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A Quick Life Update

Almost 10 months and nary an entry!

So much has happened, and I thought I’d do a quick update, since the year is coming to a close:

  1. We completed our home renovations and moved in last April
  2. Our home was featured in the November issue of Manja magazine
  3. I went to Krabi twice — once in April and recently in December
  4. I officially became a statistic on the NEA website — not that it was a good thing. I got dengue in September and it was horrible. HORRIBLE
  5. Faz and I have been married for 2 years, Alhamdulillah!
  6. We went to Japan to celebrate our second wedding anniversary, and we both LOVED JAPAN LIKE CRAZY
  7. I picked up swimming and am damn proud to be able to swim now, considering the fact that I had a phobia of water

There’ve been some months that I was incredibly busy, but I think I’ve mostly kind of fallen into this comfortable routine of going to work everyday and then coming home and doing some chores or watch some TV with Faz before we go to bed. On some evenings, we’d go swim at the public pool.

Before Faz recently started doing office hours, he was doing shift work — and sometimes if he’d be home when I returned home from work, we’d cook and have dinner together. But then he started doing office hours and found it too tiring to cook, so we don’t cook as often any more. In fact I can’t remember the last time we cooked — must’ve been 2-3 months ago!

On weekends I’d have my swimming lessons, after which Faz and I will visit my parents. Sundays are my rest days — I’ll normally want to stay home, unless I have some compelling reason to go out.

Somehow, blogging just never makes it to the to-do list. Although it seems like a gargantuan task now, I do actually want to blog about our reno and trips before I forget all the details.

Soon, Insyaallah!


3 Nights in HK over CNY

I was in Hong Kong for 3 nights over the CNY holidays. It was intended to be a short getaway from Singapore….

….BUT I ENDED UP WISHING I HAD STAYED PUT IN SINGAPORE.

I did NOT enjoy Hong Kong, and I don’t think I’ll be returning, ever. At first we thought HK would be a ghost town during CNY — much like Singapore — but a bit of research revealed that most shops/attractions would still be open, which cemented our travel plans.

However, what it didn’t tell us was how much MORE crowded it was going to be in already crowded HK during this period. We discovered there were hordes and hordes of mainland Chinese tourists who apparently love to vacation there over the CNY holidays.

I can’t tell you how many times I was pushed, bumped into, stepped on and elbowed. The extent of it became one of the major reasons why I didn’t enjoy HK. How could I, when I spent half the time pissed! Let’s not even talk about saying sorry — not one of them had the decency to at least offer me an apologetic look.

We went to Disneyland on our second day, and boy, if you think Singaporeans are kiasu, these people are a million times more kiasu. Queues for attractions were, needless to say, atrocious everywhere in HK at the time, but the kiasu-ism was especially ugly to see in a “happy” place like Disneyland. Once they reached the head of the queue and the gates were opened, they were SPRINTING to secure a seat like vicious predators going after their prey. Get a grip — it’s just a bloody teacup ride!

Also, the concept of personal space is non-existent in their culture, so queuing in front of a mainland Chinese means having them breathe down the back of your neck — which is gross and really annoying. Aside from having to experience uncivilised behaviour, almost everything else went wrong for me this trip as well:

    • Didn’t get to take the tram up to The Peak because of the ridiculous queue. Paid the equivalent of SGD 60 for a cab ride up that lasted less than 10 minutes. The fare was split 5-ways but it still doesn’t change the fact that it was expensive for a single cab ride.
    • Didn’t get to take the cable car to the Big Buddha, again because of the queue.
    • Didn’t get to eat a single halal dim sum or anything that comes under the umbrella of Hong Kong cuisine because oddly, all the non-halal restaurants were open, and all the halal authentic HK restaurants were closed. The irony! I was told the hotel we were staying at, Panda Hotel, has a halal cafe — but in reality all they had was a measly one halal line at the buffet — serving nasi lemak. Yes, I went all the way to HK to have NASI LEMAK. And Turkish food. And Indian food. All other cuisines BUT HK cuisine. This was probably also one of the most upsetting things because I was really looking forward to having authentic HK dim sum.
    • I was on the fence about going to Disneyland because I’m not really into these things, but I ended up going, for a lack of a better thing to do. Instead of showing me a good time, Disney decided they’d ruin possibly my one and only time in Disneyland and in HK by scheduling the Sleeping Beauty Castle for maintenance. The fireworks display above the castle at the end of the night was supposed to be somewhat a highlight, but this was how it looked like that night:
      Hong Kong Disneyland, Sleeping Beauty Castle, fireworks

      Fireworks + Castle = Epic. Fireworks + Box = WTH?

      What it could’ve looked like:

    • I wasn’t looking to buy branded goods either, which are supposedly cheaper in HK because they don’t charge VAT — so shopping was not that exciting.
    • Perhaps the most painful thing to swallow was that all this disappointment carried a hefty price tag of about $1,350 — flights and hotel were more expensive because of the CNY holiday. As if that’s not bad enough, I returned with an inflamed ankle from all the walking. My feet were throbbing like it grew a heart of its own. Seriously, I don’t think my SIL is human — when everyone else felt like dying she was still all bright-eyed and cheery and like, “OK where should we go next?”

I went with my sisters- and niece-in-law, and I’d say the only positive thing that came out of it was their company and the bonding. That’s seriously the ONLY thing that is preventing me from hitting my head on the wall.

This was also my first brush with retribution for not listening to my husband. Faz had voiced out that perhaps it wasn’t a good time to go on holiday because we have the house renovation to finance, but I was stubborn. It didn’t take much, but he relented, choosing to see the good that the trip will do me — how it’ll be a good break for me, and that I’ll get to bond with the women in his family. As usual he was his considerate self, and I — well, I was just being selfish. And I got served.

You could say it was a case of bad timing — and I agree — but I still don’t think I’d return. Even without the crowd, there’s really not much that would be of interest to me in HK. It’s just like another Singapore, only more Chinese.

Well, at least that’s another country struck off the map.

No other pics because buat sakit hati.


Woes and Winnings

I have been sooo busy you cannot imagine. Well, ok maybe those of you who have gone through the home renovation process can.

To cut to the chase, Faz and I finalised the design for our house just last week and renovation works have commenced! The hacking work is now complete!

When Faz texted me pictures of the end product, my heart swelled with joy and pride. I mean, I know it’s just walls and I’m aware of how I sound like I’m exaggerating but I am really just emotional like that.

Perhaps a little background story to put things into perspective: We got our keys in October 2014 but we’re only starting the renovation now four months later because we had initially made a mistake choosing the wrong interior designer. How did we come to choose this ID? Let’s just say we listened to our brain and not our heart.

We found that this ID did not have our interests at heart a single bit. Looking back, I should’ve seen the very first red flag. He came to our very first meeting with preconceived ideas of his own, and he hadn’t even asked us about what we had in mind — this meeting was to do just that! At first it did seem like he was proactive and all but it didn’t take long before I knew he was just interested in using his ideas for his portfolio.

What a mistake it was to set our second appointment with him the very day we collected our keys, at the new flat. What began as a day to rejoice became a day utterly ruined because this guy was just pushing his ideas. Any suggestion we had were quickly dismissed as not the best way to do things. They were “not unique”, “not the best way to utilise the space”. He knew damn well we had reservations about his proposal, but get this — he went ahead to ask us if he could go ahead to prepare the quotation! This was only our SECOND meeting. The rate at which he wanted us to sign on the dotted line was ridiculous.

I just knew right then that I could never work with an ID like that because I am simply a person who does not appreciate being told what to do and how to do it. And especially when it’s MY bloody house. Faz said he had never seen a face of someone who had just gotten a new house so black.

See, the thing is we had paid a deposit (probably worth a nice dining table) upfront. Of course we had to have some consideration for that hard-earned money. Friends we related our experience to said we should just be stern with him and tell him what we want because ultimately it’s our house and we’re the ones paying him. Yes, true, but are we not paying him for his ideas? If he’s not even interested in getting to know what we want, how is he to offer us usable ideas in line with our vision?

We ultimately ditched him because we decided that we shouldn’t put our house at stake just for the sake of the deposit. Their terms and conditions stated that it was non-refundable, but we figured we’d just try to write in and get it back, since the fault’s on their part. I vaguely told them what happened (because it was hard to articulate everything on e-mail), left my contact number and told them they could call me if they needed more details. Without so much as a call to find out from us what really happened, in their reply they said that after speaking to the said ID, they decided that they simply “did not agree with me” and refused to refund me. The bloody ID had lied to them, saying that we had ASKED him to draw up the quotation!

I WENT BESERK. I shot them a super lacerative email in which I questioned their integrity. Apparently that got the director’s attention, and a meeting was set up for us to meet him. Long story cut short, we agreed to a 50% refund. I could’ve pushed for more but Faz didn’t want to push our luck. In fact he’s just so non-confrontational in nature that he had just wanted to give in to them and move on without getting our refund back. Crazy! If you don’t want your money back, let me take it!

So a few lessons to be learnt here:

  1. Sometimes it’s not all that bad to follow your heart. In fact, the times I followed my heart paid off tremendously.
  2. Ask, and ye shall receive.
  3. Never, ever, mess with me.

In a twist of events though, the director actually turned out to be likeable. Not in the sense that made us want to go be friends with him, but he succeeded in watering us down. He succeeded in making us feel that we were important to him, even when he knew were walking away. It’s just too bad that his principle of client importance didn’t extend to his ID, as well as the customer “care” officer I was in e-mail correspondence with. He succeeded in making us walk away with an untarnished view of the company — we instead blamed the individual we engaged. And I suppose it really is true that it all boils down to the individual, because Faz in fact has a friend who had engaged the same company but a different ID, and he has only good things to say. Anyway, something to learn from the director about business and customer relations!

So then I turned to this fabulous ID I’ve been following for a while now, and it was like a breath of fresh air because — FINALLY, SOMEONE WHO SPEAKS MY LANGUAGE! But even with a great ID, home renovations are no joke — especially for analytical and detail-oriented people me, because we tend to treat every home reno decision like a life decision!

After about a month of going back and forth with the design, we’re finally down to the action! It’s kinda a downer that the reno’s only just started but already put on hold owing to the Chinese New Year festivities. But it’s ok. Happy workers, happy home owners!

If all goes well, we should be able to move in end Apr or early May.

SO, SO EXCITED!!


Old Out, New In

Two weeks ago, I officially moved out of my parents’ place in Woodlands and into my in-laws’ in Pasir Ris to make way for my now married brother and his wife — Alhamdulillah they were safely solemnised last Saturday!

I didn’t take leave from work to pack, so I had to do it gradually in the weeks leading up to the move. At the same time my brother was also moving in his stuff bit by bit, slowly transforming my room of 16 years into his. I had already started to feel a bit sad and sentimental then, but nothing could prepare me for the actual move. Seeing the movers take away my stuff from the house, I felt helpless. I didn’t want to move, but it was something that simply had to be done — a rite of passage, if you will.

All too soon, the movers were done packing my stuff into the vehicle and it was time to say goodbye (God, I’m getting teary-eyed recounting this!). I sat on the sofa, asked my mother to sit down beside me, and rested my head on her shoulder like I always do when we watch TV. I hadn’t even spoken a complete sentence when the floodgates burst. I took her hand in mine and in between sobs, thanked her for everything. I asked for forgiveness and asked her to make halal everything that I’ve ever taken from her and from the house. After hugging her long and hard, I sat down and did the same with my dad, followed by my sister and brother. I went to find my cats Meow and Ashley to stroke and hug them, and cried even harder upon seeing their cute faces. Oh, how I was going to miss each and every one of them!

My sister told me not to cry, that Singapore is small and that I can visit any time, and I know this to be true but the point was that I was no longer a member of the household — my 28-year membership was over. The point was that I would no longer see or be around my immediate family everyday, and that was probably the thing that made me the saddest. The point was that the move was overwhelmingly symbolic of the events to come in my life — a big looming monster of both challenge and opportunity, for which I had to close this door in order to open a new one. The point was it was all scary as much as it was exciting.

Taking a final wefie at the door before I leave

Taking a final wefie at the door before I leave. Doesn’t look like I just cried here, but believe me, my heart was breaking. :(

For the next  few days I felt displaced and empty, like a huge chunk was missing from my life. I cried on the way back to my in-laws’. I cried myself to sleep. I cried the next morning. I cried again at night.  It felt like my time with my family was a person who had died and I was mourning her death. It was literally one of the saddest days of my life.

Thankfully my in-laws and husband have been nothing short of accommodating, and have been so kind, making sure I’m settled in well. Also, I  had my brother’s wedding to take my mind off things, so fortunately the sadness didn’t last all that long. I don’t have a room at my parents’ place anymore, but I’ll still try to sleep over whenever I can so that I don’t give myself a chance to miss them and fall into another bout of melancholy.

/SNIFFS

Anyway, on to happy stuff! Some pics of my brother’s wedding at An-Nahdhah mosque in Bishan:

Performing the tahiyatul masjid

Performing the tahiyatul masjid.

Can't believe my little brother is now someone's husband!

Can’t believe my little brother is now someone’s husband!

Zul and his lovely wife, Huda

Zul and his lovely wife, Huda. Like Faz and I, I think they can pass off as siblings.

Pengantin dah basi dan bulat

Pengantin yang dah basi dan bulat

Their entire wedding, from the Nikah to the reception was held at An-Nahdhah, and it was simple and fuss-free. The combined wedding of about 900 guests — which the mosque was able to accommodate comfortably — was split into two areas: the area outside the musollah on Level 1, and a room on Level 3. A venue to consider if you’re looking for a mosque wedding!

Zul and Huda, I wish you all the best as you embark on your journey as husband and wife. I’ve only been married for a year, so I don’t think I’m in a position to dish out marriage advice, but hey, we can learn together!

May your marriage and love last till Jannah, insyaAllah.


Keys to the Future

OMG OMG OMG OMG.

HDB has finally furnished us with a date for key collection! And that special date is the 7th of October!

I know it’s possible to request an earlier key collection, but honestly we’re far from ready to receive our keys. I don’t know why but we’ve been really taking our time (or procrastinating, rather) with the planning. I think much of it has to do with the fact that I’m still, after almost a year, recovering from the exhaustion of planning our wedding (which is almost a year ago now!). Also, knowing that planning for a house is probably going to be 100 times more exhausting just puts me off.

Have you seen that Doctor Doors commercial in between episodes of Renovaid on Channel 5? The one with this lady waking up in the middle of the night screaming like a mad woman? And it turns out that she’s having nightmares — about renovation? I thought that was frickin’ hilarious. I laughed my guts out the first time I saw it. But it got me thinking, hey, that could be me! And then I shuddered.

But now that key collection is just around the corner, I don’t think we can put it off any longer. Faz and I already have a general idea of how I’d like our house to look, but it’s time to get into the specifics like what kind materials we want and everything.

Faz, as usual, has agreed to leave the interior design ideas to me — on the condition that he gets to be in charge of the home entertainment system. I don’t see what’s the big deal about having a home entertainment system. Never having one never killed me, and to be honest I actually even think it’s a waste of money, but I’d better be picking my battles wisely. I have a premonition of myself liking a nice, expensive piece of furniture I can’t get out of my head — which of course Faz will happen to think is an absolute waste of money….

My interior design preferences have evolved over the years — from ‘industrial loft’ to now, ‘rustic scandinavian’.

I still do like the industrial loft concept, but I think the novelty will wear off and over time I’ll wish I had a warmer concept to my home. I’ll probably still retain some industrial elements, but I’ll keep them to a minimum.

I’ve never been a fan of ‘modern executive’ interiors with its sleek, shiny surfaces because it reminds me too much of an office and all the stresses of work. I want my home to be an escape — a laidback place to relax and unwind, which is why we’ve decided to do away with one bedroom to make for a bigger living room. The space will be mostly white, typical of Scandinavian interiors, but rustic with lots of wooden surfaces and earthy tones, and contrasted with thoughtfully curated pops of colour.

It may take a while before our house is fully furnished though because I think I’m going to be very picky about the pieces of furniture we buy. Every single piece has to count!

Seeing as to how we have yet to meet our ID to discuss our plans, I foresee that our house will only be ready for move-in by end December or early January. But the sad thing is that I’ll actually have to move out of my parents’ house earlier — as early as October! My brother’s getting married in November, and he and his future wife will be moving into my room. My sister, who is a sad case because she’s currently roomless and lives in a makeshift “room” in our study, will take over my brother’s former room. With all the rooms occupied, it looks like I’ll have to stay over at my in-laws’ for about a month or so while waiting for our house to be ready.

October is just next month, so I’ll have to start packing real soon! SOBS!

Can’t believe my time at my parents’ is going to be up…FOREVER. Moving out is truly going to be bittersweet. I’m absolutely elated to be starting this new chapter of my life with my soulmate, but I’m going to be miss everyone sorely. How do you go from years and years of living with the same faces — to suddenly living on your own?

 

 


A Hairy Situation: A Review on Super Hair Removal (SHR)

I am a hairy person.

I have always wanted to have my leg hair removed SINCE FOREVER because for years and years it was a constant source of frustration and esteem issues. Shaving was such a trauma because for some reason I always tended to get ingrown hair on my legs, which would result in angry, inflamed bumps all over my legs, leaving — gasp — SCARS that would take forever to go away! Not pretty at all.

And I have tried them all — Veet, waxing, epilating, ingrown hair treatment (salicylic acid, basically), exfoliating regularly, but NOTHING helped.

So one of my life priorities when I started working 3 years ago was to nip that problem in the bud — go for hair removal! It was the perfect time to go because 1) I finally had the money and 2) I was going to be married and wanted to look good for myself, and for my husband.

And so I went! One of the best decisions I’ve made in my life EVER. It may seem like an exaggeration, but if you knew how much unhappiness these hairs have caused me, you’ll see how it’s true. I completed my sessions just before the wedding, and have since gone on to remove underarm hair and now, facial hair. I didn’t have any gripes about my facial hair really, but I caved in to vanity. My justification? That makeup will go onto the skin better! I’ll admit the packages are not cheap, but this will be my last course of hair removal. I’m not addicted to aesthetic treatments, I promise!

It is absolute bliss that I don’t have to fuss over leg and underarm hair ever again (or at least for a very long time, because no hair removal is permanent — it’s subjected to factors like hormone changes in your body). I really can’t imagine now if I hadn’t gone — Faz would’ve probably had to bear some of the brunt!

After doing my research, I went with a hair removal technology called Super Hair Removal (SHR). It’s touted as a painless process because the light delivered to the hair follicles is low-intensity but delivered rapidly, therefore heating the follicles just enough to kill them, without any pain. Previously, as with Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), it was thought that the light must be strong and targeted at the follicles long enough in order to kill them, and this was why it was so painful. Now, isn’t R&D amazing?

Despite this promising premise, my first few sessions were EXCRUCIATING. It felt just like how IPL users describe it — rubber bands snapping against my skin — but worse. I only found out why it was excruciating later when my beautician rotated to another outlet and another attended to me — and no, it wasn’t because my hairs were too thick, or that the claims of SHR being painless were invalid. It was because she had been moving the machine over my legs perhaps a bit too slowly, therefore heating up my hair follicles longer than necessary!

With my new beautician, there was still some heat but it was never painful because she takes extra care to move the machine over my legs quickly. The heat and smell of burnt hair can be a bit of a discomfort at first but as the hairs get finer and lesser, you won’t even feel the heat anymore and it’s virtually painless.

SHR is effective for all skin, dark or fair. But as with all lasers, it’s most effective when the hairs are darker and thicker — the light targets darker and thicker hairs more easily than fine hairs. That’s why you’ll need multiple sessions before the hairs are completely gone. OH and the great thing about SHR is that it lightens the skin too! The scars on my legs are practically gone, and my underarms are the fairest it’s ever been! And now I’m hoping for the scars on my face to be lightened too.

I’ve been going for my SHR sessions at CSK Aesthetics, which has been superb. It’s an aesthetic clinic run by doctors whom you can get professional advice from. The procedures are mostly done by the beauticians, but it’s just reassuring to have the option to see a doctor regarding your procedure if you need to. Going to a beauty centre may be cheaper but I was looking to sign up with a doctor-guided centre that knows what they’re doing and can give me advice that’s backed by science. They don’t hardsell either, which is great!

P/S: This is not an advertorial. Been really happy with my results so far, and just wanted to share the good stuff!