Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Farewell January

Anddddddd... it's the last day of January.

Like seriously, why is time passing by so quickly? I felt like just yesterday, I was pulling my hair out with our renovations. Then we were packing for our trip to Pangkor Laut Resort. And in a blink of an eye, I'm pulling my hair, packing for a different trip altogether!

The boys are growing up fast too. Aiden is very brotherly, and he takes it to heart whenever Ian refuses to say "I love you" to him. Since he's such an 'abang-abang', I always have to remember to manjakan him as well, especially if I cuddle or kiss Ian in front of him. He enjoys the attention, but obviously refuses to acknowledge. Lagak macam dah besar. His Malay is Alhamdulillah, getting better. He speaks to my helper in Malay now, so that's a good sign. He's very independent too; when we are out, he takes care of his brother diligently, I can depend on him to request for a plate or tissues at a busy restaurant and he can even queue up and buy his own food/drinks.

Aiden and Ian went Koi shopping!

Aiden's warming up to the idea of sleeping with Ian in their own room, especially since we painstakingly went to three shopping malls yesterday to find a Star Wars bed sheet and comforter set for his room. His Star Wars bed lamps and pillows have also arrived, but I'm itching for a small matching rug to complete the whole look. Unfortunately, we watched Train to Busan after dinner last night, and the boys got so spooked that they requested to sleep with us on our bed. *sigh* Now that's going to take quite a few days to wear off. Note to self: no more scary movies for us!

Aiden and Ian's first bumper car ride, at our second (out of 3) shopping malls yesterday. Ian was laughing gleefully during the ride, while Aiden couldn't stop talking about his driving skills, afterwards! *chuckles*

Ian on the other hand, dah banyak cakap! He still jumps every time we get to the end of an escalator ride (while holding our hand, of course). As always, I am amazed at his accuracy and distance. His strings of words are getting longer. Loves going to the shopping mall; despite complaining "I'm tired", he offered, "Drink susu, bom bom, at ToysRUs?" *chucklesSanggup nak rest sambil minum susu in ToysRUs as long as we don't go home!

Bed hair versus combed hair.

Work wise, I will be travelling next week and only back in KL the last week of February. One of my destinations is Singapore, so I am taking advantage by bringing the kids (and helper) to Sentosa Island. Kalau tak, rindu woooo tak jumpa the kids for over 2 weeks. With that being said, I apologize in advance for any hiatus in blog posts!

Welcome February!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Turning 34 at Marini's on 57

Catching up on my blogposts before I start getting swamped with work! #ceritabasi

So here's the third (and hopefully final) part of my birthday celebration recap. Similar to Hubby's birthday celebration, we decided to leave the kids at home for a special dinner for two. Since Hubby refused to provide any clues for the dinner destination, I decided to Uber to KLCC so that he can then pick me up from his office and chauffeur me to dinner.

It turned out that he didn't need to chauffeur me anywhere! He had pre-arranged for a beautiful table by the window at Marini's at 57 (incidentally just one floor above Hubby's Nobu dinner celebration). It was my first time at Marini's 57, and although the floor to ceiling windows and mesmerizing view of KL cityscape beneath your feet was enough to take anyone's breath away, I was even more enchanted by the fact that there was a bouquet of flowers and a gorgeous orange paper bag right beside our table. Sweet Hubby actually took the time to scout the place and personalize our table before my arrival! #ohsoromantic

(No wonder the ground staff greeted us by name as he was ushering us into the elevator!)

The view from his eyes.

Helpful menu reading gadget, so you can clearly see the price of each meal you order. *giggles*

Our cosy seats by the window.

Hubby further charmed me by telling me to order absolutely anything on the menu (apparently there was minimum spending price for our seats???) but I literally balked at the price of the Wagyu beef steak that he suggested. Thanks for the suggestion Hubby, but Wagyu tak Wagyu, I would never dream of spending so much on a piece of meat that would be purged out of my body the next day anyway. #okaytoomuchinformation *giggles*

Assorted bread, crackers and cheese to start.

Our starter course for the night; "Capesante" (RM188) - pan seared Hokkaido scallop with parsnip purรฉe and shaved truffle.

For mains, we decided to share a course of beef and also pasta. My favourite out of the two was the “Capellini All’aragosta” (RM188) – al dente angel hair pasta, cooked in light tomato sauce with fresh chunky Maine lobster tail on the side. It was exquisite!

Don't be fooled by the simple presentation. It was sooooo good!

Our second course for the night; 'Filetto Di Manzo' (RM189 for marbling score 3 and above, or you can always choose Wagyu marbling score 8 with a higher price tag). 

Roasted 180gm beef black Angus tenderloin served with baby carrots, bone marrow and caramelized onions. We had a fun time clawing our way through the bone marrow! 

Service was attentive and polite, yet not overly intrusive. Amazing ambience and such a romantic setting. I'm so glad Hubby brought me here!

And just when we thought that it was time for dessert, this complimentary massive white cloud arrived at our table. Imagine, eating clouds on the 57th floor! (Ok fine, it was just good ol' cotton candy!)

Bigger than the size of my face!

While waiting for our dessert, it was time to read my birthday card. Hubby even got the kids to record a birthday wish on his phone too!

Hubby explained excitedly that he explicitly requested for the flower wrapper to be orange to match the orange box! #iamimpressed

What's in the box? #nottelling :P

Fondente Al Cioccolato (RM48) - 70% Valrhona chocolate fondant served with vanilla gelato. A fancy name for what we typically call a chocolate lava cake.

Because we took so many pictures, the vanilla gelato actually slid off the warm cake! The waiter graciously gave us another scoop, on the house. 

The conclusion to our dinner - the Marini's 57 Chocolate Box. The waiter opened the box and we were allowed to choose pralines and chocolates to our heart's desire.  

After dinner, we took a stroll at their open-air outdoor sky bar. The view was unforgettable, simply because the bar was right smack beside the KLCC twin towers! Breathtaking, stunning views which you can't get, even from Nobu. We were so impossibly close that we could even see the tower design details close up. We definitely saw a different unique perspective of the towers that night.


Such an iconic experience!

Best photo we could get with the Twin Towers in the background. Must do this again in daylight!

Couple the view, with excellent service and awesome food, I would definitely recommend a visit. Thank you Hubby, for the incredible night out. You definitely took my birthday celebration to a different level this year!


Last photo of the night.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Bento Challenge

And so... It is that time of the year again. When mummies scramble to get everything ready to ease their children into the new school year. I've been busy checking items off my checklist, and I bet you're doing the same too. A trip to the mall for school uniform and shoes, oh... and a visit to the book store for text books. I’ll need to sew badges to school uniforms, plus label school books and stationery. He'll probably need a school bag and a water tumbler too. And the list goes on and on. But, did you realize that you may have forgotten one important thing on the checklist? Well I'm about to tell you what it is: PLAN your child's recess bento-box meals!

FACT: Packing nutritious food for your child to consume at school can ensure your child stays energized to take on the day.



Active children may experience energy deprivation at various intervals during school which may affect their concentration in class. Hence, many working parents (yours truly included), depend heavily on the school canteen to provide meals for our children during the day. It is as simple as giving them a stipulated budget every day, so they can buy anything their heart desires. Of course, we tell them to not buy ice-creams and candy, but instead to splurge on 'proper' food instead such as roti canai or mee goreng. But in reality, do we really know how these meals are prepared? In contrary, when meals are prepared from home, we are in control of the quality of ingredients and the portion of food group servings they consume in a meal. Once they are used to eating nutritious meals daily at school, it ultimately reinforces healthy eating habits that help them make better consumption choices out of home, especially when we are not by their side. Sounds easy enough to say, but is it easy enough to do?



So when Milo Malaysia invited me to join their "Bento Box Workshop for Bloggers", I immediately jumped at the opportunity to learn. The workshop, in collaboration with Kelab Bekal/Bento Malaysia, shared three simple recipes for mothers when packing to school. And all those recipes were assembled in less than ten minutes! *entershockedfacehere* I was definitely impressed!



Cute giraffe baguette sandwich.

And here are my biggest takeaways from the workshop:

1. Start small. Start by planning simple bento meals that you know your child will eat (instead of throwing it into the bin). Who cares if they want to eat nasi goreng with a side of grapes all week! You will feel a sense of accomplishment when they come home bearing empty bento boxes. (Versus you making complicated meals and them coming home with a half-eaten box.)
3. This sense of accomplishment will help you maintain the momentum throughout the year. Many mothers call it quits after the first month or two because they get demotivated after their child refuses to eat their carefully planned meals.
4. Gradually introduce vegetables in their daily bento box. You can assess what they like and what they don't, from what they bring home unfinished from school. Common mu
mmy trick; hide the vegetables in the meal!
5. Invest on a proper sized bento box and an insulated bento bag. One that will preserve your well thought food presentation (despite it rolling around in their school bag) and can keep the meal at an optimum temperature so it will last the day.
6. Plan ahead! No one wants to wake up an hour early just to peel onions and such. Plenty of the preparatory work can be done the weekend before or the night before.
7. Help your creative juices flowing for food presentation. There are plenty of simple inspirations available online for you to copy from.
8. Last but certainly not least, packing MILO® UHT in your child’s daily school bento box is a convenient way of ensuring that your child receives the energy to maximize their potential during the day. Activ-Go™ in MILO® is a unique combination of PROTOMALT®, minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin B, specially blended to provide efficient release of energy from food to help them take on a full day’s challenges. It also contains calcium to maintain stronger bones and teeth and Vitamin C for increased absorption of iron from food.

FACT: Children who consume malted drinks (such as MILO®) reflect greater micronutrient intakes and are more likely to meet the Recommended Nutrient Intake (RNI) for total energy intake, protein and other vitamin which suggests that malted drink consumption can be an effective and simple dietary strategy to improve overall diet quality. (Source: MyBreakfast Study)

And what cooking workshop would be complete without a cooking competition? Using the ingredients and tools provided, each blogger and child were tasked with the daunting mission of making the most creative Recess Bento Box! Afterwards, the children were asked to vote for their favourite bento boxes, by placing a flag (vote) on their chosen favourite.

Aiden watching me handle the scissors while he thinks of a creative idea for his bento box.

Our end result! I’m not entirely sure whether we made a cat… or a mouse???

Fantastic bento boxes by other bloggers and influencers. Can you spot ours?

Ian placing a flag on our own bento box! #cheating *giggles*

Amazingly, we were tied for third place. A professional chef was called in to judge the tie-breaker but unfortunately we lost and settled for 4th position.

It was certainly a fun and educational session for both Aiden and I. Not only did he enjoy deciding what to put into his bento box, but I also discovered how easy it was to assemble a nutritious meal for him to bring to school.



Our cat/mouse received seven flags (votes)!

Back home, Aiden was excited to try out his new found skills. After countless of hours poring over bento box ideas on the internet together, we finally agreed to try making a ‘sheep’ sandwich. Since he was in charge of making the decorations, he agreed for me to include broiled carrots into his bento box, as long as it was shaped into adorable flowers. Here are our end results:


Can you spot the sheep? Aiden has since requested to bring this for his first day of school.

Beef pastrami sandwich, with fresh salad, broiled carrots (with cheese hearts), and grapes. And of course - a packet of MILO® UHT as a rewarding end to the meal.

Aiden and I are definitely looking forward to the new school year! For more information on MILO® UHT and the “Pack in the Energy for Champions” campaign, please visit the following websites:

http://www.nestle.com.my/brands/beverages/milo_uht
https://www.milo.com.my/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtIVyHFUfRY

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Busting My Diet

So one of my new year resolutions this year was to lose weight.

The last time I went on a diet was a month before Aiden's Star Wars birthday. I went on a strict 3-week Paleo diet and lost like nearly 7kg or more. All because I needed to fit in this tight army green pants which was part of my Rey outfit. But immediately after that, I 'celebrated' by feasting on cake, desserts and carbs. Slowly but surely, I regained what I had lost. Our Pangkor Laut Resort was the tip of the weighing scale for me. Hence... the new year resolution.

I started my diet on my first day at work. (I knew that if I went on a diet while I was at home, I would be even more tempted to raid the fridge.) A friend recommended EzDiet, so I decided to purchase the 7-day Atkins meal plan from them. While waiting my week's meal to arrive, I filled the days by going on my usual Paleo diet.

A week's worth of meals.

A typical three-course meal for a day. Paleo was so strict, that I was supremely overjoyed with the fact that Atkins allowed eggs, soy sauce, and even dressings!

And here are some of my dugaan during the diet. An anniversary dinner for my in-laws at Jibby Chow (I nibbled on some of Hubby's leftovers plus a bite of cake), Aiden's cousin came for a sleepover and they requested for so many sinful things (I hidu bau jer), and a team lunch makan masak lemak ikan patin (I drank plain water only). Oh dugaan sungguh!!!


The spread at Jibby Chow. Telan air liur jer lah...

Pizza and ice-cream. 

Anyway, this post is not about my boring diet (what is there to blog about, other than being lethargic, tired and cranky??), but rather to chronicle my eating adventures post diet! Yes, after 2 weeks and 3 kgs lighter, I had to pause my diet regime to make way for soooo many food-filled invitations.

It all started with the company dinner to celebrate our First Oil Date (FOD). Everyone raved about how the food was going to cost RM400 plus per person without alcohol - wagyu beef, sashimi, lobster bisque and fresh oysters to name a few.

Check out the spread. Memang besar godaan malam tuh. And a very memorable momento from that night; a drop of oil from our very first oil production!

Longgggg story about my outfit. I was supposed to go home to change into this very dreamy grey dress for the night. To cut a long story short, it rained cats and dogs that afternoon, and I got stuck in a massive traffic jam going home. In the end I decided to turn back and just wear whatever I had in the car (a new Zara top I had purchased over lunch).

Can you spot me?

The next day, I attended a farewell. Superb buffet feast by Le Meridien, and I simply couldn't resist having plates after plates of salmon sashimi! I stayed away from rice, but I failed miserably at the dessert section.

Missing my old teammates!

The next day, I attended another farewell, this time at Kanna Curry House in PJ. How can one resist curry??? Hence, my first plate of rice in two weeks. *cries*

I'm amazed when one professes to not knowing the existence of Camera 360!

As if nasi daun pisang for lunch wasn't sinful enough, I had a birthday tea-party with the gang pagar sekolah afterwards. Since it was also our resident baker's birthday, it wasn't fair to ask her to bake her own birthday cake. Hence yours truly had to come out of retirement and bake a chocolate cake; and since our whatsapp group is full with discussions about dieting, I decided to make a weighing scale and measuring tape out of the cake! 

And as if lunch and tea wasn't sinful enough as well, the gang pagar sekolah regrouped that night for a birthday dinner at Stesen83! I succumbed to temptation and had grilled lamb. *sigh*

The next day, we had birthday invitations and two kenduri engagements to attend. In a nutshell, diet ke laut lah. All sorts of carbs went into my tummy that day. From that super adorable TNT popcake, to nasi briyani with daging dendeng.

Next day was Sunday, and we stayed home most of the day. But of course, my maid makes a mean cekodok pisang and cekodok bawang. I couldn't stop munching on them. Then we made a quick pit stop at my in-laws (they served us laksam and oat cookies *huwaaaa*) on the way to our weekly grocery shopping. And... I had rice for dinner. Kononnya last plate of rice before my diet officially starts again. Memang I belasah makan that night!

Little did I know that my teammates had arranged for a Yee Sang lunch today at Chynna, KL Hilton. Ok-lah, I decided to postpone my diet for another day. How can one say no to Yee Sang, right?

Yee Sang with sliced salmon. And a huge plate of steamed fish! Not visible in picture - buttered prawns, roasted honey chicken, stir fried asparagus, and my absolute favourite - chinese pancakes!

Here's to a prosperous new year of the rooster.

Anyway, I am back on my diet tomorrow. (No more cheating, promise!) I haven't had the courage to step on the weighing scale since I busted my diet, so hopefully I am not back to square one? Wish me luck!!!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Ian's 3rd Thomas Train Birthday Party



Let me start this blog post by telling you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a mother who was so fixated on throwing a Pokemon party for her soon to be 3 year old son. She was convinced that it was the best party theme for her boy, since the said boy could name every single Pokemon on the Pokedex. But unfortunately, every time she asked for his consent, the boy would resist and insist on having a Thomas party instead. Since he was so persistent, she conceded defeat, and started making preparations for a train party. One fine day, about two weeks away from the party, she started browsing through Thomas cake ideas on the Internet. She showed the birthday boy a few examples for his consent. Unfortunately, none of the cake made the mark. As she was scrolling through the pictures on her phone, suddenly the boy pointed out excitedly to a picture of a cake and exclaimed, "This Thomas!!" The mother sat there with her mouth gaping open, as her son was pointing to a Transformers cake. And suddenly it clicked. Due to his son's pelat dialect, when he said Thomas he actually meant Transformers.

*rolls on the floor laughing*

Yes, that was a true story, by the way. But in the end, we stuck to the Thomas party theme after all. (Sorry Ian, after all the preparations we made for the Thomas train party, I couldn't just magically change everything to Transformers in a snap of a finger! But Alhamdulillah, once we brought the trains out and he saw how it whizzed around the dessert table, he warmed up to the theme.) You can read about my Thomas Train party DIY adventures here.

Since I violated my own self-proclaimed rule of one party per year, I consoled my husband by promising him a small guest list and a simple no-frills venue. (He laughed when I said small guest list, but hey, I proved him wrong!) We had the party at McDonald's in Denai Alam, and I am so glad we decided to have our small party there. McDonald's was quite accommodating too; they allowed outside cakes and such. And since I told them that I would be baking everything on the dessert table, they agreed to let me setup my dessert table too. They even allowed me to plan the party room layout, and blocked the party area way earlier than normal so that I would have ample time to decorate the room. (Good to note that they don't allow costumes and outside entertainment during the party.)

Speaking of a small guest list, since Ian doesn't go to school thus has only one friend (his neighbourhood sweetheart, Dafiya), I decided to invite my gang pagar sekolah, Cahaya SPK gang, three of Aiden's best friends and our closest family to the party. Definitely the smallest party we've had to date!

The minute Ian walked into the party room, he beamed his best smile and ran to the dessert table. He got so excited, as he knew that the entire party was just for him... No sharing required! He was so happy, it made all our effort for his birthday bash, so worth while! It also made my heart strings ache for the baby that's no longer there. Ian, please don't grow up too fast! *sob sob*

Refused to leave the dessert table, hence he had his Happy Meal by the train tracks.

So sporting, he even agreed to put on the McDonalds birthday hat!

Held on dearly to the cake knife, as if someone wanted to take it away from him!

Anyway, I'm sure you're waiting for photos of the dessert table. Disclaimer though; since the table was already so crowded with dual way train tracks, I had to compromise on the number of baked goods and candy I could put on the table. Also, since the trains whizzed around the train tracks, I needed to make sure that their journey wasn't obstructed by any platters and such. Here's a video of the first ever interactive dessert table we've done to date!




The dessert table. While I was busy setting up, the McDonald's staff and even a customer came up and asked for my permission to take photos. The staff explained that they've never had such an elaborate themed party, while the customer wanted the photo for inspiration purposes. I do hope I've inspired her!

Here's a closer look.

Thomas 3D cake. Moist chocolate cake - Ian's favourite.

Rock candy spilled out of the tunnel. Green and blue Nutella macarons too.

Trains carried rock candy around the Island of Sodor.

James and Percy carried (pretzel) logs.

Thomas and Percy butter cookies. They were so popular, my hours of work disappeared with just one big bite! *giggles*

'Grass' vanilla cupcakes.

Thomas and Bertie the Bus also had their own track, underneath the cake stand.

A quick selfie before the kids tore the dessert table apart!

We also had a personalized milestone chalkboard, documenting Ian's vital details.

I also had a small corner to showcase my own birthday cake. A second moist chocolate cake (so that guests don't have to wait till end of the party to taste it) and a red velvet cake, both baked by yours truly. Till today, Ian still proclaims, "Ian's birthday Thomas, Mummy's birthday red cake!" *chuckles*

I am so glad we decided to stick to a small guest list, because even with a handful of kids, they literally took over the entire party room. (All parents got kicked out of the room and into the public area right outside where they had their adult meals.) Immediately after everyone finished their Happy Meals, the McDonald's party coordinator closed the party room doors so that the kids could play some games. Yes, not only did McDonald's provide goody bags for each kid, they provided two party coordinators to supervise the kids and arrange for games and gifts too!

Kids enjoying their Happy Meals. And just our luck, the Happy Meal toy that week was a Thomas train ruler!

Parents enjoying peace and quiet outside the party room. Gang pagar sekolah!

A quick photo with the Cahaya SPK gang. Can you see the party room in the background? 

They then closed the doors, and this was all we saw.

Ian insisted on joining a game of musical chairs.

Next up, it was time for cake cutting. In the weeks leading up to his birthday party, Ian had been humming the birthday song non stop! So when everyone started singing Happy Birthday to him, he was absolutely delirious with joy.


Check out Ian's happy grin. 

The impromptu hug that Aiden gave Ian. Siblings love!

They sang the Happy Birthday song twice.

Again with the pursed lips. Memang sampai esok tak padam lah, Ian! In the end, Aiden had to give Ian a hand.

In all the excitement, the cake must have moved quite significantly because the name topper fell. Aiden helped put it back, unfortunately terbalik!

Cutting the cake.

Last photo with the gang pagar sekolah. Thank you for coming, ladies!

The sole reason why I can never move out of Cahaya SPK. Love you girls!

At the end of the party, we discovered in dismay that we forgot to take a family photo during the cake cutting session!!! Terpaksalah amik gambar with bare cookies, empty cupcake platters and a handful of macarons.

It is exactly 90 days to Aiden's 7th birthday. And he's already asking whether he can start choosing a theme for his birthday. Aaaccckkk!!!
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