Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ladurée Singapore Macarons - My Pick of the Best Flavours!

After all the macarons that I have made in my small, humble oven, it is indeed a wonder why I never made the effort to try one of the world's best know macarons - Ladurée. 

I finally managed to have some during my stay in Singapore. To be honest, I wasn't particularly looking for Ladurée. I was actually walking back to the hotel, from my very scrumptious (and halal) dinner at Paul Bakery in Takashimaya/Ngee Ann City. The Chanel boutique caught my eye, and I was window shopping, feasting my eyes on the beautiful handbags in the window display. (Chanel Boy, anyone?) And there it was! Nestled in between the Chanel and Goyard (future handbag, perhaps?) was the Ladurée counter. And the only one in South East Asia, apparently!

Ladurée Paris.
The Ladurée counter.

I was initially quite hesitant about queuing in line, especially since I didn't know what flavours to choose nor even the price. And I was no where dressed half as nice as the upper-class females waiting in queue for their favourite macarons. But then I thought, "Heck I am not from this country; who cares if I don't look like a person who knows her way around Ladurée macarons?"

So I played the dumb tourist act and asked the very nice person serving me to recommend their best flavours. Since there was a minimum purchase of six macarons, I opted for six. But when I saw him putting it in a bag, I asked (nicely) for a pretty box so that it would last the flight home (erm, I lied - it was actually so that I can pose the macarons for pictures). Unfortunately, you have to buy eight to get a box. (You can even pay slightly additional to get a special Singapore edition box.) So I settled with eight and told him, "Give me eight of your best macarons, just surprise me!" He asked whether I preferred sweet or less sweet macarons, and I asked him to give me a bit of both.

Rows and rows of beautiful macarons.
Various pretty boxes to choose from.
You can also opt for more pretty tins or even a macaron pyramid. Just be prepared to pay a bomb.

Seriously, Ladurée is not cheap. The macarons are SGD 3.80 (approximately RM10) per piece! I paid close to RM80 for the box of eight. Imagine, biting into an RM10 macaron. If you stuff the whole macaron into your mouth in one bite, tadaa... RM10 is gone in one swallow. *shudder* Oh well, that's the price you have to pay for having world class Parisian patissiers make the macarons and fly them all the way into Singapore - that's a long plane ride, no kidding!

The Ladurée flavours.

So I carried my box of eight Ladurée macarons carefully across Orchard Road and up to my room at the Grand Hyatt, all the while worried for the safety of my delicate delights. As soon as I arrived, I promptly posed them for a picture. Beautiful paperbag, beautiful box. Need I say more?

Unopened box. Oh the anticipation of trying a Ladurée macaron!
So beautiful! The mix of colours were just right. I am actually salivating as I am typing this.

So what did I get in the box? From left to right, Salted Caramel, Marie Antoinette Tea, Pistachio, Rose Petal, Coconut, Lemon, Vanilla and Chocolate.

So here's a pick of my best flavours. My favourites were definitely (in order) the Marie Antoinette Tea, Rose Petal, Vanilla, Salted Caramel and Chocolate. What I was on the fence about, would be the Pistachio. What I would give a miss next time would be the Lemon and the Coconut.

What I found best about Ladurée was that the flavours were simple and pure. And they were packed with so much flavour, even a petite morsel had so much taste within it. For instance, I could taste and even smell rose petals when I bit into the Rose Petal macaron - a stunning creation, hands down. The Vanilla even had specks of vanilla beans on the surface of the macaron, which indicated how rich the vanilla flavour would penetrate my palate. Every bite brought a smile to my face. It was a very pleasant experience.

The appearance of the macarons were just perfect - incredibly smooth with no unsightly bumps or bubbles in sight. And don't even mention about feet. Macarons shouldn't be called macarons if they don't have feet. I tried splitting the macaron into half using a spoon and the shell shattered beautifully and I could see the moist and generous filling inside. The filling was so generous that the salted caramel practically oozed onto the other macarons when they all rode in my handbag on the plane home.

I would definitely buy these again, during my next trip to Singapore. Who cares about biting into an RM10 macaron! Money can be earned. An experience like this - priceless!

N.B: As I was researching this blogpost, I found out that there is also a Ladurée Boutique on Level 2 of Takashimaya. This boutique not only sells macarons, but also other Ladurée knick knacks such as souvenirs, scents, merchandise such as tote bags, and even key chains. I don't know whether I would bear to part with so much money for something Ladurée. But... that tote bag on their website looks really nice! Erk *I wanna be a rich tai tai*

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Grand Hyatt Singapore - Upgraded!

I haven't been travelling so much via airplane nowadays. Even if it is still the safest way to travel, reading this on my flight to Singapore last week was a bit erm... ironic?

Reading this at 33,000ft in the air.

Anyway, I was on my way to Singapore for work, which included a day offshore. Initially, I wanted to book myself at the Hilton Singapore (Hilton Honors member yeay!).. but our ground transportation offshore was going to depart from the Grand Hyatt Singapore so I changed my booking to suit this.

I arrived at the hotel via cab, and as I was paying the fare, there were already unloading my luggage from the boot. As soon as I stepped out of the cab, a very pretty lady greeted me by name! She tapped on the iPad she was holding a few times and said "I understand you have a reservation with us, Miss Aliza. Please allow me to escort you to the front desk." I was quite intrigued by how she recognized me, and she offered an explanation cheekily, "I read it off your luggage tag. Not so smart, issit?" Well, I was still pretty impressed with her resourcefulness. She even introduced me to the man attending to me at the reception!

As for my experience at reception, service was swift and professional. But best of all, he told me that he was going to find me a "nice room", and when I asked him what that meant, he informed that he had upgraded my room to a Grand Deluxe! Knowing that I was a nobody in the Hyatt Gold Passport hierarchy, I asked him why he was upgrading me. He answered that they try to upgrade everyone who works at the Dutch Oil Company. Apparently we have a special partnership with Hyatt, we even get a discount for breakfast buffets!

This trip was actually my second time here. The first time, I was placed in the Standard room in the Terrace Wing - and even that room was quite impressive to the eye. The Grand Deluxe rooms are located in the Grand Wing. As I walked up to my room, I was mentally preparing myself to be amazed. And look at what greeted me:

The living area.

My jaw literally dropped when I saw the size of the room. Excuse me, I meant the rooms. Yes, instead of just a room with a bed, there was even a separate living area for entertaining guests.

That's the front door. The cabinets on the left of the door had a fridge and coffee making facilities within it. I thought I was going to use the workstation to blog, but I was too busy enjoying the room to do so.
The view of the bedroom from the living area.
A flat screen television just for the bedroom.
A chest of drawers in case you want to unpack. Two door wardrobe and a full length mirror.
The luxurious marble bathroom.

Again, my jaw dropped when I saw the beautiful bathroom. And when I saw the bathtub, I immediately said aloud "Aiden would have enjoyed this"! That's the funny part about being a mummy. Apart from missing the kids, somehow I also had a heart-wrenching guilt feeling that I was enjoying this exclusive room without them experiencing the same!

Separate areas for the shower and the toilet, the latter had a frosted glass door to ensure privacy.
Beautiful sink, complimented by bathroom amenities by June and Jacobs.
Loving the bathtub! Plenty of towels too.
It is not often that I find myself squatting in this position in the bathtub to take pictures!
The very comfy sofa in the living area.
Sanitized! Yes, I am anal that way.

Apart from doing some light shopping on Orchard Road (which was just a 5-minute walk from the hotel), I mostly stayed in the room and enjoyed my "me" time. I am quite a sucker for crime and mystery series, so Fox Crime was on the television all the time. I even ordered breakfast in my room!

American breakfast.
The sauteed mushrooms accompanying the (halal) sausages were simply beautiful. I even asked them for additional mushrooms the next day. The basket of bread and pastries came soft and warm as well - scrumptious croissants!
Checking out. Matching my work coveralls with my trusty ol' handbag. Imagine bringing an LV handbag offshore!!!

Will I be choosing this hotel again? A resounding yes indeed! Anyone tried the Grand Hyatt KL yet?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Preloved Jumperoo - Up for Sale!

*Sticky post, scroll below for new blogposts.*

In the past one week, I have received at least 5 emails asking me whether I wanted to sell my Jumperoo. I bought this Jumperoo back in Oct 2009 - you can read the original post here (check out Aiden's intrigued face), and the latest blog post here (where Ian showed the exact same emotions)!

My Jumperoo is an authentic Fisher Price (not Fisher Rice - mind you!) *grin*, it is definitely not an imitation or china-made version. I am surprised that there are really good imitations available nowadays because back in 2009 there were none available at all. I guess someone saw an opportunity in maximizing profit from baby gadgets.

Anyway, I am really keen to sell my Jumperoo (if the price is right, of course). If you are interested in purchasing mine, please send me an email at lizyahaya[at] and state your price. First come, first serve, and please note that my selling price starts at RM250. Sounds reasonable? If you live in the Klang Valley, I will gladly do COD. For outside Klang Valley, shipping will be quoted separately.

The said unit is in great condition and most importantly, the lights, sound and movement sensors are all working perfectly. The volume control and rotating seat also works. It is also a complete set - all the toys (hanging and stationary) are available and it even comes with the instruction manual. Unfortunately I threw away the box, but you can see a picture of the box in my original post when I unboxed the unit. However, please bear in mind it is 5 years old (between Aiden and Ian) and for the most of its life I kept it safe in the attic wrapped in plastic. Also, as I mentioned in the latest post, there was a tear on the seat - but fret not, it now has a newly sewn red polkadot seat (instead of solid red) so the seat is practically brand new. I will also clean and disinfect the unit before selling it off - you know I'm anal that way!

Anyway, how do you tell if the Jumperoo is an original or an imitation? Some things to watch out for:
  • Use your (mother) instinct. If you are familiar with Fisher Price toys, you will notice the difference in the quality and appearance.
  • The Jumperoo toys are not the same as the authentic ones. For instance, the Rainforest Jumperoo might have a rhino instead of a parrot. Okay I am exaggerating but you get my point. The toys may even look cheap and dull.
  • There should be a Fisher Price tag on the hanging toy. For the Rainforest unit, the tag is on the hanging parrot.
  • There should also be a Fisher Price sticker at the front of the unit. For the Rainforest unit, it is where the elephant, parrot and monkey are located.
  • There should be a warning sticker on the unit.
  • You shouldn't have to screw/unscrew the unit to adjust its height. An authentic Jumperoo uses hooks that you use on different level straps to obtain height differences.
  • This is pretty subjective, long lasting batteries - because I didn't even need to change the batteries when transitioning from Aiden to Ian - that's 5 long years ago!
  • Price - this is the easiest to spot. If the price is too good to be true, then it is probably too good to be true. New units retail for about RM8++ but if you wait for a good sale, you can get one for around RM6++. I believe I bought mine for about RM650. 
  • Completeness of the set - the box, the instruction manual etc.
Here are some pictures of the Jumperoo;

Picture taken in June 2014. As you can see the unit is in very good condition.

The new seat cover - hence the red polkadots.

The Fisher Price tag on the hanging parrot toy.

The Fisher Price and Rainforest Jumperoo branding on the unit.

Looking forward to your emails. And good luck!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Eid 2014 Photoshoot

Totally overdue post. Heck, it's nearly close to Eid Adha and I'm only blogging about Eid Fitri? *grin*

Anyway, with my big brother back, we decided to take a family photo. My sister had this masterpiece of a plan - get everyone together in Ipoh and take a family photo with everyone in it. (The last time we took one, my mum was still around and I was in my first year of Uni - which was about erm 10 years ago??!!) The problem with masterpiece plans are, they usually flop. And that was exactly what happened. My father bailed out on us as he had to celebrate his anniversary with his 5th wife (not kidding you!) and some of the others were not available. So in the end, we decided to just proceed with the handful of us in KL. At the Picture Company, of course!

We got the first slot that morning, and just my luck, it was also my maid's day off. Imagine getting two ooppss make that three boys, ready with their traditional clothes before 10am! Absolute havoc!

Anyway, Ian fell asleep in the car seat so instead of waking him up, Hubby and I decided to capture our lovey dovey photos first. Then while we coax Ian awake, my other siblings posed for their own photos as well. Finally, group photo! Oh, it was a nightmare getting Aiden and Ian to cooperate. If Aiden was smiling, Ian wasn't and vice versa. It was a good thing we had a really good photographer that morning.

After a good two hours of posing, we finally went for breakfast while the photographer edited the photos. Everyone was getting slightly cranky, so we decided to forgo the diet and everyone had a big breakfast at Pappa Rich.

We came straight to Gardens in our traditional clothes. My sister and brother were smart enough to bring a change of clothes.

Monopod to the rescue. The patrons on the other table actually asked what we were using. They had never seen a monopod before! Hehe

This boy insisted on pressing the shutter - as usual.

The three boys!

My sister and I.

My Abang really wants to have one of his own. So we plopped Ian on his lap and made him babysit. My brother lasted a good long.... one minute!!!

After a very long and satisfying lunch, we returned to the Picture Company (now called Fam Glam studios, mind you) to view our pictures. We were very satisfied with the photos! Despite all the drama we had earlier, we managed to get some pretty decent shots!

The formal family shot.

This is a real cute one.Candid habis; with Aiden kissing me and Ian showing off his bald spot. Priceless!

Everyone all smiling. Ian looking so cheeky here.

In this one, we were asked by the photographer to look at Ian. Truth be told, I couldn't even see Ian from my angle. Posing jer lebih!

The photographer wanted us to pose with raya packets. Ian promptly placed one in his mouth!

Next up, our family photos. Good thing we took these photos, I desperately need to include Ian's picture in the house. Aiden has been dominating the living hall since he was born. Sorry, Ian!

Love my shoes? 70% off at Aldo (eh tiba tiba)!

New Facebook cover photo coming up!

It started with the three of us...

And now we're four. Definitely new Facebook profile picture here!

Aiden happily cooperated in front of the camera.

This was the best shot we had of the two boys.

And also the three boys.

At the end of the photo viewing, we received a call saying that my in-laws were on the way to our house with a few other extended families. They wanted to datang beraya!

I panicked! Like crazy panicked. While Hubby got the car from the valet, my mind was already whirring, "What to cook? What time is the maid going to get home? Is the house clean? What do I do first?" were among the thoughts rushing through my mind. In the end, based on what was available at home, I decided to do mee bandung.

As soon as I arrived home, I put a pot of water with eggs on boil. Then I defrosted the seafood and put Hubby in charge of slicing the vegetables i.e. condiments. Ran around like a headless chicken setting the table and plating whatever food we already had in the fridge like rendang, dendeng and even my favourite akok. Barely ten minutes after we arrived home - the guests arrived. 4 cars of them, to be exact! Enlisted my sister-in law's help to make them drinks (to buy time), then got to work with cleaning the seafood and with Hubby's assistance, started with the mee bandung. Thank god for instant mee bandung paste!

See how many mouths we had to feed that afternoon?

"Everyone say, mee bandung!!!"

Last pose outside, and guess what, my maid arrived right after we took this photo! Great timing, so we graciously left the clean up to her. *grin*
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