i didn't have anything planned for today, so i was looking forward to a deep sleep. but my mother called this morning, asked me if i wanted to go to dim sum. actually, my sister wanted to go, and my mother asked if i wanted to come along. i suggested dim sum in malden, which was where we originally wanted to go the last time we went but decided on chinatown. malden had the added avantage of being next to the everett michael's at the gateway center, where my mother wanted to go afterwards to look for yarn. she said my sister was ready to go immediately, but said they could swing by around 11am. i said 10:30am since i didn't need that much time to get ready, plus getting to the dim sum earlier would avoid the weekend crowd.

so much for early: my sister didn't arrive until 10:45am. the dim sum place we were going was ming's seafood restaurant, not the first place you'd think of for weekend dim sum. we at malden center arrived at 11:08am. it was still early enough that there were plenty of 1-hour curbside parking (later we spotted a municipal parking lot as well). it was already crowded by the time we arrived at ming's, with more people milling about in the waiting area. the attendant handing out numbers asked us if we wanted to share a table but we decided to wait for our own table. the wait wasn't very long, less than 10 minutes. my sister left briefly to move her car (she was nervous that it wasn't parked close enough to the curb) while my mother and i got seated at a table in an alcove area next to the kitchen.

right from the start it seemed like my sister was going to order everything see saw. that made me a little bit annoyed, because 1) she could learn to eat a bit less, 2) my sister wasn't going to any of it, and 3) it was impossible for her to finish it all. when i made a comment about it, she sniped back, saying why can't she enjoy dim sum in peace. i didn't eat for the first 15 minutes, waiting for my cart to arrive, the one that had chicken feet and tripe, which are my favorite dim sum dishes. i sipped my hot chrysanthemum tea and people watched. the place was almost entirely chinese, a mix of true cantonese and mainland china. the few non-chinese faces i saw were in chinese groups. malden dim sum is a little off the radar and probably not as accessible or famous as chinatown, but judging from the crowd-size, business was still very good. we probably arrived right before the noontime crowd, as i watched the waiting area swell with people waiting for available tables.

the first thing i tried was the chashaobao (cantonese cha siu bao 叉烧包). it was okay, but i thought the bun itself was a little dry, and the pork filling didn't have that characteristic red coloring. as for the chicken feet, the skin and cartilage wasn't as falling-off-the-bone as the ones in chinatown. and the tripe smelled a little bleachy, weren't as tender or flavor as chinatown dim sum tripe. the dou hua tang was not as sweet, and had a noticeable sourness to it. the xiao long bao was very small, with the filling being too big to be bit-size.

the few good things i can say about ming's is it's more convenient if you live around the area, easier (and cheaper) to find parking in malden center versus boston. the ambience is much better here, cleaner brighter classier, not as dingy as those chinatown dim sum places. also doesn't stink like it does in chinatown, where your clothes are saturated with oil smells that you need to launder when you get home. the chrysanthemum tea was very good, it seems like they had a whole cup of flowers in the teapot. all and all, it was okay dim sum, not the best, but passable. there are also a few other dim sum places in malden, maybe we could try those if we ever return here for dim sum.

from malden center we headed to the gateway center. just like at the cambridge store, the everett michael's didn't carry any fishermen's wool yarn either. my mother but some other yarns instead (i printed out some 60% off coupons). my sister - who has to buy something anytime she's in a store - got some valentine decorations. while my sister pulled up to the nearby home depot, my mother and i went next door to bath & body works, where they were having a clearance sale on holiday-scented products. afterwards i walked down to home depot while my mother went to old navy. i got a hard faucet cover ($2.99) for the outdoor faucet in my parents' backyard.

i finally returned home by 2:30pm. as this was NFL conference semifinals weekend, i eagerly awaited the 2 games that were in store for today: seahawks-falcons then texans-patriots. i only half-heartedly watched the seattle-atlanta game, but i was rooting against the seahawks. i've never really watched the falcons before, and they're a pretty good team. the final score was 36-20, atlanta spanked seattle, the look on russell wilson's face looked like he was shellshocked from a war battle.

the houston-new england game later in the evening was the main event. i cooked up some french bread pizza and watched the game. for a team so heavily favored, the patriots did not play well in the first half. new england got a quick pair of touchdowns in the first quarter, but didn't score again a field goal close to the end of the half. meanwhile the texans came back and got within 1-point of tying the patriots at 14-13. brady was intercepted twice (although osweiler was intercepted 3 times). pats won in the end, 34-16, but the texans put up a fight, and gave new england a scare, and it wasn't until late in the game that the fans felt safe enough to finally exhale.