Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Let's Go Out With a Bang! (and a Few Tears)

Happy Last-Day-of-the-Year, everyone! 2014 seriously flew by! Was it not yesterday that I wrote this review of 2013? There have been huge changes going on this year: they mostly suck but in a blessing-in-disguise kind of way so I'm not sure how to feel about them just yet. This year felt absolutely like a dream, as if I spent the whole year sleeping and whatever has happened would unwind itself and I would be back where I started. Major things happened this year and it has been incredibly surreal. Sadly, no, this is all real. 

January

The year started with a bang. New Year's was celebrated with cheers at Dendi and Zizi's house. Firu and I celebrated it together again, obviously. But we didn't celebrate it with our closest friends as usual. This should have been a warning for me that life as I knew it was going to change. It was such a blast, literally, and the night went on and on. The guest-posting bonanza continued on this little ol' blog with my sister Akita and Alexandra of Into the Woods. Also, won myself 3 giveaways before the year barely started - one of them from ModCloth! And did my first ever blog survey.

February

Almost zero activity on the blog this month. What a miracle! Started working on my portfolio to apply to the local art school in Kassel. I worked my ass off for it. You can see it here. To be honest, I felt absolutely pressured as well as uncreative about the whole process and - in hindsight - could totally see why I wasn't accepted (SPOILER ALERT!). Although, I don't regret ever going through this phase. I ended up learning a lot about my style, new techniques and softwares and other people's perspectives - more on this on the coming months below.

March

Did I mention that last month also lacks social interactions? Yep, very much so. This was around the time I got absolutely fed up with drawing all the time. Although I love to draw, when I feel uninspired or under pressure, it's still a daunting task. I usually refresh my mind by reading tons of books - recaps here and here. When that doesn't work - because I was in dire need of human contact - I went on an impromptu trip to Fulda with my roommate Adit. Also, went to Firu's for a week around the middle of the month. Saku-chan asked me to go on (my first ever) Hanami with her and her boyfriend Arnaud. Adit also came along and it was so blissful!

April

April was huge in a subtle way. First off, I did my first ever collaboration with ModCloth. Yep, they contacted me! I hope this will only be the first to tons more to come. This was the month I was super focused and busy trying to complete my very first illustrated book - more like a booklet, really. It's an Indonesian Childhood Games Handbook. If you're not Indonesian - or if you are - and you want to know more about this, I really suggest you read it. It's only 24 pages long. Thank you to Frau Köwing who helped me out immensely! However, I still managed to create a YouTube account and uploaded my first video on this month too.

May

Afterwards comes the Japanese invasion. Japantag was among us and Firu and I had to go there again. I was originally thinking of wearing my yukata there but...let's be real! Instead, I did a cultural outfit post where I wore it for the first time. This year, we managed to go see the Japanese make-believe temple in Düsseldorf. It wasn't quite what we expected but it was nice to take a look around. If that wasn't enough of an invasion, I did a "Little Japan" guest post over on my sister's blog. This was the month I lost my appetite for the second time - the first being around February - and had to cope with the idea of going home to Indonesia for good. Still coping, to be honest.

June

June was such a surreal month. First off, the days went idly by and I was in a limbo. Obviously, still coping. I wrote a post, telling people the reason why I went back, which is more for myself than for anyone else. The support from you guys IRL and online - especially from my family and best friends - were so overwhelming, I cried out of gratefulness. From idle days, the tables turned to traveling over the boundaries. After a year's absence, I finally went abroad again. Destination: Brussels, Belgium - the art nouveau capital. This time only Iva, Firu and I went - as Wilson was no longer in Germany. While we were away, a huge storm hit North Rhine Westphalia this month and it wreaked havoc upon the country. It was unsettling to see an orderly country such as Germany going AWOL.

July

July means a lot of things! First off, it's Firu's birthday which we celebrated together. I actually made him these Cherry Cream Cheese Cupcakes - which is a modification of this recipe by Anna Saccone. It was the best! Secondly, it was our fourth anniversary. Wow, can you believe we've been together for over four years now? This year, though, July gave me fevers which come and go and renders me without motivation to do anything. I thought it was the heat, although I should have known it was mostly the badly ventilated room that I was living in. In Hindsight, I should have sued the landlady but I'm just too pooped to do anything about it. By the end of the month, I moved out of Kassel to stay for a month at Firu's place. Adieu, Kassel! May we meet again.

August

Last month in Germany! Oh God, this is super emotional. I thought of thousands of ways to go, because I actually had a choice on how to spend it. I ended up with spending it mostly with my favourite people in the country: Iva and Firu. After getting my stuff somewhat settled at Firu's, I went to Iva's place in Stuttgart and spent a week with her. Read all about my adventures with her here. Along the way, I got to see Kynann - my closest guy friend and "brother" - and go to a German amusement park. Before Firu and I departed to Indonesia, we went on a one-night trip to Hamburg, which I'd never been to but always admired. It was super windy! But it was so memorable. Afterwards, my sister and I were reunited again.

September

September started with a shocking but calming diagnosis. It was kind of funny how I'd been short of breath and my lower chest had been aching - I even fainted - and I'd never thought I was sick. I started treatment right away. That didn't keep me from hanging out with my old friends and visiting events, such as Localfest 2014. It was so mind-blowing to be introduced to some awesome local brands. Also, I tried making couple rag dolls for myself and Firu. It wasn't the best but I'm super proud of myself. Firu stayed for five weeks in Indonesia and this was the last month we got to spend together before our LDR began. What fun!

October

After 3 years with the same glasses, this month I got a new pair. It's like nothing I've ever got before and I super love it! It was a refreshing change because my prescription got worse. Oops! This month I got to attend the first wedding of my friends' Dendi and Zizi. It was rather special because I know both of them and I got to see some old friends from Germany. A week afterwards, on my birthday, I got to attend my cousin's wedding. So yeah, a month of weddings, apparently. Anyway, the latter was my first opportunity to visit Kudus, which I somehow just fell in love with. By the end, I gave my blog a spooky makeover.

November

November was TBC-awareness month for me. It was the month I went into my first ever surgery. Man, nobody ever told me that post-op would be a bitch. On the blog, I shared more infos about Tuberculosis because there are so many misconceptions around this topic. Please do read it if you haven't already! Better safe than sorry. It was also the month I attended Pasar Seni ITB for the first time with my best friends. Being able to get reunited with these lovely souls brightens my days from then on. The event in itself wasn't the best but I had so much fun with the best people, so why not? To wrap up the month, I uploaded my first lookbook video on YouTube.

December

The first day of December I got my second surgery. Yep, it was all super impromptu but I suffered less this time, thank God. That same week, my best friend Gina and I attended Uli's brother's wedding and had an absolute blast! It was the best wedding I went to this year. This month I was going for a bit of a theme on the blog: recipe month! I'm not the best in the kitchen but this was a lot of fun. I attempted to bring back the guest-blogging bonanza this year and make it an annual thing. Please click here to read the posts so far. 

If last year was a wake up call, this year felt a whole lot like a dream. None of the routines of the past years made it to this year, it seems. The only sure thing I had was this blog, which I continued to write - although quite sporadically on some months. It was a whirlwind of firsts: first time wearing a yukata, first time visiting a Japanese temple, first time making a vlog, first time getting a surgery and first time attending a friend's wedding. I find myself waiting to wake up and go back where I started - in Firu's arms in Germany, having a steady enough life and not wondering where I was going. But I know that won't happen. Let's see how we did:
  1. Find a different source of income (preferably a job) 
  2. Open an (online) print store 
  3. Obviously, stay in a loving relationship with Firu 
  4. Experiment more in the kitchen 
  5. Be happy 
Not so convincing now, is it? To be honest, I'm still looking for a job. I applied to a couple places and am still trying to get this blog monetised. So, if you guys have some tips, please do share along. I'm so dense about these things. If you don't already know, Alive as Always is also on Society6, where you can grab my prints and merchandise. Still in a super loving relationship with Firu, obviously. We're starting a long-distance relationship this year and I'm still struggling but we're doing great so far. As I've mentioned before, I did a recipe-themed month earlier and it has been a great way to experiment. Plus, I've been helping out a lot in the kitchen lately. Now, with the being happy thing. I don't know if I'm really happy but I feel like life is good lately, despite whatever's been happening to me recently. Time for new resolutions:
  1. Finally monetise the blog and improve my networking
  2. Go to Japan, one way or another
  3. Draw everyday (if not possible, at least once every week)
  4. Keep strong on being in a long-distance relationship with Firu 
  5. Be open to changes (and keep a positive attitude)

After this past two years, I feel like whatever 2015 has to offer, I'm ready. Tell me what your resolutions are!

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Monday, 29 December 2014

Guest Post: Sophie of Cellar of Dreams


Hello!

I'm very excited that Bivi asked me to be one of her guest bloggers! My name is Sophie and I run Cellar of Dreams, which is a blog about fashion and sewing. Fashion has always been important to me, even if I haven't always been particularly fashionable (I had a camouflage pants phase). I never really know how to describe my style; I like mixing vintage and modern but I also wear a lot of outfits that fit neither of these categories. I love dresses and knee socks and anything striped, but I'm very open to different styles and pieces.


Today I thought I would share a simple holiday outfit.

I always associate red velvet with the holidays, even if this isn't a very Christmas-themed outfit. I don’t own much velvet although my uncle gave me loads of velvet fabric to work with. I'm always jealous of all of the festive velvet holiday dresses that they make for little girls and I’m tempted to try to replicate them. This is a very uneven looking dress was my first attempt at sewing clothing and I am glad to say I have gotten a little bit better since then. For one thing I now have a sewing machine and I don't painstakingly hand sew each stitch. I can only wear this dress with sweaters over it because the back - and really just the top in general - is pretty messy looking. I think the dress looks okay with the sweater cover-up as long you don't look at the back of the skirt where an unsightly seam lays. Sewing clothing has become something that I greatly enjoy. Often it’s frustrating and tedious but there’s nothing quite like receiving a compliment on an article of clothing and getting to tell that person that you made it yourself. Plus you never run into anyone wearing the same thing as you.

I’ve been trying to get into the Christmas mood with my wardrobe but I don’t own a lot of holiday-themed clothing. I try to limit that kind of stuff in my wardrobe since I like to be able to work my clothing into every season. If I’m ever shopping for a holiday outfit I like to buy red dresses or velvet tops so that I don’t have a lot of clothing that can only be worn during one month of the year. I don’t even own any Christmas sweaters, although my mother has quite a few to spare so I can always raid her closet if I have a desperate need to wear one.

Colorado usually gets a lot of snow by now but it's only snowed maybe two times. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a very not white Christmas. It’s pretty but I’ll take good driving conditions over a winter wonderland any day.


Outfit Details: 
Sweater - Forever 21 
Socks - ebay 
Dress - handmade 
Shoes – Ollio

Anyway, thanks for reading. I hope everyone’s holidays are well!

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Guest Post: Stevia of The Sweetest Escape

Bali, Jan 2014

Hello! My name is Stevia and I usually blog at The Sweetest Escape . Bivi was kind enough to let me blog here so thanks Bivi! It's the holiday season and I'm sure you all have plans to escape somewhere fun. Here are a few tips from my own experience to have a memorable trip. In this post I'm not going to lecture you about the importance of bringing a copy of your travel documents or to always, always stash extra cash, it's more like mantras to keep in mind when you're traveling.

En route to Switzerland, May 2014

Say Yes


I have a habit of avoiding new things but it's a holiday and you're in this new adventure so just be adventureous. I'm not saying "say yes to jump off a cliff to a rocky sea" when you can't swim, but just say yes to things like trying out sketchy local food or take the longer route to your destination.

Cinque Terre, May 2014

Spend The Money


Let's face it, when you're traveling, you have to spend money. My dad always says, if you want to have fun on your vacation, just spend the money. You can get more money after you finish your holiday, but you will regret not getting into a museum because you think the entrance fee is outrageous. Go order that in-flight meal, pay the extra money for the front seat in a theatre, get that chef's special menu that you always want to try... Just make sure you don't spend ALL your money!

Jerusalem, Sept 2014

Get Enough Rest


I know it's difficult to do especially when you're traveling with a tour but I really don't suggest to stay awake all night doing a heart to heart talk with your friend/sister. Lack of sleep always makes me lightheaded and cranky. Plus, it makes you prone to sickness.

Borobudur, July 2013

Stay Positive


Traveling with my mom is difficult because she's a worrier and she vents it out on me, the only one who has to listen. (She's always tired no matter how many sleep she gets or how much she eats. She has no interest in walking around taking in the beauty. The only thing that will make her happy is a mall or a gift shop.). And then there's my sister who always stays positive and cheerful no matter how tired or how busy she is. So, of course, my sister is a much better travel companion. So keep in mind when you're exhausted but you still want to check out that sunset that requires 300 stairs down to the beach, just stay positive and focus on the gorgeous sunset you're going to see

Melbourne, Jan 2013

Just Enjoy It – whatever “it” is


On my last trip to Israel, I traveled with my aunt. She's a very bubbly person, very chatty, and funny. She has this great mantra that she keeps telling everyone on the tour to “just enjoy it”. You have to live in the moment, that moment where you get your lunch at 3 PM (while breakfast was 7AM) because your bus tour gets lost? Just enjoy it. Who knows when will be the next time you get to eat Morrocan food at 3PM in the middle of the dessert with your big family? Or when you have to climb a mountain in the middle of the night with a pitch black night and the camel smells so bad you want to throw up? Just enjoy it. And I have that mantra imprinted in my head that when I was climbing Mount Sinai, I was able to enjoy the beautiful sky with the scattered stars like sand and the chilling air that bites my nose. Lord knows, I will NOT be on that moment again. Perhaps never...but never say never right?

Japan, May 2013

I do hope in this holiday season you enjoy your vacation and keep these five tips in your mind.

Happy Holiday!
Stevia

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Takoyaki (Japanese Octopus Balls) ♥

Hi, guys! This month there will be a theme going around on the blog. December is cooking month! So from now on, every week, I'm going to introduce a recipe to all of you. As you know, I'm not much of a cook so this is something totally new to me. Some of the recipes might be quite traditional and some of them are just cooking-hacks as opposed to recipes. Either way, I hope you enjoy them! 

I believe most of you already know of this tasty dish. If you don't, where have you been living?! It's the tastiest snack of all time! Okay, let me just explain. takoyaki is an essential snack in Japanese summer festivals. It's a dough ball filled with octopus, traditionally. They also come with surimi (crab sticks), chicken or whatever else you want to substitute the octopus with. The octopus is yummy, though! Yes, that makes this delicacy typical for summer and not, you know, Christmas. But before I went to Germany, I used to make this almost everyday and I can't wait to share the recipe with you.

Before you start, make sure you have this kind of pan + a skewer or some satay sticks
Ingredients 
  • 200 gr all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 500 ml warm milk
  • 30 gr butter, melted
  • 100 gr octopus
  • 10 gr pickled red ginger
  • 3 leeks
  • Mayonaise, to taste
  • Tonkatsu sauce, to taste
  • Katsuobushi or Hana Katsuo (bonito flakes), to taste
  • Aonori (green laver), to taste

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl well. Then make a hole in the middle and crack the eggs into the hole.
  2. Add the warm milk little by little while mixing all the ingredients well
  3. Add the melted butter into the mixture and mix well
  4. Let the mixture sit for 15-20 minutes
  5. Dice the octopus and leeks (1cm thick) and slice the red ginger
  6. After you let the mixture sit, heat the pan and line the holes with butter
  7. Stir the mixture before pouring it into the hole. Make sure you fill only 2/3 of each hole.
  8. Add the octopus, ginger and leeks into each hole
  9. Feel the edges of the mixture in each hole with a skewer or bamboo sticks and turn each dough over. Make sure you do this before the bottom part is fully cooked
  10. Let the dough sit on the pan for a while before turning them over again and they turn golden and hard on the outside
  11. After removing the octopus balls from the pan, line them up on a plate and squirt the mayonaise and tonkatsu sauce over them
  12. Sprinkle the aonori on top of the sauce and add the katsuobushi on top of that
  13. Devour with tooth picks and enjoy!

Tips: Do not forget to warm the milk, cold milk could prevent the dough from rising. I wouldn't recommend using white ginger, the taste is significantly different. I should stress that you'd need bamboo sticks or maybe skewers. Do not attempt to do this with forks or knives! It wouldn't work! Plus, it's so much easier with bamboo sticks. If you don't have or can't find aonori, you can just cut up regular nori (this is what I did), they are basically the same, just different in size. The same goes with katsuobushi and hana katsuo, they're only size-wise different. But cutting wouldn't be of any help to you here. Lass euch schmecken!

That's the end of my recipe this month. It has been such a fun month! I don't think I've ever creatively cooked so much. Thank you so much for all the responses. I hope you get to try one of these sometime. If you do, please let me know! See you next year!

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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

That's All, Folks!

Since I've started wearing glasses in the 3rd grade - so I was about eight - I have never owned a pair of sunglasses. You might think, "What? You're wearing one here!" But those were my sister's, for one, and didn't have prescription lenses, for another. I don't know why I never bought a pair myself but I ended up surviving without sunglasses for 14 years, except for the fact that my last glasses' lenses turned dark when the sun comes out. So when Rosalinda of Nine in the Afternoon and Polette hosted a giveaway together last month, I didn't think twice in entering it. And - guess what? - I won! Say hello to my first ever prescription sunglasses! I really love the pointed tips of the frame. I love how it's like cat sunglasses yet not as quirky so I can still ease into the whole sunglasses-wearing process - since I'm not used to it yet. It's so different from anything I've ever owned and I absolutely love it! Thank you, Polette and Rosalinda, for the giveaway!

Vero Moda dress (thrifted) // Cotton On cardigan (Sis's) // C&A hat // Céline purse // Primark socks (secondhand) // vintage loafers

As the end of the year is approaching, this is my sign-off post. After this, there will be another recipe post then the guest bloggers will come to fill in for me and I will wrap up the year with my annual review post. This year feels absolutely surreal, both in real life and on the blog. I feel like I have made so many friends and I'm so happy to have you guys around. All your love and support, they feel great! Keep them coming! Right now, I'm already planning up some new ideas for the blog next year. I'm so excited to share them with you guys soon. In the meantime, please enjoy the next few posts by some of my favourite blogger friends! That's all from me, folks! Merry Christmas to all who celebrate and see you next year!


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