keep calm and husnudzon

last week I decided to push myself and attend an alumni event, though I felt paiseh and asked myself what do I have to offer at such networking events 😕

so anyway, I planned to tumpang sembahyang at the school’s prayer room before heading there. we have a nice prayer room tucked in a secluded corner, but it is only accessible with a student card. me being the kental person that I am, worried about the small problem of being stranded outside the room like a fool with nobody to help let me in. but while whining about this to NG over the phone while on the way there, I felt tergerak to optimistically say “I think I should be okay lah, since dah ada niat.”

and true enough, I bumped into two girls in the toilet who were taking their wudhu. scurried quickly after one of them so I could also get into the room (padahal belum habis roll down my sleeves). soon after us, two boys entered the prayer room. and what do ya know, one of them decided to be imam. so we joined in the congregational prayer, with the anonymous imam lending us his beautiful recitations of the surahs.

I left in awe thinking about how this waaay exceeded what I had hoped for (i.e. simply for someone to help me tap open the door) and about the beautiful power of dua and husnudzon (sangka baik kepada Allah swt). this little incident showed me that if your niat is baik and if you believe that He will help you and make your affairs easy, then insyaAllah He will really ❤️

okay so that’s a rainy Friday morning story for y’all. TGIF!

the temporarily difficult days (part 2 of 2)

this is a continuation to the temporarily difficult days (part 1 of 2).

arrival of bed

our queen-sized mattress and bed frame arrived separately on Fri. the night before, I asked my dad to help dismantle my old bed frame and then I slept on my old mattress on the floor. then on Fri morning, I left my old mattress outside our door and mama kraken got the town council peeps to help us move it and my bed frame downstairs.

getting the queen bed was a novel experience because I’ve had the same single bed frame since I was 7. so macam very bangga lah gitu dapat katil besar baru.

back to Fri night. my mum took out the luxe bedsheet set that she bought for me and together we fixed it onto the mattress. then, she asked me to take a photo of the bed and send it to NG. which I did, though inside my heart I was like “but huaaaat, huaaaai??” lepas tu! she made me keep the bedsheet and she lent me her king sized bedsheet to use in the meantime. chey! all that hard effort for a photo opportunity only.

the dark patch isn’t your eyes playing a trick on you, but the sealant booboo that i briefly mentioned in my post about the room makeover.

that night I slept with my tissue box on my bed… just cos I could. haha! cheap thrill. ok but anyway more on the tissue box later.

bilik pengantin

so then over the weekend, my dad helped to drill the new curtain rods onto the wall. sampai badan berpeluh semua :/ I felt really touched when I saw him so hard at work heh.

I also enlisted the help of my engineer brother to help assemble my Kallax with me because I didn’t trust myself to understand the instructions lolol. it turns out that you probably do need 2 people anyway.

we also got a Taiwanese neighbour-friend to help sew the kain which my mum had bought from Arab St into curtains for the backdrop. this neighbour was off for a flight that night so she gave us same day express service! alhamdulilah. though my mum realised one of them was done wrongly and she had to unpick and resew. ow! but all settled now.

mama kraken and her two friends then transformed my room on Mon. when I got back from work and entered my room I was kinda speechless. like wahhhhhhhh. wahhhhhhhh. wahhh is this for meeeee?? they had even hung my new window curtains and put on the pengantin bedsheet set! the bedsheet was so bling and regal :’)

in mama kraken’s usual style, I had to remove the bedsheet and change back to the king sized one that night. lol. but ok, not complaining!

here’s a sneak peek:

Read More

room makeover + invitation card woes

erhmagoddd, my room makeover is SO. MUCH. WORK. i feel like it’s as big an undertaking as planning the wedding day, can??!! you see, we are the type of household that owns 1,573,856 items so seriously trying to clear the things out was so, so painful. took me so many rounds. yet, the headache is not over because i’ve still got to think about how to reorganise my things once i have a roomie. for example, i like to dump my handbag and laptop bag in a corner of the floor every day. but once ninja groom moves in, like a bit not nice hor? hai.

NG and I spent the Good Friday public holiday painting the room to my new choice colours of white + grey. we’re not pro painters so it is a little comot here and there, with some booboos related to sealants (say what?) and accidental paint on the wooden panels but whatevs. i’m just happy it’s done. done! woohoo. the day has finally arrived.

i would have loved to get a professional painter to spare us the trouble, but my dad wouldn’t hear of it. then i heard from mama kraken that the charges for painting one room is easily $500 (not sure if true or not). if so, then I guess okay lah, it wasn’t a bad idea to DIY. $500 is a lot of money, espesh when i’m trying to boost my honeymoon shopping budget!

what’s next is to arrange for the delivery of the new bed and mattress (which we ordered way back in Oct) and buy a nightstand and new rack from Ikea. then, mama kraken and two of her friends will help do up my bilik pengantin. although NG and I are not getting solemnised in my house, mama kraken has always insisted that i must have a nice bilik pengantin for the occasion. what occasion ah? my wedding and marriage lah. you know, in case you were thinking of something else.

backtrack a bit, when i was younger i used to dream of getting solemnised in my house because after all, i have spent all my life staying here. (word has it that my family moved in the day after newborn me was discharged from hospital) but when the realities of wedding planning started, i realise NO WAY are we going to clear up the house man. as it is, cleaning up one room was already a slooow torture, what more the common areas? *does the big X sign furiously*

so back to my bilik pengantin — mama kraken already helped buy nice bedsheets for me when she went to Guangzhou two years ago. back then, our wedding date was not confirmed yet but she was already … future-ready, to borrow the public service’s term. huhaha. then last year, she helped me buy new curtains from Guangzhou too. phew. thank god for mama kraken cos i really have no shred of energy left to bling up my room!

also, since we are on the topic. recently i stumbled upon Dalillah Ismail’s bridal chamber from when she got married last year:

wah, love this! the sweet colours, the ruffles, but most of all, the mannequin. though i really have no business having a mannequin in my room lol. i mean, she’s a personal style blogger so i think she can pull it off… but not me.

me vs parents: wedding card drama

anyway! it’s the busy period for parents and me as we distribute our cards. so just to recap. my wedding is for 1,000 pax. initially, i thought of printing 550 (500 + 10% contingency) cards. but mama kraken asked me to print 600 instead so i was like ok, ok. (my dad likes to say “for some people, it’s one card one person!” he’s said this at least 3 separate times. anybody’s parents too?) after the cards had arrived, my mum asked for 400 cards so i gave them to her. then i took 150 for myself, and guarded the extra 50 cards.

yesterday, my parents asked me to find out how much it is to print extra 100 cards. i was like whaaaat! that’s 700 cards for a “1,000 pax” reception!

i’m not disturbed about printing extra cards: pay, and you will get them. i’m worried about the human jam. will there be enough food? will there be enough seats during crunchtime? sigh. some more, when i was distributing cards to my colleagues earlier this week, i was all “bring your family!” “bring your wife!” “bring your husband!”. wah, if i had known that my parents guest list was going to be bigger than expected, i wouldn’t have gone out to ask my colleagues to bring their plus ones seh. some more, colleagues are likely to make arrangements to attend my wedding together so majority would have been fine without their plus ones, i feel.

mama kraken said if the guest list turns out to be 1,100 pax instead, she’ll update the caterer. i know from reading ex-BTB blogs that a ballooning invite list is one of the more common conflicts with parents, so i knew there was no point arguing about this. plus, my parents are paying for food so i also don’t have the right to tell them what to do. i just bitterly told NG that whatever, even if there’s a shortage of food or seats on the day, i’ll just keep smiling on from my pelamin. these situations will be for my parents and their orang kuat to settle, not me. heh.

though hopefully, with Allah’s blessings, such things won’t happen in the first place. i mean, must believe in abundance right? luckily mine’s not a combined event or there could be friction arising from this.

and now, to soldier on for the rest of the preps. so…much…work. just over a month to go!

tailoring my own songkets: part 3

alright so here’s the final instalment of my tailoring my own songkets story. guess what? there’s a twist:

my tailor went missing in action.

with my gorgeous, rusty red kain songket.

and mama kraken’s $300.

we had already passed to him our kain songket and measurements back in Apr 2014, and the plan was to visit him in Feb for final fitting. my mum had also passed her kain for her baju mak pengantin later towards end 2014. in Jan, he first messaged my mum to confirm our trip, and to update that ninja groom’s baju dah siap. then, he messaged again to say that he was facing an emergency, and that he needed 3 million rupiah (about $300). he said that if my mum was able to help him, he would deduct from the duit upah that we needed to pay him anyway. so mama kraken agreed to transfer the money.

after that, he disappeared. in the days leading up to our trip, mama kraken was trying to get in touch with him to confirm that we’ll be meeting him etc. our tailor keeps changing numbers so it was frustrating for her to try contact the right number. she was really stressed about it, repeatedly sighing to herself at home, and saying her dua out loud for Allah swt to let us find him in Bandung. for some reason though, I was calm about it. I told mama kraken that plan B is to just rent from my mak andam the songket outfit (lor). I think it was good to not join my mum in getting stressed, or both of us would just be feeding off each other’s despair and playing victim and getting more upset. macam tak productive ah.

on the morning before we flew off, we got confirmation that our tailor had indeed disappeared. our relative who lives in Bandung had helped to look for him at home, but the house was empty and advertised for sale. when he called the number listed in the ad, it turned out to be the tailor’s recently divorced wife, who also didn’t know about his whereabouts.

when mama kraken broke this news to me, she was calm about it. I think she redha already. I thought it was admirable that she was gracious about it, saying that she sedekah the money to the tailor and that she hopes the money helped lift him from the difficult times that he was facing at that time. ma shaa Allah :’)

and then we flew to Bandung over the CNY weekend

the story didn’t just end there. when we reached Bandung, our first destination was the tailor’s house. I turned to my mum and asked “why are we going there eh?” she said “ye tak ye eh” and turned to our relative and asked why we were headed there -__- but anyway it was decided that since we’re there, we’ll just check it out.

so it was empty, as expected. and here’s where the taichi started. we called ex-wife again to tell her that we reaaaaally only wanted our kain back. she insisted it was not with her, and gave us the tailor’s sister’s number for us to try see if she knows his whereabouts. called sister who said she’s not heard from tailor, and that we should check with ex-wife cos they are still in contact. we also chatted with the neighbours, who threw in more leads (gossip) which confused us further.

the next day, my mum made friends with a makcik at the surau, who suggested she makes a police report against the tailor. so we called the ex-wife to threaten that we’ll report this matter to police — since we have black and white proof of the bank transfer –if the tailor doesn’t return our cloth by the next day. then we also called the sister to relay the same message since we dunno who’s telling the truth. then the two ladies spoke to each other since their words crossed.

only then did things move. ex-wife said oh, kraken’s cloth is with tailor’s friend. I can meet you at outlet mall X and pass it to you. we rushed to said place and waited for a bit, only for her to say that she’ll drop the cloth at my relative’s house the next morning instead. all this time, mama kraken was really hoping her cloth would be found. between two of us, think she wanted her kain more than I did. for me, I gave up already. but for her, she kept saying she “terbayang-bayang” nak kain dia. and how she bought similar cloths for her orang kuat, and the irony is that they will get to wear their kain but she won’t get to wear matching with them. we had already bought her new, nicer kain lace on our first day in Bandung to make a replacement baju tapi nak jugakkk yang hilang tu. (side note: my sis and I don’t quite like the kain that went lost. we’re not sure why mama kraken loves it sooo much :p)

alhamdulilah, ex-wife did return my gorgeous, rusty red kain songket the next morning as promised. she also gave us her side of the story. she brought other kain, but alas, it was not mama kraken’s one. (“baju tu macam untuk dangdut aje,” she told us later privately)

also, ninja groom’s baju was cut but NOT sewn. haish. my share of the kain songket was not cut yet and can be salvaged to turn it into a baju kurung, but his is burnt ah.

so yeah, that’s the end of my tailoring my own songkets story. sayang eh? from two to one to zero… I always imagined coming back from my Bandung trip with exciting pics to share. but I guess it was not meant to be. what a harrowing experience… but at least we tried our best. makes for good wedding drama about 2.5 months to the day, heh.

tapi takpe lah, in shaa Allah with difficulty there is relief 🙂

what to do when you lose money in wedding planning

know that you’re not alone. and that lots of BTBs have lost our deposits, either because they found better deals elsewhere; or it turns out their vendors cannot be trusted; or like mine, disappear. of course we try our best to prevent such things from happening, but once it has already happened, try your best to keep calm and know that sometimes external circumstances are beyond our control. maybe it’s a test from Allah swt. or sometimes He takes away our worldly possessions to help cleanse our wealth, and so that He can replace it with something much, much better. Wallahualam. have faith, and keep strong! 🙂 though I know it’s easier said than done…

and now I wait for my mak andam to contact me on my outfit selection. sigh. feel like asking them again when’s my turn but I don’t want to be *that* bride. hopefully everything goes smoothly, in shaa Allah. ❤

our kursus experience: round 2!

alhamdulilah, our previous marriage preparation course provider honoured their word to give us a refund 🙂 it was done amicably and professionally, so I’m happy with how it turned out. I can sense the owners’ sincerity in doing good for the community, so I really do wish them success in their endeavours.

and then! we signed up for kasih sejati by suchi success in search for a better fit. haha. to be honest, there were moments before and during the course where we doubted ourselves and wondered whyyy we had to be so semangat about attending a second course. alhamdulilah in retrospect, it was worth it (ok lah, maybe we are justifying our own investment into the course also) cos not only did we benefit from the materials provided, we also got a little bit of insights on a successful training/consultancy business model heh.

lots has already been shared about kasih sejati so I think there’s not much value-add for me to spell out the syllabus here. on the whole, the course syllabus is comparable with cinta abadi. each has its strengths over the other. one of the things that kasih sejati did cover was the role of the wali, and certain situations in which a nikah can be considered tidak sah — scary! definitely not to be messed with.

we attended the course at the training centre. the facilities were not too bad — the room gets a little cold so do bring a jacket. our trainers were mr mohd khair (the big boss), ustaz zulkifli and mdm suriati (the big boss’s wife). mr khair was really good. he has his own style of presenting which is laden with both substance and humour. so in a way after spending two half-days with him and being spoiled by his level of engagement, it felt like the other two speakers couldn’t match up.

oh yes forgot to mention that the course, including the notes, are in Malay. unfortunately, my Malay is terrible. but anyways ninja groom thought he would troll me by threatening to write his answers in Malay, but I totally owned him by writing my answers in Malay. HA! not without tapping the girl beside me to ask “what is respect in Malay?” and “how do I say ‘willing’?” and making grammatical errors, but y’know, I did it! I thought and wrote *real stuff* in Malay!

the highs & low…s

what I enjoyed: all the relationship advice, the Get to Know Your Partner exercises, and the fact that the discussion on roles of husband and wives went higher level by quoting from the Quran (instead of asking participants to suggest — we don’t know what we don’t know!) also there were not too many group activities/games, which I liked 😀 I mean nothing against group activities but after the last round where some of the activities were poorly designed, I’m like, let’s not try to do any fancy things here. let’s just KISS ok!

what I didn’t really enjoy: the fruit personality test (I recently did an MBTI course at work, which I find more established. how many people will understand me if I say I’m a grape compared to ENFP?). and… that’s about it lah. the parts that were a little snoozefest-ish for me was either due to the instructors (sorry!) or cos it’s a repeat from cinta abadi. there was one exercise which we felt could have been facilitated better (ader aje yang nak critique eh!) but yeah not a biggie.

on the whole, the course mentally prepared me to think that marriage is going to be harrrd work; that the first 1-3 years is going to be most important in setting a strong foundation for our marriage for life; and to embrace the fact that ninja groom is from mars and I’m from venus, and that it’s the differences in the way we are wired that makes life (whimsically) wonderful. insyaAllah 🙂

booking airbnb for our honeymoon

we’ve been more focused on planning our honeymoon these days and eeks, it’s costing more than we budgeted / hoped for :/ I suppose it calls for discipline to stick to my budget, but a small part of me can’t help but whine “but it’s our honeymooooon, of course we deserve the nice room with the nice view…” such a dilemma between giving ourselves a good honeymoon experience and managing our finances.

but anyway.

booking airbnb

we are booking airbnb in two of the cities we are visiting. let me guess… some of you reading this might cringe and think “airbnb for honeymoon?!” assuming we have the same train of thoughts about spending your honeymoon in someone’s apartment…

I got over my psychological barrier when I browsed through the listings and realised that many of these hosts operate like business owners. most have a check in / check out system, provide towels and linen, and get a cleaner to help them (though we end up paying for cleaning fees). in other words, it’s more or less a business transaction with these apartment owners. it’s not built on as much goodwill as it is for say, couch surfing.

I love the airbnb website cos it’s pretty user friendly and forward looking, with a clean layout, splash videos, etc. you think it’s just an image of a house when suddenly someone starts walking up the stairs.

with airbnb, we save a bit on accommodation. granted it’s not like, dirt cheap since we’re renting entire apartments (as opposed to private rooms), but it’s cheaper than staying in a nice-ish hotel. and we get to step local people in the neighbourhood…excited!

our picks

these are our two picks. the way airbnb works is that when you find a listing you like, you click “request to book” and enter your credit card details. hosts have 24h to accept or decline your request. only after they’ve accepted the request will your CC be charged.

I was a little worried that we would get turned down cos of my hijab. I used a hijab photo for my profile photo so hosts know upfront we’re a Muslim couple. erm, you know, in case they have prejudice. alhamdulilah our two hosts accepted our applications without any fusses, so phew! so far they seem like pretty lovely people in our brief correspondence, so hope we’ll have good interactions with them once we meet them.

Brooklyn, NYC

IMG_7199.PNG

IMG_7205.PNG

IMG_7201.PNG

IMG_7200.PNG

(source: airbnb)

insyaAllah, this will be our temporary humble abode in Brooklyn, NYC. I actually wanted to stay in a brownstone… brownstones are the red/brown historical apartment blocks in NYC that we often see in movies and Sesame Street (lol).

IMG_7204.PNG

(source: airbnb)

the first application we put in was for a small cosy brownstone apmt, but the host didn’t respond within 24h so the booking fell thru. our second choice was the above listing which we thought had relatively nice furnishing. maybe it’s the photo taking but some of the other apartments look a bit… berlapok. this one also has tons of good reviews for the apartment and hosts, so that was more assuring. it’s not in a brownstone complex although the owner explained that the layout is similar to one. oh well! I think it’ll be awesome nonetheless.

Boston

IMG_7203.PNG

IMG_7202.PNG

our Boston apartment is a loft, the fourth and top floor of what we refer to as a bungalow here. am loving the slanted ceilings and roof windowsss… so jakun please. this one is a bit more restrictive in that we’re asked to be quiet after 10pm especially since we will share the front door with the host couple, and we have to pay $10 to use their kitchen. um, ok. but they serve free breakfast so hope that makes up for the above house rules.

we’re left with booking two more hotels for rest of the trip, and then I think we can rest from honeymoon planning. USD is rising, so I feel like I’d better book them now in case they rise even further. after this I’d better focus back on my room makeover, continue my wedding invite designing, and march on with my ngaji. starting to feel some pressure from the the to-do list…!