Enhancing your home and health in this pandemic

A house that smells nice and fresh, and looks bright and cheerful, certainly helps to lower stress levels these days. Fun-filled activities as well as nourishing food and drinks keep us in good shape, mentally and physically. The EMCO in certain parts of Selangor may have ended but people will still be cautious as Covid-19 variants are active. The pressure inflicted by Covid-19 on our livelihood, studies and relationships, can cause tempers to flare; continuously cooped up in the house makes us edgy, with tensions often accompanied by body aches and strains as well as restless sleep. We need a better home environment to help lift our spirits, enable us to live healthily and harmoniously together while  also supporting the works of struggling artisans and small businesses. During the lockdown, we cannot go for spa or massage therapy but using pleasant scents can also help us calm down and feel refreshed all day long.

On The Artisans Haven, Art Kraft offers handmade aroma stones using preserved roses; essential oils like lavender, rose and cinnamon, can be dropped onto the unglazed stone which will diffuse the fragrance all round the room. While lavender and rose are known for their soothing and calming effect, the sweet and warm smell of cinnamon helps in concentration and memory, says Ada Koh of Art Kraft.

Calming scents with floral notes from Candle Pit Stop help us feel refreshed the whole day; the scented candles can be placed indoors, outdoors or on the balcony and can also nr used for candlelight dinners at home. For destressing, there are White Jasmine and Myrhh as well as Lavender and Geranium, the scent of English tea rose helps to bring positivity to the room, says Julia Jules Wan of Candle Pit Stop. The zesty smell of grapefruit in Fresh Linen – a blend of grapefruit and sea salt sage – reminds us of clean sheets, while Orchid and Honeysuckle, Cucumber Tonic and Green Tea & Minty Eucalyptus clear the air and remove stale smells. Brightening up the mood at Candle Pit Stop, are quips such as ‘daily mantra of a worker’ is ‘’I PROMISE to never listen to that voice scream ‘go ahead, punch your boss’.

From Ogawa, the Bio Breeze or ‘breeze in the air’ releases micro-fine mist that increases the moisture level and cool air; as a diffuser, it can be placed on our work table, with a few drops of scent placed onto it. “Currently, products with anti-virus and anti-bacterial technology are very popular,’’ says Chong Soon Kean, corporate marketing manager of Ogawa. The Ozonator anti-bacterial sanitizing spray, based on a reuse- and-refill (with water) concept, can be sprayed on multiple surfaces and also helps to eliminate bad odours. Meanwhile, the Germagic Air Purifier has multiple defense layers and a purification process to kill virus and bacteria.

Get positive energy from crystals at Stonedale Crystals; crystals balance out the different vibrations among the occupants in the house, making them feel healthy and relaxed, says Wendy Siew of Stonedale Crystals. The Emerald crystal encourages friendship, improves communication while it connects to the heart, and brings inner strength to the person. A white Satin Spar lamp helps to cleanse the environment and transmute negative energy to positive. Wendy relates the story of a young child who couldn’t sleep as he kept hearing noises at the window; his Mom placed a Satin Spar lamp in his room and he could sleep soundly after that. Green calcites can be placed close to the space where you often spend your time, to help you relax and promote a balanced emotional state of mind. Citrines attract vibrations of joy and vitality; you will not only grow in positive thinking but also in your ability to attract abundance.

Artificial latex-coated flowers from The Orkids can boost the home which helping to improve productivity; the material is lifelike with a real touch that is very realistic in look and feel. “The orchids are factory made but arranged by me; customers like them as they are maintenance free and ‘bloom’ all year round,’’ says Nazirah. Slender and elegant, the cymbidium orchids come in two colours – peach and maroon.

Finely wrought wire art from Beautiful Gate Foundation (BGF) for the Disabled, can be placed to beautify shelves and corners of the room while a set of the musical instruments in wire art adds a delightful touch to this meaningful purchase. Wire art keychains from BGF look artistic and delicate; keys that are hung up on wire art take on a decorative look. The talented members at BGF have also come up with floral arrangements that can grace cosy corners of the home. “This beautiful craft is fully handmade by our disabled members. We hope they will help to brighten your home and heart especially during this pandemic,’’ says Ivy Pua, acting executive director of BGF.

At SengHup Lighting, the essence of lighting comes alive with vintage lamps that remind us of good times during childhood and the bonding among families. For a contemporary feel, modern studio table and floor lamps help us to enjoy moments spent with our families, says Robert Ng, marketing manager of SengHup Lighting. Modern pendant lights vibrate with life and energy, putting us in the mood to look towards a bright future.

Flooring is a significant element in the redesign and interior decoration of the house; SF Floor Mart finds that customers like carpet tiles which are squares cut from wall to wall rolls. Carpet tiles come in many designs which offer warmth and comfort to the room while minimizing wastage during installation. One of the latest trends in home flooring is stone plastic composite (SPC) flooring that is water-proof and durable - the planks of flooring easily click together, eliminating the need for nails, screws or glue. The 3mm glue-down vinyl tiles are also popular; these floor tiles are all water-proof, anti-termite and anti-slip, durable and economical to instal, says T.Y. Yong of SF Floor Mart.

Magic frames from Asian Esteem Industrial can enhance pictures of sentimental value, reminding us of places of beauty, moments of joy, teamwork and achievement. Two new frame designs - round gold leaves on a frame that is also known as ‘Rolex’ and hand-gilded gold leaves – lend a classic beauty to your pictures. Besides framing photos, those who are good at drawing, knitting, quilting or origami can also frame up their work and add an original touch to their homes, says B.K. Ng of Asian Esteem Industrial. Asian Esteem offers a wide selection of wooden frames.with consultation/advice on the right frame for the art piece, as the thicker the piece, the deeper is the depth required. ‘Puzzle in the Frame’ is another idea, where a picture is cut into different pieces that are framed, making it look like a puzzle.

While staying put in the house, stock up with drinks that help us to relax, stay healthy and hydrated especially for those who are as working and talking over Zoom. Fine floral and sweet in taste, organic lavender flowers tea from the new SonnentoR of Austria and sold by Tifolife, has a calming effect, with a harmonious and comfort feel. “If lavender could speak, it would probably let us into the secret of ‘strength in peace,’’’ says Zairol Hasri Mohamad Akhir of Tifolife (Tea For Lifetime), quoting from SonnentoR, an organic herbs and spices specialist. “This is the time we have to live healthily, boost our immune system by drinking herb teas and consuming good honey like Manuka Honey,’’ says Zairol who sells five brands of imported teas and traditional medicines. Chamomile and lavender tea from Traditional Medicinals of USA is a gentle, aromatic tea that helps to calm frazzled nerves and ease tension, which may run high in this pandemic.

Ginger tea from ginger powder and dried ginger slices sold by MamaGinger Powders helps to improve our immunity and metabolism. “Ginger can lower blood pressure and improve blood circulation, while taking candied ginger as your tidbit can aid in weight loss,’’ says Khoo Boo Thiam of MamaGinger Powders. The pure ginger slices can be eaten sweet, savoury or plain,  and used in cooking or baking ginger cookies.

Agape ready-to-drink birds nest drink from POSH helps to boost immunity, improves the functions of the lungs and relieves respiratory ailments while aiding recovery from chronic illness. It is a concentrated drink and sometimes comes with honey. Paired with premium Musang King durians, this bird’s nest drink helps us to cool down after a feast of durians. “Most people like durians, so we’re trying to promote durians and bird’s nest drink in one set,’’ says Sereen Eng of POSH.

During this ongoing pandemic, it is also important to take good quality honey regularly and in moderate portions, says Jessie Yeoh Ting Ting of some.ting.sweet. While staying at home, we should replace the use of refined sugar with natural raw honey as a sweetener in daily cooking, baking and in beverages. Besides strengthening our immune system, honey boosts memory and helps to improve sleep quality; this multifloral honey comes from a farm in East Java and the species of honey bee is called the Apis Mellifera, known for its ability to produce honey.

Staying at home need not be boring; we can enjoy music, dance and drama online now. It has been proven that expressing ourselves through the performing arts can help to reduce stress levels; singing aloud and dancing to music helps us relax and recharge our positive energies. Performing arts training center Enfiniti Academy offers regular performing arts classes with private coaching, as well as drama-based corporate training and individual sessions with private coaching in soft skills for presentations, says Joanna Bessey, head of Enfiniti Academy. Scholarship student Amir Izwan found that ‘joining Enfiniti Academy during this time of lockdown had helped me keep motivated, while I also got to meet new people and expand my network.’ Amir was sponsored by The Artisans Haven for a three-month program in the basics of acting. Musical theatre for Young People (ages 8-16) covers singing, acting taught by Joanna Bessey and singer-actress Tria AzizYou can learn or brush up your performing arts skills through the performing arts certificate modules that cover introduction to theatre, basics of acting, basics of dance & movement, basics of voice and business in performing arts. The unique, drama-based corporate training program at Enfiniti PLAY! helps to boost confidence, improve team relationships and upskill communication and presentation skills. Having received good feedback, Enfiniti Academy is still running the Highly Immersive Program (H.I.P.) that teaches English through speech and drama techniques to underprivileged youth. To reach out to schools in need, sponsors - either a corporation or a participating school – are invited for this program.

Online buskers on The Artisans Haven, The Albabs are playing happy songs with easy listening and comforting lyrics as in the beginning of Dance Monkey: ‘They say oh my God I see the way you shine. Take your hand, my dear, and place them both in mine’. Other songs for easy listening by The Albabs include Bila Larut Malam, Memories, The Albabs Live from Serdang, Tamally Ma’aak, Don’t Know Why o.a. Norah Jones and DiPintu Syurga o.a. Dayang Nurfaizah. The Albabs comprise Syed (vocal and guitar), Liz (vocal) and Bob (guitar, bass and percussion).

Creating a comfortable ambience at home is important. With the portable Marshall Stockwell, we can tune to bass and treble according to the desired effect; reducing some bass and playing acoustic songs helps to bring about a nice environment during dining and leisure moments with the family, says Alfred Khoo of Maudire. The portable Marshall can act as a mini cinema, connecting us to Netflix. Usage of headphones and earphones can help us cut off noise in a confined space where a few people working or studying together. With its big ear cusp cushion, the Nokia E100 Dynamic Bass headphone keeps us comfortable through long hours of usage; it has a built-in microphone and can be used for watching movies, listening to songs and even for meetings. The Nokia True Wireless AN.C. has an active noise cancellation function and provides crystal clear audio during communication with its six-microphone system. It is worthwhile to invest in these artisan products for some fun and enjoyment at home, as people will not be venturing out too much for the time being.

Happy shopping.

By Yap Leng Kuen, Chief Storyteller, The Artisans Haven


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