Thursday, March 31, 2011

Outdoor Garden Furniture

The first thing I wanted to buy with my bonus this year, was an outdoor garden furniture set. The patio is too bare for my liking, and I felt like the living hall and the dining area were too disconnected because of the current house design. Having furniture at the patio would make the area more usable - for moonlight dinners or even surfing the internet under the twinkling stars, and therefore this space would provide a bit more continuity to both the living and the dining.

And I finally got my wish last weekend! We were scouting around high and low for the perfect outdoor garden furniture. Saw some very expensive ones online and even equally expensive ones at the furniture malls by the road side. I wasn't keen in spending too much on it, and was prepared to accept a synthetic rattan set for an affordable price tag. We had initially decided on a simple set - a table with 4 chairs at Houz Depot, going for an affordable RM999. And so I was simply waiting for my bonus to be banked in, and the very day I received my pay cheque, both Hubby and I drove straight to Houz Depot with the intention of placing a deposit on the set. But biasa lah, when you feel like you have extra money in the bank, the nafsu of getting an upgrade kicked in! I immediately fell in love with a 2+1+1 seater instead! Hubby took quite a while to succumb to my pleads and (sometimes absurd) reasonings, but in the end he agreed.

The set was finally delivered last Friday. I was in Miri when they delivered it and only got to see it when I arrived home that night. I was extremely excited with my purchase that we had almost every meal in that area during the weekend. Apart from the normal meals, we even had a durian session (FIL brought home a car-full of durians from the dusun in Teluk Intan) and a BBQ (with marinated lambs purchased from Jusco).

Check out my new splurge! Totally loving it!!!

And also, check out the 'mountain' of durians!!!

We stuffed ourselves silly the night the durians arrived, a few hours after that Hubby's squash friends arrived for a durian supper, the next day another gang of Hubby's had durians for tea while my MIL made kuah durian to be delivered to my SILs in university, Bibik made tempoyak and we gave some durians away to our neighbours.... and still we had leftovers!!

And this was Sunday night, early BBQ because everyone had to work the next day.

Nyummy lamb and chicken.

We certainly made full use of the outdoor garden furniture last week. Definitely looking forward to this coming weekend!

A Night in the Garden

I know I promised no pictures of our new crib until Aiden's 2nd birthday cum Housewarming Party in April, but it looks like that the event will have to be pushed to May due to work circumstances (Houston, here I come again!), and I simply cannot resist sharing pictures of our hard earned effort to make our house a home.

But this time around, enjoy the pictures of a night in our garden first. Pictures of the interior, you say? Coming soon!

Took these pictures the night before we left for our weekend in Singapore......

Because of Aiden's obsession with fish (his first word was fish!), we bought 10 small fishes and placed them in that black bowl with the water lillies. Unfortunately they all died due to the heat - the water was too shallow. Kesian.

When I took these pictures, the gardener had just cut the grass and placed sand on top of it, which explains the bald patches.
Love my favourite corner! Glad hubby decided to make that corner a bit elevated and definitely glad that it turned out so well!

U-shaped and L-shaped modern windows. That's my master bedroom on the top floor.

Two of my garden lights were not working. Can you spot them?

Stone steps leading to the patio.

Our humble patio. Plan is to 'make' our own pergola. When? Your guess is as good as mine!
The area on the left of the patio is the living hall (with the U-shaped window), while the area on the right of the patio is the dining hall (you can even see the kaki kerusi). Therefore the two areas are separated into two distinct sections by the patio.
Alhamdulillah ;)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Front Window

I'm in Singapore yet again. This time visiting a pipelay vessel on anchorage about 2 hours boat ride from the Singapore Harbour Front. Yesterday, as I was boarding the plane to Singapore, I remembered a funny story which happened back in 2005.

It was my first time travelling on a company trip. I was going to visit a refinery in the Phillipines. I have been on numerous flights with my family, mind you, but this was my first trip on my own (not counting the trips I had when I was younger as a Young Passenger Travelling Alone - YPTA, between KL and Ipoh). And my first time filling in a travel request form.

I love window seats. Not just because of the scenery but because I can use the window to support my head (to sleep). But I also like being in the front so that I can be one of the first passengers out of the airplane and not be stuck in a long line at immigration.

So at seat preference, I wrote: Front Window.

When the form got to my Boss he roared with laughter and asked me, "Oh so you want to sit with the pilot and look out of his front window?"

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chronicles of a Stay-At-Home-Mum

We're home from a short trip to Singapore, 4 days to be exact. Why Singapore, you ask? Well it wasn't really a holiday. If it was a holiday, I would have probably chosen another country rather than this particular one which I visited once every 2 months last year. Actually, I had a business training on Monday and Tuesday so I decided to drag the whole family (this time, including Bibik) for a short holiday. I honestly thought that Houston was going to be Aiden's last trip on an infant seat but I was so wrong!

If you're wondering how easy it is to bring your Indonesian maid into Singapore for a holiday, i'll say dead easy. A friend told me that you need to make sure that your maid's passport is valid over 6 months before the expiry date and also the employer who's name is printed on the visa (in this case, dear Hubby) must be present when she walks through immigration. However, our experience was even simpler. Hubby didn't walk with our maid at immigration - she walked to the officer all on her own, and the officer didn't even check her passport. Just stamp stamp and go!

Anyway, I am still going through all the pictures we took at Sentosa Island, Singapore Zoo, Hard Rock Cafe and Hilton Singapore, so bear with me, yeah? Since this trip was so relaxing as our accommodation was fully paid, we splurged on good food and travelled by taxi instead of the MRT and last but definitely not least, Bibik was around to help out with Aiden, I couldn't help but compare how this trip was so different from all my past trips into Singapore! So for this post, I wanted to put up a chronicle of what I went through when I was a stay-at-home Mummy in Singapore, putting up with what Bibik does in a day while Daddy takes over being the sole bread-winner during that period. I guess, a bit of appreciation for women out there who makes being a homemaker as their primary occupation (apart from driver, referee of children fights, tuition teacher, just to name a few).

Sunday night is usually groceries night. We would walk over to the neighbourhood Fair Price and stock up on chicken, bread, milk, cereal, eggs and biscuits. Since halal chicken are sold in packs (they didn't have khidmat pemotongan ayam either), we would have to bring the whole thing home and cut it ourselves. I was not such a big fan of kepala ayam or kaki ayam so Hubby would usually graciously accept that responsibility while I store our groceries away in the kitchen cabinets, away from Aiden's grubby fingers.

Definitely halal.

Aiyooo this is why I get so disgusted with cleaning chicken. What is this? Vena cava? Aorta?

Thank you Hubby!

In the morning, I would have to wake up extra early since there is no Bibik to make Aiden's morning milk bottle. And Aiden is extremely extremely grumpy in the morning. It is usually easier to be prepared with the warm bottle rather than wait for him to cry and be cranky while I scramble to prepare the bottle. So in goes the warm bottle and after he's done, the pacifier goes in next and he continues his deep slumber. If I haven't done the ironing the night before, I would then proceed to iron Hubby's work clothes while he gets ready for work.

After Hubby leaves at around 8am-ish, I either start on the laundry or I join Aiden in bed. Hey, it is sort of a holiday for me, I don't usually get to wake up late on a work day, and from our CCTV, I know that Bibik includes a day nap in her daily itinerary too!

So, more often than not, Aiden get's to help me with the laundry. This usually takes place around 10am-ish. Not only do I have to do two rounds of laundry - one for clothes and one for the bulky bed linens, I also have to handle Aiden, who's level of curiousity sometimes include going into the washing machine or pressing the stop button in the middle of a spin!

That's how massive my laundry days are. Once the clothes are done, they go into the dryer while the bed linen goes into the washing machine.

Around this time Aiden would need a change of diapers plus another bottle of milk and then I would proceed to kemas rumah. This includes sweeping the floors, making the bed, wiping the TV cabinet and putting the sofa back to its rightful position. Sounds easier than done, especially when Aiden insists on helping me out with the sweeping (and proceeds to step on all the dirt I have sweeped and walks/crawls all over the house). Thank god I do not have to vaccum or mop as Hubby's company pays for a cleaning lady to clean the house once every week.

Around 1pm-ish I start on lunch. Aiden is a picky eater and usually insists on the same thing over and over again. I am no pro in making porridge so we would usually buy two containers of porridge to last him two days and I would just reheat it. Easy peasy. As for me, I would either make a simple nasi goreng or munch on my favourite bread.

Good on its own or with some strawberry jam. Nyum!

If it is fried rice, it is usually leftovers from yesterday's dinner.

So we would both have our lunch in front of the TV. Aiden gets the VIP seat in the stroller while I suap him his porridge. Why the stroller? Because we didn't have a baby chair and it was the only way I could keep him still while I coax his lunch into his mouth.

Thank god for cartoons on local TV. Aiden throws a tantrum whenever I turn on Channel 5 or even Oprah!

This orange stroller is well travelled and banyak berjasa. We left this stroller with the bell boy in Houston last year after we purchased Aiden's new Quinny. And I have to say, this orange stroller is a lot lighter and easier to manage!

After battling with lunch, it is finally time for a bath! Usually our first bath for the day cos I am always so frazzled running from one thing to another and suddenly it is nearly 3pm and I am still in my pyjamas! You must be shaking your head from side to side. I know, I know. I told you, I appreciate ALL you homemakers out there! Juggling back-to-back meetings are so much easier!

Back to bath time - I usually just jump into the bathtub with Aiden cos in the end I get wet anyway, and if we were to bath separately, who is to look after Aiden while i'm in the shower? Bath time isn't easy too when your baby is just starting to walk. Aiden just loves standing in the slippery bath tub so I have to scramble to dry myself off and get into my clothes while keeping an eye on him.

Right after the bath I would draw all the curtains close and cuddle in bed with him. Usually he's so dead tired that he's asleep in ten minutes - thank god.

I then take advantage of the peace and quiet to lipat, jemur kain and do some ironing. I also have to clean up the mess from lunch - spilled porridge and water on the floor, the sofa and the stroller. This is also the time when I would clean his milk bottles. I am quite particular about his bottles. Even until today they are steamed and refridgerated until use. So because there is no bottle sterilizer in Singapore, I have to use boiling water to clean and sterilize them. On other days when I am really lazy, I just sit in front of the TV and try to surf the net. I say try because I end up running into the room every 15 minutes because of Aiden crying. He is a very light sleeper, that boy, and just any bit of noise would jostle him awake. Also I get quite psycho, if he doesn't cry out after 30minutes I would actually imagine that he's crying and start running to the bedroom. And to lull him back to sleep is no easy task. The first time we were in Singapore I actually developed back pain due to all the dodoi to sleep and dukung that Aiden wanted.

And then Hubby arrives home around 6pm-ish. Aiden is usually awake by then, grumpy and refuses for anyone else to hold him other than me. Hubby usually tries to pujuk him by giving him a bath. So while they both are occupied in the bathroom, I start on dinner.

There is no rice cooker so I have to rely on the periuk. First time I used it, we had nasi hangit for dinner.

Thinking back, I never made any fish dishes when I was in Singapore. Chicken was always easier to manage.

This was the best that I could produce with the periuk.

Simple dinner for two with a choice of either white rice or fried rice. In this picture it was especially simple - everything was fried!

Fried chicken.

Fried rice.

And fried egg. Well what to do, I had to make do with whatever was available at the rumah bujang.

And of course, my favourite drink whenever I am in Singapore - coconut juice with pulp.

By the time dinner is over, it is time to do the dishes. Hubby takes over taking care of Aiden although I almost always find Aiden clinging to my leg whenever he wants something or just because he wants me - very manja! And then it is time for me to take my bath and watch a bit of television before I crawl into bed with Aiden and Hubby in tow.

And despite doing all these activities during the day, I still find myself staring into the dark thinking of all the chores I still have to do tomorrow, while my two boys snore through the night.

So will I ever quit my job and do this full time? Maybe not. But maybe when Aiden is a bit more independent, it gets more bearable? I really don't know. All I know now, is that I definitely need a maid!!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Behind the Scenes of the Cahaya SPK Dialogue Session

So how did the Cahaya SPK Dialogue Session go? Of course, we won some, we lost some. But kudos to the team who made it happen. From a small Resident Association (RA) committee of only 7, we expanded to 5 (I repeat, five) sub-committees with just one gathering at my humble abode.

So instead of only having representatives from each precinct in the RA committee, we unanimously decided that to be better prepared for the dialogue, we needed one sub-committee for each major issue, namely:
  • Legal - Cahaya SPK is blessed to have aplenty of lawyers. This team studies the S&P, the clubhouse agreements and the security agreements.
  • Security - This team handles all matters related to security, such as relations with the security company, meetings with the developer for security handover.
  • Clubhouse - This team handles everything that has to do with the clubhouse including expediting its handover.
  • Infrastructure: This team handles issues on infrastructure and liasion with MBSA, such as championing the building of schools, road lights and the likes of it.
  • Maintenance: Last but not least, this team handles any issues within the enclave, such as road safety, mosquitoes fogging and the likes of it.

So where do I fit? I am still holding the responsibilities as Secretary of the RA. Can't add anymore on my plate, thank you very much. As it is, all of last week I was running from the office straight to an RA sub-committee meeting (usually security). I leave the house early morning with Aiden still asleep and come home late at night to see my son in pajamas.

Can you spot me?

And a sneak peak of my living room!

Because I felt guilty that I did not prepare sufficient food for the small kenduri doa selamat masuk rumah I had early this month (people just kept on coming, Alhamdulillah!), so I prepared the same menu - Nasi Dagang Kelantan for the attendees.

Pictures from a meeting with residents on security held at the Surau compound, organized by the security sub-committee team. (Attended the meeting straight from work, which explains why I was still in my work clothes!)

Our very own Cahaya SPK Balai Polis sarjan reminding everyone to bring up their car keys to the bedroom so that the car alarm can be triggered as an alternative to the alarm panic button, in the case of a break in.

And of course, pictures from the Cahaya SPK Dialogue Session.

We had such a good turn out that we ran out of chairs. People were standing up and we had our share of heated arguments. But in the end we all shook hands and agreed that it was a very good, honest and beneficial discussion.

So in a nutshell, these were what we discussed:

  • Stricter entry and exit procedures to the enclave, including tags for contractor management.
  • Implementation of a 24hours call centre number for emergencies.
  • Tiger eye service for houses which are empty for a certain period of time, i.e. owners are out for a holiday.
  • Opening of second guard house.
  • Confirmation that alarm and phone automation system are usable with Unifi.
  • Extra features for the alarm system (at an extra cost, of course)
  • Extension to two years free for clubhouse usage.
  • Sourcing for cafe operators and retail shops (anyone interested?)
  • Our very own Cahaya SPK water tank to be operational by 1st April 2011.
  • Land for primary school found suitable in Cahaya SPK. Plans have been submitted to the technical department of the Ministry of Education.
  • Petition for extension of railing in P3 was agreed.
  • Construction of ramp into Cahaya SPK to start in May 2011.
  • Reaffirmation that defects shall be recitified within 30days of entering it into the customer e-portal.
  • Speed breakers to be installed after the guard house.
  • Family day with SPK management to be organized.

So that's it dear residents. Official minutes to follow. I am off to another RA meeting. Ciao!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Junior Gardener

I have to admit, I love having a garden. Although I am not exactly famous for being able to grow anything! In our previous house, before I got married, the garden would be unkept, full of weeds and scary. Then I got married and Hubby decided to try to make the garden a bit more presentable but unfortunately he inherited my inability to keep a garden so the carpet grass died. In the end, we cemented the whole area and turned it into a double volume car porch!

But with this garden, I am determined to make it pretty and neat. I dream of flowers blooming and envisage Aiden running around or kicking a ball in the garden. So nowadays, every afternoon, I would make it a point to venture into the garden, water the plants and pick out the rare weeds. And surprisingly, it is an activity that Aiden really enjoys too!

And check out our completed garden (phase 1 at the very least)!

Look at him, my junior gardener.

A close up. Watering pot courtesy of Ikea.

Watering the plants within my favourite corner.

Nasib baik Bibik sanggup melayan isi air in the watering pot every few minutes...

The area in front of the shrubs is still patchy. I'm hoping that the grass will grow sekata in that area despite the excess soil.

Sometimes, instead of watering the plants, he ends up watering the drain. Layan jer la.

Macammane air tak habis cepat, he simply tilts the water pot upside down and all the water comes raining down!

Oh, no!

Walking in tip toe towards Bibik to ask for a new fill of water.

And with the carpet grass, comes a lot of ulat gonggok! In which Aiden will then say "Eeeeeee..." (exaggerated, of course) and sometimes he even steps and squashes the poor thing!

Of course, after every trip into the garden he will end up being soaked from head to toe and therefore Bibik will bring him up to his room for his evening shower. But today, fresh from the shower, we found him playing with the neighbourhood cat pulak!

Aiden restraining the cat by holding its two front paws. Salute, he's definitely not scared of the four legged feline!

He even tried to pick up the cat! Obviously takes after his Mummy, a cat lover.

Needless to say, he needed another shower after that just to clean him up!
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