#KLFW2017 Street Style Picks

I had a different type of craving this time around in my pregnancy, and thank GOD for friends like Didiyana Ehsan who scores events like this for you <3

I’ve never been to #KLFW before, but from my brownie points of attending events, I wouldn’t have guessed this event was going to be something totally different from all the one’s I’ve attended.

How is it different you may ask? First would be the diversity of audience, all from different range of background, social status and fashion style. Second would be the entire fashions scene, extremely experimental and no combo is wrong here. Even Didi wore an edgy look for this event, and I don’t blame her! With all the experimental vibe, and me being a lover of mix and match, I definitely witnessed hard core mix and match here alright. And lastly, I also loved all the line up of designers. I only went to one show, without any effort of Mix and Match (because I rushed straight from work –alasan, I know, but honest!) and witnessed Thavia, Ka Sha and Mimpikita, but even they already showcase such a different collection from each other without any elements that were similar, and I loved seeing that. Makes you turn on your creative and style switch in your brain to think how and what the pieces showcased can match with and colour to match it with.

LOVEEEEE!

One of my other favourite part from the whole event, is like any other Fashion Events, is defo the street style! This is people watching at a whole different level. The entrance even had a 360 stage to capture your dress from a 360 angle (like the ones at The Oscars on Channel E!, and yes, also similar to the one at the Sydney Airport for International Departures where they scan you in a 360 Scanner LOL), so yeah, you get the level of effort people actually put in to attend KLFW.

From the few hours that I was there, I spotted key Fashion must-haves at KLFW2017, which I think EVERYONE should take note, not because our life is a runway (although we may want it to be) so we have to dress like attending a Fashion Show every single day, but because it’s a whole different level of Mix and Match (which I LOVE) and turns my creative and style switch on, so let’s see if it does the same to you!

My Fave Street Style of KLFW 2017!

  1. Head gears/Hair

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2. Tops

Statement tees

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Denim

Off shoulder errthang

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Jackets and outer wear

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Slits

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3. Bottoms

Statement skirts

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4. Accessories

Statement bag

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Shades

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Fan

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5. Shoes

 

6. Effortless Looks

Sporty (and/or) casual chic

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Black

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Nude

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White

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IN LOVE <3

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Journey to the Two Holy Lands – (Mecca)

PART 2 – Overall Experience in Mecca

  • Shoes

I travelled to Mecca with my Bata Slip On shoes. Gray with pink soles and lining that I bought just a day before our flight. The purchase was so last minute I didn’t even get the chance to snap a picture of it, but amidst the last minuteness I managed to complain a word or two of how I didn’t really like my Gray with pink soles and lining Slip Ons.

So guess what, on my first day in Mecca, after our first Umrah Fardh, my Gray with pink soles and lining Slip Ons were missing. I basically lost the pair along with my husband’s Black slippers that I had complained about him carrying all the way in his luggage too. As much as I wasn’t completely happy with my Gray with pink soles and lining Slip Ons, I was devastated and sad that I lost it. It is true what they say, be thankful to God.

On my first day here, I learnt my very first lesson the hard way and we both walked barefoot back to the Hotel which was thankfully only 250m away from the Masjidil Haram. On the way back on foot, we were ever so grateful and thankful there are the cleaners who sweeps the path to the Masjidil Haram. Words can’t explain how at peace of mind I had trotting barefoot on a clean street, thanks to the cleaners. Ever since that incident, I’ve also made it a habit to always give sadaqah to the cleaners everytime I head to the Masjidil Haram, hoping they know how we (the jamaah) really appreciate them for doing their job. I was told by our Mutawif (guide) that the cleaners only gets padi Saudi Riyal (SR) of 300-400 a month, so they really could use a spare change.

 

  • Clothes

Scarf

My mom dictated my travelling wardrobe on this trip because she said she knows better what to be worn. Yes, my wardrobe still being dictated by my mom and I’m already 30 this year. I wanted to get the Khimar which is like a little bit stylish tudung labuh with all these layers and ruffles. Though I’m not a fan of ruffles, but there are many designs and you’re sure to find one of your fancy. But my mom said it’s not practical so she got me two of her favourite mini telekung and I looked exactly like I her I think on this trip. But then amidst my mom dictating, I did bring two scarves of my fancy, the @sora.kl scarf.

 

Oh lemme tell ya, that was luckily a perfect choice because the material is Matte Silk plus it’s SQUARE. Meaning it can be broadened or shortened to your liking. So obviously on this trip, I broadened it as wide as I could, and best part, because of the Matte Silk material, it doesn’t slip off easily, meaning when I prayed and sujud, the back part of the scarf doesn’t fall to front and expose my neck. Voila love this. Whatever scarf you decide to bring that’s fancy, please make sure you bring a Matte Silk material.

 

Jubah/Abaya

Oh, don’t underestimate the clothes you need to bring here. I survived the Mecca and Medina trip only with 5 pieces of attire:

2 jubah/dress, both from Love To Dress

1 jubah seluar that my mom lent me

2 abayas from Fuzana Mokhtaza paired with 2 FV basics sleeveless inner dress

 

I was actually planning to but a few pieces of jubah in Mecca and Medina, but since I had an inaccurate financial calculations, I ran short – a lot, no joke and that made me sad, but let’s complain not. I just prayed that what I have sufficed my stay, and Alhamdulillah it did, just had to make a few rounds of laundry.

 

Socks

However, I did underestimate the amount of socks I’d use. I brought 5 pairs, and that probably was bare minimum, however on the final days in Medina when I was too tired to hand wash the socks as I had to prioritize hand washing Maia’s clothes, I had to borrow the husband’s and my mom’s spare socks. 5 pairs isn’t an ideal number as you’d have to pray 5 times a day at the Masjidil Haram. Assuming you wear 2 socks a day, 5 pairs will last you 2.5 days, whereas we were in Mecca for 6 days. I don’t like mixing socks for praying and other activities, so one pair of socks is dedicated to going out/and or meal times.

 

Hand Socks & Leggings

Another TWO items of clothing I underestimated- the hand socks and leggings. I brought 3 pairs of hand socks and 1 pair of leggings. Lemme tell ya, hand socks are as important as the socks (the one I brought 5 pairs). Some people/madhab aren’t particular with the inner parts of the wrist showing during prayers (Madhab Syafiee emphasizes this a great deal, that’s why in Malaysia many prefer to pray with the telekung. Covers everything, period), and when you wear jubahs or abayas that aren’t cuffed, chances are the inner wrist will show.

 

Now, you can choose to take this lightly or ignore it as it might not be of a big deal to you even though you follow the Madhab Syafiee, BUT, you’re here all the way here, in God’s house on earth, half way across the world where you came from, and you’d want to take a risk of praying without covering properly? Yikes, I wouldn’t although I am not of those VERY pious. I am here, in God’s house on earth, half way across the world from where I came from, hence I want to make sure I do my best, although wherever I am is seen by God, but I am in His territory on Earth, how can I be disrespectful and not try my hardest and best.

 

So you’d want to have atleast 5 pairs, handwash them every day or two, or just have 10 and handwash them whenever you feel necessary.

 

OK, moving on to leggings, I know I have tonnes of leggings, but for some reason before my trip, I only found one. And leggings ladies and gentleman are important for days you’d want to walk really fast and lift the bottom part of jubah up or if your jubah is higher than your ankle, it’s important if you love slit abayas/jubahs and just want to enjoy the freedom of walking in the slit abaya/jubah. It VERY important in Medina where in winter it is colder than Mecca, and Fajr as well as Magrib & Isya prayers where the time of day is colder than when the sun is up.

 

Undergarments

 

My sister’s strategy was to bring enough top undergarment so she doesn’t have to wash any. Me on the other hand, being funny like seriously, brought only two, so I had to wash every few days. But as for the bottom wear, THANK GOD I was on my auto-pilot travelling mode, where I only use Disposal bottom wear. It’s such a peace of mind knowing you have a whole stock and you’d have to wash NONE 😀

 

Other kind of Clothes

So if you read Part 1 of the Holy Land Series, my entire wardrobe for this trip was dictated by my mom. She tells me my Abaya + Inner dresses were in appropriate to bring, let alone wear, but it’s something I love, so I brought it and found it functional and useful. So I think there’s nothing wrong with whatever you want to bring, most and utmost important is that it’s Salah appropriate. Wherever you go, whatever your activities are, you’d want to make sure you can stop and pray anytime.

 

With that said, in Mecca, it is however less appropriate to wear very long and floor sweeping Abaya/Jubah as it is dustier than in Medina. In Medina, the distance from your hotel to Masjid Nabawi is probably closer and it is less dusty, plus the compound of the Masjid Nabawi is huge and all marble, so it is a better environment for a floor sweeping Abaya/Jubah.

 

Palazzos or culottes are good too, especially if you’re not a fan of leggings. It’s friendlier to an open front abaya too as it is less tight than a leggings. However, trick of the trade to wearing these are with the right length of socks. With a legging, you can wear ankle high socks, but with a Palazzo or culottes, a thigh high socks is better.

 

Want to wear a knee high socks? Go for it, but it’s not very practical when it comes to taking wudhu as you’d have to take of a huge amount of material compared to thigh and ankle high socks.

 

  • Prayers

In Mecca, to be able to pray in the compound of the Masjidil Haram and maybe get a glimpse of the Kaabah, you’d have to come to the mosque an hour before the azan. It is very normal to be there an hour early. Half an hour is OK if your hotel is near (mine as 250m and that’s a distance suitable even half an hour before azan), but if you’re going to the ladies section, rest assured the Kaabah compound on the ground floor is full, hence you’d have to take the escalator to the upper floors, or at the compounds of the internal ground floor prayer areas with beautiful ceilings, but you won’t get a glimpse of the Kaabah. Ladies prayer’s section at the Ground Floor is a little limited and you’d have to go around and eye-level golden fences which indicates that is a Ladies Prayer Area.

 

The calling for prayer (Azan) for Fajr is sound twice. One is an hour before Fajr, to awaken the people. The second one is when it is Fajr. The first day we came, we arrived in Makkah around 4 am. Then we heard the Azan at 430 am and prayed Fajr straight away. An hour later, 530 am, another azan was heard, then only we found out about the Fajr Azan. Had a blur moment there for a bit, but these are some of the things I think the Ustad missed out to mention during our pre-Umrah courses.

After every Fardh prayer, a Jenazah Prayer will be held. It’s done standing up with 4 takbirs. You just follow the imam and it’s very brief. However, it is done in a manner that right after the fardh prayer, you’d have to straight away get up to pray the Sunnah prayer after the fardh prayer, then as soon as you salaam for that, the Imam would already be in takbir for the Jenazah Prayer.

 

The rukun for Jenazah Prayer is:

 

  1. Niat (neeyah/intention). Say Takbir while raising your hans, then fold and hold your hands on your chest in the usual manner, the right hand on the left seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Shayṭan, then you utter Bismillah and recite Al-Fatiha
  2. Then you say Second Takbir and Selawat on Prophet Ibrahim

O Allah! shower Your mercy upon Muhammad and the followers of Muhammad , as You showered Your                    mercy upon Ibrahim and the followers of Ibrahim. Behold, Your are Praiseworthy, Glorious.

Oh Allah! Shower Your blessing upon Muhammad , and the followers of Muhammad as You showered Your              blessings upon Ibrahim and the followers of Ibrahim. Behold, You are Praiseworthy, Glorious.

  1. Then you say a third Takbir and make du’a for the deceased:

Long version:

It is narrated that Muhammad (SAW) said:

“O God, forgive our living and our dead, those who are present among us and those who are absent, our young and our old, our males and our females. O God, whoever You keep alive, keep him alive in Islam, and whoever You cause to die, cause him to die with faith. O God, do not deprive us of the reward and do not cause us to go astray after this. O God, forgive him and have mercy on him, keep him safe and sound and forgive him, honor his rest and ease his entrance; wash him with water and snow and hail, and cleanse him of sin as a white garment is cleansed of dirt. O God, give him a home better than his home and a family better than his family. O God, admit him to Paradise and protect him from the torment of the grave and the torment of Hell-fire; make his grave spacious and fill it with light.”

 

Short version:

It is acceptable for other words to be used for du’a; for example, one could say:

“O God, if he was a doer of good, then increase his good deeds, and if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his bad deeds. O God, forgive him and give him the steadiness to say the right thing.”

 

  1. Then a fourth takbir is recited, followed by a short pause, then a final taslim to the right, saying “Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatu-Allah” (“Peace and blessings of God be unto you”)

 

  • Luggage Locker

 

In front of the ZamZam Clock Tower Hotel, there are a few facilities of a Luggage Locker. If stayed at the Masjidil Haram the whole day, but had shopping done in between prayer times, the Luggage Locker is a convenient place to stow away your items safely whilst you return to the prayers. Or if you wanted to do some groceries at the ZamZam Clock Tower Mall, and your hotel is far away, then this is also a convenience.

  • Zam Zam Water

For those who may not know, there are two version on how the Zam Zam Water came about:

 

  1. the Holy Water dug by the Angel Gabriel by kicking the ground with his wings for the Prophet Ishmael (AS) to satisfy and quench his thirst
  2. Prophet Ishmael (AS) scraped the land with his feet, where suddenly water sprang out

The name of the well comes from the phrase Zomë Zomë, meaning “stop flowing”, a command repeated by Hagar during her attempt to contain the spring water

Throughout my life, whenever we drank Zam-Zam Water that friends and relatives brought back from Makkah, we were always taught to say Salawat to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)

However, during our visit to Makkah, the first thing the Ustad told us about etiquettes of Zam-Zam Water was totally different. Personally, I don’t think these are must do’s, but I think it’s a good etiquette to adhere by:

 

  1. Read Bismillah before drinking ZamZam Water
  2. One should drink while standing and face towards the Kiblah
  3. Drink the amount of water in three breaths/gulps
  4. In between the gulps, he can ask from Allah whatever he wishes ans make as many supplications his heart desires.

 

It was reported that when Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) drank from the water of Zamzam, he said: “O Allaah, I ask you for beneficial knowledge, plentiful provision and healing from every disease.”

 

  1. A person should drink as much of ZamZam Water as possible and be grateful for the opportunity of being able to drink ZamZam Water whilst in Mecca

 

If you are on your period, there is also no problem drinking the Zam-Zam Water (reference)

It is perfectly permissible for a woman to drink Zamzam water during her period. There is nothing to restrict this to any group of people. Anyone may drink it regardless of their condition or state.

It is always recommended to be seated when drinking, because it is the better position healthwise. However, it may be sometimes difficult to drink while seated, which means that there is nothing wrong with drinking while standing. This also applies to drinking Zamzam water. There is no special rule for it. And God the Almighty knows best.

On another important note, we were told to drink from the NOT COLD container of the ZamZam as that will help us not catch a dry and cold cough that Jamaah from Mecca and Medina always had by the end of Umrah

  • Food & Shopping

The Hotel we stayed at was only 250m away from the Masjidil Haram. On the way to the Masjidil Haram were also a row of food stalls and grocery stores. Right in front of the Masjidil Haram is the ZamZam Clock Tower Mall where there’s a 24-hour grocery store that’s like Ben’s Grocer or Cold Storage and it’s a place you can find almost anything you think of.

 

Hotel Food -The hotel (more of like a motel if you ask me the facility provided) provided us breakfast, lunch and dinner. The cook were Indonesian I presume, as the food were not so much of a Malay taste and the kicap they provided were the ABC one. I was in my first trimester, so my food appetite was still very fragile and shaky, hence if there were two things I’d bring to boost my apetite, it would have been Kicap Habhal Cap Udang and acar jeruk. Every single day I prayed I would have the apetite to eat whatever that was served, and Alhamdulillah whilst my stay there, Allah granted me that duaa.

Grocery Food and Snacks – Other than the motel food, other food you’d have to try in Mecca are the falafel, fruit cocktail custard that they serve in cups, goats milk that we got from the Grocery’s at ZamZam Clock Tower Mall, their version of something like Dunkin Donut, which I can attest has so much spice taste, and the softserve icecream that everyone always has. My most favourite was the Murtabak. Tonnes of Spring Onion and Cheese inside, loved it to bits!

 

Abaya/Jubah Shopping – Many told us it was better to shop Abayas and Jubahs at Medina, but in comparison to both, I find that Abayas/Jubahs in Mecca had more of a friendlier price range. You’d have no problem finding an Abaya/Jubah according to your budget, whereas in Medina, the Abayas/Jubahs were of a certain price range only, and not much of choice of design. Abayas/Jubahs in Mecca starts at Saudi Riyal (SR) 40 and reaches to SR 200, were the ones that we surveyed. If your budget is higher than SR 200, I also believe you won’t have any problems finding a match for that budget as the higher range of choices are endless in both, Mecca and Medina.

 

Dates and Dried Fruits – Dates and dried fruits are better for bulk purchase in Mecca, although they said the Dates Farm were expensive, but there are a few spots for bulk purhcases in Mecca. However, you’d have to be wary of certain price drops or discounted goods in Mecca, as when they’re reduced to clear, they may be a bit less pleasing to eat; ie hard texture, more chewy, less flavour etc.

 

Other shopping categories that you may not see here I will cover in Medina. Stay tuned!

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Journey to the Two Holy Lands -(Preparations)

 


Part 1 – Mental, Physical &Financial Preparations

I am not sure how to break to you a shorter experience for first timers, but I try my best in making it as comprehensive and straight to the point as I can because I think that would help first timers, as I am one of those who had very little preparation done for my Umrah trip.

Not that I wasn’t excited, just that I didn’t know what to expect and what kind of preparations I should be making for a soulful journey to God’s house on Earth. I pray five times a day and fast in the month of Ramadan, so I guess when you’re accustomed to that, you’d think that is exactly the workout you’re going to execute when you visit the Two Holy Lands. But as I mentioned before, I actually missed out the biggest part of the journey, it is a soulful journey more than it is a physical journey, hence mental preparations were my biggest challenge.

Truth be told, sometimes I feel mental preparation is a fight with my own demons as we have been living our lives as how we were taught, and cultured, hence anything more than what we were taught and what is beyond our culture, is a bit of a fight between the mind and soul. These are just my thoughts and experience, not everyone faces this challenge, or you may be challenged differently according to your needs and iman. From what I gathered and learned this time around was we really need to face our demons and challenges and little by little sort and straighten things up (align) your soul with your physical being, especially when you are planning a trip to the Two Holy Lands.

 

  • Mental

This is definitely something I underestimated. My flight to Mecca was scheduled on 20th February 2017, but as we entered January 2017, 20th February seemed very far away. Dead wrong. I think that was the first time in a very long time I was dead wrong about my timing.

 

Going to Mecca and Medina is not a holiday as some view/treat it. It’s a trip for the body and soul, therefore both have to be prepped. Mental preparation is basically another term for soul preparation, and the only way to prep a soul ready for a Holy trip is to start praying the Sunnah prayers; Solat Sunat Taubat especially and to constantly remind the heart of God by daily Dhikir. This wasn’t mentioned in the Umrah crash course I attended twice. The travel agent we went with suggested first timers (to the Holy Land) go through the course three times, to familiarize with the technicalities I would call it; the process and sequence. If you don’t take the technicalities seriously you might just go on a holiday where the deed for Umrah isn’t there which would be such a waste. When we go for Umrah, our goal should be for us to strive and achieve a mabrur Umrah.

 

So besides breezing through the crash course (which was the easiest part of the whole trip), I basically had no time to prep the soul, on top of having to complete the items to bring. Which for a first timer, I had no clue what was to essential and not. Ugh throughout my years of having arranged my own travels this was one of the clueless moments I’ve had on what to pack. I mean, have you seen my Eid packing list? Oh they’re detailed alright

 

So on this clueless time of mine, I basically just brought everything my mom checklisted us to bring, and the last time I followed my mom’s checklist was probably in primary school back in Leiceter, England days -.-”

 

  • Physical

Oh the work out. Brief overview of the Umrah process: niat>tawaf 7 rounds>saie 7 rounds.

I am not going to further elaborate on the process as they’re in most of the books you can buy or get with your travel agent, but an overview of the process:

1. Niat

We entered the Holy Land through Medina. In the month of February, Medina was cool. I wouldn’t say cold, if you compare to winter coldness, but it was cool that I actually needed a light clothing/jacket on top of my outfit.

So from the airport we headed to Qarn-Manazil, a place of Miqat to prepare for the first step of Umrah: change of clothes to Ihram and Niat.

Miqat means “a stated place”. Miqats are the areas/locations at which pilgrims wear Ihram either for Hajj or Umrah. There are five locations, namely:

  • Dhu’l-Hulayfah / Bir Ali

This miqat is about 9 kilometers from Medina and about 450 kilometers from Mecca. Dhu’l-Hulayfah is the miqat for those who live in Medina and for those who approach Mecca from that same direction.

  • Juhfah

This miqat is about 183 kilometers to the northwest of Mecca. This is the miqat for people who come from the direction of Syria.

  • Qarn al-Manazil

This miqat is a hilly place about 75 kilometers to the east of Mecca. This is the miqat for the people of Najd and for those coming from that direction.

  • Dhat Irq

This miqat is about 94 kilometers towards the northeast side of Mecca. This is the miqat for the people of Iran, Iraq and for those coming from that direction.

  • Yalamlam

This miqat is a hilly area about 92 kilometers to the southeast of Mecca. This is the miqat for the people of Yemen and all others coming from that direction. It is the miqat used by pilgrims coming from China, Japan, India, Pakistan, and those who come by ship.

(extracted from http://www.alhussam.com)

Afterwards we headed to Makkah on a six-hour bus ride journey, which we slept throughout most of the way, and we reached Makkah at around 7 am. It is important that during the trip from Madinah to Makkah, we abide by the Ihram rules and stay away from the forbidden things during Ihram (which is bad habits really). Click HERE for a specific Forbidden guides/rules in Ihram, especially for ladies.

For an overview of Ihram rules, click HERE. For the general Forbidden guides/rules in Ihram, click HERE

In Makkah, places of Miqat includes :

  • Al-Tan`eim

It is 6 kilometers away from Mecca in the way to Medina.

  • Wadi Nakhlah

It is 41 kilometers away from Mecca in the north-east toward Iraq.

  • Al-Jakra’anah

It is 16 kilometers east of Mecca.

  • Adah

It is 12 kilometers away from Mecca in the way to Yemen.

  • Al-Hudaibiyah

It is 15 kilometers away from Mecca to the west of Jeddah route. Now, it is called Al-Shumaisi.

(extracted from: http://umrahtrg.blogspot.my)

So I only managed to do Umrah twice during my stay in Mecca as I was trying to squeeze in much rest in between as I was in my first trimester of my pregnancy, as well as baby-sitting Maia more so that other family members wouldn’t have to sacrifice their precious time in Mecca babysitting only. I went to both, Tanaim and Al-Hudaibiyah mosque, but I only prepared for Miqat at the Al-Hudaibiyah mosque.

 

In comparison with both mosques, Tanaim is bigger and has a bigger souq around the mosque. I refrained myself from buying too many things at the souq as I was sceptical if they were to raise their price as they were further away from the city of Mecca, where the streets are filled with tonnes of shops. But then I find that, there is nothing wrong with buying from the vendors outside of Mecca, even though their price may be slightly higher. Just niat that it’s for Sadaqah, and may they benefit and make good use of the spare change they get.

However, for perfume and attar, I wouldn’t recommend you to buy from the vendors outside of Mecca. We were warned of cases where they gave samples of the perfume which was truly a perfume/oil, but once you purchase, they give you a box of coloured water instead of the perfume/oil. More details on shopping in Part Mecca and Medina, which would be a separate and subsequent post to this one.

 

2. Tawaf

 

During our first Umrah Wajib we brought Maia along in the process because we wanted  our family of three (and a half) all together experience Kaabah for the first time. Maia also received a candy, from a servant of Allah during our Tawaf, which I had no idea when it happened.

Best time for Tawaf is right after Fajr, where surprisingly is the least crowd. After Fajr and around Dhuha time was the time my husband and I had the rezq of going into Hijr Ismail on our second last day in Makkah. Other days we were alternating between joining the prayers congregation in Masjidil Haram and taking care of Maia in the hotel room and resting for my first trimester.

Closer to Dhuhr time, the Masjidil Haram will start to fill up, but right after Dhuhr prayers are when the crowd really start to pack up.

It would be a good experience to try do Tawaf (either for Umrah or Sunah) during all the five prayer times and the Dhuha time, to experience the difference. However, should you want to bring a child on your shoulders/carry, then after Fajr til Dhuhr is the best time.

 

3. Saii

The Saii, oh by half way I felt like my feet were just kembang. Never knew I could feel that way at such a young age. I wondered what the older, like really really older elderly’s physical conditions during the Umrah if even I felt that way. But SaiI I think is the biggest workout ever. Compared to Tawaf, which is less tiring as we make lots of dua’s while completing the the rounds, hence, our time is filled with all sorts of thing to ask for from Allah during the process, which in return makes it more bearable.

 

When we reach the top of the hills of Safa and Marwah (which is now three levels, so you can’t actually see the hill), the Mutawif will turn to a certain direction and read a duaa, which I found odd what we were turning to (told ya I was SO clueless!). for some weird reason, I actually thought we were facing the Zam Zam Well and making prayers or reflecting on the story of Hagar and Ishmael.

 

Dead wrong. We actually turned to face the Kiblah (duh) and make any form of duaa, asking forgiveness from Allah, making Dhikr to Allah and his Messenger as well as pray the Quran in between. Click HERE for basic guidelines for Sai. Click HERE for list of Sai duaa.

 

Our first Umrah (Umrah Wajib) my husband carried Maia, and boy was he was sweating and by the end shaking from head to toe because it was so energy draining. I think for us it became too tiresome because we wanted to end it as soon as we could (seven laps between the mountains non-stop equalled to 1-1.5 hours OK), compared to other nationals, where they really were taking their own sweet time and resting in between the laps. I guess at the end of the day it depends on your preference, hence you should really try to be fit before you plan your trip to the Holy Lands.

 

OH, last but not least, on the third level of Saii, they provide a scooter/buggy for elders or the needy who might find it difficult or challenging to complete their Saii on foot. I would totally have tried this one out, just for the sake of experiencing Saii in a different way, but due to poor budgeting and financial constraints, had to skip the experience out and went on foot all throughout.

 

Yes, if I hadn’t emphasized enough, proper and enough budget planning and funds is really crucial when you make a trip to the Holy Lands. There is nothing wrong too with coming here and not wanting to spend on what is deemed unnecessary to you, but you have to manage your expectations of what you can or cannot live without whilst you’re here.

 

Next is a breakdown of spendings that I never saw coming, and how much it costs should you wish to spend on them.

 

  • Financial

The advice I got for this was probably like most first timers, the erm most inaccurate.

 

According to our travel agent, Saudi Riyal (SR) 300-400 per person is more than enough and it should cover a little bit of shopping and extra food/snackings as the main meals are already included in the package.

 

Dead inaccurate. So many things I think were missed out that I wish I had extra money for. I’ll just cut the story short and categorize the spending allocations:


 

 

Hope this helps you! More posts coming after! 🙂 Share with me your experience and let me know if I’ve missed anything out!

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Expired Makeup: Time to give em up!

Finally, a time to write an entry.

I am just buzzing with too many to-do’s I am not sure how I am still one piece atm.

I actually started my 25 Days Declutter Challenge a couple weeks back, but right now, one side of my mind is not even sure why I added it to my never ending to-do list. HOWEVER, on another side of my mind I know this HAS to be squeezed in now before Eid, cause by the time Eid has arrived, it will be mid year already, and I really need to achieve something I’ve put on hold for so long!

Hence, I put on my big girl pants on and amidst to and fro to work on a daily basis, whilst squeezing in wifey and mommy duties, I got to declutter some of my items progressively, little by little thanks to the breakdown I finally got some sense to do. It’s true, I’ve always waited (or told my self to wait) for the perfect moment or long weekend to spring clean, but as the YEARS go by and items kept adding and the pain to just start was the biggest challenge. Now that I need to really make some room for new beginnings, changes and lifestyle, I made the 25 Days Declutter Challenge cause I think that small and little progress is better than none at all.

Now I am at day 15 (Tarnished Jewelleries- refer list here), most of the items have been easy to clean out, however, I would like to dedicate a post to a topic which has been at the back of my mind for a while.

Day 4 of the Declutter Challenge finally got me to wanting to jot down more on the topic because it is extremely important. This was also one of the hardest I needed to detach from because they cost so much money and time and they were what some of my daydreams are made of -,-”

When it comes to Make Up, there are a lot of taboo topics. Whether it’s because of culture or religion or just plainly too much opinions, we avoid certain topics all together. One of the many unspoken topics is Make Up Products Expiry. I am always very cautious about this, though I am not cautious enough, or selectively cautious but for those who use Make Up a lot more often than not, I think we should bring more awareness to this topic of taboo.

Let’s dive in straight to the nitty gritty shall we, so that we can understand quicker and put into action faster. I promise I’m breaking this down for easier digestion, in relation to the breakdown of my Decluttering experience.

 

Why you shouldn’t use expired products?

Using old makeup may not kill you, it’s still not worth potentially getting an infection. Overtime, Make Up Products get exposed to air and bacteria from applicators and hands, hence contaminating the entire product.
Molecules that made up the product also break down over time and you can have a reaction from these breakdowns. This may cause either an inflammation, infections, irritation and cause swelling, or in a best case scenario, your Make Up will look patchy, clumpy and dry on your face.
Unexplained infections in eyes, inflammation, irritation and swelling are the scary cases. Think of the danger to your eyes for applying expired Make Up on your eyelashes and eyelid which are closest to your eyes. Your eyelashes are meant to protect your eyes and contaminant and particles from the environment from entering your eyes, but when you apply compromising products, you are the culprit harming your own self.

 

What factors affect shelf life, and how?

Over time, cosmetics start to degrade or break down for a number of reasons. Here are some common ones:
• Dipping fingers into a product adds microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi (mold and yeast), which need to be controlled, for example, by preservatives.
• Over time, however, preservatives can break down, allowing bacteria and fungi to grow.
• Applicators, especially mascara wands, are exposed to bacteria and fungi each time you use them.
• Emulsions, which are mixtures of water and oil, can separate.
• Exposure to moisture, such as in a bathroom, may make it easier for bacteria and fungi to grow.
• Products can dry out, causing them to harden and crack.
• Temperature changes and exposure to sunlight and air can cause changes in color and texture and may cause the products to smell.

 

Product Logos to familiarize with:

Adapted from Refinery29

Decoding Products Abbreviations:

MFE, MFG, M : The date that it was manufactured
EXP, E : The expiration date
BB, BBE, BE : The period of time suggested to use within
6M, 12M, 3M, 24M : The product life span after you open it. 6M is within 6 months and 12M is within 12 months

Expiry Dates and Life Spans:

Adapted from wishtrendglam

Every expiration date differs from before opening your product and after.

Expiration Date

The period from the manufactured date to the last day the product can be distributed

Period After Opening (PAO)

The period you can use the product after opening it (12M/6M) *M=months*

No Expiry Date Indicated?

When a product is unponed, they can last up to two years after the Manufacturing Date (MFE, MFG, M). However, if the product doesn’t indicate Expiry Date (EXP, E) or Best use By (BB, BBE, BE), then below are the general and basic guidelines of the product’s lifetime once the product is opened (Period After Opening -PAO)

 

Best Practices for Cosmetics and Personal Care Products:

How long you can use a cosmetic safely also depends on you. Here are tips to help keep your cosmetics safe:

  • Read the instructions provided on the Make Up Product carefully and take note of any warnings for use
  • If mascara Becomes dry, throw it away. Do not add water or, even worse, saliva to moisten it, because that will introduce bacteria into the product.
  • Don’t share makeup. You may be sharing an infection. “Testers” at cosmetic counters in stores are even more likely to become contaminated than the same products in your home. If you feel you must test a cosmetic before you buy it, apply it with a new, unused applicator, such as a fresh cotton swab.
  • Apply products with clean hands or an applicator
  • Keep containers tightly closed and applicators clean
  • Store cosmetics properly; Close lids of product containers tightly after use, and avoid storing products near sources of heat (such as in car). Heat can make preservatives break down and cause bacteria and fungi to grow faster.
  • In reference to the above, avoid sharing cosmetics and personal care products with another person
  • Be wary of products offered for sale in flea markets or re-sold over the Internet. Some may be past their shelf life, already used, diluted, or tampered with in other ways. They may even be counterfeit, “fake” versions of the product you think you’re buying.

 

Reuse your Expired Make Up!

Adapted from wishtrendglam
Yes, it can be done, provided you know what and how. There are multiple ways you can still maximize your Make Up and Personal Care products even though expired, without risking your skins safety or condition.

Cleansing Oil as body exfoliator

Add some sugar to the cleansing oil and you can use it as a body scrub! Cleansing oil is also great to use to wipe wooden furniture so you can make it glossy.

Toner and Lotion as items cleanser/polish

For toners that have become expired, it‘s great to use them to wipe the floors. If you put lotion on dry cloth and wipe it, it‘s great for coating. If you wipe your sofa or other furniture with it, you can get the dirt off easily and also make it glossy.

Nourishment Cream and Moisturizing Cream as hair mask

Both creams have a lot of protein in it so it’s good to use it as a hair mask. Put it on the ends of your hair and wrap it in a towel or plastic wrap for about 20 minutes and then rinse off with warm water. You can use your moisturizing cream also as a leather cleaner. You can also put the cream on a dry cloth and then wipe the edge of handbags or wallets to get the dirt off of the leather.

Eyeshadow and Clear Manicure as a Pearl Manicure

Eye shadows break really easily and usually it’s hard to use up everything before the exiration date is over. So a great tip is to use eye shadow that has been broken or expired and mix it with clear nail polish. All you have to do is crush the eye shadow and put it in the nail polish and shake.

Lipstick as a cleanser/polish

Lipstick is a great cleanser. If you have any rusty silver or accessories, put lipstick on a cloth and then wipe the silver and you will be able to get rid of the rustiness and make it shine. If you have a matte lipstick, then use a brush to put a layer on your finger nails and then put another coating of clear manicure on and BAM! You have a easy manicure done.

Shampoo and Conditioner/Treatment as stain remover

It’s good to use shampoo to clean. Use shampoo to wash old stockings or under garments to get rid of the dirt easily. Treatment and conditioners can be used to get rid stickiness. Put treatment or conditioners on a cloth and then wipe electronics. Doing so will make it glossy and dust will not stick easily. It’s also great to wipe bathroom mirrors.

Perfume as shower mist/air freshener diffuser

If you put a few drops of perfume with toner then you can use it as a shower mist. If you add Ethanol and perfume to the ratio of 7:3 and then stick wooden chopsticks in it then you can make an air freshener diffuser!

Sunscreen as sticky/gum remover

Sunscreen is great to erase gum marks, sticker marks, tape marks and other sticky marks. Put sunscreen on a cloth and then wipe the marks and it will be removed easily. It will get rid of those marks that was hard to get rid of even with other tools.

 

Yay! Atleast there are some other uses of the expensive Make Up products I buy once they expire. That’s why we as ladies shouldn’t fall too quickly in the trap of all these fast fashion and fast trends. Unless you can use your entire make up box in half a year, it’s best to NOT stock up. I saw on a documentary once, it said that women are more inclined to impulse splurging (shopping without thinking) due to the amount of stress they deal with everyday. Not to brag, but women multitask more on a daily basis compared to men, that’s why women actually receive and deal with a lot more stress on a daily basis, hence shops more!

So, be careful of marketing tactics, after all, they just want you to take out your hard earned money , out of your pocket, and into theirs 😉 Well, well, that coming from me, who is a half-time shopaholic. But see how decluttering has got me thinking. It’s a therapy without you realising I tell ya. Try it out, and see for yourself. My decluttering list, should you be interested, here.

So, just as the Labour Day Holiday is coming to and end, next time do think wisely before you spend your blood, sweat and tears income! May we all achieve our goals in this life and the next! 🙂

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25 Days Declutter Challenge

I need to make room for new things. I am not a hoarder, but my grandma (on my mom’s side) and my mom is known for keeping too many things for a lengthy period of time. Over the years I guess I have also come accustomed to such lifestyle subconsciously, and before I realized it, I have piles of things all the way from way back when which grew by the year 😮

So it’s high time I get rid of the things I held on to for so long, for the sake of keeping the memory alive. But now that I am at a different stage of life, where I am a wife and a mom too and am making changes to major parts of my life, these old memories I am holding on to have no more room in my physical world.

I’ve lived a good life, just not sure why I should be holding to anything to remind me of that. I just want to remember the memories when I close my eyes and recall them. I don’t need items to remind me of them. Also jotting down about them will be good for me too. Yep, no regrets to declutter them all now.

Time to make way for new inspirations and welcome new things and opportunities in life 🙂

My items to declutter ain’t easy. I’ve prolly tried to declutter since last year but to no avail (or prolly the year before), so this year I am taking a different strategy and breaking down this mission to ease it for me. I’ve broken down the things I want to declutter over a span of 25 days. Trying to do a little at a time, please, do join me if you’re up to some decluttering too, I could use some company on this journey many are questioning 😉 It’s just a personal quest, we all have our quests, right?

 

 

 

 

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Flatlays. I remember my unofficial attempts during my undergraduate Architecture School in Shah Alam, where I used to take pictures of food from an aerial view every time we go out to celebrate after hectic and no-life project submissions. We didn’t use camera phones back then, it was those digital cameras or DSLR’s. We even took pictures of ourselves from above (bird’s eye view/aerial view is what Architecture students call it); it was about snapping pictures of life instead of lifestyle, which is what I believe flatlays have evolved into.

Flatlays got serious for me a couple of years back when I used to join EVERY.SINGLE.FLATLAY.CONTEST by the dUckscarves. Although I’ve never worn, but my efforts have made it a few times on their Instagram, so that was partly made it in life for me -..-

Flatlay is a seriously expensive hobby to upkeep, so previously I had also explored iPhone Apps such as collages where you can pick items and add them to create a mood board. I’ve also experimented Polyvore where it’s kind of an OOTD flatlay or concept board, but none is as authentic and experiential satisfying like sweating as hell while snapping the umpteenth shoot, standing on a chair at Starbucks for the perfect depth for your shot, waiting for the perfect time of day to capture the perfect lighting, or pain in the ass cleaning after yourself and the mess you’ve made by scattering everything on the floor for all the items you thought you might need for the shoot.

Oh the drama. Unless you’re really passionate about it or repositioning/marketing your brand, flatlay really is the way to go. It’s really pretty and makes you want to have it; just like cupcakes, even though you prolly (read;me) don’t eat so much sugar, but once you see a cupcakes (especially in flatlays or a row of them), you’re tempted to buy and take one bite atleast 😀

So, let’s get down to business shall we 😀 The basic steps to master before you evolve, grow and own your flatlay skills! :3

  1. Background

White, Black, Slate, Marble, Grass, Sand are the normal backgrounds chosen for flatlays, but you are free to experiment. A busy background has to be balanced with a minimal items, and a plain (and aforementioned backgrounds) can be spiced up with many more elements and items. Be sure of your direction/story/concept (explained at No.3)

 

  1. Lighting

Might be the hardest to nail and requires perfect surrounding, but with practice you’ll find the perfect lighting for you. Usually natural/outdoor lighting is the best as it helps maintain the original colour of the product/items

 

  1. Story/Concept

This will help you to plan items that can be included in the frame. Too many items contradicting will make your concept messy and unrelatable. This is also one of the points that will make your flatlay different than the rest. We all could have the same story, but how you arrange yours in a flatlay and the items you include are what makes it unique 🙂

  1. Colour Scheme/Colour Palette

Should you wish to have a mix and match of many things, similar colour palettes will help bind and glue your concept together. Even the quirkiest items are toned down if they are in the same colour scheme/palette. A colour palette could define your whole story/concept too. Contrast and complimenting colours could also be experimented.

 

  1. Composition

My favourite part of the whole exercise, and I love emphasizing on composition when I used to tutor Undergraduate Architecture Studio at Universiti Malaya. There are many types of composition, and the key is balance. Whether you introduce a breather space, an organized chaos or lay a grid of items, this will dictate on how the overall frame will look like. The goal is to be pleasing to the eye, and not be an eyesore. If you have no idea what kind of composition to start off with, try copying some you’ve seen on the #flatlay hashtag and you’ll master the art of composition with enough practice!

 

Have a go and have fun! Nothing is as easy as it looks 😉

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Do’s and Don’ts at the U.S Embassy

When you’re ready to plan your trip to the U.S from Malaysia, you will definitely need to pay a visit to the U.S Embassy in Malaysia. Although the U.S may sound scary, especially to Muslims who have been watching the U.S go to war against Muslim Countries for decades, we often forget that the U.S are made of all other things too asides war and anti-Muslim sentiments. Similar to how it is untrue that Malaysians live on tree tops in a jungle, (which is obviously duh, untrue to most parts of Malaysia), that’s how I think we shouldn’t generalize other countries too.

That’s why I am here to shed some light to how un”scary” the U.S Embassy in Malaysia is. Half of the workers there are Malaysians, so they are well aware of Malaysian cultures, so jangan berat mulut nak cakap BM when you meet the guards at the gate or the staff at the Registration Counters. Everyone I have encountered there were ever so helpful and super nice 🙂 You’ll also know when to speak English, ie when you hear the staff with U.S accents.

Oh wait, before I blab on, I’ve actually compiled a short Do’s and Dont’s when you come over, because I can write to endless points, so I’m trying my best to make this concise and compact. Also, pay close attention to the Map provided below:

Do’s and Don’ts at the U.S Embassy in Malaysia

1. DON’T come on Public U.S Holidays. There’s not many, so don’t fret, but they are on dates we Malaysians aren’t familiar with, so googling U.S Holiday dates before you plan to come is a good start

2. DO come on public holidays of Malaysia as the U.S Embassy in Malaysia are OPEN on most public holidays of Malaysia, EXCEPT religious ones; Hari Raya Puasa, Hari Raya Haji, Chinese New Year, Wesak, Thaipusam, Deepavali, Christmas as well as Malaysia’s National Independence Day.

3. DON’T come with a laptop if you are not a U.S Citizen, because they won’t even allow you to bring it in, more over store it in their facility.

4. DO come with your Appointment Sheet printed as they won’t allow you to even hold your handphone (no E-Appointment Sheets accepted) when you’re in the facility.

5. DON’T park at the open parking or illegal parkings between The Icon (see map) and the U.S Embassy.

6. DO park at Menara See Hoy Chan’s Basement 3, where it’s only RM 3 per hour compared to the open carpark or illegal park which is around RM 10 per entry.

7. DON’T take a taxi from wherever you are to the U.S Embassy, because we shall make a smarter move. Ride the LRT to Ampang Park and then take UBER from there to the U.S Embassy. It’s only 900m away. Imagine how much you save on your fare.

8. DO come with all your documents in a file because if you have not gotten your sheets organized, chances are you have a missing document *rolls eyes remembering my missing documents*

9. DON’T come with pointy/pointed shoes as some strict officers won’t allow you in the facility as it could be of a danger to the public (tried and tested, see shoe below) (PPS: Oh please ignore my cheesy Instagram caption)

10. DO clip and portray the PASS they give you at the most obviously seen parts of your body. Rule of Thumb, if someone looks at you, they should be able to straight away see the code alphabet on the PASS.

Lastly, the U.S Passport/Visa requires a different passport background, so make sure you specifically mention you want to snap a U.S Passport/Visa Photo. Download the requirements here

I hope this list helps you avoid making too many trips (one too many for me) to the U.S Embassy in Malaysia <3

Read on below if you want to know the many ways you can actually go to the U.S

 

If you have no reason to plan a trip to go to the U.S, well let’s make one shall we?

The U.S Embassy of Malaysia provides a lot of resources and opportunities for Malaysians to go to the U.S, whether for exchange programmes whether for work or study, volunteering and all sorts short-term tours to the U.S

High School Student

If you are currently in school (Form 5) and looking for an opportunity to go on an exchange programme in a school in the U.S, click here

High School Graduate

If you’re done with high school, and never mind if you think you’re ready to conquer the world or unsure what to pursue with in university, don’t make up your mind just yet, until you’ve experienced U.S Colleges for yourself. Learn all about this here 

Malaysian Citizen

If you are a Malaysian citizen aged above 18 and open to the idea of volunteering /internships with NGO’s (ie; making a change in someone’s life/society), then click here for a list of to-date volunteering programmes to make a difference! It’s the small deeds and doing good that makes the world a better place!

University Student

If you’re a university student interested for exchange opportunities/programmes, click here to find out openings and deadlines and don’t miss out on a one semester scholarships to outstanding undergraduate students for non-degree full-time study combined with community service, professional development, and cultural enrichment. Click here for all sorts of other opportunities facilitated or administered by the U.S Embassy in Kuala Lumpur if you think none of the above mentioned is for you.

Educator (School/University)

If you’re an educator, I’m about to spice up your teaching life by letting you know that the US Embassy does fund a short term study tour to enable educators outside of the U.S. to learn more about U.S society, culture, values, and institutions. Click here and keep an eye out on openings!

Looking for Volunteers?

If you’re looking for volunteers, then today is you lucky day. Click here to the link where you can recruit volunteers for your business or programmes!

VISA

For other visas, check it out here

 

Check out my FIRST video on People of Architecture series on studying Architecture in the U.S, where I interviewed my office colleague, Paula Rojas 🙂

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Boxing Day and Year End Sale Guide (Beauty Edition)

Although I don’t celebrate Christmas, but just like how many enjoy the ambience and spirit of forgiveness and charity in Eid, I find that the Christmas spirit of joy and giving becomes quite festive since it is usually associated with the Gregorian calendar New Year observation or celebration.

Christmas shopping and Boxing day shopping are anticipated and participated worldwide, so even though you don’t celebrate Christmas, you cannot miss the shopping spree that are awaited by many. I remember the year end of 2012 very well; where I was scheduled to get married in 2013, therefore I made use of the cute packaging and promotions of the Christmas, Boxing Day and Year End Sale in Australia to shop for my “hantarans(presents from the Bride to the Groom which we present on the Wedding Ceremony). For those planning their weddings, this year end is a good time to hunt for bargains or special packages or promotions that comes by once a year.

So, back to the Boxing Day and Year End Sale Guide, with almost every single brand having a promotion or knockdown sale, I would like to direct your attention to Beauty products shopping <3

Girls will always be girls, and some start early, some later, but they will at some point of their lives be drawn to make up, cosmetics and beauty related items. What many don’t talk about, which is usually due to unintentional ignorance (which is why ignorance is bliss is such a bad motto to live by) is that beauty products contains tonnes of chemicals that aren’t safe for us to consume/use.

Before the dawn of social media and digital era, activists, environmentalist and the likes had a harder time getting their messages across and educating the mass public about health and dangers of toxic ingredients in their products as that was not favourable to big corporate businesses that make money from people’s ignorance. Now that everything is at the tip of our finger tips, awareness and movements are easily spread. As a consumer in the modern age, there are no excuses to turn a blind eye on such matters as this affects our health and well being as a human.

According to EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Data base, below are the chemicals and ingredients you should familiarize yourself with and some background and studies of thousands of ingredient labels that has been evaluated by Environmental Working Group:

Tips for women

The average woman uses 12 products containing 168 different ingredients daily. Many cosmetic chemicals are designed to penetrate into the skin’s inner layers, and they do. Consequently, some common cosmetic ingredients turn up in people’s bodies. Among them: industrial plasticizers called phthalates; parabens, which are preservatives; and persistent fragrance components like musk xylene.

Shopping tips by ingredient

1.BHA:

The National Toxicology Program classifies butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” It can cause skin depigmentation. In animal studies, BHA produces liver damage and causes stomach cancers such as papillomas and carcinomas and interferes with normal reproductive system development and thyroid hormone levels. The European Union considers it unsafe in fragrance. It is found in food, food packaging, and personal care products sold in the U.S.

2. Boric acid and Sodium borate:

These chemicals disrupt hormones and harm the male reproductive system. Men working in boric acid-producing factories have a greater risk of decreased sperm count and libido. In animals, high doses cause testicular damage to mice, rats, and dogs. Both the European Union and Canada restrict these ingredients in body care products made for children under three years of age and require that products containing these ingredients be labeled as not appropriate for broken or damaged skin. No similar safety standards are in place in the United States. The cosmetic industry’s own safety panel states that these chemicals are unsafe for infant or damaged skin, because they can absorb readily into the body. Despite this guidance, boric acid is found in some diaper creams.

3. Coal tar hair dyes and other coal tar ingredients (including Aminophenol, Diaminobenzene, Phenylenediamine):

Coal tar, a byproduct of coal processing, is a known human carcinogen, according to the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Hair stylists and other professionals are exposed to these chemicals in hair dye almost daily. Europe has banned many of these ingredients in hair dyes. While FDA sanctions coal tar in specialty products such as dandruff and psoriasis shampoos, the long-term safety of these products has not been demonstrated.

4. Formaldehyde:

A potent preservative considered a known human carcinogen by the International Agency on Research on Cancer. Formaldehyde, also an asthmagen, neurotoxicant and developmental toxicant, was once mixed into to many personal care products as antiseptic. This use has declined. But some hair straighteners are based on formaldehyde’s hair-stiffening action and release substantial amounts of the chemical.

5. Formaldehyde releasers – Bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl urea, Imidzaolidinyl urea and Quaternium-15:

Cosmetics preservatives that slow form formaldehyde to kill bacteria growing in products. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen. The preservatives and the formaldehyde they generate can trigger allergic skin reactions. Formaldehyde releasers are widely used in US products. Not surprisingly, more Americans develop contact allergies to these ingredients than Europeans.

6. Fragrance:

It may help sell products from face cream to laundry detergent, but do you know what’s in it? Fragrances are in everything from shampoo to deodorant to lotion. Federal law doesn’t require companies to list on product labels any of the chemicals in their fragrance mixture. Recent research from EWG and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found an average of 14 chemicals in 17 name brand fragrance products, none of them listed on the label. Fragrances can contain hormone disruptors and are among the top 5 allergens in the world. Our advice? Buy fragrance free wherever possible.

7. Hydroquinone:

A skin bleaching chemical that can cause a skin disease called ochronosis, with blue-black lesions that in the worst cases become permanent black caviar-size bumps. In animal studies, hydroquinone has caused tumor development.

8. Lead:

A neurotoxin in popular hair dye Grecian Formula 16 and other black hair dyes for men. Lead from hair dyes travels from hair to doorknobs, cabinets and other household items, where children can ingest it.

9. Methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone and benzisothiazolinone:

Preservatives, commonly used together in personal care products, among the most common irritants, sensitizers and causes of contact allergy. Lab studies on mammalian brain cells suggest that methylisothiazolinone may be neurotoxic.

10. Nanoparticles:

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles appear to be among the safer and more effective active ingredients in U.S.-marketed sunscreen creams because they do not penetrate the skin. But avoid sprays and powders containing these nanoparticles, which could penetrate your lungs and enter your bloodstream. Many other nanoparticles have received very little testing, yet they readily penetrate the skin and contaminate the body. Cosmetics manufacturers are not required to disclose the presence of nanoparticles in products.

11. Oxybenzone:

Sunscreen agent and ultraviolet light absorber, found in the bodies of nearly all Americans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In human epidemiological studies, oxybenzone has been linked to irritation, sensitization and allergies. A study of 404 New York City women in the third trimester of pregnancy associated higher maternal concentration of oxybenzone with a decreased birth weight among newborn baby girls but with greater birth weight in newborn boys. Studies on cells and laboratory animals indicate that oxybenzone and its metabolites may disrupt the hormone system.

12. Parabens (specifically Propyl-, Isopropyl-, Butyl-, and Isobutyl- parabens):

Parabens are estrogen-mimicking preservatives used widely in cosmetics. The CDC has detected parabens in virtually all Americans bodies. According to the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products, longer chain parabens like propyl and butyl paraben and their branched counterparts, isopropyl and isobutylparabens, may disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive and developmental disorders.

13. PEGs/Ceteareth/Polyethylene compounds:

A family of conditioning and cleaning agents that go by many names. These synthetic chemicals are frequently contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which the U.S. government considers a probably human carcinogen and which readily penetrates the skin. Cosmetics makers could easily remove 1,4-dioxane from ingredients, but tests documenting its common presence in products show that they often don’t.

14. Petroleum distillates:

Petroleum-extracted cosmetics ingredients, commonly found in mascara. They may cause contact dermatitis and are often contaminated with cancer-causing impurities. They are produced in oil refineries at the same time as automobile fuel, heating oil and chemical feedstocks.

15. Phthalates:

A growing number of studies indicate that chemical family damages the male reproductive system. Pregnant women should avoid nail polish containing dibutyl phathalate. Everyone should avoid products with “fragrance” indicating a chemical mixture that may contain phthalates.

16. Resorcinol:

Common ingredient in hair color and bleaching products; skin irritant, toxic to the immune system and frequent cause of hair dye allergy. In animal studies, resorcinol can disrupt normal thyroid function. The federal government regulates exposures to resorcinol in the workplace, but its use is not restricted in personal care products.

17. Toluene:

Volatile petrochemical solvent and paint thinner and potent neurotoxicant that acts as an irritant, impairs breathing and causes nausea A pregnant woman’s exposure to toluene vapors during pregnancy may impair fetal development. In human epidemiological and animal studies, toluene has been associated with toxicity to the immune system. Some evidence suggests a link to malignant lymphoma.

18. Triclosan & Triclocarban:

Antimicrobial pesticides in liquid soap (triclosan) or soap bars (triclocarban), very toxic to the aquatic environment. Often found as contaminants in people due to widespread use of antimicrobial cleaning products. Triclosan disrupts thyroid function and reproductive hormones. American Medical Association and the American Academy of Microbiology say that soap and water serves just as well to prevent spread of infections and reduce bacteria on the skin. Overuse may promote the development of bacterial resistance.

19. Vitamin A compounds (retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinol):

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient but not necessarily safe for use on skin. Studies show that when applied to sun-exposed skin these compounds can increase skin sensitivity. Furthermore sunlight breaks down vitamin A to produce toxic free radicals that can damage DNA and hasten skin lesions and tumors in lab animals. These ingredients are widely used in sunscreens, skin lotions, lip products and makeup. EWG urges consumers to avoid leave on skin and lip products with vitamin A.

20. Animal-based ingredients:

Many consumers are asking manufacturers tough questions about ethical sourcing of their ingredients. Vegetarians, vegans, and people concerned about animal welfare frequently seek to avoid ingredients derived from animals. However a number of animal-based substances are found in cosmetics, and might not be clearly labeled as such. If you are concerned about avoiding animal products the best bet is to choose brands claiming to be vegetarian or vegan or labeled with the PETA and Leaping Bunny logos.

 

Without any intention to scare you or stop you from purchasing this Boxing Day and Year End Sale, but you really should think twice before buying anything!
Please consult your pharmacist or doctors for further details, explanation and clarification. Always consult your pharmacist or doctors to discuss allergies or side effects of any of the above.

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DIY Trail Mix

Trail Mixes takes me back to my Adelaide days where it was my first conscious stumble upon them. Prior to that it was off my radar so if I had met Trail Mixes before, it has never been registered in my memory.

In Adelaide, these Trail Mix are EVERYWHERE and comes in ALL shapes, sizes and combinations possible! Hardest part is that they’re always greeting me at the front door when I frequent Coles or Woolies, which is like every week! Ozzies are probably one of the nations where majority are nuts about health (hello, Boost Juice) and looking good under the sun, probably due to their beach culture. But I quite enjoyed the healthy culture and outdoor lifestyle of the Ozzies. Ever since my Adelaide days, I’m just very conscious of whatever I eat and my cooking skills have refined to so much better than it ever was! Imagine going to the groceries and having to decide between TEN different types of egg; caged chicken egg, free-range, free range and organic fed, and the list goes on. Don’t get me started on the different types of pasta, NEVER ENDING. Spoilt with all these options, only the blind at heart cannot be moved to a healthier lifestyle in the land of down under.

When I returned to Malaysia, Trail Mix was another story.  Super expensive and not much choice to choose from, made me cut down on munching them a lot. As expensive as they are, when the urge comes to wanting it, I’ll buy it anyways, but I’ll always opt the smaller packets coz they’re cheaper, although deep in my heart I want the bigger packets T.T

But not all bad news and sad stories are bad for you as this resulted me in opting to make my own Trail Mix. Making your own Trail Mix is healthier anyways, because you get to choose what you want to put in and omit the nuts you least like which are most times prepacked with all the other nuts you want to eat. Yes. I remember that one nut I dislike, Pine Nut.

Whatever your reason for wanting to DIY your own Trail Mix, let us begin!

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To make the mix easy for you to remember and so that you can mix like a pro after this first attempt, we will divide the Mix into Four Components:

  1. Nuts – Any on the market. Raw and uncoated are the best as it hasn’t been mixed with any soybean oils or salt, however, you’d have to dry roast for extra crunch
  2. Seeds – Tiny but mighty. Seeds contain an array of vitamins and minerals we tend to overlook
  3. Dried Fruit – Natural sugars in the dried fruit will help add a boost to your sugar levels. With that note, you should try to find dried fruit that isn’t coated with MORE sugar to ensure your Trail Mix is healthy
  4. Fun Stuff! – I’m never really on a diet, hence I try to balance a lot of my intake of foods. So whatever will motivate you to finish this Trail Mix, add that in, but in moderation and a healthier version of it. For example, dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, make your own popcorn instead of a ready-made popcorn.
  5. Reading Material – Reference or any other reading materials to accompany your kitchen time <3

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Ready? Here goes

 

How to Make Your Own Trail Mix:

Ingredients:
• 1 ½ cups (handfuls) of raw nuts; almonds, pecans, cashews, peanuts, macadamia, walnut
• 1 cup (handful) of raw seeds; sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
• 1 cup (handful) of unsweetened un sulphured dried fruit; figs, apricot, raisins, etc.
• ½ – 1 cup (handful) of fun stuff; dark chocolate, popped popcorn, pretzels, etc
• (Optional), ¼ tsp sea salt, ½ tsp cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg

Instructions:
1. Dry roast/toast any nuts should you opt to
2. Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix well
3. Store in ziplock bag or mason jar
4. Will keep up to 1 month when kept air tight

 

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Superfood and thehealthymaven

After math of the DIY Trail Mix after a work out:

  1. Me by myself, after skipping, munching on my Trail Mix

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2. Then Maia came over to pick some of her favourites

 

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3. Then the hubs (Mr. Mellofellodova) came over to finish it off -.-”
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Sarah’s Favourite Things

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Sundays. I love Sundays albeit the fact the next day is a working Monday. Indulging in my favourite things on this beautiful day.

1. Washable Nail Polish; Nails Inc from Sephora

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I haven’t had the chance to paint my nails as much as I’d love to these days as I am always on the run, either running errands, running after my daughter or just on the move. Not much quiet time to sit down on days I have my period to put some nail polish lovin. The next thing I know, period’s over and I can’t wear it anymore til the next period.

If you go to the hashtag #sarahandhernailpolish on my Instagram, you’ll see how much I LOVE my nailpolish days, and see below, not only did I have the time to paint my nails, but put on flowers even!

However, with my recent discovery of this washable nailpolish, dayum you bet I’m hooked. With the wash off nailpolish however, you’ve got to be careful to not eat with your hands as it washes off easily. It’s a good temporary fix to beautiful nails and it’s kid friendly too, without the toxic chemicals normal nailpolishes are made of. What’s not to looveeee <3

 

2. Kylie’s Lip Kit; in Posie K from Instagram:Pop and Soap

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Ughhh, I hate to admit I caved in into social media pressure. Despite all the hate and negative vibes she gets about about her lips, the colours of Kylie’s Lip Kit are really mesmerizing, tantalizing and fascinating. Ok that doesn’t rhyme any more :/ And how come all the colours I see Kylie wears looks flippin gorgeous on her? It’s like Vivy Yusof back here at home, ANYTHING she wears is FLIPPIN GORG! So, how can us mere mortals not be seduced.

Ok, back to serious business, verdict; IN LOVE. This colour I got looked effortless on ma faceee, although the price isn’t effortless, but it’s worth it. It has similar consistency to MAC Makeup’s Matte Liquid Lipsticks (which I also LOVE LOVE LOVE), and best traits they both share, easy to remove and do not leave stubborn colour stains which I tell ya, is takes helluva scrubbing to remove :/ Will update a look (more of a selfie, I’m sorry) on this colour lippies next weekend, insyaAllah!

 

3. Ombre Oops Duck; from FashionValet and dUck Store

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Speaking of Vivy Yusof. Panjang Umur. Damn it, Ombre Oops dUck. I’ve loved anything ombre ever since the day I was born! Although my mom never dressed me up in ombre much, the moment I could shop for myself, I had endless ombre dresses and scarves. Except that back in the day, I had to shop my own ombre fabric and send to the tailors to sew the ends to make it into a scarf and shawl. Oh so much trouble. So, yeah, you bet I lined up for this Oops dUck the moment the dUckstore (view the store video HEREopened it’s doors to the public.

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PROOF. I came, I lined up, I bought. That’s why some resellers sell a bit higher than if you bought it yourself. This is the first time by the way I am letting go some of the colours I bought, I need back the extra cash I splurged on these babies!

 

4. Watercolour iPhone Cover Case; Instagram: Syarifahnadhirah // #deealyahya_paints

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My lovely watercolour artist pal (read a tiny bit about her HERE), paints then transforms her paintings into many things, phone casings are one of them! She caters to most phones on the market (sorry, not available for NOKIA 3310 users, hahaha. Funny right? No? Kbye) and best part is, it’s limited in production meaning you won’t be using the same case as everyone you know 🙂 Can you see her original art work in the photo above. She lent it to me to help me do my flatlay to sell my Oops dUck. I still have three colours to let go, buzz me if you’re still looking for an Oops dUck!

 

5. Bowerhaus Charms; from http://bowerhaus-shop.com/

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Not to exaggerate, but besides Ombre (can you guess where this is going?), I’ve also loved charms since the day I was born (haha!). Seriously though. No, don’t ask how come I haven’t gotten a Pandora charm, that’ll just break my heart. But I’ll tell you before you even ask, I’m still saving up for one 🙁 The price is, as gorgeous as the charms I tell ya 🙁

Anyhoo, back to the Bowehaus bracelet charms, I got hooked when I first found out about this brand from the dUckxbower collection (see next paragraph). Besides just a darling, the price is also a darling, hence I got one for my baby girl too! The packaging is even too cute! It comes with small pouch to keep it safe from scratches too. Totes worth every penny.

 

6. Sofina Clutch; in Dusty Pink from FashionValet

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Guys, I just can’t have enough of this bag/clutch. It’s the perfect size for my liking and I love the versatility of it being able to bring to be used as a daily addition and posh enough to chauffeur me to an event. Adorable! Oh and the scarf I’m wearing here is the intricate duckxbower collection. In love with this one too!

 

7. Rings and Necklace; from Lovisa

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There’s only one place I shop all my dainty jewelleries, and it’s Lovisa. I first heard of it when I was studying in Adelaide, Australia. Being a student at the time, I would patiently wait for the store to have a sale, only then would I be able to afford a wholesome of blings. Go on to my Instagram and check the hashtag #sarahandherrings to see my ring collection!

8. Miniature Perfumes; Presents from daddy-o

Miniature perfumes and my family, we go a long way. My dad when he used to travel, always loved buying my mum, my sister and I perfumes. But because he was always worried we didn’t like what he picked out for us, and for the love of experimenting new scents, he would buy us each a set of miniature perfumes. Plus they’re really worth it, especially if you want to find out which you would fancy in the comfort of your own home. It is different when you try out perfume scents over the counter, it just gets overwhelming with scents most of the time, and you’ll get confused at which you liked easily. With a long history of miniature perfumes, I can say that I associate certain scents with a certain part or phase of my life. I would wear different perfumes to the market, to work and to shopping mall, just like how songs reminds us of the time we listened to it, scents do the same for me. Yes, no wonder I am a soft hearted, sentimental and helplessly romantic person 😀

Oh, and just thought I’d let you know, Victoria Secret’s perfumes are quite lovely to be honest. To compare it with it’s body mist, it’s a far cry from that actually, and even I am surprised myself. Try it out over the counter, I bet you can find something you’ll fall in love with because it’s range of scent is vast and nothing smells too similar to the other. The perfume tau, not the body mist.

I’ve shared with you my favourite things, I would love to hear your favourite perfumes and  favourite things!

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Connect


HejSarah

  • Hello world!
    September 10, 2015
  • Black to Work
    September 12, 2015
  • dUck emergency!
    September 13, 2015
  • Three things to try at: JAYATI
    October 11, 2015
  • First family trip to Kuantan
    October 11, 2015
  • Behind the Seams: Duckscarves Flatlay
    October 11, 2015
  • Behind the Seams: My first ever dUck week
    October 30, 2015
  • FashionValet Pink October Contest
    November 9, 2015
  • Three simple everyday veggies
    December 22, 2015
  • First baby
    December 28, 2015
  • #2016!
    January 19, 2016
  • Three things to do with avocados
    January 27, 2016
  • The blooming dUck
    January 30, 2016
  • How I style my Sofina Bag
    February 7, 2016
  • Pool Dayzzz
    February 13, 2016

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