That Dream House

Whenever I check my news feed on Facebook, there will always be a post or two on home design, interior decorating and such. A part of me is glad that somehow those posts tell me that my friends are in the phase of becoming a homeowner, have just moved in, or perhaps saving up to purchase one. A lot of them tag their partners, putting captions like ‘My dream house’ and truly, I am happy for them, and understand the euphoria of moving into your very own home, paid with your hard-earned money or the happiness that comes from daydreaming.

Another part of me laughed at myself – where has all my excitement gone? My house is all practical and functional, nothing strikingly pretty or Pinterest-worthy.

When I think deeply – I admit that I introspect on matters of no importance like this – I think my relative lack of enthusiasm on interior decorating stems from the fact that I, for all the ambitious self, have never ever have one thing called ‘a dream house’. I’ve never had a vision on a future house, or a future car or anything like that. Ever. And I married an ultimate minimalist whose idea of owning a house is having a roof above his head and a mattress to sleep on, so we have some kind of parallel vision on what our house should be – sort of.

But I do have this one particular dream, ever since I was a small kid, that is I’d like to have my own personal library. Indirectly it means that I dream of owning a house with a size that allows me to build a room full of books, a comfy chair, a nice and appropriate lighting… but that’s about it.

So when my husband and I moved into our humble 1067 sq ft apartment, we allocated one room for that, which also doubles as a guest room. I started to fill the room with a bookshelf, an IKEA sofa bed, a study desk, an AC unit (should have known that we don’t need this), a nice floor cum reading lamp, a small table for coffee and finally I found that my dream has come true. My husband should really be thankful that I am so easy to please that way.

Beyond that home improvement for me means problem-solving, like finding the best storage solutions, where to put my (and the children’s) expanding collection of books (I’ve imagined a bookshelf in my bedroom, along the hallway and in the living room) , and the future needs of my children.  I admit sometimes I have this periodical obsession about putting pretty decorations on the wall and stuff like that, but with a husband like mine, that kind of proposals will need to be vetted rationally. Well, that is unless I give up and concede that I want those things ‘just because’ – no logical reasons whatsoever – to which my husband will normally oblige (I think he’s just being thankful that his wife still has some feminine traits).

Sure, I got excited too when we were first moving in. Choosing the colour scheme, buying the furniture, designing the kitchen… you should see my home notebook.It’s full of ideas. But after we moved in with the house functioning as it should, the excitement wore out. Spending for little unnecessary pretty things is never justified – I’d rather buy books than that beautiful wall art.

Then again, the little that we have is apparently enough. I don’t think we’ll be happier in a different, bigger, fancier house. These days I even dream about downsizing, moving to a smaller apartment where the chores of vacuuming the floor or removing the spider webs won’t overwhelm me. The other day my husband ranted about how he could not understand the need for people to spend money on designer coffees. I told him people pay for the atmosphere of the coffee houses too hence the price tag, but he insists that unless you are unmarried (and generally could not care much on making your house a home, like him), anyone can make his or her house calming and inspiring enough to drink coffee peacefully inside it.

That remarks, to me, subtly means that even without those fancy vases, a nice kufi art framed, or a feature wall,  I’ve somehow made this little abode a home, one that my husband (and son) eagerly return to, have a cup of hot instant Nescafe,  and find peace in it.


p.s. I still need to buy more cacti though. I haven’t kill enough.



Not a Pinterest Mom


How is your relationship with Pinterest?

Mine was pretty much a love-hate one, with now reduced to occasional encounters.

I love it for the fact that it is easy to navigate, and gives me a lot of positive inspirations. I actually began to use it when I was moving into our new house, and did spend a huge amount of time on it.

I hate it because I know, after a while, that I could never be one who would contribute to ‘pinnable’ photos. And I agree when people say that Pinterest makes you feel like a bad mom with all the things you didn’t do. The pressure could be tremendous for a Type A person like me. Haha.

Earlier this year I wrote about how I should spend my year learning to slow down. One of the ways I listed was to dive into my creative side which I know I have all this while, but tend to ignore. Pinterest provides a platform for me to be inspired by others who have put their creativity to good use. My interests were pretty much around sewing, making children crafts, organizing, and much earlier than that, home decorating and interior-designing; so I did spend some time browsing through those oh-so-pretty pins, creating my own inspiration boards.

Nevertheless,  after nearly seven months of being a stay-at-home mom I can safely conclude that I could never be a Pinterest mom.

I’ve attempted a number of things inspired by Pinterest, and let me tell you how they went.

Let’s begin with sewing.

My mom loves sewing and made a lot of pretty dresses for us girls, and she herself once pointed out that of all her three daughters, I am one who she could see some potentials in sewing. And I do have some interest in sewing too. The interest somehow heightened when I knew I was going to have a daughter of my own… and on Pinterest the dresses seem so easy to make on my own.

My mother-in-law had earlier given me one of her sewing machine, which over the past years has only been used to do a few small projects namely Isa’s pillow cases and the laundry room curtain. That’s an average of one project every two years 😀 So just before Ramadhan I braved myself an attempt to make a dress for Khadijah, partly because I  could not help myself but thinking ‘The dress is so easy to sew there is no way I will pay RM60 for it‘ whenever I saw a nice dress at the shop. So I ordered a fabric quarter (which I knew would just be enough for a then 3.5-month old infant) and started sewing….until I was stuck at making the button holes. Then I stopped. I gave up.

In retrospective, I found myself NOT enjoying the process, lack the motivation (I’m not here to dress up my baby like a doll), and the opportunity costs. The whole dress may just cost me less than RM10 once it’s finished, but Khadijah doesn’t really need another dress so why bother. I’d rather have that few hours (yes, it took a few hours because I am an amateur) either playing with my children… or as I was imagining mid way in front of my sewing machine: Reading. Snuggling under my blanket reading a favourite book is much more pleasurable than this.

I will finish this dress... someday.

I will finish this dress… someday.

So I say, unless the project is really, really worth it (I am attempting to make a cot bumper this week), there is no way you could see me sewing again.

Next, children crafts.

Isa doesn’t enjoy making crafts much so I am limiting myself to a few really interesting projects, thus far, to work on. I don’t browse for ideas in my free time i.e. leisurely, I only do so when I have items around the house I can recycle and make a project with. I have an egg carton in my kitchen, so I created a board on potential projects yesterday. My experience tells me that with all the options I have gathered, I might as well show them to Isa and let him choose. Otherwise, it will end up with me doing all of it.

In anticipation of his birthday.

In anticipation of his birthday.

And no, even the finished ones are not gonna be Pinterest-worthy. By now I believe that all the crafts on Pinterest were made by adults. I am positive. With the help of good lighting and careful styling.

What about organising?

Most of the things in my house have their own designated places, what I need is discipline which is not available on Pinterest.

Home decorating?

I lack the motivation, and my husband isn’t fond of anything that is purely aesthetics. Everything must have a function, according to him, and aesthetics is not one.

As I made peace with the fact that I am not a crafty, DIY mom, I don’t think you’ll find me browsing Pinterest longer than a few minutes. I learnt it the hard way that I could never have the will to  fight the temptation to stop half way through the project and grab a book.

And I am okay with that.

Visit Nurafnizar’s profile on Pinterest.//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js

Rumahku Syurgaku: Kenali Isi Rumah Anda

 Otak saya sudah mula rindu untuk bekerja secara sistematik untuk memikirkan masalah setelah lima bulan bergelar surirumah sepenuh masa dan sedang bercuti dari kuliah. Itupun salah satu faktor pendesak yang menyebabkan saya mahu memulakan projek ini sekarang, bukan esok, bukan lusa, bukan bulan depan atau tahun depan.

Pertama sekali yang saya lakukan adalah sesi ‘brainstorming’ atau sesi perah otak. Semua idea yang ada, semua yang saya tahu, semua yang saya teringin untuk lakukan dihamburkan atas sekeping kertas. Memang berterabur hasilnya, tapi itulah cara ‘brainstorming’ yang efektif. Kemudiannya barulah idea-idea ini diklasifikasikan dan diprioritikan sewajarnya berpandukan rangka kerja/pemikiran yang sesuai. Dalam erti kata lain, idea-idea saya yang mencapah itu akan disusun semula.

Cara ini tentulah tidak efektif sekiranya saya tidak begitu terdedah kepada perbincangan berkenaan isu alam sekitar- dan saya mungkin memilih rangka pemikiran yang diketengahkan oleh penulis buku ‘popular’ the Green Deen: What Islam Teaches about Protecting the Planet , Ibrahim Abdul Matin. Beliau membahagikan bukunya kepada beberapa bab: Sisa buangan (Waste), Air (Water) dan Tenaga (Energy) seandainya saya berada di situasi itu. Boleh gunakan klasifikasi ini jika sesuai.

Ataupun analisis mengikut ruang atau bahagian-bahagian rumah anda sebagaimana contoh di bawah:

Ihsan The Star

Saya memilih untuk menggunakan rangka ‘consumption – output‘ untuk analisa ini. Sengaja menambah komplikasi 😛

Bayangkan rumah anda, dan ahli-ahli keluarga anda sebagai sebuah kotak tertutup. Apa sahaja unsur yang masuk ke dalamnya (i.e. apa-apa konsumsi atau penggunaan) senaraikanlah. Tak perlu spesifik. Yang keluar daripada kotak tertutup itu adalah output, dan senaraikanlah yang langsung dan utama sahaja (untuk meringkaskan proses). Sesuailah dengan prinsip ‘materiality‘: utamakan yang paling penting sahaja dahulu. Yang kurang impak kita kemudiankan. Berkenaan impak, saya mengambil kira impak kepada alam sekitar dan juga impak kepada perbelanjaan keluarga.

Di bawah adalah hasilnya secara kasar. Akan diperhalusi dari semasa ke semasa.

Hasil awal

Hasil awal

Hasil setelah diperhalusi

Langkah seterusnya adalah mengenalpasti secara lebih jelas impak serta kesan kehidupan seharian saya kepada kelestarian dan kualiti dan kos hidup. Secara umum saya sudah boleh mengesan, masalah  sisa buangan yang paling utama bagi kami, terutama sekali  lampin pakai buang yang sudah digunakan!

Berkenaan elektrik dan air, secara kasarnya tidak banyak yang boleh kami lakukan untuk mengurangkan penggunaan kedua-dua sumber ini – bil elektrik bulanan sekitar RM70 sebulan dan bil air sepanjang ingatan saya cuma sekali perlu dibayar (RM2), selebihnya ditanggung oleh kerajaan Negeri Selangor alhamdulillah. Tiada pengubahsuaian yang melibatkan modal tinggi, cuma tinggal tabiat berjimat perlu lebih disebatikan.

Namun saya berpendapat elok juga saya perhatikan untuk beberapa hari adakah telahan saya ini betul. Akan menulis lagi tentang hal ini, Insya-Allah.

Best Thing I Have Heard Yesterday


We were about to reach home after a 6-hour journey from my parents’ place when Isa started to chant non-stop ‘Yeay yeay alik umah Isa’ which basically means ‘Yeay yeay I am going home’. He even refused to stop by a restaurant for dinner.

I could not help but beaming.

That was indeed one of the best compliments I have received.

It tells me that I have successfully made our house a home, and my son loves it.

IKEA : A Love-Hate Relationship


I had just spent a few grands at IKEA when I realised that my house is fast becoming a part of IKEA showroom. I detest that fact, but when I looked back, I truly have no options. So Isa’s room will have a STUVA storage and the guest room cum study room has a Lycksele sofa bed.

First let me admit, IKEA does produce good-looking furniture.

However,price-wise and quality-wise, their furniture are not any better than the local furniture outlets. I do not have much time to customise IKEA products that I bought (though I love browsing through the hacks people do on their store-bought IKEA items!), but time-constraint and skill-constraint as I am, my house is soon to be just like everyone else’s.

The only advantage IKEA offers, that makes me return to them more often that I’d like to is the fact that I will have all the details I need on the product I am considering to buy beforehand. I can take as much time as I need to deliberate whether to buy or not (most often by checking the reviews from other customers), whether it will fit or not, just by looking at their catalogue – online and offline.

I love window shopping – but these days it is a luxury I could not afford. Oh, how I would love to browse through the furniture stores lining beside the road leading to my house – there are a lot of them really. Last time we had our sofa custom-made according to my design – an offer I can’t say no to, because they just didn’t have the kind that I wanted. I have a very specific demand when it comes to furniture to be honest.

So for the fact that:

1. I don’t have time to window shop or visit a lot of home furnishing stores

2. My husband being far from an avid shopper of furniture so it will need a huge effort to drag him out of the house for this purpose

3. I take a long time to decide on buying things

I have to finally be happy with IKEA. It means that once I have decided to buy a certain item, I can just drop by the outlet anytime (so far I have been there during lunch time three times) just because I already have in mind what I need to buy.

So yes, while I don’t see myself making another big purchase at IKEA in the near future (even in the distant future I have doubt, because we already have the basic needs) I kind of thankful for the business model that IKEA chooses to operate in. It allows me to be efficient.

And efficiency is what any multi-tasking woman will treasure, at the cost of being boring.

P.S: I guess my husband doesn’t have much opposition for IKEA products because he fancies assembling them. It just like another LEGO set, quoting Nick Miller from New Girl. 

Children-Inspired Home Deco 101

The other day I was watching the latest episode of the home design TV Show The Apartment: Design Your Destiny.

Funnily, while I was looking at my TV, in a glance I saw a stack of home design magazines I bought, neatly tucked under the TV shelf.

Then I looked around my living room and laughed. I know somehow the dream of having a house that looks like those in the magazines are just that, a dream.

My home deco and design aspiration these days (and perhaps the next 10 years until the last kid grows up) is to make the house as child-friendly as possible. MIL will always come and give unsolicited opinions on my design choice, my dad once came and commented that my living room feels empty and cold like a morgue. But hey, I got the existence of every item in there justified!

Living Room Part 1

A: This is our huge, four-seater L-shaped sofa. Specifically requested to be made this way to the furniture-maker, in the effort to ensure versatility. Of course putting it in a true L-shape will be more pleasing, but my son needs space for his ball games. Indoor. And he’s pretty keen on running and bumping on things, I’d rather put the sofa in this boring position.

B: Our cheap IKEA TV shelf. No intention to upgrade. It has a length that fits perfectly with our TV, leaving no room for Isa to climb onto it. Child-safety checked!

C: Our three-tier side tables, cum coffee table. My husband’s choice. At one time became an object of interest to our son (imagine him crawling through it). Not fully-approved by me, but head of the house likes it. It stays.

D: Yeah, I know. The rug should not be placed in the middle of the room like that. Some part of the edge should be under the sofa or something like that. If it comes to me, no rug needed,but it could be pretty cold that floor.

Living Room Part 2

Living Room Part 2

E: The Montessori-inspired toy shelves, brought to you by IKEA, in the effort to teach Isa orders and reduce the amount of toys to be played at one time. Made a rule that no one is allowed to put anything on top of it, but became the first one to keep those stuff you see permanently there.
F: Children playmat can never be seen on any design magazine so it must not be designer-approved, yes? But it is easy to clean.
G: A plastic mat placed under Isa’s chair to ensure easy cleanup. Doesn’t follow theme, but makes life easier.
H: No big vase of flowers on my dining table as a centrepiece. Banned by husband for lack of functionality (aesthetic is not a function according to him), so no flowers. Nil, Nada.
I: A bowling alley for Isa
J: A huge square cushion for Isa to rest on and have his bottle. In the mid of playing if he feels so. Doesn’t follow theme, also looks worn out. But to hell with that because I only managed to make the substitute cushion cover half way.

My house won’t be featured in any design and deco magazine, and I am truly fine with that.

Unfriending, unliking and unfollowing

I came across an article discussing the effect of social media to shopping. Do social media make us shop more?

It is a definite yes for me. Ever since I have become a mother (and married, to a certain extent), I have to say going shopping is not much of a leisurely thing to do. Window shopping is almost non-existent. I really doubt any mother with a toddler would think that going to a shopping mall is an enjoyable experience all the time. Add a very reluctant, frugal husband into the equation, it is a bit of a challenge.

But of course that doesn’t deter me from shopping. My closet is still seeing an increase in its treasure, and my house is still getting more and more stuff

That is because we have (thank God) online shopping – now not only limited to shopping website, but also Facebook, Twitter and Instagram which operate on the basis of push technology.

As for me,I am on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, along with Pinterest (with a limited activity level). Twitter is not much of a problem, and I have only been a follower to a small group of people on Instagram, so I would say these two are not guilty. But Facebook…it is really a culprit.

In Malaysia, I have noticed that for the kind of clothing (abaya and hijabs, as well as other Islamic clothings) I am interested in, the sellers don’t normally have active shopping websites. They have a constantly-updated Facebook pages instead. That is the reason why when I was looking for abayas (which is typically for a short time frame) I would add (and search) a number of abaya-selling pages.

While I appreciate the posts about their products appearing on my news feed when I am really looking for one, they really arouse the temptation to shop when I am not intending too.

It is really harmful.

So I reckon, unfriending, unliking or unfollowing them would be the right move.

At least for the time being.

So yesterday I took the effort to choose the option of ‘Hide All from Users’ for all abaya and hijab sellers that I have liked their pages or befriend. I have ‘unfollowed’ one seller on Instagram and ‘unlike’ a number of retail pages.

Does it help?

So far so good. No nice clothes appearing on my feed, except for those sponsored ones which I can’t run away from unless I deactivate my Facebook account which is not an option.

The work is still in progress on unsubscribing to various online shopping portal email newsletter.

p.s. On the other hand, I have also ‘unfriend’ a bunch of people on Facebook. Nothing personal, it is just that I am doing a bit of housekeeping. I’d like to limit my friends list to those I know well. The effect of doing it is very good in fact – I spend less time scrolling down reading the news feed. Less time trying to pry into other’s life.  Good for me!