Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Europe Adventure ~ The best and the worst of Europe

We finally headed home. After 20 days, 14 cities, 9 countries, we finally making our home. As much as it has been fun, home is where the heart is. Missing the kids so much, though get to skype with them every single day, not being able to hug and kiss them are already a torture!

We had an early flight out from Paris. 11am to be exact. Why I still say it's early. When you are in a foreign airport, you need to be there ar least 3 hours earlier since we don't know what to expect. Certain airports would have different immigration and custom requirements, therefore, it's better to be early than to be sorry.

While I was waiting for our flight, I slowly recapped the best and the worst of all the places we have been to. Let's see how all this translated into a blog entry :


The Best ~ Dublin
Why ~ Free wifi (super duper important), clean, systematic with choices of vegetarian food. Comfortable and airport staff were friendly without being prejudiced

The worst ~ I was gonna put Rome airport but decided to include Paris airport as well
Why Rome ~ If you read my Rome entry, the moment we landed on the city, we already have the horror feeling. The queue at the Immigration check point were super long. When we came nearer, we realised only one counter was opened. Can you imagine, an international airport, and only one counter was opened! And when it's about to be our turn, we saw the immigration officer in charger was doing his work slowly while chatting away with his colleague. That made the process slower. I then need to go to the loo, and decided to use the loo at the hotel instead as it was super dirty. And when we finally wanted to get a cab, it was like at Pudu Raya with all this ulats worming all over you offering illegal cabs....I must confessed I was horrified and can't wait to leave the airport

The best food city

It'll be this place in Barcelona at the La Rambla's area. It served the best kebab we have ever tasted. It's just next to a famous paella and tapas place there, very Moroccon and right in front of the florist. Sorry, didn't get to take down the name. Was too busy putting food in our month. After many days not having proper meal, we really enjoyed the food there. Overall, Barcelona had the best makan place. The next day we also enjoyed beriani at this Pakistani place near our hotel

The worst food city 

Rome, of course. All you can see are pizza, pasta and wine. And very limited halal place. We ended up eating at the same place for 3 days simply because that's the cheapest halal place in Rome. Luckily, the bed & breakfast we stayed in offer loads of bread for breakfast, so we ate like there's no tomorrow and stuffed some bread in our bags for later use.

The city with the best scene

As bias as I may sound, of course it's Lucerne. How can you not love Lucerne. Wherever you look, they'll be mountain. The rivers and lakes are so clean with clear water and the air is so fresh. So many pictures we wanna take that we were spoilt for choices. A city which I definitely will come again

Overated city

Don't kill me, my vote will go to Paris. Yes, Paris, the city of love. Apart from Eiffel Tower and the beautiful buildings, I don't find Paris interesting. It's crowded, not so clean and things are expensive. It's a tourist city and a place where you just want to tell people, Yes, I've been to Paris. I may not necessarily like it, but yes, I've been to Paris.

The best shopping place

If you are like me, not really season concious, then it'll be Bicester. It's cheaper, and it's much more conducive to shop there. Wifi is everywhere and it's not too crowded. Nevermind they sell spring collection in summer, to me, a nice bag is a nice bag no matter what the season is. And if the price is right, the bags will definitely look nicer :)

We had a splendid time in Europe that we promised ourselves we will go to some of the cities again. As unbelievable as it may sound, it's not that expensive to go to Europe. Next entry, I'll share with you some tips to make your travelling affordable. Yes peeps. It can be done.

Signing off,


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Liza steps to Oxford ~ 2nd semester has begun

After more than a month break, the drill has stared again. It's called 2nd semester of my Masters journey. Knowing how critical for me to do better this time around, I have planted (or at least trying very hard to plant in my head) to be more effective in my time management. It's time for me to be selfish, whichever tasks out of study that can work well without my intervention, be it work or family, I should start to let go. Otherwise, I should not be in denial and pretend to be so shocked when I get the results.

This semester will witness 3 papers ; Operations Management, Accounting (Management & Finance) and Business Simulation. After leaving accounting for so long (longer than I should) it's now to throw the rusts in my brain and start searching for compartments in it that has accounting knowledge. How I wish I can just control F and find it.

I must allocate time to study everyday. At least 2 hours per day. Lunch time is the best time, so forget about spending time with colleagues, must set my priority right as much as I would love to hang out with them. Time is of the essence and I don't have that much of it, so my dear colleagues, if I decline your invitation, my sincere apology. let's do lunch in 2 years time. And no more meetings during lunch time, it's time to say no and mean it!

Another hour is when I monitor kids do their homework, typically after Isya', Not only I get to study, I get to spend time with them, helping them with their homework, asking them how's their day and share new happenings. Have been doing this but not diligently. And mostly, I was doing work instead of studying. So, it;s time to start new.

Of course, considering I always arrive early at work, I have about 1.5 hours to spare before the real working hours start to kick in. Should go away from office to the nearest cafe and study. Yes, study. Not chit chatting, surfing FB, twitter or blogs. I can do that in 2 years time. 

I want this, I know I want this and have been wanting this for the longest time. It's time for me to show to myself I really want it. And with the investments  I am spending, it's better be with high ROI!

Signing off,

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Liza got heart ~ Tear jerking Raya advert

What is associated with Raya apart from ketupat, rendang, almond london, baju raya or even duit raya (more painful memberi dari menerima).

Yes, it's close to tears (or at times sobbing uncontrollably) Raya advertisement. Don't lie! At least one advert would have caught your attention.

The latest one would be 2 advert, one by Petronas and another one by Bernas. 

 My pick? Bernas hands down. I can't really relate to Petronas advert cause in terms of being thankful, I think the Bernas one has higher impact. And the fact that to show gratitude towards your parents while they are alive, you don't know how much time you have left with them.
However, I still think advert by Arwah Yasmin Ahmad the best. How can this advert not cause tears in your eyes :
But my most favourite one would always be the Burung Murai advert, to show how when we were young, how parents accommodate to all our requests and questions no matter how repetitive and stupid they may be
Whichever is your favourite, never forget the messaging. It's all about gratitude, respect and appreciate your parents. And do this, Raya or no Raya....
Signing off,

Friday, August 10, 2012

Europe Adventure ~ Love continues to bloom in Paris....

If you go to Europe and you don't go to Paris, then you are not in Europe. At least that's what most people say. When we first drafted our 1st itinerary, we did not put Paris as the last stop. We were supposed to return to London and take flight home. However, since it was near to Olympics, things in London become more expensive and it's beyond our budget. Change of plans, Paris was our last stop in this adventure.

We also decided not to shop too much in other cities and to do some shopping in Paris instead so that it's easier to bring home. But, it was one of the bad choices we made, stuff in Paris was so freaking expensive. One of my wish lists I have in this tour is to get a Prada bag *berangan habis*. I did enter the biggest shopping place Galeries La Fayette. Can you imagine people really queue to enter branded boutiques here. In front of Louis Vuitton the queue was as long as some stalls in Pasar Ramadhan.As if the bags there are that cheap. When it was my turn to enter Prada, I started to look around and saw a bag I like. And guess what, price after conversion was RM5k. I politely said thank you to the sales assistant and left the boutique. Long story short, did not get anything in this shopping mall.

Paris is most beautiful at night. Lights everywhere and it looks so lively. We went for this night cruise and it was one of the best moment in our life. And the best sight was of course Eiffel Tower, all litted looking really bright. We also saw the tower during the day. We still prefer the view at night, it looks much better.

Like other cities, we used the City Sightseeing tour bus to enjoy our day out. The weather was really good, Alhamdulilah. We walked a lot and stopped by at few interesting buildings, enjoying our final day in Paris. We also managed to purchase some gifts for family since we have few more luggage space to spare.

One of the interesting place we visited was this perfume manufacturing place in Paris called Fragonard. We got the chance to see how perfume was made and also the history of perfume. The prices were ok that we bought a few to bring home. I love this one scent, very flowery and sweet smell. They don't sell their perfume out of their store unless you want to buy it online, something I have to do once my perfume finishes. 

Halal food was quite a few in Paris. No problem in locating them, almost all streets in Paris have them We enjoyed our meals mostly at this stretch along the Moulin Rouge theater. No, we didn't go for the theater, too expensive lah. 

Paris was nice, but there are other cities we feel is much better. For the lack of better words apart from the Eiffel Tower, Paris is overrated.To our personal opinion at least.

The fun time is about to end. Though it has been awesome, we can't wait to get home. Missing the kids terribly...

Next entry, the best and the worst of Europe....

Signing off,

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Liza steps to Oxford ~ And the results are in

I've always had this dream I will study in Oxford one day. The first time I went to Oxford I was only 8. And I fell in love with Oxford immediately. Ever since that day, I often have this visual I will be carrying books, heading to lectures, walking pass historical buildings, with green environment by my side and flowers every where. Yes, at the age of 36, I still hold on to that dream.

I took me some time before finally deciding to continue my Masters. Since I can't really afford to study abroad just yet, opted for university that has campus in Malaysia. Applied for few local unis as well and got accepted into 4. One of them was Manchester Business School. Yes, I got the shock of my life when I received the offer letter. Never thought I get accepted to such prestigious school, perhaps, I need to manage my self confidence better.

So, 1st semester passed and just got my results last night. Not too happy with the results, passed but not good enough for me. But if I do reality check, I deserve this results. I hardly study and all my 4 assignments were done few days before the submission date. It's a no brainer for me to get that kind of results. Let's not pretend I am shocked, poyolah!

If I nag to my kids every time their results are not up to mark or declining, it's time for me to start nagging to myself. I deserve more nagging than my kids. 1st question I need to ask myself, do I really want this, do I really want to go to Oxford. If the answer is yes, then I better start to buck up, otherwise the next semester results are gonna be somewhat the same. 2nd question I need to ask myself, do I really want to let myself spend so much money just to fail. Perhaps I should start putting on the board of my study corner the amount I have paid so far. That's my own hard earned money, not subsidised by any party. Money which I can use for my kids education, but I chose to spend on mine. Must always remind myself.

I need to decide. The choice is all mine....

Signing off,

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Europe Adventure ~ Godiva anyone?

When I shared with some people one of the destination we will be going to is Brussels, Belgium, almost everyone said I must make sure I go and get some Godiva. Little did I know, Belgium is the land of chocolate. Not surprise since I don't really like chocolate so never bothered to see where  the good ones are produced and sold. Have heard of Godiva, tasted few times but it's just not stuck in my head.

We first stop at the, no, not the chocolate place yet. We stopped at this place called Atonium. Atonium is a monument made from steel and was built for the Brussels World Fair back in 1958. Actually, I did not believe at first it was built in 1958, the design don't look that old to me. But, when I googled it, yes, it was indeed built in 1958. The weather however, was not too kind, so we don't get to spend much time to enjoy the park.

Apart from chocolate, Brussels is also famous for it's wafel. You can have any type of topping you like, chocolate, strawberry or even chicken floss. But, don't be fooled. Despite stating the price is 1 Euro per waffle, that is only if you plan to get the plain ones. Once you decide on the toppings, it can cost you up to 5 Euro. We did not get any, we are just not waffle fan, and besides, we can always eat waffle in Malaysia, at much cheaper price.

Near the waffle place is this statue called Manneken Pis. Made from bronze, this piece built in 17th century was for this boy who saved the city from fire. Don't ask me how true that is, that was mentioned by the locals. We also spent some time in Market Place and Grand Palace where the Godiva shop was located. No, we did not get any. We got plenty courtesy of Qatar Airways, should be enough to go around the family. There is a Hard Rock in Brussels, however, it was not open yet, in fact they were still at recruitment stage. Tempted to apply, but I don't think I look cool for Hard Rock.

Halal food is not a challenge at all. It's more than sufficient and there's quite a large Muslim community in Brussels. When we arrived, so many of them were having picnic at the park that I felt I was in a Muslim country. So, no issue on that.

Apart from the interesting places I mentioned above, nothing much we get to explore in Brussels. Perhaps we need more time, Insyallah in future.

The Europe Adventure about to come to an end, with one more city, Paris, of course. 

Signing off,

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Liza got taste ~ Buffet Ramadhan D'Impian Hotel Cafe

It's a tradition every year for us to have this family buka puasa whether in a hotel or restaurant. We will plan this for both sides, my parents and my inlaws. For my parents. it's easier since in Klang Valley, the choices are wider, however when we have to organise for the Batu Pahat clan, it's quite a challenge especially the fact that my father in law don't really like to travel too far from home, so our limit will only be around Parit Raja area, not too many things there. If it's Batu Pahat, much easier to manage.

So, this year, we went to the same place we went few years ago, D' Impian Hotel Cafe located in Parit Raja. This is one of the very few places that offer buffet Ramadhan.The choices are not too bad, match the price paid.

Typically, there will be 21 of us, full pax. They have choices of malay lauk, one bbq corner which offer ikan bakar, ayam bakar and sausages. The highlight will be sup tulang which is also the same station as soto or mee hoon soto. There is also noodles station and of course dessert which comprises of cakes, malay kueh and some puddings. They also had choices of drinks, both hot and cold.

Of course, the choices are not as extensive as the normal hotel spread but for the price ok lah. Service also so so lah, reflecting price gak kot.

If you want more info, visit this link.

If I have better choices, I would have gone some where else. Hope next year, Abah is more open to explore Batu Pahat lak. Boleh kan Abah?

Signing off,

Monday, August 6, 2012

Europe Adventure ~ The city where everything pun boleh!

Amsterdam is another city I really looked forward to go to. The last time I was here, it was ages that I vividly remember how the city looks like. However, this time around, I did not schedule us to experience the tulips so for those who are reading this entry expecting tulips photos, I'm sorry. The ones in Oxford were the closest we get as far as tulips are concern. 

To be honest, the moment we arrived in Amsterdam, it looked scary to me. The city is so congested, so many vehicles on the road, particularly thousands of bicycles. This was the most scariest experience throughout our tour where I nearly got hit by a tramp, did not see it coming. I gave my better half quite a scare. Apart from that there were cars, buses, trishaws and pedestrians. Yes, you name it. Everything was on the road of Amsterdam.

In this city, priority is given to those riding bicycle. They have special parking spaces in a form of multistories building, own lanes as well as according to law, if you walk pass the bicycle lanes and got hit, it will always be your fault. You can hear the bicycle rings everywhere. 

We decided to go round the city via trishaw.. It's the safest and fastest way to go anywhere. At first, we thought of being adventurous and wanted to try cycling all over the city but changed our mind instantly the moment we see how chaotic the city was. We were lucky to get a good and reliable trishaw man. He took care of us really well. One time, he hit this guy eating Ben & Jerry ice cream and the ice cream slipped from his hand. Our trishaw man just said sorry and moved on. With his kind of body, I don't think anyone would want to mess with him.

Also, the fact that almost everything is legal here, even the business transaction of weeds. Yes, weeds as in the drug. My better half was so shocked and the first reaction he had was, no way I allow my kids to study here. Apart from that, any business related to sexual activities are also legal. They even have this place called red light district where loads of sex museums, shops and brothels are located. We walked through there briefly but turned back, feeling so gross and dirty! The highlight of the city will of course be the Hard Rock discovery. We can now axed Hard Rock Amsterdam from our check lists.

The next day we visited the country side of Amsterdam. We experienced the windmill, the real one. We entered into one and get to see the what happens in a windmill. They even had a pamphlet in Malay, which the translation is much better than malay documents in Malaysia. And the view from the top of the windmill was simply breath taking. Just beautiful!

We also visited the cheese factory, which doesn't really excite me considering I am lactose intolerant. However, I learnt there are many many type of cheese and there's this thing called blue cheese. Totally ignorant! We also got to experience how cheese is made. Next to the cheese factory was the clog making factory which was totally fascinating. So many beautiful designs and look very nice too. I wanted to get one but the stare my better half gave me stopped me from doing so. Yes, I know, mana nak letak and how many more shoes do I need.

As far as food is concern, not too difficult to find halal food in Amsterdam. There were quite a number of kebab places or you can also opt for vegetarian meals. Amsterdam may not be my favourite city thus far, but it was a good feeling having to experience the kelam kabutness of this place.

2 more cities to go before heading home. Next stop, Brussels!

Signing off,

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Liza can bake ~ The making of Cornflakes Madu and Tat Nenas

For those who are not aware yet, my kids and I have this crazy idea this Raya where we plan not to buy any kuih and decided to do all on our own. Yes, we have made kuih before but we will still buy some especially those we think hard to do. But, this year, for some reason, we decided to just give it a shot.

2 nights ago we managed to make 2 kuih ; cornflakes madu and tat nenas. For those who are interested to make them, here are the recipes :

Cornflake Madu

Ingredients (make 100 - 150 cups)

400gram cornflakes
150 gram butter
1 cup of brown sugar
10 tablespoon of honey
Colourful sprinkle

How to make it
  1. Mix butter with brown sugar. Don't use direct heat, but put metal container on pot of boiling water
  2. Once the mixture is cool off, add cornflakes to it.
  3. Mix all thoroughly and add honey
  4. Put the mixture in the mini paper cups and add some colourful sprinkles
  5. After oven has been preheated, put all this in 150 degrees oven for 10 minutes

Tat Nenas (100 pieces)


250 gram butter
1 egg yolk
10 tablespoon of custard flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
400 gram flour

*We did not make our own pineapple fillings, we bought this at the bakery shop*

How to make it
  1. Mix butter, egg yolk, vanilla essence and custard flour until it blends with each other
  2. Put flour in the dough little by little until it become soft
  3. Separate the dough and use the mold to make the flower patterns
  4. Put the pineapple filling at the center of the mold.
  5. Insert this to preheated oven and bake at 165 degrees for 20 minutes

Simple isn't it? Trust me, if I can do it, I am pretty sure you can do it better! Alhamdulilah, so far we have made 4 types of kuih raya. Planning to make 4 more types, stage by stage. Insyallah, will complete before Raya.

Our home made kuih may not be as good as those baked by professionals, but the time we spend making this together is just priceless!

Signing off,

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Liza got taste ~ Buffet Ramadhan Cyberview Lodge

To make Ramadhan more exciting, my better half and I have created few traditions especially for the kids. So that they remember when they are bigger, and hopefully miss us and come home. Yes, I am that detailed in my planning, that's just who I am. One tradition is to come out with the whole month menu for iftar. Kids will give their input and once the menu has been agreed, it will be pasted on the notice board at the kitchen.

Another tradition would be to have 3 buka puasa outside. One just the 5 of us, another one with my parents and last but not least with my inlaws. This tradition will give the kids something they could look forward to, though they confessed they enjoy iftar at home than outside.

So, yesterday, we had our just the 5 of us iftar outside. It's quite a challenge to set a date, now that Mira is in boarding school so need to wait for her to come home for the weekend. Like last year, we chose to go to Cyberview Lodge. My better half and I identified few places, like Pullman Putrajaya, Equatorial Bangi, Marriot Putrajaya and Shangrila, but these places cost a bomb! To pay more than RM100 per pax for buka puasa is not something I find pleasant so we settled for Cyberview Lodge, at the Verandah.

 If you plan to buka puasa here, please make sure you make reservations. This place is packed every single year and if you make last minute booking, you will likely be disappointed. 

We arrived around 7pm, since it's not that far away from our home so we don't really have to leave early. By that time, the parking is nearly full and we thought we would have to park far from the entrance. Alhamdulilah, somehow the car park attendant directed us to a space right in front of the entrance. Blessings :)

There's something special for iftar here this year. They have Dato' Fazley, the champion of Master Chef Celebrity as their guest chef. He certainly attracted attention. Lots of people took photos with him. I also noticed, he brought his family around. His wife is so pretty. Did not see his kids though.

The spread here is quite extensive. You have from noodles to japanese cuisine (sushi and tempura), nasi arab with lamb and chicken, chinese food (dim sum, hainanese chicken rice, yong tau foo, char kuey teow and carrot cake) malay choices (ikan keli masak lemak, ulam2, sambals) and of course the dessert selection. The spread presented not only in the inside, also the external part of the restaurant.For the price charged, it is definitely value for money. Don't forget the BBQ spread from lamb to seafood, also otak2. Semua ada!

What I enjoyed the most were the laksa, sate daging and the roast lamb. Memang best!

However, I just need to highlight some unpleasant observation I experienced, not only here, typically in many many buffet set up kind of environment :
  • Tendency to take more food than what we can consume. It was so sad to see people who took food menggunung and only consumed not even half of it. Took berpuluh2 cucuk satay, but ate only few stick, took rice and lauk like feeding the whole table, end up putting it on the side for the waiter to clear. The buffet concept is not how much you can consume, but more the chance to enjoy variety of food available. Take in moderation, tak cukup tambah lagi
  • Parents who brought small children, please do take care of your kid and don't let them roam free and cause such unpleasant experience to other patrons. If you pay to be here, others paid as well. Take care of your kids please. Some people bringing hot food to their table, imagine if they bump into your kids and the food pour all over the kids. Don't blame others but yourself. If you can't take the responsibility, may I suggest you eat at home
  • Queue please! I don't know what Malaysians have against queuing. Trust me, there's enough food for everyone to enjoy. Wait for your turn and you will get what you aimed for.
All in all, I would really recommend to buka puasa here in Verandah, Cyberview Lodge. Contact details here.

 Signing off,