Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mothers' Day 2012


OK I know the title of this post says Mothers' Day 2012, and I am fully aware that it is already 10 days past said day... But I just wanted to share our (me & my mom's) Mothers Day dinner experience last May 13, 2012.

My sisters & I decided to reserve a table at TGI Friday's at Subang Parade for 8pm that Sunday. We decided on TGIF because they had this Mothers Day promotion that says that Moms will receive a Beauty Pack of Goodies with every purchase of an entree. My eyes immediately lit up when I saw that this Beauty Pack will consist of goodies from The Body Shop, Yves Rocher, Kose & Skinlab. Sounds preddy awesome to me, esp since I'm a mom too... hehe.

Pic courtesy of

So we booked our table about a week ahead via the TGI Friday's website, as per their instruction, and waited for their confirmation. About 4 days went by, and still no response whatsoever. I was getting antsy, so I called them to make sure they have my reservation, to which they confirmed with some lame excuse about not responding to the online booking sooner [Minus Point One]. I even asked if there would be at least 2 Beauty Packs for us at 8m, coz the ad did say While Stocks Lasts. The person I spoke to reassured me that there shouldn't be a problem as our reservation was quite early in the night, and they have already allocated half the packs for the dinner patrons to be fair. He even said he would put aside 2 packs for us just in case.

Come D-Day, my sisters brought Mom to TGI Friday's Subang Parade, reaching there on time for our reservation. Me, Mr. Hubster and the kids were running abit late coz we were coming from our niece's birthday party in Banting. When we got there, we saw that TGIF was already full to the brim with patrons. Mom and my sisters have already ordered and were waiting for their entrees. After lotsa hugs and kisses, we settled down to order. When the waitress came to take our order, I asked about the beauty pack, since I was ordering a rather large entree for myself. To my dismay, she said that the packs were all gone [Minus Point Two]. I explained that our table was a reserved table, and the fact that their staff had actually assured us of 2 packs, but she insisted that there were no more packs left, and that she would check with the manager regarding the issue. As she trotted off, my sister told me that they said the same thing when they ordered, too. That was exactly on the time we booked, so by right there shouldn't be any issue about us arriving late (and thus resulting in no goodie bags).

My order came: Championship BBQ Beef Ribs. And whatta championship size it was! The plate was more like a mini-tray, and there were about 4-5 pieces of fist-sized meat on it. It was also served with crispy fries, onion rings and a side of apple coleslaw. Hubby ordered the Almond Crusted Chicken Salad, which was preddy huge too. Deena ordered the (free!) Kid's Spaghetti while we ordered (free!) Mac & Cheese Bites for Delea which WE happily ate since Delea can't have processed cheese yet hehehe :P

Championship BBQ Beef Ribs @ TGI Friday's

My verdict? Well, to be quite honest, it's not the best BBQ ribs I've had, but it's preddy decent in my books. The size was impressive, but the meat was a tad dry for my taste. TGI Friday's ribs were not served with a whole set of sauces like Tony Romas (which is where I had the best ribs so far), where the waiters would even give a sampling demonstration of the various sauces. The Championship BBQ Beef Ribs also came with a championship pricetag, approximately RM10 more than Tony Romas'. But I guess the price is for the size of the meal... coz their ribs are definitely bigger than Roma Ribs. The fries and onion rings were okay, and the apple coleslaw was yummy. Definitely have to try my hand at it someday. What I liked about my dish is the fact that even when the meat had cooled down, it was still crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. I had no problems finishing my plate, despite the size.. hehe. Or maybe I was just famished?? :P

When everybody was done with their meal, we took out the dessert we brought: My homemade Red Velvet Cupcakes, baked with love for my Mama. Why buy when you can make your own, right? I even piped in some letterings especially for the occasion. After much food, desserts and laughter, we took some photos to commemorate the evening. Some of the friendly waiters and waitresses even joined us for our little photoshoot. I guess Mr. Hubster's gargantuan camera has equally massive appeal :P

After all the fun, and before Deena starts to jump from table to table, we decided to push off. When we asked for the bill, we hoped the manager would come over to smooth out the Beauty Pack issue. Of course, he didn't. We actually had to call the waiter that we spoke to earlier about it to remind him [Minus Point Three]. Finally, the manager came over to see us. He apologized for the confusion, and explained that the packs were mostly taken up by walk-in patrons who had come in earlier, therefore resulting in the insufficient packs. We voiced our dissatisfaction, of course. We reserved our table ONE WEEK ahead, and yet the packs were given away freely to walk-in patrons?? Where's the justice in that? When the manager said that the walk-ins were also their patrons [Minus Point Four], I got abit miffed. Even if they're your patrons, shouldn't you give priority to those who booked ahead? And its not like we didn't say we were celebrating Mothers' Day... We suggested that they look into their booking system coz frankly, it leaves much to be desired. As much as their crew was great and friendly, and their food service was efficient, they really need to brush up their patron-management skills, especially come special occasions and promotions such as this. As a conciliation effort, the manager gave us a free appetizer voucher. Although the goodwill gesture is appreciated, I really do hope they improve their services. It would be such a waste to have all the good food, friendly crew and fun environment be ruined with a below par booking system.

All in all, it was a fun night, despite not getting the Beauty Pack for Mothers Day. What mattered was that everybody had a good meal, we spent quality time with each other and shared bucketfuls of laughter. The Beauty Pack is not nearly as valuable as the good time we had together. Would I go back to TGI Friday? Hmmm.. Walk-in... MAYBE. But I doubt that I would make a reservation there in the near future...

Everyday I thank Allah for being blessed with my two angels...

Oh and by the way, my eldest, Deena made me a bouquet of flowers for Mothers' Day! Arranged it herself, with the help of her teachers... hehe. The best Mothers' Day gift from her yet! As for MY mom, we bought her a bouquet of fresh flowers too! Had the pretty gerberas delivered to her the next morning as a surprise... So happy she loved it! :)

Till next entry... ciao!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Avengers: From A Non-Comic-Fan's View

Heyya Peeps!

OK, its time for another movie review from moi. Me, Mr. Hubster & Deena managed to go see what's possibly the most hyped over movie this month:

::The Avengers::

Pic credits:

Now, before I start, let's be clear:

I am NOT a comic geek / fangirl / follower. Whatever knowledge I do know about comic characters are what I learned from childhood cartoons, movies, and the occasional gushes from my comic-freak sister and cousins. I couldn't give a hoot whether the superhero I'm watching is of Marvel lineage or DC. Heck, the only comic I ever followed in my life was Slamdunk, and even that was just a phase. So to you Marvel fanboys and girls, please excuse any misconception and inaccurate assessments in this review. I'm just calling it as I see it -- Another superhero movie.

So, based on the posters and trailers, it's pretty clear that this movie has a collection of Marvel superheros, from the ever-popular Iron Man to the obscure Hawkeye (who??). Rounded up by Colonel Fury, The Avengers are made up of Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow & Hawkeye. From the get-go I was abit miffed that there was only one female superhero, but I guess it means less over-tight, not-enough-material costumes to objectify women to. :P

[SPOILER ALERT!!! Although I'm preddy sure almost half the Malaysian population has already seen this, those who haven't might not wanna read from this point onwards ;)]

The storyline goes something like this: Colonel Fury (Samuel L. Jackson of Star Wars) and his subordinates in S.H.I.E.L.D were experimenting on a power cube called the Tesseract that apparently Iron Man fished out of the sea with Captain America (I missed this movie) to manipulate the powerful electric-like blue current gamma energy this power cube emanates to create some weapon of mass destruction for the Government (isn't it always??), when the the cube suddenly opens a portal that allowed a human-looking alien called Loki to enter our world. Loki, coming from Asgard, turned out to be Thor's scorned half brother who has revenge and world-domination (basic alien mentality methinks) in mind. After turning Hawkeye, the scientist and several others rogue with the help of his magical staff (that has a similar Tersseract-like stone on it) and killing the rest, Loki took off with the power cube, leaving the S.H.I.E.L.D headquarters to crumble in his wake.

Amazingly, Colonel Fury, his assistant Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders of How I Met Your Mother fame) and Agent Phil Coulson (also present in the previous Iron Man movies) survived. To stop Loki from abusing the power cube's powers, Fury decided to call in the big guns: The Avengers. One by one the heroes come in, albeit reluctantly. Here's why they chose The Avengers:

Pic credit:

The Incredible Hulk: Purely for his brains. Besides, he's practically the poster boy for gamma energy accidents. Everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, squirms when the hulk in mentioned.

Iron Man: His superb state-of-the-art armour of course! Definitely NOT his ego or personality, although his sarcasm is his best suit IMHO.

Captain America: Because he's a soldier. Old fashioned idealism. Patriotism. Oh and his shield helps, of course.

Thor: Need we ask?? He's the evil villain's half brother for crying out loud. Know thy enemy and all that. His thunder-creating hammer does come in handy though...

Black Widow: The ultimate super spy. Deception and manipulation is her forte, mostly needed to wheedle out information from enemies and persuading peers to do her bidding. Oh and her killer bod doesn't hurt :P

Hawkeye: Apart from being an unbelievable good shot and a jedi-master with his bow and arrow, I have no idea why he's in the team. I guess that's why the directors had him turn rogue from the beginning... hehe.

Once The Avengers were rounded up, the lot of them took off on this cool fortress-like aircraft. The mission was to get the power cube and send Loki on his way before he destroys earth. They managed to track Loki down, and captured him while he was trying to get a bunch of museum visitors to bow down to his dictatorship. Smell the booby-trap, anyone??

So the whole gang and the villain were all packed in a battleship, mid-air. Wayyy too easy. Predictably, when you put too many supers with their bloated egos in one enclosure, all hell breaks loose, just as Loki was expecting. While the Avengers were busy arguing with each other, Loki's minions attacked the aircraft, crippling it in the process. The Avengers then clamber to keep themselves in the air, but it is no easy feat, especially with The Hulk on the loose. While the crippling aircraft was single-handedly being destroyed by The Avengers themselves, Loki escaped, killing Agent Coulson in the process.

Nothing like the death of good ol' Mr.Nice Guy to reset their perspectives. Now The Avengers were hell-bent on getting even with Loki and set aside their differences. With Hawkeye back in the game (apparently a good knock in the head did the trick), the gang was finally completed, just in time before Loki unleashed pure alien hell into New York by opening a portal that allowed his alien army to charge into earth. Awesome action sequence, mass destruction of the city, fantastical display of gadgetry commences. I was especially impressed by the alien army's carrier creatures that carried the smaller aliens in... they kinda looked like a cross between Sigourney Weaver's Alien & an oversized millipede. Iron Man's genius gadgets, The Hulk's pure brawn, Captain America & Thor's super weapons, Black Widow's exceptional shooting skills and Hawkeye's Legolas-like moves finally saves the day. Ok, ok.. so the then-rogue-now-cured scientist helped too. Happy ending all around, except for Loki that is.

The millipede-like alien vs Iron Man
Photo credit:
What I loved about this movie was the script. Loads of sarcastic jabs and witty comebacks between the supers. Some really laugh-out-loud moments too. There was also an equal balance of action, humour and melancholy. The storyline was no rocket science, but it would help if you actually followed all the past superhero movies ie. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor & The Hulk. The character development was also great, if not consistent with the prior movies.

The actors did an excellent job portraying the superheros. The mild mannered Bruce Banner was played perfectly by Mark Ruffalo. I've followed all the Hulk installments and even though Edward Norton's version was my favourite, I dare say Ruffalo's embodiment of Banner is abit more accurate to the comic/cartoon. I cannot imagine another man to play Tony Stark/Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr's tongue-in-cheek wit and dry humour played a huge part for the side-aching laughter bits. Chris Hemsworth is pretty good, although he can't seem to lose his Australian "brogue". And was it just me, or did Thor look like Tristan Ludlow's (Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall) long lost brother?? Hehe. What can I say about Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow? She has more depth in this movie coz there's more dialogue and character than her previous sidekick-ish character in Iron Man. Oh... and can I have a bod like her, pretty please???

The resemblance is uncanny, no?
Photo credits: &

Chris Evans's Captain America is a tad boring though. Maybe its the character, but methinks Chris could've adopted more than just 1-2 facial expressions throughout the movie. And Nick Fury is... well, Nick Fury. Typical Samuel L. Jackson trademark acting. I mean, I think I could've told you it was him if I had watched the movie blindfolded. It was abit strange to watch Cobie Smulders take on a serious role after her kooky Robin character on How I Met Your Mother. Wish she had more screentime though. Same goes with Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts... I just love her to bits!

So all in all, I'd say The Avengers is a must-watch movie for this month. Joss Whedon did a fabulous job indeed. The characters were also well and evenly developed, and the action sequence was enough to leave some gaping mouths throughout the cinema. Even my Deena enjoyed it, and that's quite an accomplishment since she doesn't really like anything other than cartoons and The Walking Dead.. haha. She even has a favourite Avenger... guess which one?? *wink wink*

So till next entry, toodles!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Labour Day Makan-Fest!

Mornin' peeps... *yawn*

What a slow Thursday morning it is today... I'm not really sure whether its because the lack of food a.k.a. morning coffee intake this morning (I'm attempting to fast today), the overdose of milky substance last night or the fact that I'm STILL recovering from downing too much good food on Labour Day 2 days ago. Ah... good ol' Labour Day. I must say I haven't had so much fun lazing about the house as last Tuesday...

Well my Labour Day makan-fest started earlier than most. Late Monday night I was busy in the kitchen experimenting on a new cupcake recipe that Mr. Hubster found -- Hostess Cupcakes. Its basically a chocolate cupcake with mascarpone cheese filling topped with chocolate glaze. The thing that got Mr. Hubster interested in the first place (he's not really a desserts fan, being a health-enthusiast and all) is the fact that these cupcakes are actually HEALTHY cupcakes. Yes, boys and girls... I kid you not. These are Gluten-Free cupcakes. Mr. Hubster was so excited for me to try this, he even helped me find the special flour it requires. And as usual, anything healthy or good for you is never cheap.. A box of 500g gluten-free flour costs almost RM20!! But for the sake of healthy-eating... we bought a box anyway. ;)

So I followed the recipe as best as I could, with a few tweaks here and there. I followed the recipe for the cake batter exactly, but for the filling, I substituted the mascarpone cheese with cream cheese simply because mascarpone is ridiculously expensive here. I also halved the measurements coz I'm super stingy with my cream cheese haha. As for the chocolate glaze, I used plain ol' butter instead of corn syrup. I figured it'll be less sweet that way anyway :)

Guilt-Free, Gluten-Free Hostess Cupcakes

So this is the result (well, the better looking ones at least haha). I managed to make about 20-odd cupcakes altogether. Even with the halved recipe for the filling, I had leftovers... so I used it to decorate the cupcakes by making psychedelic swirls on top of the chocolate glaze.

Come Labour Day morning, while I added the finishing touches to the cupcakes, Mr. Hubster was busy with the main course of the day: Grilled Lamb Chops & Chicken Chops and shitake mushroom-infused black pepper sauce. He is the masterchef of BBQ. I blame it on watching too much of Robert Rainford's License To Grill shows.. hehe. While I let the cupcakes chill, I started on the potato salad. But this is not the usual potato salad... its a Warm Baby Potato & Sausage Salad that I know my daughter loves. Only this time I cheated abit and put less sausages and added in an extra ingredient: Celery sticks! Masked in creamy sauce, none would be the wiser... *rubs hands with glee* ;p

The Spread

Come lunchtime, we set the tables. We had a guest over so we brought out the good tableware. We even toasted some garlic butter baguettes to complete the meal. Everybody, my little family, mom, sisters and guest crammed our cosy little dining area and ate to our hearts' content. Even little Delea was enjoying the little gathering. We placed her baby chair right smack in the middle so she can get everybody's attention. Clearly both my kids are attention-hoggers. I wonder who they got that from hahaha.

Inside the cupcake...

Then came the much-awaited cupcakes. For everybody else, desserts has always been the highlight of almost every meal, but for me, I'm just curious what would be the response to these healthy cuppies. And the verdict -- a runaway success! Nobody even noticed the slightly different texture to the cake (it is slightly heavier with a tad wholemeal-ish taste.. to my tastebuds at least). Apart from that, the cakes turned out rich, moist and very chocolatey.The only improvement I need to make if I ever make these again would be to dig out a slightly bigger hole to pipe in more filling... hehe.

Ossum Cranium!

Full to the brim and sated by the yummy heavy meal, we decided to play a board game to avoid from falling asleep on super full stomachs. My sister brought out what could possibly be the most awesome board game ever created thus far: CRANIUM. For those who've never heard of it, this game is a cross of monopoly, charades, pictionary, win-lose-or-draw, trivial pursuit, scrambler and play-doh all in one. Add in funky little game pieces called humanoids and voila! Cranium. Not to toot my own horn, but me and Mr. Hubster happen to rock at this game, making it an instant favourite of ours. Not to mention the bucketfuls of side-aching laughter that ensues throughout the game... fun fun fun!

All in all, it was a really great laidback day for me and the clan. We wiped clean whatever grilled chops and salads at dinner. Altogether, that's 16 pieces of lamb chops, 8 pieces of chicken chops, a big bowl of potato salad, 2 whole baguettes, and almost 15 cupcakes finished in one day, feeding exactly 7 adults and 1 kid. A feast? I definitely think so. I most definitely wanna do this again and I recommend you do the same with your family too! ;)