Monday, 29 June 2015

Mix It Up a Notch: Novelty Print Top

One thing you should know about me sartorially is that I love patterns! Novelty prints? Yes, please. When a clothing item comes with quirky repeats in my favourite colours, what's not to love? That's exactly how I felt when I stumbled upon this adorable and unique top from N.y.L.a. It was like love at first sight - I just knew I had to have it! Even though the structure is so unfamiliar to me, I learnt to love it in a heartbeat. The baggy form makes it compatible for whatever body condition I have at the moment - since you know I've gone from being too skinny to be healthy to so overweight I'm pushing to obese. Also, despite the quite crazy prints, the neutral colours and subtle shading makes it quite versatile to be paired with any other colours - yellow, purple, green, navy, brown, tan - and bottoms - skirts, shorts, pants. Definitely something I'll wear more often. Click each photo to go to their respective post!

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Saturday, 27 June 2015

Romantics + Chocolate

 Pipiltin Cocoa Barito

Since the beginning of this year, it feels like I've started to acquire this new hobby of mural chasing all over town. Fortunately, these murals are located in restaurants or cafés, so I can sit down and take my time with the photo-taking. Unfortunately, these are public places so people will most likely stare. Anyway, the other day, I had the chance to hang out and be reunited with a high school friend, Vanessa - no, she hasn't been on the blog before and yes, I mentioned countless times how much I hated high school, but she's not part of the reason why. We went out to this beautiful restaurant and café called Pipiltin Cocoa in Barito, South Jakarta. The scent of chocolate welcomed us on the way in and we quickly picked a seat right in front of the mural. The place was magnificent with enough huge windows and adorable recycled glass in the floor. Vanessa ordered the Ultimate Beef Burger while I opted for the Tagliatelle Mushroom. We came at happy hour so we each got free beverages with our meal - Iced Apple Tea Caramel for Vanessa, Iced Tea with Lemon Sorbet for me. She then ordered Freezheece for dessert, which is vanilla ice cream, seasalt, strawberry sorbet and four kinds of cheeses. The taste overall wasn't the best, to be honest, but, to be fair, the place is famous for their chocolate and we didn't order any.

Thrifted denim jacket + sandals // thrifted dress via Pineneedle Collective // photos of me by Vanessa

Now, about Vanessa: she is probably the only hopeless romantic I've ever known. As two silly, hopeless romantics in long-term relationships - albeit very different ones, obviously - we have so many things in common. I've always enjoyed chatting with this girl, even when I was living abroad. I finally had a friend to talk about all these little sweet moments between me and Firu, between me and his family and other romantic happenstances. Funnily enough, we never had the chance to hang out just the two of us. I guess, it's always because we seemed to hang around very different circles, despite our common interests. Until on this day, when we went out just the two of us - with no particular reason but to catch up - and it felt so good. There was a time when I thought I wasn't good with one-on-one interactions, but I think that's mostly because I'm always so passive in group hangouts. Now I feel like it's the best thing ever! It's gives us a chance to really open each other up and share our deepest thoughts - although, obviously, it can only be done with someone we're comfortable with, at least to some degree. Everyone needs quality time like this every now and then.

P.S: This dress almost doesn't fit me anymore and the outfit looks like this one. Enough said.

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Thursday, 25 June 2015

Lessons Learnt: Traveling

There are certain things in life we learn from doing and certain things we learn from other people's experience. Unlike school subjects or college classes, the topics of these lessons aren't specifically disclosed. You have to know which lesson to learn and which wisdom to take out of it all. One of the things you can do to become a successful person in life is to acknowledge the lessons you've learnt and, if possible, share them with other people. Sharing knowledge, as opposed to popular belief, can actually make you smarter, wiser and a better person. Plus, it can be so much fun! Here's to lessons learnt and me sharing them with you.

Traveling has always been one of my passions. Going to an unknown place, discovering new cultures and meeting new people intrigue me so much. Dare I say it's how I spend 80% of my time when I lived in Germany. If you don't believe me, you could always see it for yourself. Obviously, traveling isn't always as glamorous as all the photos portray, it takes a lot of planning, a lot of financing and a lot of patient. Especially when you're going somewhere you've never even heard of or don't speak the native language. Despite what you might think, traveling can be quite stressful - as is with most activity outside your comfort zone. But there are obviously ways to deal with these conflicts peacefully. And this is what I've learnt.

Come Prepared

Always, always, always make sure you know your way around everything you plan to do. Check all the opening hours to the landmarks you’d like to visit, see the price list to all the tickets you'd require, download the maps to all the places you’d like to explore, learn a little bit of the native language of the land and remember to watch the weather of your destination. This way you’d be able to plan everything out and have the best time during your travel. Little tip: in Europe most museums close on Mondays for restorations and inspections. Also, bring all the supplies you’d need (toiletries, money, clothes, bags, etc.) and store them safely. With money, it’s always best to store them separately in little amount, in case you get robbed. That is not to say that you shouldn't leave room for improv, of course.

Bargain Hunt

It always pays to plan your trips far in advance. One of the reasons being the abundant availability of bargains and promotions. So always keep your eyes peeled to explore the best options for your accommodations, transport and food. Check any hotel/transport websites you know, in case they have some good offers for you. There are actually many websites devoted to offering you travel bargains, such as Trivago, Traveloka and Urlaubspiraten. If you can’t find any that suits your liking after all, you can still count on couch surfing and airbnb to give you cheaper options for lodgings. Or, you know, go to a hostel. My favourite in Europe is Meininger Hostel. They have rooms which can fit up to 10 people, which means you will probably bunk with strangers. There are also guest kitchens, bars and game rooms. It feels like staying in a college dorm minus all the alcohol stink and low hygiene.

Just Ask!

Although you probably don’t want to seem like a total tourist during your trips, you have to admit that you are. And, when you’re lost, there is no shame in asking a local to show you the right way. What if the locals are notorious for being stuck up and unfriendly to tourists? Here’s a reassuring fact: when I went to Paris, the locals were very helpful and friendly - without being asked! And if that could happen in Paris, it could happen anywhere. Give them the benefit of the doubt and ask away. Politely, of course. But every city, every nation, has their own preferences when it comes to tourists. Make sure you educate yourself on this before being all in their face. In Paris, for instance, if you first greet them in French and THEN ask them for directions (in English), they’d be more than willing to help. This also goes for asking how the ticketing system works and other information you would like to obtain. You just need to know how to get on their good side.

Damage Control

No matter how you perfectly plan something, things are just bound to go wrong. It could be a sudden change in the weather, a flat tire or even your own health. When this happens, it doesn’t help to frustrate over it. What you want to do is work around it. If you arrive hours after you’re supposed to thanks to a flat tire, just take a look at your list of places to go, see which ones you can visit now and plan tomorrow at the end of the day. If your wallet got stolen and it contains all your money and ID, calmly find out where the nearest police station is or your embassy, inform them what happened and hope it gets resolved soon. You just have to realise that some things are just out of your hands. Things sure don’t always go as planned but sometimes it could actually turn out to be for the better. 

Indulge in the Locals

First of all, I am not saying you should meet a local, flirt with them and hook up. No. What I mean is local food, local art, local language and local habits. What difference does it make if you go halfway around the world only to gorge on same old McDonald’s again? Try the local cuisine, how strange and unorthodox it may be. You might actually grow to like it. Check out the local art shows and music performances, dance to the tunes and maybe learn what they mean. Listen for the local language and maybe learn a word or two. Take the local public transport and feel even for a second how it feels to be a local, within the hustle and bustle of the metro. There's no point in traveling if all you get is some great pictures, with no real and raw experience with the culture.

There is a saying that goes, "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one chapter." Now, wouldn't you prefer to read a whole book, get into the climax and find out the ending? It's a good story, it will be worth your while. There are people who prefer to join a tour and those who prefer going all backpacker. Personally, I prefer somewhere in the middle - do a bit more planning, add a bit more budget but free to roam around aimlessly and get into the depth of the area. Plus, when you're young, there are tons of travel bargains and offers to take advantage of. For starters, in Paris, European students under 25 get into museums for free! Wouldn't that be way better than being ushered about by a guide? Obviously, as usual, if you have other tips you'd like to add, feel free to leave a comment.

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Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Reunion of the Ex-Ex-Pats

♪ Nova Scotia - Magic Man ♫

Funny, how people don't have a name for people who are no longer ex-pats. It's as if by coming back home you're free to pick up your life where you left off. As if time hadn't moved on at all. And as if whatever happened to you abroad were erased, just like that. But, if you were once an ex-pat yourself, you'd know that these things take time. There are at least 7 things that would happen to you when you get home. But no one else but those ex-pats would know what they feel like, how strange it was that you need to try hard to fit back into the life you once knew - except not really because things change all the time.  For now, I'll call us ex-ex-pats - we being me, Edwin and Wilson. You've probably read about Wilson's homecoming and mine but Edwin's story came afterwards. We actually reunited two months ago, which I recorded on instagram. But we met yet again two weeks ago when our friend Ratri came to town on vacation. It felt so nice to catch up and talk about the good ol' days. My face hurt by the end of the night, from all the laughing.

Hand-me-down varsity jacket // H&M top (thrifted) // C&A chinos // Picard backpack (old) // DF Fashion shoes

I'll be honest with you: I'm running out of clothes to wear. These days I find myself gravitating towards the same items over and over again, simply because nothing else would fit me anymore. Thankfully, these things still fit me, even if a little bit too tightly. With fasting, I've been losing a little bit of weight but I hope to lose more soon, of course. The only thing in this outfit that I don't to worry about when it comes to weight is the backpack. It used to belong to my late mother, so it's been around since I was about 10. It's real leather, with a great structure and beautiful colour. It was gifted to her, if I'm not mistaken, from someone who came home from abroad. Since then it's been over 10 years in our family and barely used by anyone, yet the condition is still top-notch and the comfort level is off the chart. It's become my favourite backpack of the moment. Do you have anything you inherited from someone and lasts a decade or more? Pray tell!

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Sunday, 21 June 2015

Let's Talk About Diamonds! | Anjolee Review

Lately, it seems like everyone around me is getting married. Not just people I happen to know, like my friends and family, but also bloggers that I happen to follow. With so many people getting married, it's not crazy for a hopeless romantic such as myself - especially when she's in her 20s and in a long-term relationship - to be swept away by all the commotion and think of her own big day. Yes, that's what happened to me. And, while I was - shall we say - pre-planning the whole thing, trying to work around budgetary and ecological obstacles, an unresolved issue surfaced: wedding rings, which usually comes with diamonds.

As you're probably aware, there are various controversies when it comes to diamonds. First off, rebel militia and terrorist groups use them to fund their illegal activities. Not only will your money be utilising murder, your diamonds will also be stained with the blood of the forced-laboured miners they "hire" - thus the nickname blood diamonds. Secondly, some third world countries exploit children to be used as miners and diamond cutters, because of their size. Needless to say, they later on suffer from severe health conditions. And, lastly, animal rights have also been violated. The primate populations are dwindling, due to poaching. But not all poaching is for sport: some hungry diamond miners with no other food sources depend on these animals to survive. [source: HowStuffWorks] It got to a point, where I just decided never to purchase diamonds.

That is, until I found out about Anjolee a while ago.

Anjolee specialises in creating beautiful jewellery using diamonds. They have a variety of earrings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants and, their specialty: wedding ring sets.  Customers can customise their designs by any metal type, any carat size, any diamond or gemstone and, obviously, size. They offer various types of designs and cuts - and you can turn them into your own unique one! The best part is, they offer their customers the ability to fit the design according to your taste and budget. Although I'm not getting married soon, when I flipped through their website, I can't help but to pick some favourites of my own (pictured below). Believe me, this is just a tip of the iceberg of all the gorgeous styles you can pick from.

EB1021 // EB1041 // EB1050 // SR84 // SR87
You also don't need to worry with Anjolee Diamonds™ since they are certified by the IGI and GIA, which means their diamonds are obtained within the Kimberly Act of 2003: Their diamonds are mined from legitimate operations, sealed in tamper resistant containers and certified to be conflict-free. Not only that, Anjolee has environmental-friendly manufacturing process. They make sure unnecessary wastes are to be avoided. All of the wastes are then filtered so only a clean discharge goes back to the environment. The remaining material is sent to refining or recycled to be used again. If you're interested in finding out more about their production process, you can read all about it here. Wouldn't you rather have this kind of jewellery to give to your significant other upon the celebration of your love for one another than some other diamonds, which may or may not be stained with blood and suffering? There's no reason why you can't celebrate your special day with everyone else joining in on the glee, including the people who makes it possible for you to acquire the bling in the first place.

And, if you don't know anything about diamonds and jewellery, no need to fret! Anjolee also provides an education centre on their website, where they talk about the 4 C's (cut, colour, carat, clarity), diamond anatomy, gemstone guide, service and care and many more in great detail. So you can contemplate what the best jewellery you can give to your loved ones before you decide to purchase. You can buy a jewellery with their birthstone on it, per se. It would score so high on the sentimental scale - and, obviously, bling scale as well.

With this many benefits, how can you resist? If you're getting married soon or you know someone who loves diamonds and gems, check out their store to see all they have to offer - and that's A LOT - and let me know in the comments which ones your favourites are!

This post is sponsored by Anjolee but all the opinions written are 100% my own

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Friday, 19 June 2015

Semarang Day 4: Stasiun Tawang

Last outfit post from our trip to Semarang from last month. Yep, it took almost a whole month to talk about this short trip. Strange how that works out, huh? On the last day, we really didn't do anything but start packing for our train trip home. It has been years since the last time we all as a family rode on a train together. Obviously, with every other trips out of town, we had to bring as much traditional and regional food as possible - both for ourselves and for our friends and colleagues. We spent the last few hours before we had to go to the train station scouring food we would want to bring back home. We arrived at the station around half an hour early. The train hadn't even arrived yet. My sister and I took this opportunity to snap some shots of my outfit inside the station. Stasiun Tawang is the biggest and second-oldest station in Semarang. It was open for public in 1868. The station has a unique way of welcoming each train that arrives there by playing our traditional music of Gambang Semarang by piano, which sounds absolutely cheery and joyful. I love the copper abundance in the structure. Old train stations, am I right?

Taman Safari tee // thrifted denim jacket // hand-me-down pants // vintage hat // Exsport slingback // DF Fashion shoes // photos by Akita & Dad

These days going out of town makes me quite reluctant to go back home; go back to Jakarta. My wanderlust is always roaring to be free. I'd really love to go to a different town sometimes soon, somewhere I haven't been before, somewhere I can discover new things. But sometimes it's important to go back to familiar places and reveal new things, explore new grounds and try new activities. I've been going out to Semarang my whole life and I never knew the places I saw on this trip. I never bothered to find out. Sometimes even Jakarta is a strange place for me. Funny, how I could honestly say I know Kassel and Karlsruhe like the back of my hand though I've lived there for a year, at most, but I can't say I know Jakarta the same way - granted, Jakarta is a huge city - even though I've been living there for practically my whole life. But I really would like to explore more and find out more about my hometown. Well, anyway, at least for now, I'm homebound.

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