My OTG Make-up Bag and Building Your Own

Ahh…make-up.

If diamonds are a woman’s best friend, then make-up is her secret lover. Make-up is my secret love. Well, not so secret anymore as I am about to share with you what I have in my travel make-up case!

Hint: I will put tips all over this post in case you would want to build your own portable make-up kit!

Being a muslim, it is imperative that one must perform their five daily prayers no matter how hectic their schedule. So, when I’m out and about, I would find a place to do my prayers and clean off my face with a swipe (or two) of my make-up remover tissue, and perform the ablution.

Make your life easier

The trick to having a clean makeup-free face before your ablutions is to not opt for make-up products with a staining effect, such as a lip or cheek stain. Waterproof ones are alright as long as you can be certain that your make-up remover can get rid of everything and not leave any residues. You may also choose non-waterproof products to make life easier, but living in a wet and humid country such as Brunei, your make-up may have the tendency to melt, so be wary of that, fellow make-up enthusiast! 🙂

Lizzy’s tip: Be VERY sure that the products you wish to use for the day can be easily removed with your chosen make-up remover. This is important as some make-up products (e.g.waterproof foundation) tend to create a layer between your skin and the ablution water. 

  1. A durable case that can be easily cleaned

My current make-up case is a black zipped IT Cosmetics bag from a set I got from Sephora. It is compact and slim, so it limits the number of things I can bring, which is a good thing in a way. Less make-up to remove!

Lizzy’s tip: When choosing your travel case/bag, make sure you are able to have easy access to the contents deep inside without having to waste time rummaging through your bag. A wide opening is key.

I like to change the contents every now and then so I don’t stick to the same three items over and over, so for a make-up addict/hobbyist/collector, it is a good way to go through make-up that you rarely use.

1. The first must-have in my make-up bag is, of course, make-up remover tissues. Any brand will do, but I have tried and tested (and loved!) the Bioré travel make-up wipes that you can get from Guardian. It removes make-up and dirt efficiently, though it may be less economical as a pack can cost around BND$3 for 10 sheets.

Lizzy’s tip: You can also go for the travel-sized make-up remover bottles (eg. Silkygirl has one) and bring along a small bag of cotton pads as an alternative to these wet tissues.

2. I love the Neutrogena gel moisturiser and use it everyday, but it would be weird to bring it along the huge tub it is packed in, so I got a bag of ointment containers (like the one given by clinics) and scooped some of my moisturiser into it. Best idea I’ve had.

Lizzy’s tip: If your skin tends to feel dry after your ablution, then a good moisturiser’s the answer! Apply some on your face just after your ablution and before you pray, then your face will be well-hydrated by the time you finish your prayers and ready for some make-up!

3. The next item is a face powder to unshine your shiny face. What I am currently using when I’m on-the-go is the Mac Blot Pressed Powder in Medium, but you can go for the ones that work best for your skin. You would be better off bringing along a powder that has some coverage to limit yourself from bringing a bottle of foundation in your bag (not a good idea.)

4. Depending on the type of powder I choose to bring in my bag for that week, I would sometimes bring along a stick concealer if my powder, like the Mac Blot Powder, has close to no coverage. The Revlon Photo Ready Stick Concealer is a real favourite of mine–so much so that I’ve gone through about seven sticks and counting! Stick concealers are super easy to use especially if you’re in a hurry; and this particular one is creamy and easy to blend, despite it being in a stick form.

5. You can skip this next one, but sometimes I do like to have rosy cheeks rather than looking pale for the afternoon, so I tend to have a blush and a small brush in my bag ready for any sudden need of a rouge.

What I currently have in my bag is the Balm’s Frat Boy Powder Blush, along with a small powder brush I got from the dollar store (Do not underestimate such a cheap item! It’s amazing!)

Lizzy’s tip: Sheer blushes are the way to go, because you wouldn’t want to spend extra time blending them out or taking them off if you applied too much. 

6. Last but not least, is lip products (and then some). Being such an indecisive person, I just had to have three different lipstick colours and a lip balm to complete (or jam-pack) my travel kit! The best is to choose a complementary red lipstick that can be build up, so you can have a wash of colour on your lips for the day and have a more striking look for the night.

Well, there you go, lovelies! Hope this post can give you some insight on what to have in your make-up kit.

Bye 🙂

 

Love,

Lizzy.

My First Taste of Motherhood

Assalamualaikum, ladies~!

Oh how beautiful are Allah’s creations. It is truly amazing how your body is capable of growing a tiny human being and is able to withstand the tremendous amount of pain when giving birth, then springs back into shape and repeat. Having just been through it with my first child, I now truly understand how strong mothers can be and how unconditional their love is for their children; you literally are at the verge of dying from the unbearable pain of giving birth, but one look at your newborn, all is well and you say to yourself, “it was all worth it…I would do it all over again.”

That’s all nice, but reality kicks in soon after when you suddenly realise you have another person to take care of, and I am here to share with you my first ever taste of motherhood at Brunei’s RIPAS Hospital.

Hope you ladies have a good read!

I WAS NOT PREPARED ENOUGH

For a while, I thought I had everything ready for baby; her clothes and things, her cot, our hospital bags, my postnatal treatments after birth, I even had a spreadsheet especially for baby detailing everything, from lists of things I would need to transactional records to keep track of my spending for baby. However, it never crossed my mind to be ready for the first few days of her life (and of motherhood for me) at the hospital.

What happened to the spreadsheet, you ask? Well, it’s all over the place now…I guess you can’t really help yourself when you have a little baby girl to dress up 😀

VISITING HOUR WOES O’ MINE

With the new visiting hour restrictions practiced at the new RIPAS block for the women and children’s wards (something I wished I have known earlier), you will spend most of the first few days taking care of a fragile being by yourself with little help from others. Visiting hours are limited to an hour or so at noon, and two hours in the evening, and you would find security officers patrolling around the wards for any sneaky ones who stayed past the allocated hours. This meant that you have limited contact with your husband and family during your stay at the hospital’s common postnatal ward, who you would want and reckon to help you with your newborn. Instead, you are left with baby surrounded by other new and/or experienced mothers in the ward who would rather mind their own businesses (expectedly), with occasional visits by the nurses and doctors.

I was taken aback by the sudden realisation of having to spend my first night with baby without Hubs (or anyone, really), and being a first-time mother, I feared the worst. So much so that I panicked when my little girl had a bout of hiccups that I called the nurses via the emergency button by the bed! It is funny to think of it now, but back then, I was really in a state of distress and exhaustion that I spent most of the first night (and the next day) awake and staring at baby.

NO, YOU CAN’T BOOK THE FIRST CLASS WARDS IN ADVANCE

This is one piece of information that is hard to find literally anywhere on the internet, other than calling the hospital line (but, we all are shy introverts who would rather google things than talking to someone over the phone).

I was told by a few people that you can book the first class wards in advance. Being the clueless person that I am, I unwittingly mistook these sought-after rooms to be similar like hotel rooms (you know, you book them in advance and pay early to secure it). Oh, how wrong I was!

You can only book your place when in the labour room after you’ve given birth; the nurses will ask if you would like to stay at the first class ward, which basically is a private en-suite room away from all the noise and crowd. You would then be put in the waiting list (which is, again, something I wish I knew earlier) and hope that a room opens up while you’re still at the hospital.

The en-suite costs BND$75 per night, and a family member is allowed to be your caretaker during your stay. You will also have the pleasure of selecting your meals everyday (a choice between western and local), although I didn’t get the chance to during my 2-nights stay. For BND$150 per night, you can choose a better en-suite with a separate living room and have two caretakers to accompany you, but chances of getting the room are even slimmer.

Thank goodness I only get to spend the first night alone. Before the second day was out, this very kind nurse (I wish I knew what her name was!) managed to get me a first-class room and I couldn’t be happier. I assumed she noticed my distress (and the fact that the common ward was noisy with strangers constantly peeping into your curtained area) and did what she could to get me comfortable post-pregnancy.

My review of the first-class room? It was peacefully quiet, comfortable, clean and best of all; it was private. Coughing up BND$75 a night for this room was the best decision to make. You with your exhausted body and soul need the peace and quiet of the first-class rooms, to help your transition into motherhood a more relaxing experience so you can focus on yourself and baby, rather than waste energy dwelling over other unimportant things.

FRIENDLY AND HELPFUL WOMEN STAFF

Much to my surprise, from the start of my labour until I was discharged from the hospital, not once have I encountered with a rude staff. They were all especially kind and helpful despite my silly questions and overall annoyance. I admire their treatment towards patients, especially the nurses who are on-hand in case of emergencies. As a first-time mother who had no clue about mothering, they gladly assisted me without hesitation, like how to bathe baby, how to put on her clothes, how to breastfeed and burp her. Although these may seem trivial to an experienced matron, these are valuable lessons to learn for a new mother; something you can never learn from Youtube or Google. Till this day, I still remember what they taught me and the things they have done to make my early post-pregnancy days stress-free, and I am so grateful to have been given special treatment during my stay.

The best part was actually having the nice staff bathe baby every morning while staying at first-class! Newborns are fragile and I wasn’t ready to be left with baby near water (beuri as they say). The staff would go over the steps with you as you watch her bathe baby, and it was a great opportunity to ask about things that I was doubtful of.

O BREASTMILK BREASTMILK, WHEREFORE ARE THOU BREASTMILK?

This deserves its own post, in my opinion. Newborns initially only take in a bit of milk, or colostrum, that is produced by the mother at birth. This has everything the baby needs for the first few days, before the mother’s breastmilk supply kicks in and she produces more creamier milk. Alas, it isn’t so simple in reality. It varies in different mothers; some may have no problem producing breastmilk in large quantities, but some may have a hard time establishing a supply.

I had a bit of difficulty with regards to my milk supply in the early days, and was even reduced to tears in the middle of the night when baby wailed hungrily begging for milk that I couldn’t provide her. My scarce milk supply resulted in baby having yellow skin nearing Jaundice, which again didn’t help with my post-pregnancy anxiety. Indeed, establishing a milk supply is such a sensitive subject for some first-time moms, one cannot help but to be a bit defensive when people try to ‘help’ by offering (at the verge of insisting) to breastfeed your newborn…Alhamdulillah, all is well now and baby is getting plumper and fairer by the day.

If you’re on the same boat as me, don’t worry about your low milk supply during the first few weeks. It will kick in once you keep breastfeeding your baby and InsyaAllah, your baby will be adequately nourished.

Hope this post can be of help to you! I will share tips for establishing and increasing your milk supply in the future, so look out for that!

 

Love,

Lizzy

 

 

 

My First Pregnancy

WARNING: This post may contain too much information for some individuals. Readers’ discretion is advised 🙂

Assalamualaikum, ladies~!

All praises to Allah SWT, for He has blessed Hubs and I with an adorable little girl, born on the 14th of April 2017.

I would like to take this opportunity (since I have a few minutes a day to spare during this maternity leave I’m enjoying) to share my first pregnancy with you, especially with those who are trying to conceive. I have found online personal accounts from Bruneians on the subject to be lacking, so I hope that this post can be of great help to you. The next post will be about my first few days of motherhood in RIPAS, so stay tuned for that!

DOA DAN USAHA

As with anything you want to achieve in life and the hereafter, your efforts must always be accompanied with never ending du’a. Truthfully, Hubs and I waited a long while until we were financially, emotionally and mentally ready for a child.

Of course, there were bumps along the way, like having doctors (both government and private) ‘diagnose’ you with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) as an alibi for your failure to conceive, bombarded by opinions without basis from friends and relatives as to why you are not able to conceive, and being constantly reminded that you are not getting any younger and that you MUST have a baby as soon as possible.

Things like these can slowly tear your spirit apart, but thanks to Hubs who serves as the backbone of my sanity, I manage to smile and let all the negativities slide past, and just focus on doing my best while leaving our fate in the hands of Allah.

My efforts include taking dietary supplements (do ask for more details), going for traditional peranakan massages (though my doctors were against it), eating healthier, and exercising to lose a bit of weight that ’caused’ my SUPPOSED PCOS, not to mention a few weird ‘bedroom’ ethics advised by ‘experienced’ relatives.

I am in no way condoning these as the sure way to conceive, but each to their own and what works for us may not work for you. Nevertheless, teruskan usaha 🙂

HOW WE KNEW WE WERE EXPECTING

As we continued our efforts, much to my relief, my 35-day menstrual cycle regulated, so it was easier to check if I missed my period or not. After casually testing a Home Pregnancy Test (HPT) just 5 days after my expected period was due for August 2016, the test line was visible. It was certainly a shock to us (after spending hundreds of BND on HPTs alone!) and we decided to keep it to ourselves for a month or so before bursting out to our closest family and friends.

HOW MY PREGNANCY WENT

Reading scary articles online about what to expect of your pregnancy can really build anxiety in your head, but surprisingly everything went well for me, Alhamdulillah! I barely had nausea or dizziness commonly associated with pregnancy, which is something I was very grateful of since most of my career involves going to fields and being cooped up in a laboratory for hours on end. This meant that I could go about doing things like the usual, but it also meant that I FREQUENTLY (and I mean it!) forgot I was pregnant much to my colleagues’ dismay (so sorry for that, colleagues!).

I wish I could share with you how I could go about not having nausea during my pregnancy, but what I will share is this…

DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH AND TRUST YOUR BETTER JUDGEMENT

Expect a LOT of advices given to you by experienced matrons when you try to conceive–expect MORE when you are expecting, and EVEN MORE when you have your newborn. 

They may warn you against eating certain types of foods during all three situations, or doing certain things that they believe to be dangerous for your pregnancy. All I can say is please do your own extensive research and not blindly take in their advices just because. Some barely have any scientific basis at all, like not drinking water straight out of the bottle, or your baby will have a crying fit after he/she is born (WUTT…).

Another example is how expecting ladies in our culture are being firmly warned against consuming ginger of any form since it is believed that it can harm their unborn babies, but funnily, ginger is one of the foods that are highly recommended for pregnant women in western cultures as they help against nausea.

So ladies, some experienced mothers out there will certainly give great advices to you, but do think twice when you hear ones that don’t make much sense, since it can otherwise do more harm than good.

 

Well, that is all for now, ladies! Thank you so much for reading this extensive illustration-deprived post of mine, and do look out for new ones!

 

Love,

Lizzy

The Muslim Minimalist: Epiphany

Assalamualaikum and a warm hello to everyone~

There I was, in the midst of my usual morning routine, when I stopped dead in my tracks as I caught sight of the mountains of folded clothes behind me–excess clothes that won’t fit into our medium-sized wardrobe…clothes that I have unconsciously accumulated in the past year or two.

In front of me were myriads of makeup products, hair and hijab accessories; these various colourful possessions were indeed a pleasure to the eye, but something didn’t seem right to the heart and mind.

To my left, twenty or more lipsticks were within my reach; all in different shades of red and pink, all long-lasting and beautiful.

Then, it struck me hard…

I do not have twenty or more pairs of lips.

I have one pair of plump kisser that Allah has bestowed upon me *Alhamdulillah*. I do not need twenty or more lipsticks and certainly do not need twenty more.

It was the moment I realised that women as the target of most product marketing schemes are undeniably subjected to consumerism and basically, to the notion that we need everything that is advertised to us.

Ladies and gents, we can live a perfectly happy life without worldly ‘everythings’

Islam encourages us to practice Az-Zuhd, a simple and modest way of living as opposed to a lifestyle full of unnecessary displays of worldly luxuries. I am by no means an Islamic scholar, but I do believe living content with what you have and not be envious of what others possess is the way to go; no matter your background.

Sometimes when we think we are in control of our worldly possessions, we stress over them, spend time organising them, waste energy collecting them–one should stop and think that maybe, just maybe, your possessions are controlling you.

So, the next time you feel the urge to buy a new scarf to add into your collection of scarves, or that new pair of Abibas *not a real brand* running shoes to add into your already-huge collection of footwear, tell yourself this:

I do not need this. I am perfectly happy with what I already have.

Just a little post for your enjoyment. I should start giving away most of my lipsticks now… 🙂

Wishing everyone a wonderful day!

Love,

Lizzy

Counting down to your Bruneian Wedding: Part 2

Especially for all the future Bruneian brides out there 😉

If you haven’t read Part 1, here is the link.

Hello, bride-to-bes!

To continue, let us now talk about the engagement bit. This is the event most bride-to-bes look forward to–the moment you and your loved one become one step closer (but not too close, if you know what I mean!) towards a holy matrimony. I liked to think of my engagement as a ‘mock’ wedding, in the sense that you get to experience a gist of what planning your one-of-a-kind wedding would be like.

The things you need to consider are:

1. Venue

Most couples opt for a low-key affair by having their engagement at home. This not only cuts your expenses but also lessens the hassle of trying to secure your venue for your ceremony before somebody else does. Most venues need an advanced payment to secure your booking, and sometimes they won’t be available for your selected dates. If you’re like me, you can save the headache for when you’re trying to find a place for your wedding reception instead!

Of course, it all depends on your preference; whether you think having a huge hall for your engagement is wise or not. Some well-to-do Bruneian ladies have recently delved into having ultra-awesome *ultra-expensive* engagement events that most people would easily mistake for actual wedding receptions; so whatever floats your boat, I say!

2. Date

I’ve put this as second on the list, but in my opinion, it is as important as having a venue for your engagement, especially if you’re planning to have it in a hall. An unorthodox suggestion would be to have your event whenever your selected venue is available; for instance, if that hotel near your house is only available to cater you on the last Friday of November, you can have your event set for that date.

A word of advice: Try to steer clear off school holidays for your engagement since these periods are notoriously dubbed as ‘time orang ramai kawin’. I’m sure you’ve been in a situation where you’re invited to as much as five wedding ceremonies–all happening in one noon! So when this happens –not ‘if’, but ‘when’–, the people you’ve invited may have to unwillingly choose to attend one event over the rest, and undoubtedly a sense of rejection will loom over you when you realise that only half of your guests came to celebrate one of your milestones.

Usually, engagements are often done on a Friday or a Sunday (morning or afternoon), but some may opt to have it on a weeknight. Again, it all depends on you, Bride-to-be. Venues and catering services may be more readily available on a weeknight than the weekends, but guests may find it a bit difficult to slip it into their routine schedules; you know, “Just came off work, and I’m exhausted. I need to cook dinner and pray too. Tomorrow’s another work day, so I have to sleep early,” so on and so forth.

3. Catering

What you’re going to feed your guests is another thing to think about; not just for your engagement, but for everything that involves having people over to your house! It’s nice to keep track of restaurants or companies that offer catering services, especially those that you have had good experiences with (amazing food quality, good table decorations, good service, and top notch punctuality).

You would also need to know how many guests you will be inviting to your event; for example, maybe 200 guests for an afternoon ceremony (in Brunei, Kelupis and chicken curry would usually be on the menu). Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE me some Kelupis with chicken curry, and most catering services offer good prices for them. Again, it depends on the time of the day your event is taking place. So you would spend more on providing lunch for your guests than an afternoon tea–as long as the food’s delicious, your guests will go home happy and satisfied.

4. Door Gifts or campur

Usually door gifts or campur are items that your guests can use or enjoy. Most give out simple door gifts during their engagement event, like a carton of juice drink or a roll of hand towel. You can certainly go and give out unique items like a battery-operated handheld fan for your guests, which I am sure they will definitely love to have; so again, it depends on you, you bride-to-be 🙂

When you have settled on a type of door gift to give to your guests, it is wise to overestimate the number of people who will be coming to your event and have extra door gifts hanging around. You will find that close relatives will either give out more than one to an individual or sneakily take a few more for themselves. This is just one of the things that come with having events, so embrace the shenanigans, ladies!

5. Your attire and Dais

When we got engaged back in 2012, I only opted for a simple (I should say boring) all-pink lace Baju Kurung with a satin shawl and veil, while my then-fiancé wore an all-grey Baju Melayu ensemble (no matchy-matchy). We chose a pink-grey theme for our engagement, and didn’t even have a Dais. Our chosen seats for the event? My yellow living room sofa. No, really. I’m being serious.

There are a lot of packages now that offer simple Dais and attires at affordable prices, so it is definitely easier now compared to years ago to achieve a more elegant and refined look (I can honestly say that the yellow sofa was not so elegant). The best way is to have a simple but coordinating outfit with your fiancé, and accessorise accordingly. The same goes for your dais as well, but if you would prefer sitting on a yellow sofa while he puts a ring on it, well, it is your choice 🙂

That is all for part 2! I realise that this post was long overdue, so I hope I can go around getting the next part up in less than 2 years! (I kid).

Have a good Eid, ladies!

 

Love,

Lizzy.

Counting down to your Bruneian Wedding: Part 1

Especially for all the future Bruneian brides out there 😉

So, you’re getting married? Congratulations!

I can imagine most of you having a wedding to-do list already, so you can finally cancel off the first thing on that list of yours–“Find a husband”. Oh joy!

Now, there are so many things to consider before both of you walk down the wedding aisle, and Lizzy’s here to guide you on your journey. When the hubs and I planned our wedding a year ago, I realised how difficult it was; we were basically clueless.

What do we do? Do we even do anything? When do we start doing something? Yup, super clueless.

I admit, I am one of those people who need clear instructions on anything–be it an arduous three-hour long slow cooker recipe or a simple how-to on tying a neck tie. So, with the absence of proper instructions–along with the fact that I’m a born scientist, our whole journey towards the perfect wedding was filled with improvisations and organisations.

Merisik

To start, some of you may already be engaged, and some have not.

In our culture, an event called Merisik will be done where the groom’s parents (a.k.a. your future in-laws) and/or elder representatives will come to your house to meet your parents and the elder members of your family, to properly ask if you (the eligible bachelorette) are available, and if you would be interested in marrying their son (it’s just part of tradition to ‘ask’–of course you want to marry him!). The folks from both sides may then consider setting only your engagement dates during this event and have a another date to discuss the other wedding events, but some do set the dates of the engagement, solemnisation and others simultaneously during this time.

In the olden days, the young couple would have no say in this, other than agreeing or disagreeing to the marriage. Now, wedding events are usually discussed together with the couple, and most opted to plan the entire matter themselves.

Before the Merisik, you may have already discussed the marriage settlement (Mas Kahwin), monetary gift as out-of-pocket expense (Belanja Hangus) and other things with your parents. These requests vary in quantity and quality, but the marriage settlement is a must in Islam’s accordance. The bride’s family may only wish for a number of extras from the groom, such as an Al-Quran, a roll of Jong Sarat (a breathtaking gold or silver-threaded material considered as a compulsory gift for the bride in the Malay culture), and two rings; one that symbolises her engagement (a.k.a. Cincin Tanda Bertunang) and the other as a token that the bride has been ‘asked’ or risik (a.k.a. Cincin Pembuka Mulut). However, some families may demand more, but each to their own.

Below is a list of what my family requested from hubs as a guide:

1. Mas Kahwin (BND$350)

2. Belanja Hangus (BND$6000)

3. Cincin Kahwin (Wedding ring)

4. Cincin Pembuka Mulut and BND$100

5. Cincin Tanda Bertunang and BND$150

6. Al-Quran

7. Jong Sarat

The amount for your Mas Kahwin depends on the stipulation by the Religious Office, but it seldom fluctuates more or less than the amount above.

On the other hand, the amount of your Belanja Hangus is entirely up to you, but it is wise to not ask for too much from the groom. This is, after all, what you will spend on when you start your new life as newlyweds. There are many incidences out there where the bride’s family attempted to extort tens of thousands of dollars from the poor groom to be used to pay for the extravagant wedding events, and he ended up cancelling everything as he was unable to have the said amount in time for their solemnisation. So, ladies, please have mercy on your future husbands!

To finalise:

– Set a date for the Merisik agreed by both sides so that the bride’s family can prepare their conditions and such

– Have possible dates for your other events (engagement, solemnisation and reception just to name the common ones done) ready so both sides can discuss and agree on certain dates during the Merisik

– These dates are important; changing them in the last minute will affect most factors such as the venue, catering and invitations

– Print and have the list of wedding conditions in a see-through folder, or have them decorated and framed

– Make sure you have enough time to prepare for the wedding–you wouldn’t want to have them too far ahead i.e. in four or five years because believe me, unforeseeable things can happen and ruin your beautiful pursuit of matrimony. 

That is all for Part 1!

Do check back soon for the next part.

Good luck, and congratulations, bride-to-bes! 😀

Love, 

Lizzy