Staying Sane

May: Parties, Heels & Lace

partayThe marvelous month of May turned out to be much, much more than I anticipated πŸ‘

This coffee date earned me 3 invitations to all-wives-only get-togethers that did wonders to my soul. Of course, they were a bit challenging to work up to, not just because as a SAHM with a small baby I have difficulty finding time to even get a decent shower every day, but that I’m also an introvert whose default mode is a preference for solitary activities.

Nevertheless I noticed that these get-togethers energized me so much that I felt like treating myself to some heels 🀣 🀣

Out of all the urgent things that my wardrobe needs RIGHT NOW, I focus on my feet (which is not the first time) 🀣 Well, for one they’re so easy to dress up, they don’t have flab to skillfully camouflage with cut or color!

I bought them for special occasions (or just for walking around the house when I’m feeling sassy πŸ˜‰πŸ˜†) since I’m always scrambling at the last minute for what to wear whenever a special occasion pops up. I guess the vague plan is to work from the bottom up as far as updating my wardrobe is concerned πŸ˜†

I also finished a huge lace doily. Is it still a doily if it’s that huge? I think it’s earned table cover status πŸ€”

Channeling my inner home decorator ….

This house, although spacious and I love its location, is old and old fashioned. It’s got paint chipping off a few of its boring white walls, the furniture is ugly & uncomfortable (but they came with the house and they function 🀨), and it only has windows on one side so it can get hot and gloomy during daytime. I am grateful but resigned. 😏

— digression:

We can’t do any remodeling because it’s a “staff house” that comes with my husband’s expat package, rented long-term by the company to house any given foreign employee for certain periods of time. We can only request for repairs and maintenance; re-painting walls would fall into that category but we have a baby so we’re not very keen about that at the moment.

— end of digression:

Anyhoot, I decided no harm could come from letting my colorful personality shine now that I’m no longer pregnant & sleepy! So …

We had an A/C unit installed in the living room to counter the heat, I then claimed one of the boring walls with some frames, & put a carpet on the floor.

living room

And now this is where the family loves to hang out, including the baby 😍 It gets really cozy in the evenings when only the lampshade is on, there’s a good movie on TV, and a huge bowl of popcorn is being shared 😘

The kitchen also needed some color so I was truly pleased that a simple yellow tablecloth could make such a huge difference!

yellow happy

What else …?

Oh yes, I did read a book, just need to finish a few more pages, but it’s technically done so I can rake this up to a May finish as well:

May read

And the reason why I’m taking so long to finish this book – which is a lovely read by the way πŸ’˜) is because right after the pineapple table cloth, I went right in with my knitting needles for a racerback tee:

racerback tee

This is the back portion of the tee. I’m working on the front portion now alternating work on another project, a lace crochet pullover. I don’t know, I guess I’m just on a creative roll right now 😁

And that, my sexy friends, was May for me πŸ’–

How about you guys, what did you do in May?

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Staying Sane

What Could You Buy That Could Help You Make the Most of Where You Live?

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Author Melody Warnick asks a very smart question that immediately resonated with me:

~ What could you buy (or borrow or rent) that would help you make the most of where you live? ~

For me the answer is the 2 outdoor chairs that you see in the above photo 😊

I make no secret about the fact that I LOOOOVE to spend time under the wide open sky in the evenings. I used to just stand or walk in circles looking up at the wide, astoundingly beautiful night sky, say my prayers and feel grateful & content. Evenings are usually cool and breezy making the personal time even more pleasant.

A few weeks ago I had the brilliant idea to buy those chairs and, now my evening musings are even that much more delicious πŸ’– At times my husband joins me, at times my eldest, but mostly I’m alone.Β  And sometimes, in the late afternoons, I also do my crochet outside thanks to these inexpensive chairs.

How about you? What’s your answer to the question? πŸ™‚

 

Better Pictures 2018

It’s Time To Get Started On 2018

Hi everyone! I’m still here, in case anyone’s noticed 🀭

I’m still living life in 2-hour sleep-deprived increments and experiencing post partum hair loss as we speak (eeeek!).Β  But I’m doing quite well under the circumstances.

So what’s new?

Among my goals for this year is to take better pictures and to (finally, finally) use my DSLR as I go along.Β  I’ve always wanted to improve my photography skills and I bought the thing to seal the deal – you know, very much like buying a treadmill or a lifetime gym membership to affirm the veracity of your intentions πŸ™„

However, after leafing through its manual like it was some distasteful magazine, the DSLR turned into a pricey paperweight, gathering dust as the limelight went back to my ever handy, lightweight & uncomplicated iPhone. (Which reminds me of my treadmill which also became a pricey clothes rack & laundry hamper station, but I digress… πŸ™„πŸ™„).

2018 will be a year of ‘more doing and less hair twirling’ for me though so the DSLR has been exhumed and together we will be bonding over some photography courses this year. To help get me started, I’ve decided to do WP’s Photography Developing Your Eye 1 course rrrright now.

The 1st assignment is to get oriented with your camera (gulp!) and to take a photo representation ofΒ  what the word “home” brings to mind for you. Right away I think ~ hmmm, how fitting for someone who is all but home!

However, it didn’t take long for me to decide on a subject: our living room.

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Okay, I do know that you’re supposed to take pictures with the light behind you, but that view just wasn’t as nice as these ones so …

I chose our living room because it’s one of my pet projects in my quest to making Batam work. I love this space because it is sunny and airy, and I want to build on this by turning it into something cozy and fun.

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I still have a long way to go [because I get distracted] and have only managed to add everything else that’s not the black couch, the 2 black sofas and the square table. (Unfortunately, they come with the house so there’s nothing I can do about them). On a good day I’d put a few of my potted plants here and there but I was too lazy to get them for this shoot so you’ll just have to do with fluffy-huggable Anais and Mr. Piddles instead 🀭

So anyhoot, this space represents the concept of home for me. Familiar, pleasant, comfortable, fun.

(1 down, 9 more to go πŸ‘Š) πŸ€ͺ

Share Your World

Share Your World – November 20, 2017

I’m baaa-ack! 😁 Or at least, I’d like to think so. My world is still upside-down what with our 1-month old baby – but she’s absolutely the cutest so she has VIP pass to do so 😘😘

Sleep-deprived me (or is it, I? πŸ€”) however, have been missing blogging, so I thought I could warm-up via this week’s SYW. (By the way, you can participate in the fun πŸ‘‰ here).

Image result for best minions quote about life

If you were having difficulty on an important test and could safely cheat by looking at someone else’s paper, would you do so?

No. If the test were that important then I’d rather find out through failing that I lack mastery on the topic & do it over again.

What things in nature do you find most beautiful?

Verdant blooms, mysterious forests, bewitching bodies of water, fierce rains, noisy thunderstorms, gay rainbows and the wide open sky.

Complete this sentence: When I travel I love to….

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Watch & soak. Most people want to take pictures and I’ve tried that, but found that it takes away from the experience of being in that place and enjoying the moment. So I usually just take a few pictures as souvenirs and then sit in a cafe or someplace public and just watch what’s going on. I love it! 😍

Oh, and buy keepsakes of course! πŸ˜‰

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week? Β Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.Β 

Image result for funny quotes about newborn babies

I absolutely appreciate my husband and eldest child for being so supportive of what new moms go through – sleep deprivation and its not-so-pleasant effects.

My eldest, who enjoyed 10 (yes, ten!) amazing years as our only child, has gracefully accepted the fact that there’s a new baby in town. We thought at first she’d act up as she never seemed that excited while I was pregnant, but she’s been very sweet to her little sister instead, and helps out whenever she can.

My husband takes over without prompting upon coming home from work and on weekends, and is always ready to pitch in during night feedings (we supplement) or when the baby is just fussy.

Being in a foreign country, I certainly do not have the luxury of friends and family to call on for help when I need some time off. This does bother me but I get a second wind each time I think of how wonderful my eldest and husband are to me and the baby. I feel very blessed indeed πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’–

Now how about you? πŸ˜ƒ

The Introvert Expat SAHM Diaries

How To Cope With Expat Blues

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Prior to coming back to Indonesia, I was reading a lot of expat blogs focusing on feelings of displacement, homesickness, sadness and other such expat woes. It helped a lot in bringing the size of the problem down to ordinary proportions. Knowing that what I was going through is normal for expats, and reading stories of those who have gone before me and flourished despite the homesickness & displacement put me in my place, so to speak.

I was also surprised to find out that even those who’ve moved from one Western country to another (for example, US to Australia) would still feel depressed! Truly, I couldn’t relate to this because my ‘problems’ seemed bigger in comparison. For instance, the language, the lack of things to do outside the home, the sleepy nature of this whole place, and quirky things such as still having to eat with your hands at the local KFC outlet, finding squat-type toilet bowls in the malls (scary if you’re pregnant and not used to it), wait staff at restaurants forgetting your order or delivering the dessert before everything else (annoying if you order ice cream or lava cake like we do), and people freely jumping queues at an international ferry port without regard for others or authority.

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live, noisy ‘gargoyles’ poised to raid our garbage bins

At this time though, I’m over it. It’s old news. My eyes have glazed over. This hot momma is moving on ….

I’ve since come to a peaceful acceptance of all these things as simply part and parcel of my environment. Getting irked over them is choosing to be ignorant. Besides, focusing on things you have no control over is a recipe for misery. Sure, I’m still homesick, I still feel uprooted and have even come to accept that I might never find belonging in this country.Β  That’s okay too. All the more reason to find ways to foster happiness any way possible.

Here’s what I’ve learned from all those blogs I was reading

In order to help cope with expat depression, we need to focus on these 3 things that are within our control –

  • create the future
  • create new routines
  • create happiness within

Did you notice that they all start with “create”? There’s so much power to that word, so much authority. And it doesn’t mince words, the ball is in our court.

happy minion

Create the future

I read somewhere – again, I should’ve bookmarked it! πŸ˜•- that the future is not something you step into, it is something you create. And if all we have, honey, is an internet connection, then we’re ready to play ball.

Is there something you want to learn? Do you want to become something in the future? Chances are, there’s an online course or video tutorials for that and an online community too. If you’re fortunate to be in a country that offers live classes (in a language you speak), then use that as a platform to socialize and make new friends as well. Let’s get busy learnin’ and let’s amaze ourselves a year from now!

I keep a list of things I want to get into. Here’s a short version of it. I also have becoming IELTS certified, becoming a book editor and becoming a daycare owner – and I just keep adding more (I’ll narrow the choices down later). I’ve put all the major ones on hold though because of the (coming) new baby but once conditions become conducive, I’m going to tackle that list with gusto πŸ‘πŸ˜ƒ

Create New Routines

Something about having routines that involve as much of our new environment as possible helps to anchor us to the new place.

I have to admit though that this is somewhat of a challenge for me because I haven’t found anything worthwhile outside of the home to ‘latch’ onto. But examples would include identifying a new favorite coffee shop you could visit every morning or twice a week for some ‘me time’, a restaurant you go to for dinners with your husband every Friday night, maybe a park to jog in, a church to hear service at, a library or hobby outlet to lift your spirits … Go out and explore. Let’s find those nooks and claim them!

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Create Happiness Within

This one is what I’m all about at the moment πŸ€— This is very easy to do and has the most impact, in my opinion. Simply ask yourself what would make you happy and do that. Or buy it. Like in my case, it’s real books that I can hold and inhale the smell of. I have to buy them online because there are no English books here, so buy them online I do.

It could just be as simple as creating a mood boosting morning routine. A personal treatΒ  every month to look forward to. Dance exercise videos. Throw pillows & curtains in favorite colors. Blogging. Starting a new hobby.

I’ve begun a project at home of surrounding myself with things that, in the words of Marie Kondo, spark joy. I tend to plants and see them bloom (or not!) under my care. I’ve begun buying stuff that help me cook better because -and this is new to me- there is satisfaction in preparing a good, well-thought out meal.

My goal at the moment is to make my my house a place I’d never want to leave πŸ˜€ I don’t know if I’ll ever achieve that but the process sure is fun and worthwhile.

~~ oOo ~~

Give me some advice: Are you an expat suffering or have suffered from expat blues? What one or two things can you do right now to lift your spirits up? What have you done to create happiness away from your home country?

 

Home & Heart

Finally Getting Around To Doing It

Today is a sunny Sunday over here at my small, sleepy corner of Indonesia and as usually happens when I’m not alone in the house (the hubs and daughter are home), I get a burst of energy 😊

So up I went to my potted plants to finally start the repotting process I’ve been putting off for about 2 weeks now.

repotting

But first let me introduce you to them (no names because I don’t have a clue πŸ˜€):

need repotting

This is how they look now after I transferred them away from direct sunlight.Β  They looked so much worse a couple of weeks back due to my ignorance 😟 I thought as long as they weren’t in direct sunlight for an entire day and they got enough water, they’d be good. Well, as you can see from the 2 in the front row, the Indonesian sun is just way too much for them.

Bigger Homes

I was able to repot 3 (back row) and salvaged a 4th that had died but had these little off-shoots that seemed like they wanted a chance to live 🀞 (3rd from left).

batch one repotted

I’m going to do the rest sometime within the week as I believe they are the most challenging.Β  The pink one has a broken stem that produces weak and sickly looking leaves. But it keeps producing new leaves so I take that to mean it hasn’t given up yet. 😘

I don’t think I need to repot the aloe vera but it’s borne children so maybe they should be transferred to a separate pot.

The 3rd one is giving me some blooms – so maybe it’s happy where it is? But I do feel that the pot is too small and I might have to divide the plant because it seems there are 2 of them in the same pot.

The last one (partially hidden) has an ugly pot and I might as well move it to a bigger one to anticipate future growth (here’s hoping πŸ˜†).

Brawns Vs. Brains

OF COURSE, I don’t have a clue about the proper repotting of plants, I just mimicked what I saw the lady selling the plants did. As usual, I read up about it after the fact 😁  And now I have to go back up and water them. Duh! 🀣

Oh and before I go, did you know that plants can make your brain work better? Here are 14 more reasons to add plants to your life. Me, I just wanted a new active hobby that would beautify my home at the same time ❀️

~~ oOo ~~

Books, Home & Heart

July Reads: Happy At Home

July found myself wanting to get back to reading again, a favorite hobby which I sorta left by the wayside when I experienced a preference for more active hobbies – exercising, knitting, crocheting, blogging, trying out new recipes when lightning struck (ha!).

After sorting out how I wanted to balance my preference for physical books with the convenience of downloading on my Kindle, I started my bookish adventures with the following:

Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin (non-fiction)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI truly enjoyed Gretchen’s Happiness Project when I read it several years ago and, since this time around I’m a SAHM on a mission to create a happy home, Happier At Home was an easy pick.Β  I enjoy Gretchen’s writing style, and the fact that the act of pursuing happiness is approached as a personal experiment. Therefore, not everything will stick, and just because it makes somebody else happy doesn’t mean it will do the same for you. But you do get to learn about yourself & what works along the way.

The book is chock-full of practical lessons a few of which that I could apply immediately are:

“When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good we are not always happy”.

Respond to the spirit of the gift. How wise this is! How many times have I responded to the gift instead of the spirit of the gift, and been a scrooge for it. For example, if my daughter makes up the bed but doesn’t fold the blanket just perfectly so, I should not respond with criticism or re-do the whole thing the way I want it.Β  I should be happy about the fact that my daughter wanted to help, that’s the real gift.Β  Ditto for when my husband tries to cook and leaves the kitchen an amazing mess πŸ™ƒ

Everything looks better arranged on a tray. Just try this one out, it’s true! 😁

Celebrate holiday breakfasts. This one made me think about how my family usually does not plan for special occasions but sorta just wings it. I decided that henceforth and at the very least, celebratory cakes will be available for enjoyment on-date, ordered beforehand, and not just some random, yummy-enough sounding cake that we buy whereabouts dinnertime on the date itself. (We can do better!πŸ™„)

Embrace good smells. This motivated me to enroll in an online aromatherapy course.  My husband and I are absolute suckers for nice smells. We are never without perfume, room-specific fresheners and deodorants of all types.  I make doing laundry enjoyable by finding the freshest, cleanest, loveliest smelling detergents and fabric softeners I can get my hands on.  An aromatherapy course would promote going natural on some of these fumes for better health without compromising on the happiness factor 😁😁

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher (fiction)

An absolute page turner, I read it in 1 day, it was just difficult to put down.Β  The topic of teen suicide made me think back to my own teenage years and made me appreciate growing up under strong Catholic influence.Β  “There IS a God watching over all of us and He strongly disapproves of suicide”.Β  Bless those austere rosary-bead stringing nuns and stern, disapproving priests we used to secretly poke fun of, they at the very least instilled in us the habit of praying for even our most worrisome problems that were too embarrassing for human ears.Β  In my darkest moments I never felt alone.

 

My So-Called Life As A Proverbs 31 Wife by Sara Horn (non-fiction)

This book popped up as one of the suggested reads on my Kindle and is about a woman’s experiment in trying to be like the biblical Proverbs 31 wife. I thought it would just be a book with suggestions and funny anecdotes, but mid-way through it I slowly started to realize that being a SAHM is not about ME. This stay in Indonesia (which I still struggle with) is about my family being together, being a wife to my husband, a mother to my daughter and being the “thermostat of the home” as Sara puts it.

Where Happier At Home starts from a self-centered place of what makes ME happy that will also make my husband and daughter happy,Β  My So-Called Life focuses on the important role of a wife, mother and homemaker and the huge impact that has on the family.Β  Think of it as being on a team, and you’re the specialist at something and without you contributing your uniqueness to the team (the family unit), it just won’t work.

And it is not about sacrificing either, it is about giving from a place of empowerment.Β  In thinking of myself as a valuable, uniquely contributing team-member, I let go of the selfish & ultimately unsatisfying pursuit of chasing happiness for personal consumption

Hmmmm … definitely a profound lesson for me to learn πŸ€”

~~ oOo ~~

So those are the books I read in July.  Hopefully I can come back next month at about the same time with more interesting titles & lessons 😊

Oh and … have you come across a delicious read recently that you might want to recommend? Do tell! 😍