May 22, 2017

11 Melaka : Old Is Gold Aldy Hotel Stadthuys

Perhaps the fifth hotel I have stayed in, in  Melaka. And I must warn you that this is a long overdue post - last Christmas long in fact, when my aunt and I were here for a holiday.

This is what Aldy Hotel Stadthuys looks like. Painted dark red like all most of the buildings in Melaka's Dutch Square. Bamboo Hut bistro takes up the ground floor.

Aldy Hotel Stadthuys, Melaka

The check-in lobby is hidden behind the bistro. We headed to the back and entered through a side door. Checking in was fuss free. I had even arranged with the courteous hotel employee to book a taxi for us to the bus terminal for the day we were leaving.

The Entrance Located At The Side

We lugged our bags into a small lift at the corner and were soon in our room, happy that everything from toilet flush, electric kettle to the flat screen TV was in working order. The wifi service was good too - not that we used much of it since we were out most of the time and exhausted at night!

It was a good-sized room with twin beds. I could snore peacefully in mine and my aunt, in hers. A casual batik kaftan was found hanging in the wardrobe - my aunt wore it as her pajamas to sleep.

The Comfy Beds In Aldy Hotel Stadthuys, Melaka

Another View Of The Room. My Aunt In The Kaftan.

I chose this hotel because it was located smack in the middle of many tourist attractions. It was a short walking distance from Jonker Street, the Dutch Square, a number of museums and old historical buildings such as St. Paul's Church. It is also close to the jetty of the River Cruise, the Taming Sari Revolving Tower and two large shopping malls. We relied only on our two legs to get around.

The Dutch Square, Melaka

The room rates were reasonable too. I managed to score 2 nights stay for RM350 with breakfast from an online hotel booking website.

The view outside our window was not bad either. We could see colourful trishaws passing by with loud music blaring from the speakers attached to it. The noise stopped before midnight. Funnily, it didn't really bother us.  I slept through it.

I was happy with the cleanliness of the bathroom. The basics were provided - soap, shampoo, towels. It is enough for me.

Bath Amenities

Breakfast was a simple affair at the bistro.  The waitress greeted us cheerfully and we were asked to choose from a small menu what we'd like to have. I much prefer this over a breakfast buffet - less food wastage and no chance of overeating. My aunt agrees too! This way we wouldn't be too full to hunt for street food later.

Breakfast At Bamboo Hut Bistro, Aldy Hotel Stadthuys, Melaka.

To end, I will say that am taken in by the excellent service we received from staff at this hotel. The warmth I felt makes me want to come back. The rooms and overall decor is okay too. There is an aged feeling to the place unlike the minimalist rooms of modern day accommodation or the fanciness of trendy boutique hotels but I like it.

Aldy Hotel Stadthuys, Melaka

Aldy Hotel Stadthuys
Address: 27, Jalan Kota, Bandar Hilir, 75000 Melaka, Malaysia.
Telephone: 06 - 283 3232

May 15, 2017

14 Getting All Excited At The Body Shop

A firm believer of not making anyone wait for me, I had arrived early to meet a close friend at Mid Valley Megamall. Since there was still an hour to go, I decided to look around for a great place to sit and chat.

As I was heading towards South Court, I noticed a queue outside The Body Shop. I had wanted to go in and purchase the White Musk fragrance for hubs because he had almost finished the one at home, but thought better of it - good to wait until after the crowd has dispersed.

The Body Shop, Mid Valley

However, it was not meant to be as one of the salespeople enthusiastically rushed forward to invite me to hear about their promotion. They were giving out free brightening eye creams worth RM125 to the first 50 people in queue who had downloaded the Love Your Body app - no purchase necessary! Whilst they guided me to register my particulars through the phone for the app, another promoter gave me a free skincare sample to try.

Since I was already there, I bought hubs' favourite fragrance and was blessed with a free RM59 lip and cheek stain for making the list of first 100 customers of the day.

Free Gifts From The Body Shop

When my friend finally arrived - " You are so lucky! " she gushed.

I took her over to see if she could still qualify for the eye cream. Unfortunately, we were too late. It had all been given out by then.

Moisture White SHISO 2 in 1 Eye Cream

I tried the cream out this morning, applying it around my eye area. I'm not sure how effective it will be against my long neglected panda eyes but 'you gotta have hope' , right?

May 13, 2017

18 Eat Out : The Living Room, Westin KL

It was a Public Holiday for us last Wednesday. Hubs and I decided on lunch at The Living Room, Westin KL, an open but cosy place where we could relax and enjoy each other's company. As we had hoped, it was quiet with nary a soul except the waiter and waitress who attended to us.

We could see the main entrance of the hotel from where we were seated. I realised it was raining when I looked outside and saw a lady holding a vibrant red umbrella up walking by. Behind her was another person holding a white one. Squinting my eyes, I saw the drizzle of light rain. It was the perfect weather for our lunch date, the song Singin' In The Rain  playing in my mind.

The menu carried both local and international food, some affordable, some pricey. I ordered steamed black cod fish in delicious light soy sauce with the greens. It was served with a plate of rice. Hubs went with beef tenderloin on mashed potatoes. We rounded that up with a beautiful meringue pie.

Steamed Black Cod

Beef Tenderloin With Vegs

A sweet and sour concoction.

Meringue Pie With Berries

We sat near the flower display.

The Living Room

Our iced tea drinks.

Iced Tea

All in, we had a wonderful time and were well taken care of by Westin KL's attentive employees. We paid RM40 for the entire meal after deducting cash vouchers.

The Living Room
Address: Level G, The Westin Kuala Lumpur, 199, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Hours: 6AM to 12AM
Phone: 03-2773 8338

Signing off this post with Gene Kelly's Singin' In The Rain. ☔



Enjoy!


May 9, 2017

28 Eat Out : Jamaica Blue, Mid Valley Megamall

"Eh, can we go to that cafe you took us to last time, arh? " my friend asked softly as she looped her arm around my elbow.

" CaAann .. " I responded in typical Malaysian accent.

We made our way to Jamaica Blue on the 1st floor. I was about to order my usual glass of iced tea when I noticed the barista creating the image of a baby on a hot chocolate drink, latte art style. How excited I was! Before I knew it, I'd ordered a tall glass of hot chocolate for myself from the cheerful barista.

My friend was tickled by the suddenness of it all. We had barely taken a look at the menu and we had decided on having a seat before ordering anything, but this friend of hers had already settled on her drink!

I took my table number 9 sign after paying and headed towards my friend who had picked out a spot for us near a large pillar. When my drink arrived, my friend ordered her tea. We topped that with scones and a carrot muffin.

I was awed by the design on my hot chocolate. It was a heart. I spot a high heeled shoe design on the right and a baby's bottom if I turned my cup - funny things I'm seeing. Whilst that made it interesting for me, I was surprised by how much I liked this drink. It was smooth, creamy and had none of that sugary taste. I love the chocolatey flavour. This is one of the most delicious hot chocolate drink I have ever had. Aah .. so yummy.

Hot Chococlate (RM10.90)

The scones and muffin were served soon after by the ever smiling, friendly employee whom I regret not getting the name. I'd have written in to the management with a - 'Give the young man a raise!

Muffin (RM8.90)

One Scone, Jam and Butter (RM4.90)

My friend and I spent 3 hours catching up with each other on life. We had such a great time that the hours just flew. This was our second visit to Jamaica Blue. I am guessing from the vibes my friend is sending me that this place is going to be our regular hangout.

Jamaica Blue, Mid Valley

Do you see the words 'wan wan coco ful baskit' in the picture above? It is a Jamaican saying - one cocoa at a time fills the basket (one one cocoa, full basket). It means take your time, you will achieve your goal.

It is a reminder for all of us not to rush through life, not to rush through whatever we're doing. Remember to smell the roses along the way. You will still reach your destination or your target.

May 3, 2017

18 My New Buddies - The Pigeons

Never in my life did I foresee a time that I would be friends with a couple of pigeons.

On and off, I'd see birds visiting my little garden in the balcony. A loud chirp alerts me of their presence. Hubs and I decided that we should leave some food around for them. We started out with sunflower seeds. No success there. I was saddened but determined so I kept doing it.

This pigeon thing all started about a month ago after Hubs took me to a pet store in Taman Tun to see a talking Mynah bird. It had sparked something in us. Next thing I knew, we were walking to our car with a bag of premium bird seeds in hand.

Bird Food

I stopped putting sunflower seeds and started serving the newly purchased gourmet bird seeds. Nothing happened for three weeks until I saw it one evening - a pigeon eating the seeds. Peck, peck, peck, peck! A surge of happiness engulfed me. I was gushing all about it to hubs. Hubs was saying that it'll be bringing its buddies over soon.

His words came true as three flew in the next morning. I was thrilled! "Buddies!  " I thought to myself.

During the following days, I observed that two pigeons would faithfully pop in between 8am-9am. Just the two. I know that they're the same guys because one of them has feathers sticking out weirdly from the back of its neck - a bad hair day kind of thing. I wondered what happened to the third bird. It never came back.

These pics were taken behind a glass door because they fly away the moment they hear me opening it. Funnily, they don't mind it too much if I sit close to the glass to watch them eat as long as I don't move too much.

Pigeons, The City Dove

This Is Gaston

Today, I started leaving a bowl of water and chopped lettuce (this, after seeing Benji peck on the leaves of my chrysanthemum plant) in addition to the seeds. Gaston gave the lettuce a miss after analysing it from the edge of the container, bobbing his head here and there, probably going, " Veggies. Ugh! ". Benji tossed some out and swished it around with its beak.

I think the lettuce is a no go but I'll try again tomorrow for the sake of a balanced diet. I'm getting too involved, I know.

The water was a great idea. Both pigeons drank it.

At 4PM, as I type this, my two amigos popped in again. I am surprised. They took a sip of water. Benji headed to my mint plant and started pecking at it. It looks like Benji's with me on the balanced diet thing. Gaston, on the other hand, loves strutting his stuff on our balcony. He'd be bobbing his head, chest out and in between, rub his head against his wings. Show off!


First pics of Benji and the other birds who visit me.

Top-Left to Right : Benji , Javan Myna
Bottom Left to Right : A Small Brown Bird, Benji

Would you take a common pigeon for a pet? I didn't think I would but now I look forward to seeing and spoiling them daily. Haha that.

Apr 27, 2017

20 The Beefanator

Char kueh teow (fried flat rice noodles), wat tan hor, chee cheong fun  and the likes - that's our kind of food. It's rare that we step into a fast food restaurant like Wendy's, but when we did, Hubs went all out with a takeaway of two RM25 sets of Beefanators.

What's that?  A beefanator - the ultimate meat burger with two beef patties, chicken strips and cheese slices. No greens except for a side of coleslaw was included. It was packed with a drink and an additional side dish of our own choice - we chose chilli con carne.

The unveiling of the takeaway in the comfort of home:

Wendy's Malaysia - Beefanator

Do I hear OMGs?

I read the story of how Wendy's hamburger was born. Dave Thomas, the founder, was a man of integrity who believed in not cutting corners. Hence, the square hamburger!

We don't cut corners ~ Dave Thomas

I enjoyed this meal even if it took me awhile to finish; best eaten when extremely hungry. That said, I was craving for a plate of vegetables after. Haha .. I'm a stickler for a balanced meal! 

Tell me, have you tried Wendy's beefanator and did you like it?

Apr 25, 2017

18 The BedRoom Gets A Paint Job

You'd think that after so much painting done over the years, I'd be a pro at it. But ... no major improvement here. I think it's because I just enjoy getting it done. The feel of rolling the brush up and down with the radio on is therapeutic. The crooked paint lines along the wall corners? It's no skin off my back.

Sharon Paints The Bedroom

My standard reply for anyone spotting these flaws are - "It's artistic, an expression of myself and how I view life." Lol. Life is meant to be lived ..and lived happily. There are things we should fuss over, there are things we should let go and let be.

" Life is like a blank canvas. It's up to you how you want to paint it. "

I spent some weeks moving boxes of stuff and small furniture out of the bedroom. Then, it flowed into a major spring cleaning exercise with bags of things being given away to whoever wants it and lots of washing being done. I sneezed myself silly through it all with watery eyes. It almost looked like I was having a cold. Bah! My sensitive nose!

I'll not go into how the skin on my was nose was peeling by the end of it all. The colours hubs and I chose for the room were grey and light green. It was navy blue and turquoise before.

We picked a Sunday for our painting adventure and had gotten about three layers done on two walls, when we realised that we didn't have enough paint. So, we took a break and left the room alone for a couple of days.

Runs Out Of Paint - Didn't Panic

When fresh paint arrived, I picked the roller up again only this time without hubs because it was a working day for him. I completed the walls leaving the edges near the ceiling aside; Hubs wasn't too keen about me climbing up the ladder for that. My hero, I say. I was happy to give it a miss because I remember all too clearly how my poor neck felt after I painted the bathroom ceiling. Looking up for longgggg periods is, can I say - 'a pain in the neck?'

This is how the newly painted walls look like in dim light and when it's bright.

Freshly Painted Walls

I am so pleased with it.

Check out my past painting projects here:
~ A New Look For My Guest Room
~ I Paint Not The Canvas
~ My Little Paint Project

That's that on my April. I can't believe May is up next week.

Apr 21, 2017

16 Ayam Brand™ Sardines On Savoury Crackers

Savoury crackers are my go-to teatime snack. If I'm glued to a book, I would have it plain or simply slathered with kaya; I love the sweet-salty combination.

When I'm entertaining friends at home however, I make a little more effort with an easy topping like the one below -- mashed sardines; its flavour balanced out with the crunch of chilled zucchini, the hint of spiciness from a bird's eye chilli and the vibrant taste of fresh dill.

Ayam Brand™ Sardines On Savoury Crackers

This is easy and quick to make. There's no cooking involved. That's right - no need to pull out that frying pan. Do I hear yays? Here's how I made these lovely treats.

Ayam Brand™ Sardines On Savoury Crackers

Ingredients:
- 1 120g can Ayam Brand™ olive oil and chilli sardines
- 10pcs savoury crackers (2 inches in diameter)
- 1 small green zucchini (sliced) / yellow zucchini (optional)
- 2pcs brined pitted black olives (sliced)
- 2 red bird's eye chilli (sliced)
- Fresh dill

Method:
1) Remove the chilli from the sardine can. Slice thinly. Set some of the sardine oil in the can aside for later use (optional). Mash the sardines, with the sliced chilli mixed in.
2) Assemble in this order - Place zucchini slices on top of savoury crackers, followed by mashed sardines. Finish with with a pinch of dill, a slice of black olive and one bird's eye chilli on each one.
3) Plate and drizzle the remainder of the sardine oil over the crackers.

Top : Ayam Brand™ Sardines In Olive Oil and Chilli
Bottom-Left : Zucchini, Black Olives, Crackers, Bird's Eye Chilli, Dill
Bottom-Right : Mash The Sardines

Best enjoyed with friends and family!

Ayam Brand™ Sardines On Savoury Crackers made exciting with
Zucchini, Black Olives, Fresh Dill and Bird's Eye Chilli


This is a sponsored post, where I was provided with some products to try out.
That said, this piece is wholly written by me and all opinions are my own.
Please read the Disclaimer for this blog under Policies.

Apr 18, 2017

21 How Ayam Brand™ Came Into My Life

Through mom, of course. She swears by it and now, we do too. Ayam Brand™ has been around for more than a century and has helped many working mothers like my mom put a decent meal on the table after a long day at the office.

In our household, Ayam Brand™ Sardines are a regular on our marketing list. Come to think of it, never in my life have I not seen it in our kitchen cabinet. Never. It was always there for the taking.

Mom's favourite way of cooking sardines is with curry. She taught me how to whip up a mean version when I was in my early teens. I have often wondered where she learned the recipe considering we didn't have the internet back then and were living on a small island with little contact with the outside world, other than through the TV and word of mouth. It wasn't an era of cooking shows either.

We lost mom suddenly due to illness last year. There are many little things that remind me of her as I go about my daily life - Ayam Brand™ being a fond memory of our time together in the kitchen.

Anyway, this arrived at my doorstep last week. I was ecstatic to see it - a box full of Ayam Brand™ goodies!

Ayam Brand™ Goodies

In it --
1) Sardines in olive oil and sardines in tomato sauce. This is what I made in 2012, a healthy sardine wrap using Ayam Brand™'s Sardines in Olive Oil & Chilli. Easy peasy! I blogged about it here.

Sardine Wrap

2) A 2017 table calendar which I had failed to get a copy of earlier in the year. You must be wondering why I'm excited about it - well, I love it. It has neat little boxes where I can jot down my daily activities and plans. Every year, I look out for an email from Ayam Brand™ just to get the calendar. Nobody understands my obsession. I don't either. It has often made me laugh at myself.

3) A Fish and Olive Oil recipe book. I actually own a copy of this already. In 2013, Ayam Brand™ gave out free copies on their facebook. I had shared this information to our cooking group and weeks later, several of us home-cooking enthusiasts were lucky recipients. It's a happy feeling that's hard to forget!

4) Alce Nero Pasta!

My friends and family have been using Ayam Brand™ for a very long time. It runs through three generations for some of us!

Ayam Brand™

Ayam Brand™ Sardines are available in tomato sauce, olive oil with chilli and extra virgin olive oil. It is priced from RM4.03 to RM10.28 (inclusive of 6% GST).

I would love to hear your story if you have one to share about how Ayam Brand™ came into your life. It would be interesting to read!

Follow Ayam Brand™ on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AyamBrand.Recipes, on instagram at @ayamdbrandmy and subscribe to their mailing list. You won't regret it! They run so many fun activities for their fans.


This is a sponsored post, where I was provided with some products to try.
That said, this piece is wholly written by me and all opinions are my own.
Please read the Disclaimer for this blog under Policies.

Apr 15, 2017

16 I Scream For Magnum Red Velvet Ice Cream

I told you how Magnum ice cream puts me in a place of wonderful.

I also told you how competitive my family is when it comes to new releases.

 
Magnum Red Velvet

It is no joke. When Magnum released the red velvet edition , I knew I had to get my hands on it and quickly, before the rest of the family does. So I made my way to the mini market, rummaged through the ice cream display freezer for the best looking wrapper and paid for it with a wide, smug grin on my face as I imagined my cousin crying out, " No fair ..! " and my relatives drooling enviously.


Magnum Red Velvet Packaging

As excited as I was, I still waited until the next afternoon before indulging in one. Ice cream is, after all, best enjoyed in hot, sunny weather or with a group of friends. I am picky about when I choose to eat my Magnum ; sounds crazy but I believe in deriving maximum pleasure out of it.

The packaging design to the the ice cream of toned down red, covered in white chocolate -- it shouts sultry decadence and fun.

Mmmm... Creamy Magnum Red Velvet

How did it taste? .... Oh, I loved it! The ingredients itself were tantalising -- cocoa ice cream, cream cheese sauce, Belgian white chocolate. It was smooth and delicious, had a well-rounded deepened flavour ; its sweetness subdued, not falling into the cheapness I usually find in candy loaded with plain, white sugar.

We're having a ladies' night at home soon -- my fridge will definitely be stocked with Magnum Red Velvet for effect.
 

Apr 11, 2017

14 Cheng Beng : It's Tomb-Sweeping Day

Cheng Beng aka Tomb-Sweeping Day is still largely practiced by Malaysians of Chinese descent. We were in Penang the weekend before, Hubs to carry out his filial duty and me to take photographs of the event to be shared in a private online album that holds our fondest memories as a family. It's our way of connecting to relatives living far away.

Cleaning The Grave on Tomb-Sweeping Day

The rainy weather made it a 6-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur to the island. A Saturday. I'm happy we didn't have to deal with exhaustive traffic jams too - the flow was pretty good. We stopped at several RnRs along the North-South Expressway to stretch our legs and usually take short naps in the car before continuing but not this time; Hubs was tied up with customer queries and was busy following up with staff at various work sites on the to-dos. I admire him for his toughness and hardworking nature. It seemed ironic that he was born in the Year of the Pig. Just saying, with a lol and no seriousness.

We woke up in the wee hours that Sunday, showered and made our way to the cemetery with the rest of the family. 6am in, we were the first car to arrive. Although the sun had yet to rise, the morning wasn't as chilly as I'd anticipated it to be. It would have been eerie to be here at this time - with trees in utter blackness looming over us and rows of shadowed tombstones stretching across the dark hill. Thriller, anyone? But I felt only excitement as I looked forward to seeing crowds that would soon be spread across the area fulfilling their Cheng Beng duties. 

Honoring Deceased Family Members With Food and Material Offerings

We were waiting for another relative to arrive. They were delayed as they had to collect roasted meats from another location before coming over. Soon, the morning bird started to call out signaling that it was almost 7am, "Ko-oohH!, Ko-oohH!" it went, louder than the morning alarm on my clock, as though it was using a megaphone. "What bird is that? " With a little googling, I discovered that the cry is from an Asian Koel.

We made our way to the tombstone of our ancestor after everyone had arrived, carrying bags of food offerings, joss sticks, spirit money and paper replicas of material items like clothes, shoes and a car. The grave was already clean - we'd paid the caretakers of the cemetery to keep the grass neat and green too.

Grandpa Needs A Car Up There

First thing up was displaying the food, tea and joss sticks in front of the stone. Then, we wait for the ancestors to eat whilst each relative kneeled and offered a short prayer. The rest proceeded with planting colourful flags, placing joss paper and burning joss sticks on the grave. This year, coins were tossed in too. A male relative brought a small, cute square radio along for music adding good vibes to the already vibrant scene. You could say that there was a little party going on at our place.

Food Offering - The Ancestors Eat

Roast Meats For Cheng Beng

Joss paper, spirit money aka hell money and paper material items were burnt in a huge pile. We waited until everything was gone. The cemetery was alive with people honoring their ancestors by then. I noticed a group far away enthusiastically tossing joss paper into the air - it was the first time I had seen this done. Each family has their own Cheng Beng practices.

Burning of Spirit Money and Paper Replicas of Material Goods

Finally, we tossed a coin to determine if the ancestors are done with their meal before packing the food back into containers to be brought home.

QingMing Festival - Colourful Flags on a Grave

A More Toned Down Way of Honoring the Deceased At Another Grave

The food was later distributed amongst family members. We headed back to the capital the next morning.

 

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