Why sampai BV2 kita pegi carik cake?" Rupa-rupanya, ada udang di sebalik mee. He brought my to Fashionvalet and asked me to pick out anything that I wanted, as a present for Mother's Day. Awwww... so sweet! Thanks Hubby... who cares about recycled food for breakfast when you can have a shopping spree afterwards! *giggles*

Thank you boys!

Check out Ian's attempt to smile while showing his teeth!

On the way home, Aiden started complaining about why I get to receive a shopping spree for Mother's Day when he has to endure a hot day in school for Hari Kanak-Kanak! Aihhhh, kids nowadays! (He's actually pining for a fidget spinner which I promised to buy if he gets good results in his exams!)

Anyway, to my fellow mummies, Happy Mother's Day and may Allah reward you for all that you do.

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Weekend at Doubletree by Hilton, Johor Bahru

Happy Monday!

We were in Johor last weekend, as Hubby's friend got hitched. It's been a while since anyone our age got married, so it was a pretty big deal for us to attend to celebrate the newly weds. Since I hate doing long distance day trips in the car, I proposed for us to spend a night in JB, so we could breakdown the trip to bearable distances. I also wanted to jenguk JPO for some early Raya shopping. Surprisingly, Hubby agreed!

By the time we left the lovely wedding at Kluang, it was close to noon. We made a short stop at JPO before we continued to the hotel. Hence when we arrived at Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Johor Bahru, it was very late in the afternoon. Check in was a breeze and the kids were thrilled to receive the hotel's signature cookies. I especially loved the exceptionally friendly check in staff; he gave us his name card and said, "If there is anything wrong, please call me so I can make it right." Awwww... I was completely sold! Also he had another surprise for us; our late arrival turned out to be a blessing in disguise because the hotel was overbooked and they had to upgrade us to a suite!

It pays to be loyal to Hilton Honors! 

It was the One-Bedroom Suite, to be exact. The suite features a separate living room and bedroom. Measuring 64 sqm in size, the suite is comfortable for a small family, just like us! There is plenty of room for the more adventurous kids to sleep in the living hall (on the sofa or a roll-away bed for a fee) but ours insisted on cramping on our king sized bed instead. If you have a bigger family, you can also opt for a connecting room. (Ian started knocking on the connecting room door and asked, "Who's there???" *super cute*)

Cheeky Ian testing out the lazy chair.

The spacious living room.

A work desk and a coffee/tea corner too.

There is also a small work desk and a counter with basic coffee/tea making amenities in the living hall. The window overlooked the swimming pool, so much so that the kids started stalking the activities happening down there and used it to their advantage. "Mummy, there are still people in the pool; can we go??"

Comfortable work desk.

The entrance to the bedroom.

The view of the swimming pool from our living room.

The bedroom comes with a comfortable king sized bed, an LCD TV, plenty of wardrobe space and an impressive en suite. Although the bathroom has a speaker for you to 'listen' to your TV, it was transmitting the voice from the show on the TV in the living hall, instead of the bedroom. I don't know whether this can be changed, but we didn't bother to check it out.

King sized bed in the bedroom.

Plenty of wardrobe space in the bedroom and continues into the bathroom.

Why are you boys on my bed???

The bathroom is marble from tile to ceiling. It has a standalone bathtub and a glorious walk-in rain shower. More wardrobe space too. Water pressure was extremely good. Amenities from the Crabtree and Evelyn Aroma Active range.

Loveeeee the modern bathroom.

The boys had a grand time in the bathtub.

I wish I can have this at home!

Breakfast at Makan Kitchen was excellent. It features a wide spread ranging from Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine, to your comforting American breakfast favorites. Since the hotel was fully booked, we actually had to queue to get a table! But it was well worth it; servings were generous, the varieties diverse. The kids enjoyed the soft serve ice-cream dispenser while Hubby raved about their croissants. Me? I was just happy to try a bit of everything. We took more than an hour to try everything in the buffet line. By the time we dragged our feet back to the room, we were absolutely full! But did that stop the kids from begging us to go to the swimming pool? Of course not!

Signboard directing you to the various food havens.

The boys stuffed themselves silly with sugary treats.

A quick stop for some warm milk before we headed to the swimming pool.

While I supervised the kids at the swimming pool, Hubby went for a quick run at the gym. He was mighty impressed with the treadmills; they were connected to the Internet so you could watch your choice of YouTube or whatsoever while running!

The swimming pool was nice but nothing to shout about. The kids pool and the lap pool were decent, and there were a few lounge chairs in the pool itself, which was quite a creative touch. Just beware of 'ulat bulu'; I found at least 4 crawling at the potted plants near the swimming pool.

The adult lap pool.

Ian posing by the kiddy pool.

Last photo before we checked out.

Our stay at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Johor Bahru was extremely short, but an enjoyable one. We will definitely return! Anddddd... we ended our trip to Johor by making yet another stop at JPO. *such a shopaholic* *giggles*

Ian trying to look interested at JPO while Mummy shopped to her heart's content.

What are the odds of meeting a friend at JPO! 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Playground in a Cinema??!!

Hello peeps! How was your long weekend? Too short, wasn't it? We were in Kuantan for the first two days, but left for home on Sunday afternoon so we could beat the crazy traffic. On Labour Day, Hubby had to work (oh the irony!) hence the kids and I decided to have some fun without him!

A friend shared a photo of her and her family sitting on a very cosy looking bean bag, watching a movie at the cinemas. Intrigued, I googled the place. That was how I discovered MBO Kecil.

MBO Kecil is a cinema made for kids in mind. Other than cosy bean bags and sofa beds, it has a PLAYGROUND too!!! Yes you read that right. A playground in the cinema! The cinema allows kids to run around during the movie; the younger ones can ride the slide and play at the playground while the older ones (Mum and Dad included) enjoy the show. How will they run in the dark, you think? Well - they dimmed the lights just slightly during the movie, ensuring good visibility for everyone! So you can confidently let the kids roam around, knowing that they are safe and sound within the cinema hall compound.

MBO Kecil is in Starling Mall, a new mall in the Damansara Uptown area. Before we drove into the mall, we went on a joy ride around Uptown collecting Pokeballs. *giggles* Starling Mall is relatively deserted, as most outlets have not opened. Of course, the MBO Cinemas on Level 5 was brand spanking new, spacious and impressive to the eyes.

Our local MBO cinema is gloomy and dark, but this one is the complete opposite! Spacious, airy and full of light.

Kids insisted on doing Avengers poses at the entrance. Nasib baik comel!

We were wowed as soon as we walked into MBO Kecil. There are three types of seats in the cinema; four sofa beds (max two adults two children) furthest away from the screen, three rows of normal seats right after, and then three rows of 'bean bag' seats which end right at the start of the playground. The playground is at a lower elevation, located right underneath the screen. There is a long slide which takes your child from the seats elevation down to the playground. (Or you can always take the stairs down!) Be forewarned that the cinema will be quite noisy - what do you expect from a cinema that is made just for kids??!!

Entrance into MBO kecil. There was even a baby changing room right opposite the cinemal hall! And seat layout plan so you can craft your kids' exit path to the playground. *chuckles*

Since I can't do justice to the seat layout from my humble camera, here's a birds eye view from MBO Cinema's Facebook page.

Ian exploring the playground. Quite impressive, eh?

He didn't really like the slide down ("It's scawyyy") but actually agreed to pose at the start of the slide.

Our bean bag seats.

See how the seat width is just nice for Ian? Note also that the seat is at the same elevation as the floor (that's why it's called a bean bag instead of a chair).... 

Which was a slighttttt problem because it meant that I had to curve my legs like this throughout the movie. BTW, those are my knees! Good tip, choose the first row of bean bags so you have more leg room. But it also means that you've got to literally lie on your back to get a good view of the screen.

If the bean bags are not good enough for you, try the sofa beds. Note that it is the furthest away from the screen so you get a comfortable viewing experience but you won't be that close to the playground in case you need to keep an eye on your child.

My verdict? One thumb up for creativity and effort to integrate children into the movie-going scene. A lot of thought was obviously poured into the design of the cinema, while keeping the sanity of parents in mind. The only thing to be improved would be the size of the bean bags, and its distance to the screen.

That being said, I would still visit MBO Kecil in the future. The kids absolutely enjoyed themselves, and where else would I find a playground in a cinema, in Malaysia???!!! 
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