Friday, August 18, 2017

Viral

Just last week, Harith Iskander was at an event in my office. Something he said resonated in me. He said that nowadays, people 'celebrate' idiots by making them viral.

Let me clarify. Have you noticed that most things that have gone viral are typically things that are done by fools? In the past (way before we had Instagram or Facebook Live), everyone acknowledged that there were idiots that lived amongst us but we chose to ignore them and live peacefully. But now, we celebrate them by taking videos of them, which in turn instigates keyboard warriors which in the end promotes negativity and chaos.

We can always agree to disagree, but heck, food for thought.

Anyway, here's something viral that is nowhere idiotic at all. Viral plates or more affectionately called #pingganviral.

I am quite the perfectionist. I love things that match, which translates to matching sets of plates, saucers, serving dishes, cups and even teapots. I only have two collections in my house; my Corelle Simple Lines/Sketch for my daily use. And my Noritake Crestwood Gold for my formal dining use.

So when this pinggan viral thing came about, I wasn't hooked at all. Mismatched plates??? Not in my books!

However, slowly but surely I started warming up to the idea. I found myself admiring the distinct pieces that people scored and shared on their Instagram feeds. I started loving the contrasting pieces and the quirky flat lays. In the end, I couldn't deny myself anymore. So here's my catch:



Despite my excitement to embrace mismatched designs and colours, I somehow still gravitated towards matching sets. See how the orange saucer has a blue rim which matches the blue rectangular platter? *I am such a freak*

I told myself that I would only get a set sufficient for ONE Instagram flat lay. No buying for the future possibilities of "Oh I need this bowl in case I want to serve Tomyam" or "Oh I need more plates to cater for additional family members". And Alhamdulillah, I kept to my word. Damage for the day? RM60.

See, one Instagram square!

Update: OK, I did not keep to my word. I did a second round today, and discovered that I can still fit more pieces into one Instagram square. I promise, no more!!!

See?? Still one Instagram square!

Now I can sleep peacefully at night. No more viral shopping for me, please!

I'll just continue expanding my Corelle empire... *giggles*

Such a soothing thing to see for fellow OCDs.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Spring Cleaning



After a successful job at getting my shoes in order, I am suddenly overwhelmed with the urge of cleaning and organizing just about everything else in my wardrobe. It must be the after effects of spring cleaning; the sight of everything prettily displayed is ridiculously satisfying!

It was a toss-up between a closet with doors or open shelvings. In the end, I opted for the latter. The idea is to display my everyday necessities so that they are within easy reach. The target? To give my handbags, scarves and accessories a proper home.

The beauty with open shelvings is that they are very practical and versatile. Not only do you get to maximize the space, but you can also adapt it to fit any room of the house. And with the right touch, they can also be a decorative visual element to instantaneously brighten a mundane room.

Nothing adds a little life to a room like a little bit of flora. Just a few plants can wake up an entire space, including a pop of colour to your room.

For my latest project, I decided to use Vetop Storage's steel shelving system. Vetop Storage is a free-standing and fully adjustable shelving system, engineered to be flexible for use in any room and practically any purpose. They offer a wide range of products too - from basic shelves, to functional units and even accessories and storage boxes. After browsing through their online catalogue, my heart was set on a medium + large black shelving set, with a wooden shelf add on. I was impressed to note that not only was the price competitive... but the shipping was free too!

When the shelves arrived, I was stunned by the size and the weight of the package. Each box (there were three!) was packed neatly and weighed quite a bit. But I was pleasantly surprised. Despite the daunting challenge of assembling the racks all by myself (Hubby was away), it turned out to be effortless instead. There were no screws to turn, no hammers to wield. All I needed to do was to snap a couple of clips on the horizontal pole according to the height I desired, lower down the racks until they latch on to the clips, repeat with all other racks, and tadaaaaa I was done. I could even choose the elevation of each storage rack to fit the various sizes of my handbag boxes. Plus, the racks are so durable, they can withstand up to 100kg! (Not that my handbags are ever going to hit a hundred kilograms, but still!) *chuckles*

Anyway, here are a couple of photos from my Vetop Storage project, taken last weekend. Hopefully an inspiration for you to take on some spring cleaning in the near future!

The racks can be set at different elevations to suit your needs.

Don't be fooled by these stylish racks... they are also very strong and durable. You can also use these robust racks for all your commercial and heavy duty needs.

I configured my racks to fit these nifty storage boxes to store my accessories. With these different boxes, I can now segregate my accessories according to use – casual, classy and formal 
Affectionately called the VTNUGKIDBOX, these transparent boxes can also be stacked and they slide out like drawers. They can also be used to store food in the refrigerator, and suitable for dishwashers, microwaves and also freezers.
These awesome clips make assembling a breeze. Simply snap them to your desired height and lower the racks onto them until they lock.

I allocated the lower racks for my scarves. These used to be crushed together in a bin, or tangled together on a top shelf somewhere. But with open shelving, I can easily see my scarves to choose to match my outfit.

Now, all my favourite handbags are displayed neatly and positioned within reach. However, you can also request to customize these racks to fit a certain height. I love the personalization options!

But this is definitely my ultimate favourite. I personalized my shelving combination by adding on a wooden shelf. This opened up a myriad of decorating opportunities – from showing off my favourite accessories to trinkets that I picked up during my holidays.
Showcase the things you love, instead of leaving them gathering dust at the back of a closet. You can mix and match for your own in-home display, and experiment until you get the perfect look.

Vetop’s storage solutions are very functional and they can be used for practically anything. The options for use are endless! Browse their website for ideas and inspirations on how you can use their products in your home. There are also pre-designed kits that you can choose from to fulfill your specific storage needs.

If you're embarking on a spring cleaning journey soon, I have good news! Vetop Storage is currently offering a 10% discount to all my readers. Yes, you! All you need to do is to head to www.vetopstorage.com and enter the code LIZ10 at checkout. Shipping is free to West Malaysia. For more information, visit https://web.facebook.com/wengmingind/. Orders can be made through both Facebook and their official website.

Happy spring cleaning!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Bye Bye Trees



Last weekend was a particularly sad one. After months and months of deliberating, we decided to cut down our two beloved Buchida trees.

We loved those trees. They were big, strong and beautiful and most importantly they provided ample shade for our home. Our mornings were comfortable for outdoor breakfasts. Our afternoons were shady for football and lazing around in the gazebo. We even hung a swing on one of the branches.

On the flip side, the shady trees were causing the grass right underneath to die. Due to that, there are ugly patches of visible soil in the garden. We tried replanting new plots of grass but they inevitably die. The roots were also protruding from the ground, so it became a tripping hazard for the kids whenever they run around in the garden. But last, but definitely not least - and the sole reason for the decision, was the fact that the roots have encroached underneath the structure of our house. We can literally see it going in! Even the roots of the tree furthest from the house had extended underneath our wood decking.

I can't predict what the roots will do to our home in the future. But better safe than sorry. So we decided to take the plunge and chop them both down. *cries*

Those trees shielded our master bedroom from direct sunlight, and masked the structure of the pencawang elektrik.

Can you see the patches of soil right underneath those trees?

My garden looked so mystical, especially when combined with the beautiful overhanging branches from the willow tree.

Now that the trees are no longer there, I can certainly feel a significant change in temperature inside the house. We no longer have the trees to shield our living hall from the afternoon sun. We definitely need new trees, pronto!

However, we need to wait a few weeks before we can start planting new ones. Just in case the racun pokok that we poured on the bark contaminates the new trees. As for the leftover roots, that will take half a year or more to reput well enough for us to pull them out. Well that, or we hire an excavator to dig them out. Might as well dig a massive hole and make a swimming pool terus. *one can always dream*

You can see the PE very clearly now. *sigh*

My garden looks so empty, macam baru pindah rumah pulak.

Anyway, I hope we made the right decision, and that the new trees we will plant will provide the same shade that we've enjoyed before. *nervous laughter* Until then, I'm praying for cool and rainy days to keep us comfortable! Wish us luck!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Regrets

This is an extremely tough post to write, especially since I have buried these memories for the past 15 years. But I am called to write this in my blog, as I want Aiden and Ian to read a piece of my journey with my mum… caring for her until she passed on due to lung cancer.

Before she was diagnosed, she had a prolonged cough and started losing weight. We were scheduled to head to China to visit the Great Wall of China, so she went to the doctor to get a checkup before our trip. The doctor did a chest x-ray (which showed some congestion) and a biopsy; but told her that a bit of fresh air during our holiday would do her some good.

So off we went and had the time of our lives. Only to come back to the results of the biopsy that showed that she had lung cancer... at stage 3B.

Lung cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer worldwide; 1 to 5 cancer death is due to lung cancer. Closer to home, 10 people die of lung cancer daily. It is one of the most aggressive cancers, where 60% of those diagnosed die within one year after diagnosis. Patients with advanced lung cancer have a 5-year overall survival rate of only 2%!

Why didn't we detect it earlier? Unlike breast cancer which manifests itself in a lump, there is really no early diagnosis tool for early detection of lung cancer. Most patients do not have symptoms until the cancer is already at an advanced stage. When eventually diagnosed, 9 out of 10 Malaysians are already in the advanced stage (Stage 3 & 4). What makes it more depressing is that the symptoms are generally occurrences that you would typically push away as 'common sickness', for example shortness of breath, lethargy or weight loss with no known causes.



It was rough on us the first few weeks. I was barely 19 then, hence due to my age, the doctors never really considered me as the primary caregiver. I was never really given a clear prognosis and timeline. Looking back, if I had known that my mum was only going to be around for another 8 months, I would have dropped everything to spend every single precious minute with her.

Due to this lack of information, I decided to continue with my university classes, albeit less credit hours. (Cue huge regret here.) In reality, I struggled with my role as primary caregiver in combination with my education. I juggled caring for my mother in between classes. The hospital became my home, and I would commute between hospital and university daily. I learned to drive all by myself, and became independent all on my own.

The doctors recommended chemotherapy at an upcoming private cancer institute, about an hour away from town. Our financial funds depleted significantly due to this. I had to keep digging into my mum's savings every few days or so. Not to mention daily expenses and bills to be paid. She worried about money, especially since she knew that I would need the money to survive if she were to pass on.

Despite all this, my mum was a brave and strong woman. She never really showed me how much pain she was in, despite the fact that she kept asking for stronger doses of morphine. She was an easy patient to care for, and she kept apologizing for asking her own daughter to shower and change her. Oh Mum, if you only knew that deep in my heart, I never minded. I would gladly do it all over again if it meant that I could rewind time to spend more time with you.

Let's take a step back and question why my mum contracted lung cancer. Smoking is by far the leading risk factor for lung cancer. But she doesn't smoke, and we don't even have a history of cancer in the family. She worked in an office and was never exposed to harmful substances in the workplace. The simple answer is, we do not know. And if my mum who had zero tobacco use was diagnosed with lung cancer, do you think YOU should take your chances by smoking? Food for thought.


Image from https://visual.ly/community/infographic/health/lung-cancer-causes

As time passed by, her cancer got even more aggressive, which in turn shrunk her veins. Every time the doctors wanted to put in a needle, I would walk away because I just could not bear listening to my mum cry out in pain. Oh if only I could share her pain, I would gladly offer my veins in her place.

Her hair started falling off due to chemotherapy so she would wear a head scarf to cover her imperfections. I never saw them as imperfections though, but she would constantly get so subconscious about herself that she refused to meet with anyone other than immediate family.

As her health got worse, she kept depending on pure oxygen flow and morphine to last her the day. She would wake me up, sleeping on a recliner chair just beside her on the hospital bed and ask for more morphine in the middle of the night. She was in extreme pain, but she did not complain excessively. It was sad to see her withering away. So sad that I actually wished that God would ease her from her pain and take her quickly. Cue huge regret again. After I lost her, I had a hard time accepting the fact that I had actually registered such thoughts. It ate at me so much, that sometimes I would cry myself to sleep apologizing for wishing her away. It took me years before I could actually forgive myself.

Early on in her cancer journey, my mum once told me that she would like to be brought home to pass on. I sincerely do not know whether that was an effort to reduce the hospital bills, or whether she sincerely wanted to be home. Close to the end of my mum's journey on earth, the doctor (now finally comfortable with my role as caregiver) told me that I could bring her home if I wanted to. I remember clearly that morning in my head. She complained that she could not see clearly with her eyes. I responded by telling her that I was making preparations for her to go home. Her eyes widened, and she understood that she was very close to the end. She started saying that she didn't want to go home... lamenting about how would she survive without oxygen flow and such. I coaxed her into the ambulance and I remember her telling me on the way home, "Min... Mama takut nak mati." (Min, I'm scared of dying.) All I could say was "I love you Mama..." Till today, I still feel as if I forced her home when she did not want to. I thought I was honoring her wishes, but what if she had survived another day in the hospital instead of home?

But my biggest regret was to actually agree to chemotherapy. I understand why my mum did it... It was simply the natural thing to do. It was to treat her cancer. If I was in her shoes I would probably do the same. Accepting the decision to not do chemotherapy would be accepting death. But the side effects made her so weak, so quickly, that we did not manage to do anything else other than stay confined in the hospital. After what I've went through with my mum, I sincerely believe now that there is no point in lengthening life if it's not quality of life.

So, what are the other treatment option for cancer? MSD organized a lung cancer and melanoma workshop recently to educate the public about the two types of cancers. Given that this subject is so close to home, I attended the workshop with hopes of learning about other treatment options. In return, l learnt about newer cancer treatment option.


Fellow bloggers and influencers at the MSD Lung Cancer and Melanoma Workshop, listening intently to Dr Tho Lye Mun - Consultant Clinical Oncologist.

Immunotherapy is the newer treatment option that uses certain parts of a person's immune system to fight cancer. Our natural immune system usually destroys foreign substances, but sometimes cancer cells and normal cells do not have distinct differences, allowing these cancer cells to escape detection and destruction.

With immunotherapy, our immune system can be enhanced to recognize and mount a response against cancer cells. The immune system can also be stimulated to work harder and smarter against cancer cells. Through immunotherapy, you can also supplement with man-made immune system proteins which give the immune system an extra boost.


Yours truly asking Dr Tho about the correlation of vaping to lung cancer.

A photo with Dr Tho and Niki Cheong, who shared his experience on how cancer has impacted his family and friends.

Statistics are showing great potential for immunotherapy to increase long term survival, with lesser side effects. A recent study showed a 3-year overall survival rate of 26.4%, a significant increase if compared to prior statistics. This is indeed emerging as a new and exciting breakthrough in treatment against cancer.

The impact of cancer is real, but a new era of cancer treatment is here. If you are struggling with cancer or know of someone who is, reach out to your doctor or oncologist for more information on immunotherapy.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Hello Weekend!

Can you tell that I'm procrastinating from my Paris stories?? Too many pictures to sort, too many stories to tell. Blurrggghhh.

Tomorrow is the start of a new weekend but I am still not over last weekend. Last weekend was absolutely awesome. Why? Because Hubby and I acted as if we had just recently gotten hitched. *chuckles*

Before you start getting kinky ideas, let me clarify. The kids decided demanded that they wanted to sleep at their grandparents, and incidentally it was also my helper's week off. Do the math, who's left?? Just the two of us! (Reminds me so much of the Will Smith song.)

Oh we made so much plans and we were super productive too! Without the kids in our hair, everything was done much much faster. First thing on the list, date night! We started with a scrumptious dinner at Beard Brother's BBQ. If you've never heard of the place, I strongly suggest that you give it a try. Hubby is a big fan of beef and when I told him that the beef ribs are smoked for 20 hours, he was sold. We were lucky too, cos we got the last beef ribs and briskets (lamb was sold out). As soon as they served us, they put up the sold out sign! When we sat down to eat, we were surprised to see plastic cutleries. How-lah to eat beef ribs with plastic knifes??? Well, we were pleasantly surprised. The beef was soooo tender that the plastic knife practically glided through the meat.

Date night!

Beef ribs and briskets. We didn't even bother with the sauce; the beef was scrumptious on its own!

Can you see the logs that they use to smoke the beef?

Next, a midnight movie! We haven't done a midnight movie in yearsssss. Because the kids usually wait up for us, we don't like keeping them (and our helper) waiting. But watching a movie together with the knowledge that no one was waiting for us, was sooooo liberating. After the movie, it was close to 3am. We cracked our heads trying to think of a place to lepak but we both came up empty. We even tried driving around a few places which we hoped would still be open, but everything was closed. In the end we drove home and enjoyed some quiet time together.

The next day we woke up late, and decided to embark on yet another house improvement project that has been hanging in our heads for quite a while. Hubby wants to revamp the gazebo! So off we went to IKEA. Shopping was such a breeze without the kids to slow us down. After IKEA, we went shopping at the Sungai Buloh nursery. And by afternoon, we started gardening! Such efficient use of time!

I'm still salivating over those meatballs.

An afternoon of gardening.

We had a good dinner close to home and then retired for the night. The next morning, we woke up early and decided to cycle to the clubhouse for breakfast! If the kids are around we usually have to wait for them to wake up and then drag them on their bikes which ultimately just slows us down. Despite that, we started to miss the kids sorely. To the point that we started talking about the kids and their antics during breakfast!

Spent the rest of the day spring cleaning the house, and then yet another trip to IKEA for some last minute items. Came home and put the finishing touches on the gazebo. It's nearly there, save for the outdoor blinds. But I'll save the photos for another blogpost.

Not quite there yet, but hopefully soon enough!

Night rolled in and we went to my in-laws to pick up the kids. Imagine our surprise to find them not home! Sempat lagi squeeze another excursion out despite knowing that we would be coming by to pick them up. When they finally arrived, Ian refused to come home. After much much much coaxing, he finally agreed to go home to "get a fresh pair of clothes". #tipusunat *chuckles*

Here's to more quiet weekends with Hubby in the future!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Walk-In Wardrobe For My Shoes

I think I'm going to take a break from all the holiday posts. (Although I must give myself a pat on the back for persevering!) The act of shortlisting photos, editing them, resizing then, thinking of captions and of course, writing the post... is so draining!

Let's talk about happier things, other than holidays. Let's talk about shoes. Yes shoes.

I've never been much of a shoe person. I don't get gugu eyes over a pair of Jimmy Choos. Although I have to admit my Ferragamos are quite comfy, I really wouldn't mind wearing an equally comfortable pair of Vincci either. Heck, they're going to end up at my feet anyway!

Because I've never been much of a shoe person, I've never made it a point to keep track of the shoes that I own. I do buy shoes to match my handbags, so those I remember very well. But all the rest are really just a blur in my head. My helper lectures me quite a bit, especially when she has to hunt for a pair of shoes in the store. "Puan ada banyak kasut tapi tak pakai! Stor ini sampai tak boleh jalan, sudah penuh!" Ok ok I get the hint. The store bawah tangga is filled with shoes. The shoe racks near the kitchen is also filled with my shoes. And yet I keep wearing the same trusty comfy shoes day in day out.

Inspired by Vivy's shoe racks, I decided that I needed one too. Because the shoes were displayed prominently on open shelves, I deduced that it will lead to two things. One, it is visually accessible so I can easily choose one to match my outfit. And two, I will stop buying new shoes because now I know exactly what shades of shoe colours I have at home.

But the hard part was the execution bit. We have zero space for open shelvings shoe racks! Hubby doesn't want shoes in the bedroom, so I can't erect shoe racks in the master bedroom nor the guest bedroom downstairs. I can't put it in the living hall, cos as much as I would like to believe that I have good taste in shoes, they would never be visually appealing enough to suit any deco. We wanted to put up those racks in the aisle near the laundry room, but that would cramp the narrow aisle.

After much deliberation, I finally found the perfect spot. Remember the windows upstairs that we had to wall up due to the high ceiling dining hall renovations? An empty wall, just screaming for a home improvement project. Absolutely perfect!

Not really a walk-in, but rather a walk-through! That door you see is the door to my master bedroom.

Three IKEA Lack wall racks later, it was ready! I was sooooo excited to house my shoes on the empty shelves. Lo and behold, I occupied 98% of the space with my shoes. If I buy anymore new shoes, I'll have to banish Hubby's shoes to the store bawah tangga! *giggles*

A family project! Thank you boys, for doing this for my shoes.

My current mantra is, "No more shoes, I have enough!"

Now I have no more excuse of forgetting the shoes that I own. And it is so easy to choose my shoes for the day. I simply have to walk out of my bedroom and choose a pair to match my outfit. Major love! (Now, time to organize my handbags???) *chuckles*

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Aiden and Ian Takes Europe: Amsterdam Take Two!



Hello peeps.

Warning ahead, this will be a post filled with many many photos of beautiful Amsterdam.

Aiden really really wanted to go on a boat cruise around the Amsterdam canals, but we didn't fancy going in the packed closed top boats that go around every half hour or so. We wanted to experience the smaller, open top boats. Albeit slightly more expensive, it was a small price to pay for a more personalized tour with better views and photo opportunities. Worth to note is that you should aim to be there slightly earlier so that you can choose a great spot on the boat. Unfortunately for us, by the time we parked the stroller and got the kids into the boat, we had to settle with seats in the middle. Hence most of our photos were peppered with pictures of other people on the same boat.

Now this is why you should aim for good seats on the boat. Epic photobomb! *giggles*

Checking out the map of our ride.

Canals after canals after canals. Simply beautiful!

Some of the buildings we went by on the boat.

Crooked charm. Can you see what I'm referring to?

Bicycles lining up beside the canal.

Pirate ship!

Can you see those floating structures on the water? Those are boat houses!

Love this boat house. Pretty flowers everywhere!

Check out the interior of this boat house.

A huge ship, mere meters from us.

Best selfie we could get without people photobombing our shot.

Family photo before we got off the boat.

If you're ever in Amsterdam, you simply must give this open boat tour a try.

Ian, why are you sooooo cute! #gangkacamatahitam

Ian, the Mat Bunga.

By the end of the cruise, it was creeping into late afternoon. Thank god for the long daylight hours! After a quick lunch at the many halal kebab restaurants around town, we then headed to Zaanse Schans, a Dutch village with traditional houses and well preserved historic windmills in the neighbourhood of Zaandam. About 45minutes bus ride (#391 to be exact) from Amsterdam Central. (If you take the train, it's a 15-20mins walk from the station.)

Ian trying to figure out where we should get off the bus (it's the last stop!)

The story of the construction of Zaanse Schans is quite spectacular actually. It is not a historical area that is then well preserved for tourist visits. But rather, the site was constructed from scratch and whole heritage buildings were transported to site using boats and lorries! Some buildings and even a complete windmill body were transported in their entirety. While other buildings were first dismantled, plank by plank or brick by brick. And then reconstructed once at site. Isn't that simply amazing?

Construction of Zaanse Schans. See how they lifted that house onto a barge??

By the time we arrived, everything was closed. There wasn't even a single tour bus in sight. I had read about functional windmills that make everything from cheese to paint, but everything was closed shut! Even the wooden clogs store and chocolate tour were closed. The only thing still open was Albert Heijn, the local grocery shop! But still, we made the most of our time there by taking in the views and posing for amazing photos. Amazing because unlike our earlier canal cruise, there was no one in sight to photobomb our shots! *giggles*

Amazing views.

Posing with one of the many windmills in the area.

I don't know who's backyard we crashed, for this shot.

Tug of war.

Can you see the chickens in this shot?

Aiden took this shot of us.

Clogs and more clogs.

Biggest pair of clogs!

After like five shot, this was the best Aiden could do. Bolehlah!

More windmills!

Love this shot of my two boys.

I don't know where Aiden picked up that yoga pose!

Siblings love.

At the end of the bridge.

Us acting like windmills.

Last shot of us.

And that brings us to the end of our adventures in Amsterdam. The next day, we took the Thalys into Paris and then onward to Disneyland. We were lucky, we bought our train tickets early hence we got a good deal for first class. But... that's a story for a next post. Till next time, thanks for reading!
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