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Books - Finishing Good Books Lately

September 22, 2022

I've been reading/listening to good books lately. The best thing is, I picked them knowing near-to-nothing about these books, so it was a nice surprise. I gave 4 stars on Goodreads for books listed here :

  • Briefly, A Delicious Life by Nell Stevens
  • The Good Mother by Sue Miller
  • Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak
  • The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves
So I decided to go to Goodreads to read some of the comments but I was left disappointed by the never-ending detailed complains (or 'critiques') from other fellow readers. I'm sitting here in front of my monitor, imagining the lives of people who hated something and chose to make an effort to write something so detailed about the hundred reasons why they don't like it. If they like it, I understand the strong urge to share with others about the excitement, but imagine when it is the opposite feeling. 

For example, among the books that I consumed this 2 months, I also finished Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan and Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, but I don't feel the urge to share my thoughts on why I didn't like the books. I can't even write the reviews on my Notion bookclub because the books weren't that good for me. It didn't leave any marks except for 'don't feel like rereading these books'.

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Anyway, I'm currently listening to more books by Nell Stevens. I would love to buy a physical copy of Briefly, A Delicious Life - it is a combination of Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman, Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman and The Invisible Life by Addie LaRue. First person view, silent love story, and giving a mellow vibe. 

Other than that, I wrote some of the reviews on my Notion Book Club (that I can't catch up to write in). 

Extra note : I just finished My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (book 77). It was another good read, but uncomfortable to listen to (Exploring a relationship of a young naive 15-year old Vanessa and a manipulative 42 year old teacher). It reminds me of The Enchanter / Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Perhaps it is fair to say that it is a modern take of Lolita from the girl's point-of-view. It was not an easy read, quite uncomfortable and dark, but an interesting story nonetheless. 

Little Thing 253 : Drawing/Journaling Playlist

September 20, 2022

I made a 15 minutes drawing/writing playlist, or less. Well, at this moment I have 2 videos that I use when I wake up early in the morning and try to write/draw something before Sofi wakes up. I created my own calm playlists and I hope it is somewhat useful to some of you. 




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Or you can play it on background here :



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Little Stories 245 : Cleaning up My Childhood Room, Recycling Old Books & Magazines

September 19, 2022

We've been spending a lot of time at my dad's to clean up our old stuffs (I left the house when I was 18 and the room kinda stuck in time). There are so many stuffs to do.


The Early Story : Basically what happened was the water tank beneath the ceiling in our old room was leaking badly, so it needed a change + the old roof was in bad shape. Our room was flooded by it so we had to do massive clean up and renovation. I think we already spent around a month on and off at the house since August. 


The Renovation : Repaired the old roof, cleaned up the ceiling, changed new water tank, hacked broken tiles in the kitchen and filled it up with new concrete, filled up cement in the toilet's drain, repaired broken door, rented trash tank and all those stuffs. We called 'tukang rumah' for all those stuffs that we can't do - we spent around RM 4,700 for all those renovation.


While we (mostly Af and I), we organized the stuffs, threw things that can't be used, recycled things that can be recycle, cleaned up the room and a lot of other small stuffs. My brother and sister came twice to help with the heavy stuffs especially the dismantling and lifting. 


The recycling part : The first time we send all our plastic stuffs to the recycling center, we only got RM 1 (it was in 3 huge plastics). We gave away 1 bag of tins & aluminium to the DBKL guy because he wanted it - he also requested to take the metal springs in 2 of the old mattresses that we put in the trash tank in front of the house. 


Here are all the books, magazines, old documents (paper/board related) that we sold, including 2 old bulky monitors, 3 old keyboards, 2 old radios, and a fax machine. We got RM 81 for all those. It's at the nearest recycling center to our house :



Some recycling centers won't take badly damaged books by termite, some just take them, so you need to ask ahead. This is only books and magazines from 2 rooms, we still have 2 rooms to go through :



Note : Most of the magazines were from my sister because she's the one that spent the most on magazines, and already I brought all my books when I left the house (so I don't have this problem).

Moving forward :
  • we have around 15 huge bags of old clothes, bags and fabrics but we don't know where/how to send. Maybe to the Recycling Center in Precinct 9 Putrajaya because they take old clothes (I'm not sure about this yet). 
  • we need to clean up the kitchen after the renovation
  • we need to find a way to clean up the garden
  • more magazines and termite-destroyed books in the library room :F




Anyway, it is a long process and I will maybe update again when I have the time. 

Little Story 244 - The Session

August 28, 2022

 

I went to get a full body massage last Friday (after a week of feeling nauseous, full and bloated). Usually I get extra 'bloaty' during PMS but last week been awful, I can't eat, I got heartburn and extra anxious as well. It has been a cold week and I'm prone to sickness during cold season. 


I wore extra layers, I drank warm drinks during the day and hot tea at night, I took hot shower, soak my legs in epsom salt bath, I wore socks when I sleep, I even bought long sleeve pajama set and took out my 'cold-season' sweater. I don't know how other sensitive-to-weather-changes people survive this without falling sick 😂 I feel old, I even look old, like granny in a sweater and socks, holding hot tea and massaging body with ginger oil after meal. I didn't know what else to do.


Anyway, I had to let this 'wind' (angin badan) out - I don't fart/burp as much as normal people do, so I get sick often because there is too much wind. This pinching pain on my abdomen (like heartburn) + chest area, the nauseousness, the fatigue, the wind, there is no medical term perfect to summarize this (I asked a doctor before and the doctor said there is no such thing as 'angin badan', but I choose to disagree). 


When this happen, I usually go for a massage, specifically to let out the 'angin'. Before this, I also tried acupressure, acupuncture, dry cupping (bekam), and guasha massage : these also help with letting the 'angin' out, relaxing the muscle and just help me with my conditions.  


So I contacted a 'Muslimah' massage therapist near my house, she specifically focused on helping female clients, and she does it at her house. Honestly, I don't know whether I should blindly trust someone I found online (well don't - it's dangerous). But I went to her house anyway, creeped out a bit, a nice decent flat home, really dark when I came in (perhaps to create a 'private/intimate' atmosphere), she gave me a cold water that I pretended to drink because I was a bit worried, then she sent me to the middle room to get change. The room was decorated with decent looking mattress, there was massage certificates on the wall, a small banner for her business, some candles and also some massage equipments. She provided a piece of 'batik lepas', asked me to take off everything except for the underwear. Redho je lah kan. 


But despite that, it was an amazing massage session. She even gave me extra 15 mins of head/face massage. It was a bit painful when she focused on some troubled points (especially the abdomen part and the 'sengkak'). She said everything was good, just a bit of 'wind' here and there. Nothing too problematic, she said my body frame is quite small, so it was really easy for her physically compared to other clients. She mentioned to take care of my consumption, don't drink 'cold' water or foods, choose veggies & fruits that are suitable for my body type. 


All in all, the massage session was a bliss and it helped me. I mean, she burped like no one's business the whole session, like the sound of wild animals - other than that, it was a great session. I would want to go for another session if she could go to my house instead because I am NOT comfortable getting a massage at a stranger's house. 


Right after the session, I ate like I fasted for a week, and the nausea wasn't that bad anymore. The day after, the symptoms subsided and there is still a remaining feeling like a small lump left in the small corner of my abdomen. I still drink hot drinks and really picky with my food consumption because I miss not feeling awful. I even lost almost 2 kg not doing anything :F


There is no lesson from this story : it is just something I put my trust on blindly because I was desperate for a solution after I tried everything I can myself. 



Little Thing 252 : Wordless

August 27, 2022

When you wake up really early in the morning and you stare at the computer screen, thinking what to write but everything you wish you could capture from your thoughts dissolves into mists. 


Here is the playlist I listened to. <


Image from unsplash


Books - Borrowing Books

August 26, 2022

I've been borrowing a lot of books from my former teacher and my online friends (I'm making a huge effort !) I'm proud to say that I now have 3 online friends that I manage to talk about books and borrow books from. 


In this current phase, I'm slowly changing to become my 'real' self and accepting that I feel so comfortable with being alone (and it is okay), I'm getting more and more socially awkward. I did have the same tendency since I was young, but I had to 'fit in' into the societal requirements, so I had to always make an effort. Now I don't.


So I'm really proud of myself for making effort to go out from my comfort zone and make online friends :D

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Here is all the graphic novels and fiction books that I borrowed from Maisarah :



I'm excited for the Handmaid's Tale (because I want to read it for awhile), also Wonder by Beatrice Blue - I want to enjoy her artworks and read her process (but I don't want to buy and keep the physical book), Anxious People by Fridrik Backman is probably a good read for me (because I've been anxious a lot since the pandemic and since Sofi), and sure books by Lucy Knisley (because I read all the early years book but somehow fell out of love from her art), the Nutcracker and the Mouse by Natalie Andrewson (I can enjoy her artwork - it reminds me of Over the Garden Wall series), other than that Feelings : A Story in Seasons by Manjit Thapp & The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (recommended by Maisarah herself). 

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The left one is books from Ms Chin (my former English teacher), most of the books were thriller and written by female writers. Our agreement is to let me read the book and then help her sell the preloved books on my Shopee after I finished it. By now I think I've already read and sell at least 5-6 of her books. 


All the Elif Shafak's books on the right side is from DD. I love Elif Shafak and if I still collect books, I would love to have a row of her works on my book shelf. I already read Black Milk (about motherhood) and currently reading Three Daughters of Eve (about God).


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So I currently have a bunch of books around in my bedroom : on the right table (where I put all the TBR books), on the left (where I sleep, the books that I'm currently reading & my Kindle), and on the bed's front (all the TBR novel graphics). 


I have so many books to read and these books will be returned to the owners when I finish it. I'm not tied to the physical thing but I can still enjoy reading the physical books. Isn't it amazing ? 


I don't know about other people, but for me, this is an amazing setup. But IF I could change one thing, I would want the busy side road window to change into a nature view, no vehicle sounds, or morning trash trucks or busy road bustling with life, just the sound of nature and fresh air. 

Books - I Listened/Read to Anne of Green Gables Book Series (11 books)

August 02, 2022

I've been having some thoughts after finishing 7 of Anne of Green Gables book series, that, we will eventually forget our childhood excitement. That we will become tired and hardly ever feel excited about everything anymore. Here's a good comic about what I'm writing about. 



Anne starts the book with so much joy and excitement towards life, she is innocent, she has an amazing imagination, great friends and she is a big-hearted person. She cares so much about people around her, the trees, the animals, the littlest things. Those are the things that make me adore Anne so much. 


After more than 20 years (I only read 3 books when I was in school), I decided to reread these series and finally finish them up so I listened to her story throughout July. 


Afterwards in the series : she went to school, she graduated, she became a teacher, she got married, she became a mother, she had many children, then WW1 happened, her children were big enough to get listed to the war and throughout the war, there were many sadness and war anxieties, later there were grief. Anne wasn't the same jolly kid she was, she grew up and grew old. In Rilla of the Ingleside (the last book in the series), Anne & Gilbert were hardly there, or mostly just in the background. I'm a bit surprised by how seemingly abrupt their life stories ended. Where was dear Marilla? Where was Diana ? I need closure.  


Anne is one of my favorite character. What happened to her in the end? Did she die old and content among her family and friends? Did they get over the grief? I felt like it wasn't fair, life isn't fair. She had so much hopes for life and I wanted her to be happy in the end. 


But, that was written around 100 years back and nothing could ever be changed now, can it? What can I expect from the war ? It was such a terrible time and it was fairly expected. Nothing good can come out from such sadness. 


**Books in the series (based on the publication order)

  1. Anne of Green Gables (pub. April 1908) - finished
  2. Anne of Avonlea (pub. August 1909) - finished
  3. Anne of the Island (pub. July 1915) - finished
  4. Anne's House of Dreams (pub. August 1917) - finished
  5. Rainbow Valley (pub. August 1919) - finished
  6. Rilla of Ingleside (pub. autumn 1921) - finished
  7. Anne of Windy Poplars (pub. August 1936) - currently reading
  8. Anne of Ingleside (pub. July 1939) - can't find yet

Short stories/poems compiled (about residents of Avonlea) :

  1. Chronicle of Avonlea (pub. 1912) - finished
  2. Further Chronicles of Avonlea (pub. 1920) - finished
  3. The Blythes Are Quoted (pub. 2009) - can't find yet


I wish we had more. 

I know the WW1 was a terrible time and L M Montgomery was writing during such a difficult phase in the 1900s. Imagine having to write something so hopeful and innocent in the early years and slowly turning into something darker and sad over time. The writer went thru WW1, battled through depression, survived 'Spanish Flu' and didn't even see the end of WW2. 


Her final note found on her bedside :
... I have lost my mind by spells and I do not dare think what I may do in those spells. May God forgive me and I hope everyone else will forgive me even if they cannot understand. My position is too awful to endure and nobody realizes it. What an end to a life in which I tried always to do my best."

😢


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Side note :

So as a mother I feel like I need to freeze these childhood moments. We decided to record and compile them in videos, so we can see them again and again, especially when things are tough and we forget these little things that make us happy or excited. Eventually all these little memories that we are creating for Sofi will be gone or forgotten, she wouldn't remember them when she is all grown up.


This is where we keep our videos - her first Ikea trip, her first Kidzoona, her first Aquaria, her first dinosaur park, etc. I love sharing these videos with my family especially. You have no idea how many times I've rewatched these videos myself. I'm that kind of mother, I love to rewatch Sofi's videos like any normal mother would. Even my mom loves to rewatch Sofi's video over and over again when I share them in our family Whatsapp. 

Mommy Post : Kids-friendly Places in Klang Valley

July 21, 2022

Places we went to in Klang Valley after the lockdown was lifted:

Note : Most of the places we went to are outdoor, we also opted for weekday and at the earliest time possible (right when it is opened) to avoid the crowds. Usually people start coming in around noon (11am+).


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1. KL Bird Park 

  • Ticket : RM 35 (adult, Mykad) , RM 15 (children + senior, Mykad) , below 3 is free
  • Opening Hours : 9 am - 6 pm, open daily

Extra notes :
  • Wear light & airy clothes, it is hot, some places are shaded, some are open under the sun
  • Drink water, there is also several little cafes/shops inside.
  • The place is huge, we spent almost 3 hours inside the park
You can see the clip starting from 8:30 - KL Bird Park Outing from this video. During this time, it was our first proper outing and we didn't make any dedicated video for it :


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2. Farm in the City, Seri Kembangan 

  • Ticket : RM 39 (adult, Mykad) , RM 32 (children + senior, Mykad) , below 90 cm is free
  • Opening Hours : 10 am - 6 pm, closed every Tuesday (except on public & school holiday)
Extra notes :
  • Wear light & airy clothes, it is hot but mostly shaded. 
  • Drink water, there is also an indoor cafe in the farm to rest.
  • You can have direct interactions with the animals so wash your hands frequently, there are a lot of sinks in the farm.
  • You can buy foods for the animal/birds/fishes 
  • We spent 2 hours at the farm.
So far, this is the best farm/zoo experience that we had. It is not too big and not too small, it is hot but mostly shaded, there were a lot of direct interaction (we were in the huge cages with the animals), it is near our home, it feels very interactive and personal. 

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3. KL Tower Mini Zoo & Blue Coral Aquarium 

  • Ticket Zoo : RM 45 (adult, Mykad) , RM 35 (children + senior, Mykad) , below 3 is free
  • Ticket Aquarium : RM 15 (adult)
  • Opening Hours : 10 am - 9 pm,  Monday - Sunday
Extra notes :

    • At the zoo, wear light & airy clothes, it is hot.
    • Blue Coral Aquarium is a small aquarium, it is a bit depressing and dark, indoor but no aircond. 
    • Prepare yourself for the toy shop in the middle of the zoo
    • Love the entrance, direct interaction indoor petting zoo, that was fun

    We didn't really like it. It was hot and Sofi didn't cooperate much. There was a shop in the middle of the zoo and you know how kids react to toy shop - it was her biggest distraction and she started to throw tantrum because she wanted something. Usually toy shops are the last stop before we go out and it should be, with that exact reason. 

    Well, it wasn't a good experience for us.



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    4. Aquaria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur 

    • Ticket : RM 52 (adult, Mykad) , RM 42 (children + senior, Mykad)
    • Opening Hours : 10 am - 7 pm, closed every Tuesday (except on public & school holiday)

    This was one of the place that we went with 'many people', even though we went on weekdays at 10 am and after the school holiday ended. We couldn't avoid the crowd, so most of the time, we walked fast and didn't enjoy as much as all the other places that we went to before. But Sofi enjoyed the experience so far, there were a lot of sharks and huge fishes and it was her first big-tunnel aquarium experience. 

    Unfortunately we only spent around 40 minutes inside.


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    5. Kidzoona 

    • Ticket : RM 14 - RM 18 (kids, weekday) , RM 22 (kids, weekend & holiday)
    • Opening Hours : 10 am - 7 pm, closed every Tuesday (except on public & school holiday)
    Extra notes :
    • Need to bring your own socks, or buy at the entrance
    • Fill in a form before entering
    • Guardian can enter for free
    • Maximum 3 hours per entry
    We went to the IOI Putrajaya one, right after it is opened at 10 am. The place was empty, no kids except for Sofi. It was her first time so she explored the place first. The place was clean & very organized, all toys were arranged neatly, we even put them back nicely after play. I looooooved it and Sofi seems to enjoyed it too. We spent around 1.5 hours in there, oh, there is a massage chair inside as well, so I had the chance to get a short 10 mins massage when Sofi was playing. 

    Sofi at Kidzoona, IOI City Mall Putrajaya :


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    6. IKEA 

    • No tickets needed
    • Sofi explored and tried out the kids' room setup
    • We ended the playful exploration with soy ice-cream & frozen yogurt

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    7. Jungle Gym, Bangsar Mall 

    • Ticket (toddler) : RM 25 (weekday) , RM 35 (weekend & holiday)
    • Ticket (kids) : RM 48 (weekday) , RM 66 (weekend & holiday)
    • Ticket (adult) : RM 10
    • Opening Hours : 10 am - 7 pm, closed every Tuesday (except on public & school holiday)


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    Other places we haven't visited together with Sofi :

    • Pusat Sains Negara
    • Zoo Negara
    • Butterfly Park
    • Kidzania
    • Petrosains
    • KL Forest Eco Park

    Little Story 243 - The Pixie Cut

    July 09, 2022
    Photo by Giorgio Trovato, Unsplash


    I am 35 and I pixie-cut my hair last month.


    I think it would me my first, it's my first time that the hair stylist ever used a hair clipper on my head. I still touch my hair behind my neck because it feels odd, new, alien. My hair is so short, and I'm still surprised when I look at the mirror (it's been 2 weeks). 


    It is so easy to wash my hair now, less shampoo and less maintenance. I don't have to comb my hair (well, I hardly do because my hair is naturally so straight and thin, I don't really need a comb before). This is so liberating. The short hair. The last time I cut my hair was during the first lockdown, it was shoulder length and done at home.


    When the hair stylist asked me for a sample photo, I showed her Zoe Kravitz's short hair. I said I needed a less maintenance hair, very-short, pixie, and I don't want to have to use products for a hair volume, but I needed my bangs to almost reach my eye-brow because I do still feel insecure about the wide forehead style. 


    But eventually I look more like Elliot Page than Zoe Kravitz, Af been jokingly calling me Elliot or whether I'm in a boy band. But I now have hair volume, something I've never had before because my my hair type and I appreciate the chance to see a hair volume on my head even though it does look like a boy's hair. 


    Ohh, and I also got hair wash and hair treatment (the firsts to everything). 45 minutes of blissful silence and I read The Inheritance Games the whole way. 


    It is still new and odd. 

    Sometimes Sofi come to me and touch the hair behind the neck, "short hair" she said. 


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    The hair salon to go : D Aura Spa Salon Muslimah, Putra Walk, Seri Kembangan

    Books - Halfway through 2022

    July 08, 2022
    Photo by Cristina Gottardi, Unsplash

    It's July now, more than half of 2022 already.

    I still read and listen to books, almost religiously lately. 

    The book slump is over. 

    By now I've finished 53 books.


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    My current read :

    • physical book : just finished The Silent Patient by Alex Michealides
    • audio book : Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
    • ebook on kindle : Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

    My favorite ones this year :
    • The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes - I haven't enjoyed YA fiction for so long. This book is written in short chapter, so it was easy to keep on reading just to finish a chapter, nothing worth remembering, just pure entertainment. 
    • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller - Beautiful prose, simple innocent love story.
    • I'll Show Myself Out by Jessi Klein - Relatable mommy story, this book make me feel seen and connected and not alone. 
    • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara - Just a 700 pages of beautiful & painful stories of these 4 boys throughout their life.
    • Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman - Beautiful prose and a nice fiction to enjoy for the day, I think I finished it in a day or two. 
    • The Unseen Body by Jonathan Reisman - Nice anecdotes during his medical years, I love reading about medical-related experience. No medical jargon, easy to read for normal people like me. 
    • How to Make Disease Disappear by Dr Rangan Chatterjee - I love nutrition, I love his easy to follow guide in life, I followed his podcast on Youtube afterwards and enjoyed his free content there.
    • The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by VE Schwab - Same as Magic Lessons, it has a lot of beautiful prose and enjoyable fiction of the day. This book made me think for several days. 
    • Any non-fiction books by Ann Patchett - I read them all. 
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    I love it.
    I love the entertainment, I love finding good stories, I love reading beautiful prose, I love discovering great authors, I love anecdotes, I love the written words. I wish I can get access to any books that I want, I wish books are cheaper, I wish I can borrow and exchange books more than I've been doing now. 

    This year I read a lot of fiction, essays, parenting and health related books. 

    Moving forward, I want to borrow more books to read and possibly read more classics. I think I need more reader friends to exchange/borrow books. Anyone ?