Archive | August, 2012

My Baby Sister got Hitched :)

10 Aug

Ezu & Nabil dining at the Duchess Place, KL during their wedding reception

The sisterhood bond. You would never understand it unless you are in it. I’m the 2nd child in the family with a 5-years-age gap elder sister and a 4-years-age gap younger sister. In short, my childhood was simply amazing and charged-up with girl-power! As many claimed a 2nd-child syndrome would be – I was the ‘man’ of my siblings and sometimes the house too. When it was time for my baby sister, Ezu to get married, I couldn’t help myself but to ensure that everything is well-organized months in advance. I had to take charge in some areas like going thru the checklist from time to time, driving Ezu around to get her wedding supplies and most of the time driving Ezu nuts too.

Puteri Ayfaa Eizdihar – the flower girl taking a break

One thing I could not imagine being in Ezu’s shoes was getting married without our dearest mummy around. My eldest sister, Kuna and I were very privileged to have mummy to organize the wedding with us, had our shopping and spa time together while discussing about our married life. Mum was there too to assist us during our pregnancy and as we stepped into motherhood ourselves. But not Ezu. Kuna and I were determined to walk Ezu through this amazing journey together as sisters. Ezu surprised us again as she grows up to become a beautiful lady, persevered in putting the invitation list together, meetings with caterers, trying out wedding dresses, choosing door gifts and not forgetting professional photographers and videographer to capture those priceless moments.

Ezu & Nabil walking down the aisle with flower girls and handsome boys

23 June was the date chosen for Ezu’s Akad Nikah to Nabil. I was lucky and excited to be able to join her fitting session and picking-up her wedding dresses from Mimpi Kita. They are absolutely gorgeous! There was also some door gift preparation process together with her old school mates. Boy, I miss chatting with those cool girls. Of course we did not miss pampering session such as the Nail Parlour for our Menicure & Pedicure. I have to say that they are reasonably charged with the services and quality of work that they delivered. We’ve surveyed a few places around Klang Valley and some are just extravagant. Honestly, I haven’t done Meni & Pedi since I ventured into Working-From-Home-Mum world. Spa is something that I can not live without. I can write a review on all the spas I’ve been to but will just leave that to next time. Ezu and I were supposed to check-out Nadalama Jamu Spa & Bar at Kampung Penchala but it was closed for renovation. Have you been to Nadalama? What do you think and which treatment would you recommend? We ended up with Sultan’s Daughter package in Hammam & Gomage Bath in Bangsar. We requested for the couple’s room and I highly recommend this place if you are looking for a place to pamper yourself with your mums, sisters and girlfriends. You would love the whole set-up, concept, bath and service. A totally different spa experience if you are used to Balinese Spa type. Honestly, it was my 3rd visit there and it has been my once a year must visit spa ;p

Aufa & Arif in baju melayu with songkok and sampin

Once we were all made up, it was time to fill-up the tummy. It was my last meal with Ezu before she becomes someone’s wife. Canoodling Restaurant was the place to be. I love their Soft-shell crab somtam and Phad Thai was totally outstanding! Another yummilicious Restaurant by that Cool Dude who started Delicious. Then he sold it to E&O Group before starting his BIG Group who is responsible for revolutionizing Klang Valley dwellers’ taste buds by opening up Canoodling, Ben’s Restaurant, plan B, T-Fourty-Two Cafe and of course the BIG Grocer. Super Genius! Well, at the end of the day, I was really feeling like the old bride has been revived ;p hey, can I blame them for mistaken me as the bride instead?

Akad Nikah Ezu & Nabil

Akad Nikah was held in the morning at Kuna’s place in Alam Sari. It was nice and cozy and Ezu had platinum blue with white pearls as her theme. The bridesmaids were gorgeous and we had the best Kelantanese food after the ceremony. Special event like this will not look as glamorous if it was not for the professional make-up artist. There are not many in Malaysia and therefore we had to book Ezral Nordin (+6012 6928084) at least 6 months in advance. He did Ezu’s make-up for both events (solemnization and wedding reception) and of course, yours truly 😀

My macho man with little miss at the Duchess Place KL

Since Ezu is my last sibling to get married, I was thinking why not splurge a bit on the wedding reception Baju Kurung. The last time I spent on my Baju Kurung was during my wedding and subsequent Aidilfitri was either recycled or sponsored by my late mum. Therefore I had to bring in the talented fashion designer, Shahir Wan (+6017 6066476). We actually had a session of underwater fashion a few months back featuring his exquisite wedding dress collection. Do wait for my future post on this. I was so impressed by Shahir Wan’s work and talent and decided to wear his creation.

Kuna and Schasya with Ayfaa and Me

I have to admit that he has fine taste and excellent workmanship on the patch and beadings especially. It was not only that, Shahir Wan serenaded us at the Pink, Turquoise and Peach Wedding held at the Duchess Place, Jalan Ampang, KL. Alhamdulillah, everything went smoothly as planned. It was also the best indoor garden wedding I’ve ever attended, surrounded by loving family and friends over tasty meal. Thank you to Sari, Bob & Rikman from Saffandi Photo for all the wonderful photos. Best wishes to Ezu & Nabil.

Akad Nikah Kiss

Next stop for them is Honeymoon and getting a place to stay. Have you guys read my tips on buying a HOME?

the Tengku Nasrudins


10 things you should consider before buying a house to call it Home

2 Aug

Scaled model unit of our house. Then I had to visualize whether it fits my Dream or not?

I’m not a well-read person. In another word ‘shallow’ as one of my mentors called me. It was simply to challenge me. The simple word transformed me and shaped me for who I am today. It bruised my ego especially when it was said it front of a board of corporate executives. I took up his advise and started reading the English newspaper every day to improve my general knowledge and command in English language. Even when I was in school, the headmistress has called me in to comment on my atrocious(I didn’t know what it meant then) English. If I had taken it personally and negatively, I wouldn’t want to imagine where I’d be now. Lesson learnt and I started turning problems into my opportunity. Looking at a glass half full and not half empty. I don’t read story books unless they have big fonts and attractive illustrations. That’s why I’m showering my children with many books now. I forced myself to read and took baby steps by reading ‘Chicken Soup’ series. Then, there were Andrew Matthew’s book like ‘Being Happy’ and ‘Making Friends’ before stepping into a more serious books like for business improvement and strategy. Have you read ‘Who moved my cheese?”. I learnt that by asking the rights questions from the right people save you some reading time too. I am still lucky for making good friends with intelligent and witty people who are kind to share with me their thoughts or advice. The key is to never stop learning.

Aufa when we just moved into our house at that cozy Avenue

RumahKu SyurgaKu literally translated as My House, My Paradise that is how exactly I want my house to be. A place you call home. Home with basic necessities, safe, comfortable and filled with love and laughter. Have you been to a house which is well architect, beautiful and expensive home decorations but you feel uneasy and ’empty’? Have you sometimes wondered how a small house, non-color coordinated or ‘theme’ coordinated and a little mess can feel so warm and cosy? You feel like staying a little longer in that house and it makes you feel….contented? Having a house I can call a home has been my dream since I was young. I was determined (my family always call me stubborn) to find that perfect house to call my home where I’ll raise my children and grow old. I wouldn’t have found mine in a little avenue in Subang Jaya without some tips from my family and friends. So after some visits from our guests to our 3 year-old house, we’ve received many questions and compliments about the house. I’ve then decided to compile the tips I’ve gathered before choosing and purchasing this house. I hope to inspire peers alike or younger who are in the same boat as I am where money don’t come easy and you can’t afford to make mistake. Buying a house IS a lifetime commitment to people like us. Therefore it should be a well-informed and researched DECISION. Where should I start? hmmm….

A peek of our house from the highway when it was under construction

1. DREAM. I believe that everything starts with a dream and you start working towards achieving that dream. Unless you are Alice in Wonderland. If you don’t care where your destination is, it doesn’t matter which path you choose. In this case, if you don’t care to dream how your home is like, it won’t matter which house you choose. So start dreaming and thinking by asking a lot of questions.

2. PURPOSE. Why would you want to go thru the hassle in buying a house when you can rent? There are a plenty of houses to rent with less obligations then buying a house. I’ve defined my purpose as my driving factor and living it. We eat, sleep, work, relax, teach & learn, laugh & cry, quarrel & console and I even gave birth to our 2nd child in this house.

I saw a similar photo of this when I was much younger, which was my parents’ house taken in the late 1970s. I was determined to capture 1 myself when I bought my OWN house. So this is IT!

3. CASH. Of course you need this. Either from your savings or maybe a bit of help from your loved ones. I cried when I had to withdraw all my 27 years of savings till the last penny to pay for the house downpayment. My husband of a year, then had to top-up a bit so that we can stretch our options.

4. HOUSING DEVELOPER. Something that you should not take lightly especially when you are using your huge amount of lifetime savings to pay for downpayment and will continue to pay installment until you retire. For me, you can build beautiful houses in those flyers but if you are not in the top 10 most reputable housing developer, than your housing project is not worth my consideration. It will be a plus point if that housing developer is also a town planner. You get to see the master plan of your surrounding area for the next 5 or maybe 10 years if you are lucky. This will determine the quality of the house you are getting as they need to fulfill certain standards. Apparently I’ve heard many house owners’ nightmare stories all related to their house quality and it IS a point you should not take lightly to have a peace of mind living in the house. You may want to find out the quality of their earlier projects and whether it was completed on time. Many offer secured and gated community and that would be a bonus. Frankly, with the crime rate increasing everywhere and anytime, I just practice daily prayers and seek for His mercy as well as protection on us and our belongings, on top of our other material efforts.

I had to know how high is 11-feet ceiling

5. HISTORY & FUTURE PLAN. You wouldn’t want to buy a beautiful house today and wake up the next morning with heavy construction around you. Perhaps after buying the house then only you realized that it is next to a graveyard. Worse if the place was a landfill or a reclaimed area. This will invite many problems sooner if not later. How gorgeous the external may look, a solid foundation is crucial. Ask for the master plan. I had to know whether they’d be any business centers within 1km of my vicinity. Where are the mosque and schools located? Public transportation access route. Highways. What is the population density going to be?

My obsession. Visiting my house while it was under construction. This is 1st floor.

6. DESIGN to suit lifestyle. I love high ceilings and big windows. They allow natural lights into the house and have better air circulation.  Therefore, you’d use less electricity for lights (even though we are using the energy saver light bulbs), fans and aircond. Small garden for my greens as I love having plants around but I’m not that passionate about gardening.It has to be a size where it is easy to maintain. Spacious kitchen for some basic cookings. Enough bathrooms. Somehow I’m particular at this point because I find that time is very precious and yet individuals need some privacy. Next is Rooms. It is important to differentiate a bedroom where you strictly rest & relax, a hall where you play and watch TV, storage area where you keep all your ‘other’ stuff and working area. I knew my hubby will be working a lot on his computer, has containers of stuff (surf boards, skate boards, scuba diving gears, camera gears, etc.) and he will be expecting many guests in and out of the house during wee hours. The fourth ‘bedroom’ with ensuite bathroom on the ground floor IS a luxury to us and manage to accommodate my hubby’s activities. Have I told you that the bathroom is also his darkroom to process films? The house seemed pretty spacious and empty for a family of 3 but we are happy with the thought that we are going to grow with it together as we turn it into our home.

Is the bathroom spacious enough for me to take my shower?

7. SURROUNDINGS. I was advised and I’ve been sharing the advice too that when you buy a house, buy the community. It comes in a package and the community is a factor in shaping your family. It won’t hurt to ask the house sales advisors on the demographics of your community. We are blessed that our little avenue is at least 90% occupied and another at least 70% are proud owners themselves. It is easier to look out for the community’s security. Majority is young families where the exceptional is always the corner-lot owners. Our children play and go to school together. They come from decent background and we are very happy for that. We prefer dead-end streets where the children can run around safely and not worry about reckless and inconsiderate drivers who’d speed around housing area. We also prefer that our house faces an open space than another house for some privacy. You know how some people can get pretty inquisitive. We enjoy having our family and friends over the house, hence ample parking space is something you should consider as well. I even had the sales advisor to take out the blue print of the project to proof that the width of the street is about 5m (you can triple park comfortably, heheheh) and nothing less. The playground is a scream away from my master bedroom balcony. Covered drainage and underground cables are plus points.

When I took this picture in 2008, I closed my eyes and I could see my children running around and playing at the playground.

8. LOCATION. It used to be 10-15 minutes away from my office but now a few steps away. I don’t fancy the city that much but neither can I live to far away from it to get my necessities. One day perhaps when I’m much older and my children are far away studying or working, I’ll get that condo smack in the middle of the city to have that KLCC view. But for now, we love the cleaner air (so we choose to believe), spacious landed property with some lively neighbors. You can be working somewhere now, but you can’t guarantee that you’d stay on working there for the next couple of years. Be realistic. We are the Gen X & Gen Y. So choose a location based on your home preference and not the distance to your work place. Choose your home away from business centers and learning institutions if you do not want some random ‘renters’ as your neighbors. This is also a contributing factor to your safety and level of peace.

Occasionally we would have the neighbor kids over for some splish-splash fun followed by their favorite chicken nuggets and keropok lekor 🙂

9. HOUSE FINISHINGS. If you enjoy designing and managing contractors, go ahead and transform that house to suit your taste. Renovation works is definitely not my favorite and if you do not have enough money to pay for a good contractor, more often than not you’d end up with a lousy one with lousy quality job and eat up your hard-earned money. Check the quality of the basics that come with the house such as the doors, windows, floorings, tiles, ceiling, paints and switches just to name a few. We are pretty happy with the quality and design of the basics and it’ll give us enough time to save money to change to a more fancy one in the future.

10. OH MR SUN. We prefer to have the house facing the morning sun, to wake us up, greet us and cheer us up every single day rather than the evening sun. I find that houses facing evening sun requires more aircond too.

In conclusion, at the pace that we are going and inflation rate, we know for a fact that we cannot afford to buy a mediocre house and dream that when we have ‘more’ money, we’ll sell and get a ‘bigger and better’ house. We had to get it right the 1st time.  We were very lucky to purchase a decent landed property as the property price is increasing faster than our salary increment. Majority under 30 years-old can only afford a condo or an apartment. It is just a matter of time where the property price is so high that our children need to finish paying up the installments like what is happening in some developed countries. If you are still staying with your parents or they have bought you a house, you must be very grateful now for not having to go thru this complicated process. Are you doing the same for your own children?

I hope the tips above will help you in deciding which house to buy. Try to answer as many questions as you can and prioritize them before you start hunting for a house. Trust me, it will save a lot of arguments and headaches too with your better-half. Live well, Love much and Laugh often!