Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Saya Dah Raya!

Raya came early for me this year! *shakes head in dismay*

My goals for this Ramadhan were to practice on my hijab skills (check!), not miss terawih (of course) and to do terawih berjemaah at the mosque or surau for the final 10 nights. Aunty Flo allowed me to do only two nights out of the ten. Le sigh.

The kids marked a few interesting milestones during this Ramadhan. Aiden cultivated an interest in local food; dodol, semperit and even mee kari. Also, he used to get disgusted with squid (tentacles and all) but one day I made him try salted egg squid and he loved it. Siap mintak masak lagi the next day. And since then, he's been asking for squid cooked in any form or matter. Latest craze? Sotong goreng Bob, the ones always sold at the bazaar Ramadhan.

Ian on the other hand, can stand still during a full solat jemaah at home. He used to last for one, maximum two rakaats. But this time he can even do the finger thing at tahiyat akhir! I haven't had the guts to try this at the surau though, so he's been playing with his toys and colouring his books quietly at the back of the saf during terawih. Good boy!

Anyway, since I dah officially Raya, I might as well share photos of us during our photo shoot Raya which we took about two weeks ago. Spoiler alert... these are our outfits for the first day. I'll be bombarding my Instagram timeline with photos of us in these very same clothes, come Hari Raya!

Definitely our official Eid family photo for 2017!

Aiden telling Ian to salam him.

Where are the Eid Raya money packets???

Cheeky faces.
Mummy and Daddy pun nak posing jugak.

Thanks Hubby, for putting up with me in my dramatic moments, trying to get this outfit online.

I'll pause the barrage of photos, with a candid story about my outfit from Kree. I saw this beauty on Zalora, and as I was busy trying to purchase it (it was the last piece), it got snatched out of my cart. I was devastated. A week later, the very same piece came back online (I think the person who snatched it from my cart eventually returned it), so I attempted to buy it again. In my excitement, I forgot to include the discount code so I pressed the back button. Silap besar... terus transaction cancelled and it showed up as sold out. OMG I felt like throwing my laptop to the wall. I was soooo close to tears. Hubby was such a good sport; even though he didn't understand why I was being so overly dramatic, he did not get angry... he even offered to buy it for me on pre-order! *awwww* An hour later, the system released it and I finally bought it. Longest one hour of my life!!! But, so worth it! :)

Sporting kiddos.

My adorable two boys. Baju Melayu from Omar Ali and matching loafers from Mini by Dhea.

I loveeeeee this adorable photo of Ian, and of course - this handsome photo of Aiden.

Posing with the boys.

Amazingly, Ian cooperated well that morning. Aiden, memang a natural at posing, so no problem.

The boys in my life.

Anyway, in case I don't get a chance to get to my blog before Eid rolls in, Selamat Hari Raya and Maaf Zahir dan Batin to all my readers. Let's count our blessings this Eid ul' Fitri, and make it a time to cherish our loved ones, both young and old.

InsyaAllah, we will be celebrating Hari Raya in Teluk Intan (Hubby's grandmother's home) as usual, before flying out on the third day of Eid. If you happen to be in Teluk Intan (or even the airport on Tuesday morning), do come by to say Hello! :)

Annual Iftar Weekend

Oh my! Last few days of Ramadhan and I barely blogged about my Iftar adventures.

As usual, I simply must blog about the annual SPK and BBGS girls iftar. Similar as last year, both events were held during the same weekend. Purely coincidental in nature!

On Friday night, the SPK gang came over. This year, we were five instead of six. *cries* The other family moved to Kedah and couldn't come home for our annual affair.

Potluck style as usual, but a simpler spread this time. My helper made ayam penyek (special request from one of the gang). We also had daging salai masak lemak, sotong telur masin, sambal tempe ikan bilis, sayur campur, telur dadar, ulam and sambal belacan. For dessert I made kek sarang semut and the rest supplemented with murtabak, roti john and tepung pelita.

Glorious food!

No pretty baju kurung photoshoots this year, since some of us were in jeans (moi included). Perhaps a proper gang picture session is required in Syawal! We also took the opportunity to celebrate Ayu's birthday. Since we've all been severely Ducked, we decided to give her a Duck gift card. Beautifully wrapped too!

A dUCk gift card for a special person.
After terawih, we moved to the garden for our yearly tradition. This will be our 6th year writing messages using sparklers. As usual, here's a compilation of our sparkler shots since 2012:

Six years in a row!

Raya 2017! We got this right in the first try!

This year, the anak anak dara dah besar, hence we decided to include them in our yearly tradition too.

"Iftar" with an additional underline at the bottom, and then all the kids joined in the fun too!

Fireworks galore.

The girls' lepak session at the outdoor gazebo.

Past midnight, the men decided that they needed a lepak session at the local kedai mamak. In return, the ladies decided to leave the kids at home and crash the men's party. When we arrived, we quietly took a table mere meters from the men, but behind a pillar... kononnya nak do some sleuthing as well. It was good fun, cos we were giggling away while looking at our spouses. But to the rest of the restaurant patrons, we must have looked suspicious, ogling at men in the middle of the night. *chuckles* But I guess the joke's on us, because after just 10 minutes, our men stood up and walked to the car (to go home). They saw us, smiled, and instead of joining us as we expected them to, they drove off! We laughed so hard that night. Thank god one of us had the decency to bring her wallet, kalau tak basuh pinggan la kitaorg kat kedai mamak tuh.

Spying on our husbands... not!

On Sunday night, Fiza hosted the BBGS annual Iftar. Since the host decided that KFC was the way to go this year, we simply supplemented with desserts and such. I bought murtabak!

For the first time in a longggggg time, we managed to get everyone together under one roof.

Lighting up our sparklers, for our now yearly tradition...


Kids in the garden, before they started throwing pop pops around.

The ladies then continued with our group photo shoot inside the house, while the husbands took care of the kiddos outside.

Formal shot.

Informal shot!

Thank you SPK and BBGS ladies, for a wonderful Iftar together. You know who you are! *smiles*

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Outdoor Gazebo

And so I promised myself that I wouldn't post any other stories before I made the time to write about our outdoor gazebo. So here I am, trying to fulfill that promise.

The need for an outdoor gazebo was purely because we needed a place to put our garden furniture. With the patio converted as a dining area, we couldn't just leave our garden furniture in the rain and shine, right? And of course, the patio is oh-so-convenient whenever we host people over; that's where I put my buffet table during BBQs, dessert table during parties, and last but not least, situlah tempat the men lepak whenever the ladies are in the house gossiping.

So as mentioned in the previous post, we finally agreed to chop down our lush pokok kemboja and sacrifice the greenest plot of grass in the garden, for an outdoor gazebo. Before we made the decision, we considered so many other options - at the corner depan rumah, beside the porch... but it just didn't feel right. At the end of the day I'm really glad that we decided to take the plunge. It really is the best spot for an outdoor gazebo.

Right smack at the end of our garden. We also increased the height of our outdoor walls, to give the gazebo more privacy.
Our outdoor furniture fitted perfectly in the nook. Also, I love the squared recess of the wood decking - just the right size for a BBQ set!

The outdoor gazebo came with its fair share of drama too. Hubby wanted to minimize the budget by just having a simple cement slab as the base. I on the other hand, wanted wood decking to match the wood decking outside our new dining hall. Of course, my influencing skills won hands down. *giggles*

Hubby also didn't want a fan for the gazebo, because we had a lot of electrical problems at the patio previously, due to leaking rain water. But how can you have a gazebo without a fan, right? Can't depend purely on wind effect, kan? Also, we initially wanted a clear roof for the outdoor gazebo, but they wrongly installed a brownish roof instead. It turned out to be a good mistake, because we loved how the brown matched the matte black structure. And, can you believe that I measured the distance between the two wall lights, to fit my dessert table? #kiasumuch

The view from my helper's room. She joked that she now has her own private hosting area, as the wood decking from her room directly leads to the outdoor gazebo.

A few months after we settled in post renovation, our hands itched for some form of water feature in the garden. Furthermore, our pet tortoises (Squirtle, Blastoise and Wartotle) have outgrown their aquarium and needed a bigger space. (Hubby's alasan here.) After a few days of scouting around, we brought home... a pond!!!!! Totally Hubby's fault. Hubby has always been a fish person. I'm more of a cat person, as you can actually play with cats. Fish? What can you do with fish???

Well Hubby claims that having a water feature and watching fish swimming brings a calming effect after a long day. Uhuh... yeah right. Shopping gives me the same calming effect, darling! *chuckles*

The water feature just beside the outdoor gazebo.

Calming effect, eh?

Koi fish! My favourite is the one with the orange head and black spots. The tortoises are nowhere to be seen... probably hiding somewhere.

Our white garden set contrasts beautifully with the wood decking outside our dining hall. Also acts as our favourite breakfast spot in the garden.

Right smack outside our dining hall. You can also hear the water feature from the family hall.

And that brings me to the end of my renovation posts. InsyaAllah, we are ready for Eid! :)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Renovating Our Humble Home

Hi everyone,

I’ve finally managed to find the time to sift through the gazillion photos of our recent renovation for the purpose of this blogpost.

The renovation phase was insanely exciting, to say the least. As I had mentioned before, we had a dateline (my SIL’s wedding). That means we only had a two month renovation period - to break down a patio, erect new walls and roof to build a completely new dining hall, expand the maid room, plus an outdoor gazebo constructed from scratch. Insane! Here are the two main reasons why we made the dateline (1) by having a dedicated and transparent renovation contractor, and (2) by being able to make quick nerve-wrecking decisions.

It wasn’t just about decisions on type of tiles… hhmmpphhh that was probably the simplest of the lot. But I’m talking about making tough and hard decisions on the layout, height of ceiling, interior paint, lighting placement, style of wainscoting, plaster ceiling plans... and the list goes on and on.

Thank god we had LDC Wijrah.

LDC Wijrah simplified most of the decisions for us by providing sound advice and proposed layouts for our consideration. Just after a week meeting them, they came back with two proposals for the dining hall including options for roofing, plaster ceiling and its corresponding lighting. With their advise, we made our choice within a day. As for the maid’s room expansion, while they were in the midst of hacking the walls, I requested for a last minute change. Within a few hours, they worked on a revised layout and a cost impact, which we authorized on the spot.

The next hurdle was siting the outdoor gazebo. After a long and hard debate (I love how they were not shy about turning down most of our suggestions. It helps to have an equally opinionated challenger, who is not only experienced, but is able to make you see the pros and cons of each outcome. I rather have constructive discussions than a contractor who is simply a yes-man to all my ideas…), we finally made the tough decision to chop down our pokok kemboja and sacrifice our favourite plot of lush green grass for the gazebo.

They were very accommodating too. Due to time constraints, they arranged for a live WhatsApp chat for purchasing light fixtures – where Hubby and I made real time choices through photos (supported by their recommendations) while they were physically at the shop! So thank you LDC Wijrah, for your dedication and passion in making our house beautiful.

Before I move on to the actual photos, allow me to show you the original house plan versus the layout proposed by LDC Wijrah. LDC Wijrah renovated our house when we first moved in to Cahaya SPK, hence here’s their layout of our house from post initial renovation. (Note that we didn’t proceed with the wood decking as per the picture, as Hubby was awfully fond of his grassy garden.)

Original layout.

And here’s the current layout of our house. The patio is now gone, and replaced by a completely new structure (our new dining hall). Also, LDC Wijrah proposed a double volume ceiling; therefore we had to agree to close up the two windows right on top of the new structure. The outdoor gazebo is now where Hubby’s favourite pokok lalang used to be. We even extended the wood decking from the maid’s room all the way to the gazebo – hence every morning, my maid wakes up to such a beautiful view from her bedroom window!

Post renovation layout.

If you've been following my blog previously, you're probably familiar with how my living hall and dining hall are separated by the patio. With this renovation, the living and dining hall is now connected and the space feels so open and airy. The double volume ceiling makes it feel even more spacious than before.

Right after LDC Wijrah was done with the renovations, Lentera Creative came in with the ID. Why hire an interior decorator? Well, Hubby and I have quite contrasting ideas about interior deco, and we don't trust ourselves in making bold (and expensive) decisions. So, we agreed to disagree on our views, and hire a professional instead. We told them what we liked (modern luxury, mirror furniture) and then they came to view the house. I also told them that they had to match our existing carpet, wainscoting walls (read about my DIY wainscoting adventures here) and the colour tone of the new chesterfield sofa we bought here. Other than that, they had the free reign of choosing everything (within our budget, of course).

Boy was I glad we decided to hire them. We were asked to leave the house for a couple of hours while they 'transformed' the house. Our jaws dropped when we returned later... They exceeded our expectations in so many ways!!! So much love for their work. I'll save my compliments for when we get to the photos below.

Anyway, for those of you still reading, here are the photos post renovation and interior decorations:

The view from the front door. Major love!

Moved our chandelier to the living hall to give it a grandeur feel.

These are our existing arm chairs which Lentera refurbished. I never knew purple would go so well with our Persian carpet! And that mirrored double drawers by Lentera is simply to die for. *drool*

The day bed on the left is also an existing piece of furniture. Lentera only refurbished the pillows to purple to match the arm chairs.

Orchids in my living hall.

The sole reason why we hired Lentera in the first place... the curtains! I love the pleats and the drape of the material. Till now, none of the boys are allowed to unravel the pleats. Unless they want to hear Mummy screaming till Timbuktu! *chuckles*

If it was up to me, I would probably buy some crystal table lamps to match the mirrored furniture. But Amran of Lentera laughed and said no way. He bought these instead, macam lampu kat hotel (so he says). I have to admit, he's absolutely right! The table lamps look so grand, perched on top of matching mirrored side tables. 

The intricate stems of the orchid bouquet.

Lentera made my bargain chesterfield sofa, look like a million dollars! And who knew, that chevron pillows would look so polished in a modern luxurious living room? (See, that's why you hire an interior designer) *chuckles*

The view from behind our chesterfield sofa. Can you see the next highlight of the living hall?

Lentera chose this beautiful console, which compliments (instead of overshadows) our wainscoting. 

I love the matching mirror too. And who knew that leaves in bottles would look this good? *giggles*

The huge bouquet of flowers practically covered all off the mirror. It's slightly eccentric, but we love it!

Blooming flowers.

I was initially quite hesitant about adding a coffee table to our living hall (plus the fear of bursting our budget). But I'm so glad Amran talked us into it, because if not, the living hall would look so empty! And of course, it is functional too. Excellent for serving guests in a formal setting.

Purple armchairs, Persian carpet, chevron pillows, grey curtains, console, mirrored furniture, table lamps and wainscoting. No way in hell Hubby and I would have managed this on our own.

The view from our staircase. See how our living hall and dining hall are now connected to each other?

Wood paneling by LDC Wijrah, made from recycled wood. Demarcates the dining hall from the walkway heading to the back of the house.

LDC Wijrah also made a door leading out to our new outdoor gazebo, patio and garden. I'll save photos of our ourdoor gazebo for a separate post, ok?
Final photo for this post. *phewwwww*

Sorry for the overdose of photos, but there were so many things that I wanted to share with all of you. As always, thanks for reading, and pray hard that those photos of our outdoor gazebo, gets to see the light of the day. Stay tuned (I hope)! *grin* Meanwhile, take a look at how we revamped our family hall, DIY style - here!
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