Missing the simple joys of dining outside, Tammy Lim has found her way to cope with being indoors every day
At the start of the first Movement Control Order (MCO), she wondered how she could recreate the same outdoor dining experience in her small studio unit in Damansara.
"I can't build a restaurant that's for sure but how can I enjoy eating again, breaking away from the mundane day in, day out meals that are slowly becoming depressing," she asked herself.
From there, she decided to transform her tiny balcony into a cosy space, whether it's to have a picnic, barbecue, or hot pot session, or to just de-stress and enjoy some fresh air
"At first, it was simple, just meals I have while enjoying the view. Then I toyed with decorative items I have at home, such as plants, tiny umbrellas, napkins, and cute utensils."
"The tipping point is when I set up my sunset mookata experience and showed my fiance who's in Ireland right now. What I have done and how I am about to romance myself – without him."
It took her by surprise. What started as a way to make herself feel better about the current situation received praise from her friends and followers, shares Lim, who also has a full-time job as the head of Creative Communications at K-beauty company, Althea Korea.
To create the whole experience, she shares that it costs her more or less the same as dining outside
"If I DIY myself, [it costs] roughly RM20 to RM30 to have mookata on my balcony. This covers the ingredients such as meat, fish, and vegs."
"When I feel fancy (to indulge myself), I could order online and have it delivered by the restaurant. They have ready-made mookata/hot pot/BBQ sets available. Might cost more to enjoy the variety and it's hassle-free since everything is slice and dice, ready for you."
"Because I stay on a high-rise floor, I don't get mosquitoes coming at me as their meal LOL."
If there are any annoying mosquitoes around during the rainy season, she uses a trick she learnt from a Balinese spa manager, by "diffusing or spraying strong-smelling herbs such as eucalyptus, lemongrass, or pandan leaves, as mosquitoes hate the scent!"
Aside from a lack of mosquitoes, she adds that the best thing about living in a high-rise unit is the view.
"[It] lets me imagine I stay in a much bigger space (like a bungalow)."
If you live in a small home and want to make it cosier, Lim has a few tips
"During MCO, I started decluttering my home to get rid of things that don't spark joy anymore (thanks Marie Kondo!). Visual clutter, unwanted items just growing in the shadows were getting in the way of my zen."
Her advice? Start small.
"Do research online for the best deals and items you need. Get reference and inspiration boards from Google. See what you like and what you don't. Start from a section or area at home. From there, you'll get more inspiration on how you want to personalise or make it even cosier."
"I find installing wooden flooring slats make all the difference, before and after on my balcony (trust me and they're super easy). Start small and work your way up or around. Don't get stressed, just enjoy the process of transformation."
Lim, who's also a plant enthusiast, proves that you don't need a huge home to create a cosy space. Just look at how gorgeous her balcony is!
For those who are bored at home right now, she discourages dining in the usual places like the kitchen just to spice things up slightly for yourself or your family
"Besides hot pot/BBQ, you can also set up a garden picnic on your balcony. Pretend you're at a resort, in Bali, or a hip urban setting. Imagination does help in making the home or your dining experience an adventure waiting to happen."
"I have also toyed with the idea of soaking in a nice bubble bath on my balcony and reading a good book while being surrounded by candles and good music. That would be so awesome!"
Staying indoors for a prolonged period of time may be mentally stressful for some. She suggests trying to break away from that by doing something different at home and treating yourself.
"[Change] things up, declutter, [and] clean... Stay safe everyone, we can survive this!"