A Taste of Hong Kong At Sheng Kee


SK 1UThere’s something about a bowl of oriental dessert that is comforting to the core of our Chinese stomachs. Perhaps it’s about growing up as a Malaysian Chinese that just links all of our childhood memories to the warm bowl of sweet red bean dessert (ang dow zhui) served in the old soup bowl that mom cooked for us after dinner which spoke of her devotion and doting love for us. Perhaps it’s all in the magic of having something to enjoy which brings back the memories of different places we travelled to, their sights and sound, and certainly the distinctive flavours they are known for.

What they serve at Sheng Kee, in a gist.

What they serve at Sheng Kee, in a gist.

Because one of our relatives has moved to Hong Kong, the little pearl of the orient is by now a regular travel destination for the happiest little family. We must have been travelling there once every one to two years since 2009 when I first visited HK for work purpose and subsequently brought the kids along to enjoy its cool weather from October to December. Naturally, anyone who has been to Hong Kong has had a dim sum or Cantonese-styled noodles. And anyone who has a sweet tooth has had at least a bowl of Hong Kong styled mango desserts at some point to beat the sweltering heat of its summer months.

The reason we have not gone broke from all the air fares is because of this simple philosophy that “desperate food craving time call for desperate but cheap measures”. This translates to getting our fix locally. Yes honey, you really don’t have to fly all the way to HK just to get a taste of its authentic flavours. The answer lies in Hong Kong Sheng Kee Dessert @ One Utama (drumrolls, please, I feel super-smart already).

Sheng Kee Braised Pork Rice served with Mui Choy is a filling, hearty dish prepared using the freshest ingredients and slowly cooked to perfection to seal in the flavour.

Sheng Kee Braised Pork Rice served with Mui Choy is a filling, hearty dish prepared using the freshest ingredients and slowly cooked to perfection to seal in the flavour.

Hong Kong Sheng Kee Dessert, which has 18 successful outlets in Singapore, has opened their first outlet right here at One Utama Shopping Centre last year to introduce and create the same buzz surrounding Hong Kong snacks and desserts at its outlet located at LG Floor Oval (New Wing) here.

With more than 60 tempting items on the menu, there are plenty of choices for foodies hunting down Hong Kong style desserts, snacks as well as authentic Cantonese noodles and rice dishes prepared with quality ingredients by an authentic Cantonese chef and his dedicated local kitchen team.

Sweetened by Phillipines Mango and the tangy crunch of juicy Pomelo, this SK Mango Pomelo Sago is a summer delight.

Sweetened by Phillipines Mango and the tangy crunch of juicy Pomelo, this SK Mango Pomelo Sago is a summer delight.

Last week, this happiest little family decided to give some of the popular dishes featured at the outlet a try, because we will not be planning for a trip to HK anytime soon and the 25% Cantonese gene in me which is inherited from my maternal grandma was craving for a mango dessert somehow (blame it on the work stress but someone wise did say that desserts is stressed spelled backwards, and I was ready to prove him right).

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Pumpkin Mei-Mei loves her dessert!

Unlike most food outlets on the streets of Hong Kong which are quite cramped and hushed due to the way Hongkies have made space efficiency and productivity a business priority, Sheng Kee outlet at One Utama is comfortably bright and spacious, with much room for sharing of food among family and friends, and the waiting service was satisfactory. We even find the lady supervisor who tended to us that night extremely friendly and would even explain how most of the dishes were prepared to us patiently.

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SK Double combination noodle features Cha Siew amd fresh prawn dumplings that is a favourite classic at Sheng Kee.

With her recommendations, we ordered a good range of savoury and desserts for our dinner and ended the night on a pleasant note. Our favourites include the Crispy Salmon Skin With Meat Floss for starter, SK Signature Combination Noodle (a must-try if you are one who loves chasiew and dumplings served with fresh crisp egg noodles), the fluffy and delicately yummy snowy-bun

Sheng Kee's Snowy Cha Siew Bun is baked in a fluffy bun crust that is unlike any buns I have ever tasted.

Sheng Kee’s Snowy Cha Siew Bun is baked in a fluffy bun crust that is unlike any buns I have ever tasted.

and its yuan-yang paste which is a clever mix of sesame paste served in intricate balance with sweet almond paste, both known for longevity and beauty in Chinese ancient belief.

Yuan Yang Paste

Yuan Yang Paste

With all the stresses busted, we proved that HK desserts did do a good job in comforting the core of our Chinese stomachs. I know, because the SK Pomelo Mango Sago desserts that were ordered by me were finished by the 3 happiest little people in less than the time for me to say “enjoy it, kids”. I should have known. But oh well, that’s what a mother need to sacrifice for, all in the name of love.

 

SWEET TREATS ARE FOR SHARING! Sheng Kee is having a special promotion now just for you. Take this simple steps:

1) Like the Sheng Kee Facebook  at 

https://www.facebook.com/hongkongshengkeedessertMY

2) VISIT Hong Kong Sheng Kee Dessert @ One Utama and ORDER their favourite mains (try the signatures or anything else!) 

3) Get 1 FREE SK Mango Pomelo Sago with each main course ordered – tell the wait staff “Sweet treats with Sheng Kee” upon settling the bill to claim this. 

Baby B digged right into the SK Mango Pomelo Sago dessert that was supposed to be mine. :)

Baby B digged right into the SK Mango Pomelo Sago dessert that was supposed to be mine. 🙂

*This is an exclusive sweet treat just for your friends and followers! Offer expires 31 May 2015.

*To keep to the authentic Hong Kong flavour, the casual dining restaurant is presently not halal.

Family Trip to Bangkok in December 2013


Bangkok Trip in December 2013, truly asian, truly fun.

Bangkok Trip in December 2013, truly asian, truly fun.

Some airlines are throwing promotions online and offline for parents to book a dream holiday with their kids come this school holidays. And if you need some ideas on what to do with your adorable small set, Bangkok offers the perfect setting for a fun and affordable family vacation which combines delicious Thai food (oh, Tom Yam Kung, how I love thee!) , cheap shopping, friendly people and a host of charming family attractions that will make a family vacation truly memorable.

We went to Bangkok in December 2013 (yes I should have posted this long time ago!) on Air Asia Free Seat Promotion early of the year and ended up paying RM1600 for 5 of us, which was quite a steal. Throw in a cheap hotel deal from those online sales group for our amazing hotel stay at the Royal President Bangkok Hotel for less than RM900 for 5D4N, our family vacation for five pax was all in RM2500, which was really not a bad deal at all.lion king

Roar like a lion or lioness!

Roar like a lion or lioness!

I am not kidding when I say my kids have visited just about every zoo locally in Malaysia as well as in the South East Asia. But the one that really stood out as our favourite-est favourite is the Safari Park of Bangkok. I cannot praise it enough for the sheer awesome learning opportunity for the kids to learn how animal live and behave in the natural habitat of their own. So, to satisfy the animals-lover of our little people, we headed straight to the safari on day 2 with a driver guide recommended by the hotel.

Do not mess with me, says the tiger. Yes we know, sir!

Do not mess with me, says the tiger. Yes we know, sir!

Safari World is divided into two zones: There is the open space, 500-acre Safari Park that comes with a bird park where one can drive through in their own car or in the park bus, and a Marine Park which is the traditional zoo that showcases many shows, lots of food stalls and souvenir shops.

Even as a grown up, my imaginations went wild as soon as we reached the open air Safari Park! The definitive keyword here is Herds. Whereas the other zoos in this part of Asia house animals that look like they are undernourished, bored and lonely because they are confined to such small, sad space within their cages, Safari Park Bangkok is a very impressive eight kilometers wide land where animals wander freely in groups and herds exactly like one of the Madagascar movies!

rhinoFeast your eyes on the wilderness as you drive past tigers, lions, deer, zebras, antelopes, black bears, horses, camels, rhinos, pelicans, ostriches, cranes, storks and more, all roaming so healthily, looking handsome and well-fed and so wild in a really well-maintained free space of their own that are filled with trees and preserved naturally like a safari jungle. Wind down your windows at your own risk but I wouldn’t do that with 3 active kids in tow. 🙂 There is a separate drive-through safari area that houses the carnivores with massive metal grill gates complete with a security lookout tower as if you are entering the Jurassic Park. My three happiest little people were all oohs and aahs during the whole tour— it couldn’t get any better!

Cheeky Koko fed banana to the giraffe

Cheeky Koko fed banana to the giraffe

We also watched an animal shows at the zoo’s amphitheatre but the kids loved the spectacular dolphin show the most. At this point Baby B grew so tired (he was barely two years old) he slept through the entire show but Cheeky Koko and Pumpkin Mei-Mei were awe-struck with the whole performance.

After that we also watched a western cowboy stunt show that was a little cheesy but it did showcase the performers’ horse-riding ability and with its good old western humorous acts, was a nice way to wrap up the whole visit with a smile on the kids.

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The lion king upclose and personal right next to our car!

My personal favourite was the giraffe feeding platform where at a very low fees, the kids could buy some banana to feed these graceful giants which was a nice way to inculcate love for the animals in children. The gentle giraffes came in large herds. There must be at least more than 100 head counts there that make it such a sight to behold. Did I mention Herds?

We spent our day 3 on our own to do some retail therapy at the Platinum Fashion Mall and spent half of our day there. Because Bangkok is home to so many treasure troves of shopping malls and wholesale market, really, if you are into haggling prices in the wholesale market such as the Chatuchak Market or Night Markets, you should really travel there with an empty large luggage to lug back all the goods and satisfaction from Bangkok. Things that can be found there are largely imported from China which means you can get very good bargains for such things as home decorations, kitchen wares, kids clothing, tees, arts pieces and a gazillion of knick-knacks.

Tranquil ride down Bangkok canal called klong.

Tranquil ride down Bangkok canal called klong.

With the 3 kids, it was not feasible to walk through the many alleys of wholesale markets or the open-air stalls of the Chatuchak under the scorching hot sun to get our shopping done, so we opted for Platinum Fashion Mall instead, which is a 6-storey wholesale mall at the Pratunam area to get our shopping completed in the comfort of an enclosed, air-conditioned mall environment with the same satisfaction that came from putting our best bargaining power to full test. For less than RM300, we managed to get basic clothing such as tees, hats and short pants for Daddy Joe, trendy work tops, denim jeans for Cheeky Koko, Thai designer tops for Pumpkin Mei-Mei, jumper for Baby B, fashion belts and accessories that filled our small empty luggage to the brim. It was truly a fun experience to get some retail therapy.fruits

No trips in Bangkok is complete for the kids without a visit to their Khlong (Bangkok canals beautifully nicknamed as the Venice of the East) on a long-tail boat. So on day 4, we engaged the same driver again to bring us to where we hopped onto a small fast boat to visit this famous waterway along the Chao Phraya River.

Thai souvenirs sold at the floating market.

Thai souvenirs sold at the floating market.

The kids were thrilled to be riding the narrow but fast boats that cut through the waterway, which was quite a delightful and tranquil experience as we zipped past the many wooden local houses along the long canal only to reach a floating market at the end where there were many Thai traders crisscrossing and trading on their small boats packed with our favourite dessert — Khao Neow Ma Muang (sweet mangoes served with glutinous rice and sweet coconut milk), local arts and crafts, fruit and drinks and even roast pork rice which made the whole experience made even more enjoyable.

Sweet mango served with glutinous rice was a real treat. I must have bought 3 plates of this dessert to reverse my working mama stress. :)

Sweet mango served with glutinous rice was a real treat. I must have bought 3 plates of this dessert to reverse my working mama stress. 🙂

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Kids enjoyed the elephant ride so much!

We learned that for many villagers, the waterway is still used as a main transport mode (in the form of a water taxi) to get around. It made you appreciate the simple conveniences and joy back home where one is able to get around in your own bike, car or any of the public transportations. After that, our driver also brought us to an elephant sanctuary where they offered elephant rides for the kids at around RM30/pax for a full 30 minutes ride around a small forest. Elephants are much revered in Thailand, and it’s not hard to see why — the kind, intelligent, gentle mammal made not just Baby B but all three kids came back with a beaming smile that lasted for days on end!

Good family vacations do not have to be extravagant nor does it have to be extremely sophisticated for the average family. All in, we feel Bangkok truly has its rich, charming Asian flavour offered in an affordable package for families that seek a good bargain and enriching fun memories that last a lifetime. Happy holidays to all!

Elephant show was both entertaining and educational at the same time.

Elephant show was both entertaining and educational at the same time.

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If you love food, Bangkok is a foodie haven for delicious Thai food to savour all year round.

22 Dinosaurs Roaming in Kuala Lumpur


Apart from being a wife, a mom, a daughter, a friend, a worker, a sister and a positive thinker, I recently realize that I too, am the official Social Director of our happiest little family. But of course, I suck at it compared to my friend Cheng.

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I got to know Cheng through work few years back. She was born a Malaysian but migrated to New York since she was nine and is now as American as the American Pie. Being a working mom of four married to an ABC, she is the epitome of a modern day mom who has it all – she is the happy breadwinner who excels at work (some years back due to the recession her husband lost his job and they figured since she had a more promising job, and since both also wanted one of them to care for the kids and be there for them through their growing up years that it was a better arrangement that her husband became the stay-home dad instead) and at home life.

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Every weekend her family would be doing something fun together, such as a cook-out with grandparents, canning their own jams, cycling together, visiting a farmer’s market, taking a metro to visit arts museum, picnic at the park, attending outdoor concerts or just taking a stroll to some interesting places which made me wonder why I could not find just as many interesting places around KL that can so much as stimulating my happiest little people to want to know about life and things beyond their boring textbooks.
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Every school holidays, I scour through google to find places of interest locally that can make our interactions and time spent together a fulfilling and memorable journey.

Never quite a Jurassic Park fan myself (uh-uh. Ain’t messing with those ferocious carnivores or prehistoric reptiles who consistently thought humans were food in the movie!), I was initially a little hesitant to step into the Malaysian Jurassic Park (yep, you heard me right and do enter at your own risk because you are dealing with not just one but 22 dinosaurs of all shapes, sizes and appetites too!)

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Unlike the world’s favourite dinosaur Barney, these dinosaurs do not look like they need a hug t all but thankfully they do not bite either! They are life-like, can really roar and even move if you wake them accidentally but they are pretty much tamed and now viewable at the Dinoscovery by Dinosaurs Live! which is Asia Pacific’s first-of-its-kind interactive, edutainment dinosaurs exhibition located at Discoveria, Avenue K.

Now, to visit these dinosaurs, one is expected to dress in style like a Paleontologist (Bermudas, safari hats and matching trail boots are not necessary, of course), which is easy considering that each visitor is first decked in tan-coloured Dinoscovery vest before the trail to track down the dinosaurs begins.
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After a fun and short briefing, visitors are to complete the Dino Quest in search of specific dinosaur specimens amidst the roars of many larger-than-life animatronic dinosaurs in their habitats which make it a rather unique and fun learning experience for children of all ages.

There were more than a dozen family-friendly activities such as Climbing an artificial rock wall to glimpse a Pteranodon’s eggs, Race A Theropod where visitors are given the chance to challenge the swift-footed Gallimimus in a 10-metre interactive race (losers won’t be eaten I guarantee, seeing that Cheeky Koko has had to race it twice to win the race but didn’t get swallowed alive when he lost the race to the Gallimimus at first), the Dinoshooting Range where visitors can partake in a mission to save sleeping Diplodocuses from pesky mozzies with paintball rifles and also watch a 3D Dinosaurs Movie.

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Pumpkin Mei-Mei and Baby B loved the final game the best which was all about excavating for fossils in a sand pit. They also enjoyed learning about the different kind of food dinosaurs ate. It was a good thing that all of the facts about these prehistoric animals were presented in fun, humorous and interactive language and manners that the kids could relate to.
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As for Seven2SevenMom, all that was proof of her worth as the best Social Director to her kids were happy smiles captured in the photo souvenirs she bought which speaks a thousand words – that Dinosaurs hunting could turn out to be the best school holiday fun sometimes, especially the kinds that will make you want to go back for more. J

Dinoscovery by Dinosaurs Live!will run from 21 March 2014 to 28 February 2015. Tickets for children aged 17 years and below are priced at RM35 for Malaysians and RM50 for non-Malaysians while tickets for adults are priced at RM25 for Malaysians and RM40 for non-Malaysians. Senior citizens (aged above 60) and persons with disabilities are given a special concession rate of RM19. Opening hours are 10am to 10pm daily including school and public holidays with last admission at 9pm.

Just as we came to the end of our visit, Cheeky Koko mumbled, “Ahhh… perfect for lunch!” as he stood up on the sand pit. Curious, I asked him what he meant to which my super-cheeky 12 years old pointed with a smile towards the T-Rex ribs he dug out from the fossils sand pit. Truly entertaining!

The Dinoscovery by Dinosaurs Live! Exhibition is exclusively brought by EMS Entertainment and supported by Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture, making it the first-of-its-kind edutainment exhibition to be hosted here at Level 4 of Avenue K, Kuala Lumpur.

Bali Through Lumix GM1


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The renowned Sunset at Tanah Lot

I have always enjoyed travelling – the liberation to breathe again… away from the daily grind and of the joy of discovering new places, learning about its people, history, food, to appreciate their way of life and to absorb in the beauty of mother nature.

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The magnificent view of Mount Batur

Ever the dreamy explorer that I am, there is also the unmatched joy in finding what a beautiful canvas God has created the world to be with its generous offering in landscapes, cultures, history, its people and their amazing tapestry of colours and life.

Some places you travel and you like it immediately without knowing why. Some places you need to go more than once and in-depth to explore its surroundings and feel the pulse of the city before you appreciate it. The latter explains why it took two trips for me to understand all the buzz around Bali in this part of the world.

Anyway, my first trip to Bali was in 2012 together with Baby B during a company trip.
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I was breastfeeding Baby B exclusively and he was only 6 months old so I asked for the management’s approval to pay for his infant flight ticket on my own with the selling point that he was a really easy-going and good baby.
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He proved to be a sweet angel throughout the journey and even during the flights, snuggly held close to me in his baby carrier as we covered almost a dozen of must-see places in the five-day trip. However, may be because I still had to think about finding a place all the time to change his nappies, breastfeed in our transport and feed him his first baby food, I was a distracted tourist who did not fathom why people were smitten with Bali’s sunset, terraced rice paddies and inactive volcanoes. I looked but I did not see its beauty.

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At last, while attending a good friend’s beautiful wedding last week in Bali with some girlfriends, I finally saw and comprehended its beauty and knew why my friend has chosen Bali as the venue for her destination wedding.

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Their respect for life, their reverence for their family gods and the power of nature and the harmony between people are displayed in full splendour through their dedication to the many daily spiritual rituals. image

Their unique perspective about harmonious living is encapsulated in their songs, artistic sculpture, fashions and it shows magnificently in their everyday appreciation for life in general.

Despite a short 3-day visit to Bali this round, I finally got it. I understood Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey in Eat, Pray, Love a little more.

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What an idyllic setting our resort villa was!

May be it was because of the Uma Sapna Villa we put up at which came with our own private pool, but at last I got in touch with the relaxing vibe of Bali. I also took time to treat myself to a luxurious Hair Cream Bath at the Bodyworks Bali Spa which soothingly eased my stresses away.
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I packed my trusted travel mate Panasonic Lumix GM1 along this round and hope that through these pictures, you will start to feel the artistic beats and mystical charm of the exotic Bali and make it the ideal place for your second honeymoon or even the renewal of love vows over its gorgeous sunset!

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My first luxurious hair spa experience with a Cream Bath… and the blissful moment captured by Panasonic Lumix GM1. Hehe

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Glorious Asian food at Mamasan

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It was a dream! Perfect trip with perfect company!

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In between a few glasses of drinks, I had my Lumix GM1 did a Black & White rendition of the happening Kudeta Bar.

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Besotted With Penang


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Ernest Zacharevic Wall Mural Painting of A Pair of Siblings on Armenian Street, Penang. PIcture courtesy of my friend, Kent Lee,because I have yet to bring the munchkins to visit these beautiful artwork.

If you must ask every Malaysian which local town he or she would like to stay in after retirement (that is if money wasn’t an issue), at least half of them would name Penang as one of the places to grow old in. It’s like how Americans generally view Florida as the chosen place for their golden retirement, Penang is somewhat top of the list for us Malaysians because of its old-meets-new charm that is presented in an appealing package of small town friendliness, British colonial heritage, long stretches of soft sandy beaches and gorgeous sunset.

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The rich hues and vibrant colour composition of this spectacular sunset shot at Penang was taken with my Panasonic Lumix GM1.

Top that with its rich history dating back to the 1700s of being one of our three famous port cities along with Singapore and Melaka, it is then no wonder that Penang is also nicknamed the Pearl of the Orient and that’s quintessentially how charming and vital Penang is to every Malaysian.

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Quaint architectural heritage. Courtesy of a friend, Evie Ho.

Penang is also as famous for its quaint architectural heritage as its iconic status as the food capital of Malaysia. Every conversation and friendly debate revolving the best Char Koay Teow (a very famous fried flat noodles fried with soy sauce, chilli, prawns, cockles, egg, bean sprouts and Chinese chives) or the tastiest Mee Goreng (fried yellow noodles) among food-obsessed Malaysians ends with an uncompromised statement that so-and-so stall in Penang has the best of them all. Even the best Ice Kacang (our local version of shaved ice dessert drizzled with Gula Melaka and coconut syrup) in the whole of Malaysia just has to be found in Penang. We love our Penang food that much that it almost borders on national pride already.

I suppose I don’t need to explain much about why we ended up in Penang a month ago then. Apart from the obvious reason of embarking on a food trail, as a family who loves the great outdoor, we were throwing ourselves into the swimming pool almost every day at the Holiday Inn Resort where we had a great vacation relaxing at its gorgeous private beach and taking in the lovely scenic sunset.Image

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Taken with the Sepia creative mode. As you can tell I was having fun just experimenting with all the scene guides and creative filters that come with the GM1! 🙂

I certainly think that the Penang trip was one of the best vacations we have had locally and I have every moment of us enjoying the sun and the fun all captured by my sleek-looking, smart, all-in-one compact digital camera built with DSLR functions – Panasonic Lumix GM1.

I’d like to imagine that I am a Picasso with my GM1. Its Scene Guide function which literally comes with a real sample picture on its touch screen to show you the sample picture effect you could achieve with each selection such as Clear Portrait, Silky Skin, Backlit Softness, Sweet Child’s Face, Vivid Sunset Glow, Glistening Water, Appetizing food, and etc. gives you multiple artistic possibilities and controls over the mood, visual effects and focus of your subject, like a professional photographer at work, except that achieving all of these shots do not involve carrying dozens of different filter lens or getting a diploma in photography.Image Although it is a compact digital camera, Lumix GM1 does not compromise its picture quality in that every detail down to the colour hues of the scenery and subject is expressed fully in every photo including its raw file. Cool!

As a busy working mom with three kids ranging from toddler to pre-teens, I can assure you that I do not have the luxury of time to pour through every photography literature and blogs to learn how to take my best shot. I also do not have much time to capture those candid moments as they happen. That is why I love that Lumix GM1 allows me to interpret how I want to capture those moments as it happens, quickly and accurately, without ever learning how to take good photos formally. Apart from time factor, these kids… they run, they make funny faces, they play and they may not relive their moment of cuteness TWICE!

Lumix GM1 gives me the power to make life artistic with its much touted intelligent creative control. This neat feature comes with more than 20 pre-set filter effects covering a wide variety of popular themes from the likes of Expressive, Retro, Old Days, Impressive Art, Cross Process, Soft Focus, Sunshine Mode, Star filter, High Key, Low Key, Sepia, Toy Pop, Toy Effect makes photo-taking of scenery, portraits, active subjects, interesting scenes and actions (lots of it!)Image a straight no-brainer.

All I have ever learned about photography as an art is encapsulated in a five-worded golden nugget of wisdom shared by a friend of mine who once said that, “In photography, less is more.” I literally just have to find what picture mood tickles my fancy, focus on that one thing because less is more, effortlessly select the Creative Mode, and just point and snap.Image

I hope you enjoy my photos, especially the sunset shots in Penang. I was truly fascinated with its rich hues and how they were brilliantly captured by my Panasonic Lumix GM1. And the next time if you overheard a Malaysian mentioning about retiring into the sunset, my photos would show you that she is really referring to the charming sunset of Penang.

Cheers!

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When we told him that time was up for sand play, Baby B gave us this awful expression as if it was the end of the world. LOL

When we told him time’s up for sand play, Baby B gave us this awful expression as if it was the end of the world. LOL

Hope & Prayer


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Let there be hope for MH370.
Picture taken using Panasonic Lumix GM1 – “Vivid Sunset Glow” setting at Penang

I have not been able to put my mind and thoughts to blogging since the whole episode of the disappearance of Malaysia Airline MAS MH370 on March 8th unfold before the eyes of a now-worldwide audience and a multinational search and rescue operation that ensued.

As with most Malaysians, my first incredible flight experience was delivered by MAS when my papa bought our whole family to Singapore on a MAS flight when I was only five years old.

Everything about the flying journey was awesome – the all-dolled up air stewardess in the gorgeous green Kebaya uniform who smiled and gave me some sweets as a treat was what I imagined a princess should look like, and when she brought out the brown colour in-flight blanket and a little pillow for me, I literally thought all angels worked in the sky!

The view above the clouds were magnificent beyond words – little soft, fluffy white clouds that floated underneath the wings of the plane reminded me of the pillows Mickey and Donald rested their heads on after a long tiring day that were made of the softest, finest cotton which carried them to their sweetest dreams.

The experience of being able to fly like birds in the sky and even rise above them and witness the warm glowing sun cast a lovely ray of rich hues over the clear blue skyline was incredibly breath-taking.

So many contradicting theories and guesses have taken place over the last eight days and none seemed to emerge as the answer as to what actually happened to Flight 370 along with its 239 crews and passengers. Perhaps because I am a mother, I can’t help but to feel sad for the family members and friends of those who were on board the ill-fated flight, especially the seven child passengers who were also in the plane.

Along with all Malaysians, my hope and prayers go out to those in the flight and their loved ones – May God sustain them, keep them safe and sound and fill their days with His loving grace until they reunite with their loved ones.

Creativity & Beauty Through Lumix GM1


Innocently, Cheeky Koko asks, “Mama, when you were a kid, did your world appear only in Black and White?”

“What? No, why do you ask this?” I asked.

“I was just looking at photos from grandpa, grandma’s times and photos from your time and they were all black and white, so I thought may be your world came in that colours only!” My preteen scientist thought so logically.

“Well, those days cameras were bulky, less technology-driven and more skills-driven instead, and the photos could only be processed in black and white hence grandpa and grandma and even your great grandpa and great grandma had photos that are in black and white only. But Excusez-moi, little man, here’s the correction: your mom though seems to be born at dinosaur age at times but really I am from the 70s era, where those great songs like YMCA and the discos were in their heydays, so my childhood photos already came in faintish colours of yellow and brown, k? Not black and white.” I said defensively.

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The magnificent beauty of Melaka – both old and new is captured with one of Panasonic Lumix GM1’s special effects called “Retro”.

“And certainly the world since the time God first created it had appeared in its full spectrum of colours. I can imagine Adam and Eve saw it a little more blue than you, a little more green and perhaps the sun came in a nicer shade of crimson red because they didn’t have pollution like what we have now,” I continued.

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Discovered this cool café lounge called Geography while strolling along the Jonker Street, which I captured using its original iA mode. See how the image is stabilised even though I took this shot while walking and chasing after my kids!

“OK, just my imagination. Got it, Mom!” Short and succinct is his middle name these days.

At times like these, I know why preteens and teens can drive parents up their wall by their seemingly curious child-like nature which turns into a cold, shut-the-world-out machine at the very next second. May be he’s a little grown up now — not a small boy anymore but certainly not yet a youth. I just have to learn to release him to the teenage-hood, ready or not, steadily.

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Another freestyle shot using iA mode from Lumix GM1. I have had to reduce the file size for the blog which doesn’t even do justice for the real beauty that we witnessed through my GM1.

Perhaps I am not ready yet. Here’s my first baby who ushered me into motherhood 12 years ago, whose entire birth, his first words, first smile, first turn, first step, first haircut and first mischief got Daddy Joe and I fascinated long into the nights as we learned to be the best first-time parents ever. I can still remember how everything that he was doing even as small as building his first sand castle was worth photo-taking with our first compact camera loaded with a film roll.

The photos that came from the first generation compact camera were at times blurred, at times too white because of the flash light, too dark because we didn’t use the flashlight, too full of flaws because of the background — all of which were largely because digital cameras were not invented until a few years later.

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Sweet interactions between the siblings can pass us so very quickly. But with my new toy, I feel like the real supermom with the power to etch this memory permanently with a quick shot using the camera’s built-in filter called “Clear Portrait”.

Digital camera got us hooked initially because we could take and retake precious moments to our heart’s content but it only did just that – point and shoot. Sometimes the moments were right but the technology and the lack of any photo-taking skill produced photo quality that just came out fairly plain.

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Imagine the size of the Lumix GM1 is as small as an iphone, and almost same length as Daddy Joe’s basic Nokia handphone. Its weight? About the same as a pack of Drinho Chrysanthemum Tea!

We have since owned two digital cameras as we expanded our family members but none could come close to the smartness of Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GM1K which I recently was invited to put to test as a mother because it targets young fashionable females and especially young mothers (believe it or not, I still qualify, ok? LOL!) with its light weight, compact size (small as an iphone!) and fashionably stylish package. Yet within this lovable compact camera-meets-SLR-function package, this wondrous digital camera is jammed pack with mother-friendly features that were once achievable if only one was armed with a SLR camera and canggih-manggih (high tech) lenses.

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Daddy Joe shot this pix of me taking photos again with my new toy, but see how small it is and how cool it makes a plain Jane mom like me a little bit more cool because of its stylish and retro design in bright orange colour? It really is my new BFF!

Because we don’t have a SLR camera, I sometimes use a phone app such as PicsArt to give artistic touches to the quick photos I take of the happiest little kids. No doubt these apps made me feel almost like a semi-professional photographer because of their ability to capture the surrounding ambience and the moment in time almost quite fine, somehow the photos are still not rich in their detailing and it doesn’t give us the satisfaction that comes from using a real camera to take photos, especially one that gives you the full control like the SLR, minus the required expenses, bulkiness and technical know-how.

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Local shops that are full of characters come aplenty in Melaka!

For my first attempt with Lumix GM1, this happiest little family here has taken a day trip to Melaka, one of Malaysia’s oldest port cities with a trading history dating back to the 15th century and a charming mix of Dutch, Portugese and British colonial heritage that makes it a colourful multicultural  town. From its unique Baba Nyonya heritage as well as its European architectural influences such as the must-visit A Famosa forts and the new retro vibes that are bursting through its touristic cafes and famous streets, they become the perfect backdrop for my experiment with my new gadget.

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These Asian bowls were sold at a shop which encapsulated the multicultural heritage that is bursting through every corner of Melaka. Took this using a special effect called “Old Days”— accessible at an easy scrolling through Lumix GM1’s touch screen. The fun had just started!

I mostly capture the stories of the lovely city by using a very retro built-in filter that comes with the camera. All in, there are 22 filters one can easily switch to at the touch-screen panel to get creative with. There are mothers-approved filters such as child portrait, clear portrait, soft portrait, and cool landscape and skyline filters such as romantic sunset, cool sunset, night landscape, glistening landscape and etc, how not to be feel what Picasso feels when one is able to hold the power to be creative at her fingertips? 🙂

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This is a shot captured using a special effect called “Sunshine” which adds a cast of light to the photo. Hello, the power to play with creativity is just fun!

Overall the camera is light but packed loads with smart features that make capturing these fleeting moments a mom sees such as that cute as a button smile in a photo a supremely easy task. No more expensive family portraits at a studio when everything seems staged. A child’s most natural expression is captured beautifully and naturally with the help of the many fool-proof features.

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Another “retro” mood I tried to capture of some fridge magnets found at a shop. We ended up buying those Nyonya kebaya magnets because they were too cute!

My only regret? If only this was invented 12 years back then perhaps I could hold onto sweet memories of my first baby Cheeky Koko and second baby Pumpkin Mei-Mei that much more longer through vibrant and crisp clear photos produced by the Lumix GM1.

Baby B is just a very lucky baby to be born in this technology age – there is so much more that I can preserve his cuteness in the photos than I could with his older brother and sister, anytime and anywhere. If only time could turn back for me to do what I wanted to do all along.

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Not London. Melaka has its own splashes of red dotted around everywhere in its town inspired by the A Famosa, such as this touristic hop-on bus!

But I am guessing I could still snap the two preteens as much as I want, even when they are trying to cover up their faces and do funny shots like these!

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Follow us as we learn to take full control of Lumix GM1 to capture the beauty of another iconic city of Malaysia, coming up soon!

A Three Dimensional Fun


My almost-75 years old papa led my siblings and I to the living room as we continued our grownup’s discussion.

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‘Well, I just want to remind all of you not to think that you owe your children a family vacation every year. Even if it’s just a local trip, it still costs money. It’s a vicious cycle, then you work hard to save for the trip and then because you work so hard, you hardly have time to spend with your kids. What’s wrong with spending quality time that do not cost as much but that which allows you to enrich their souls through affordable channels such as a visit to the local museum that can offer them plenty of fun learning?” He asked us, like a wise owl which has seen it all from above his forest of life.

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With that piece of golden nuggets of wisdom from Papa, my siblings and I scrambled for Google to check on local activities that are both educational and affordable for our own set of children, which led me to uncover the ancient art of trompe-l’oeil a few weeks later at the Trick Art Museum, located at i-City— a tourist attraction that offers family entertainment activities in Shah Alam, Selangor.

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The Wikipedia says that an oft-told ancient Greek story concerning this ancient art is that of a contest between two renowned painters. Zeuxis (born around 464 BC) produced a still-life painting so convincing that birds flew down to peck at the painted grapes. A rival, Parrhasius, asked Zeuxis to judge one of his paintings that was behind a pair of tattered curtains in his study. Parrhasius asked Zeuxis to pull back the curtains, but when Zeuxis tried, he could not, as the curtains were Parrhasius’s painting—making Parrhasius the winner. Wow!

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Here at our local Trick Art Museum, specially drawn paintings play tricks on our mind through two dimensional (2D) paintings that have been skilfully rendered by artists to make them appear as three dimensional (3D). Basically, the optical illusions are created by the clever painting of shadows and action outside the perimeter of the picture frames which the visitors can participate by adding on their own poses as if they are also the subject of the extended painting. Of course, well positioned lighting enhances the overall 3D effect.

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The place is not large but fairly small with only 8,000 sq.ft. of space housed over two floors of a shoplot and has been divided into 5 themes — Masterpieces, Egyptian, Marine Life, Animal Kingdom and Modern Classics.

Because it is not a large place, the entire visit can be concluded within an hour and a half. The museum is open from 11am until midnight and entry cost is RM5 per pax. The three happiest little people obviously enjoyed posing along and we hope that it was a trip that had sparked their life-long creativity and opened up a world of imagination and appreciation for arts for them.
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After that we wanted to visit the Wax Museum which was just a block away… which woman wouldn’t want to rub shoulders with Brad Pitt, right… (OK, Angelina Jolie too, since she is too near him in life and in wax form!) but because adults were charged with an entrance fee of RM80 and children RM40 respectively even with our MyKad, our whole family would have to pay something like RM240 for a few hours visit! Alas, our budgets have some limitations so I told the kids that we just had to work on our patience until the museum offer us folks a discount in the future.

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Yes, it’s all cheap parenting here my papa would agree that a smart parent saves for what matter more in life! Wink* 🙂

Poppin’ Beauty


I sat there crunching numbers for an upcoming presentation when the Finance cum HR lady appeared right in front of me holding a piece of printed schedule in her hand.

“Good morning!!!” she greeted chirpily.

“Good morning Helen (not her real name), sunny side up, eh? You look like you have had a good rest last night, my friend!” I said.

“Yes, well, with the major budgeting season FINALLY over, I can have a good sleep! I see that it’s your turn now playing with numbers, eh? Hey, can I check with you if you could train the new recruits at 3.30pm next Wednesday?” she said while pointing to the column under my name which showed a marketing training session at mid-afternoon on a mid-week for the batch of freshies the company has recently hired .

“Helen, I am good for Wednesday and at 3.30pm but just curious, why are we starting the whole training including the ones by the bosses on a Wednesday? Aren’t the newbies more energized and alive on say, a Monday? I would suggest a Friday too but alas, they will probably be imagining all the happy hours ahead of them and think I am torturing them pouring out facts rather than beer, just sayin’.” I looked at the overall training schedule pensively.

Poppin' Beauty for my phone!

Poppin’ Beauty for my phone!

“Oh, that’s because you are not in town that Monday and Tuesday,” Helen informed me. “I am NOT? And why haven’t I got a clue about that?” I asked.

“You and half of the team and the bosses are travelling to Penang for a business meeting on Monday and Tuesday. You didn’t know? Your name is on the white board for the travelling schedule!” Helen replied.

“I didn’t know! Goodness now that I am being informed, I would have to make arrangement for my kids like pre-buy groceries this weekend, pre-arrange their school schedules and transportation and do my holy grail: pre-express some breast milk for my husband to feed the baby for the night time feeding! OK I’d better prepare a check list for my husband in case he is all stressed out taking over the mommy tasks.” I said, rather distractedly, while telling myself I love my job.

“And by the way, Helen… Yep, I am good for the training session on Wednesday. Considered done!” I quickly pen down the training date on my work calendar and set about preparing what needed to be done for my impending business travel, even if it’s only but for two days.

For two days! My working mom’s heart laments: Two days of not getting the butterfly kisses from Pumpkin Mei-Mei first thing in the morning. Two nights of not hearing Cheeky Koko’s funny jokes and his shy, “private-only”, tween-thing kiss. Two days of not getting the ballyhoo of welcome-home hugs from Baby B’s chubby arms, sealed with a loud “Muah” kiss that fill a mommy’s heart with that tingling sweet devotion of love so pure.

I called Daddy Joe immediately to share my travelling plan and to my surprise, he was as unruffled as the calm surface of Tasik Chini (a famous lake in Pahang). “OK, so you are cool with getting the kids all sorted out for the morning and through the night, Hun?” I asked, feeling a tad of rejection that he is quite OK with my absence. I mean, I am supposed to be the princess queen of his life, right?

“Darling, it’s only two days and we can always call each other to chat. It’s like we will miss you for only one night but when we open our eyes the next morning and go about our work or studies, you will be home in the evening already! Come on… When you miss the kids at night, their faces are all over in your phone camera and at the back of your phone anyway!” Okaaay, move over Marry Poppins, Daddy Joe has it all figured out—Thus came the cool reassurance from husband although secretly the wifey was hoping that he would say that she was totally irreplaceable. 😦

I hung up and turned over my phone to look at my latest phone cover from Pop My Case and admired the gorgeous print of my kids that was shot by a friend.

Get your own personalised smartphone case at http://www.popmycase.com

Get your own personalised smartphone case at http://www.popmycase.com

When one of the guys behind Pop My Case dropped me an email last month to share about how personalized smartphone case is the IT thing, I was under the impression that such a thing was only for the fashionable generation X (or was it Gen Y?) to immortalize their own creative imprints and personal pictures on gadgets.

Then in the midst of a few killing work-related deadlines and all, I just hurried through the selection of the pictures I wanted

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Eenie meenie miney mo… I chose the one with the 3 kids just so that I can always have all 3 of them with me when I am away for work! (Oh well, sort of…)

and emailed two photos back to the same guy (who by the way, is a really cool Malaysian dude with a triumphant vision for his products). Within a few days, got back two mock-up artworks in my email on how the cases would look like eventually, selected the one I thought was the best and voila, received my brand new phone case, all in a week’s time! The colour output of the fully-wrapped image over the case is beautifully crisp and clear— the end result which makes the photo of my happy little people comes alive fine and sharp as if it has popped right out of a laminated photo paper.

Needless to say, the sturdy phone case was a hit in my office and the fact that Pop My Case being a Malaysian company has gotten such cool and lovely line of phone cases – some of which are collaboration with homeland artists, is just simply brilliant! Of course, unless one hasn’t got a studio styled portrait (but who doesn’t have a good selfie these days?), the bestsellers remain the ones that can be customized and personalized with personal photos. Time to bring out those beautiful bridal portraits, shots of the baby’s first toothy grins or even shots of your cool Mini!

Honestly, to save us both from possible old age related heart attack, I am thinking of giving my man and myself two phone cases printed with our wedding photo to look at everyday so that when we are both semi-senile at 80 years old we won’t get entirely too shocked over who the heck is that white-haired, wrinkly creature sleeping next to us in the morning! 😀

As for the working mama here, business trip or not, it’s a definite sunshine cheer for the day just to see the little faces I love so dearly every minute of the day even if I am fighting a crisis somewhere up north in the corporate world. 🙂

A Day Trip To UK


Finally I can say that I have been to the UK and I did it in a day! Uh-huh, oh-yah, doing a crazy little dance of jubilee here.

.. And they meh meh here, and they meh meh there, here meh there meh, everywhere meh meh

.. And they meh meh here, and they meh meh there, here meh there meh, everywhere meh meh

This is when you’d eye ball all the photos on this blog post and further conclude that the seven2sevenmom has gone mad because you have not spotted any English football club players, the Windsor Castle nor the famous London Bridge here.

Make no mistake; I was at UK no doubt, but a different UK that exists in Malaysia. That’s right. I have whisked the kids along to a goat cum agricultural farm called the UK Farm that is located in the southern state of Johor, Malaysia.

The itinerary begins with a visit to the sheep pens

The itinerary begins with a visit to the sheep pens

This is essentially a farm away from the hustle and bustle of the city boasting a sprawling 100 acres of grazing land for 4000 sheep, supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry of Malaysia. Its sheer size of organised modern farming facilities makes it quite well-known as being Malaysia’s largest goat and sheep farm.

We have joined my older brother and his family for a school holiday’s day trip organised by a local school’s PIBG group (parents-teachers group).

One feels that much more enlightened about modern day farm practices after the trip which included a comprehensive tour of the entire resort comprising a goat/sheep farm, ostrich park, agricultural farm, tropical garden and a visit to the Orang Asli (the indigenous people) habitat.

When I saw the size of the breast pump an ewe uses, I was so grateful that the human breast pump is only one fifth of the ewe's version. :)

When I saw the size of the breast pump an ewe uses, I was so grateful that the human breast pump is only one fifth of the ewe’s version. 🙂

Cheeky Koko feeding milk to hungry little lamb

Cheeky Koko is feeding milk to hungry little lamb

UK Farm uses one of the most modern farming techniques based on the ecology principles in its goat and sheep rearing. For example, we learned that some of the leftover produce or crop wastes from their passion fruits farm are recycled into hays and feeds for the sheep and goats.

The story of how this whole goat farm came about was one of an impressive fatherly love.  The owner apparently started thinking of fresh goat milk supply when his children couldn’t take in cow milk or related diary products. From being a consumer, he started thinking of providing the same quality goat milk to the other people through sustainable farming techniques. And so, the rest as they said, is history.

Captivated

Captivated

Our happiest little people who are all city kids were thrilled to participate in all of the activities planned for them, from the visit to the sheep pens, feeding the little lambs to seeing first-hand how goat milk is processed, tasting of fresh goat milk and ice cream and getting up close and personal with Ostrich. I am still not quite seeing my little people having an illustrious career in farming but I am feeling a lot more hopeful after the trip!

The entire self-sustaining farm resort feels airy despite the hot weather because mini buses are provided to transport visitors from one attraction to the other.

There are also much to do and enjoy here for the grownups and kids alike. Of course, if you were not a fan of goats, sheep or any animals for that matter, then the other agricultural attractions including the tropical arcade, the mushroom farm and a mini vegetable farm may just be the thing that will awake a keen sense of farming curiosity in you.

Seven2SevenMon had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb...

Seven2SevenMon had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb…

With over 20 kids in tow, our group ended the day’s visit strolling through its Mini Zoo where a wide variety of small cute animals such as rabbits, peacocks, chickens, hedgehog, ducks, and geese just made all the city kiddos brimming with big smiles.

This definitely goes down our memory lane as one of the best day trips that brings together education and fun activities for a memorable, afforable and family-friendly experience right here in Malaysia.

Hello there!

Hello there!

UK Farm Mascot

UK Farm Mascot

Lovely sight of tendrils hanging at the tropical arcade

Lovely sight of tendrils hanging at the tropical arcade

An Orang Asli's house

An Orang Asli’s house – can you spot Pumpkin Mei-Mei there?