Monday, 30 May 2016

Mix It Up a Notch: White Chiffon Peterpan

One of those rare basics in my wardrobe. It was originally manufactured by H&M but I thrifted it at Mädchenflohmarkt held by my uni. The item itself doesn't necessarily possess good quality but it does offer comfort and convenience. Its chiffon material is quite breezy, which makes it incredibly suitable for the warmer seasons. Since it was bought within the last few months before my departure from Germany—which just so happens to be summer—it has yet to see the colder months, so I have no idea how it would fare during autumn or winter. Its very versatile colour really helps me when I'm stumped with deciding a basic to wear with a certain 'loud' piece. And thank heavens white works with practically anything! I absolutely love the cutesy detail of the peter pan collar and the textural pattern on the collar and the line parting in the middle, turning any casual outfit into something a little playful and feminine, which is always how I roll.

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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Ethical Fashion: Stella McCartney

Who doesn't know Stella McCartney? You would at least know her father, Paul McCartney, right? Well, his daughter is a renowned fashion designer, apparently. I've known Stella McCartney as a brand for several years now, but I never thought that her brand is ethical. As a matter of fact, they are actually the world's first and only vegetarian luxury brand. Their manufacturing process is thoroughly laid out on their website and they talk in depth about their attempt to live up to the ethical label status that they uphold. It is their understanding that they are not perfect as a brand and try to keep monitoring every aspect of their production process to ensure the most ethical procedure possible is being practiced in their factories.

Not only is their commitment something to be applauded for, their style and unique designs often catch the eyes of celebrities and the greater public alike. The use of several different patterns in cuts that are far from conventional is enough to attract attention. The style is chic yet with a vintage '70s and '80s vibe possibly—with all the crazy patterns and almost abstract placing. The silhouette is very modern but with a touch of classic quirks that has lasted almost a lifetime. Not only do they have clothes, Stella McCartney as a label also produces bags, accessories and lingeries. They claim not to use any animal byproduct in their items, for environmental and health reasons—they use leather alternative instead, which you can read more about here. Not just for women, Stella McCartney also provides clothes for children.

Stella also collaborates with various organisations to keep up to date with the latest ethical practice as well as the latest environmental issues to fight. I think it is amazing how bold and brave Stella McCartney is in sticking to her belief in creating her garments. Her brand has become a household name for all fashion enthusiasts worldwide—and to think that it's ethical!—which hopefully will inspire other high end brands as well as fashion icons to switch to more ethical practices—both for people and the environment. Even Anna Wintour acknowledges and supports her work in bringing sustainability into the elite community and high fashion industry. Let's just hope other brands will soon follow suit in her footsteps.

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Saturday, 21 May 2016

Monthly Read: The Mysterious Benedict Society

It's that time of the month again when I get to recommend a book to you. This week's series—again—is a children/young adult book which I loved to read in high school: The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.  It is also a trilogy, telling the story of four extraordinary children who got recruited by Mr. Benedict to stop Mr. Curtain, a criminal mastermind, from trying to take over the world. These orphans live with Mr. Benedict and his quirky crew, to be surrounded by puzzles and knowledge every single day. There are Reynie, the outside-of-the-box thinker and pack leader; Sticky, the nervous nelly with a bald head and tremendous memory; Kate, the overactive and creative lass with her bucket of tools; and—my favourite—Constance, the temperamental and stubborn girl who likes to create poems when she's irritated. The story is filled with many excellent jokes for all ages, incredibly orchestrated puzzles as well as lovely quirks for all the characters—even Mr. Curtain! The first book is illustrated by Carson Ellis but the rest are done by Diana Sudyka, who does all the covers as well. It's really all well written, with amazing character development and wonderful plot twists—but, really, the puzzles are why we're here to stay.

The series got me so hooked that I actually purchased two extra books to the instalment: Mr. Benedict's Perplexing Puzzles and The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict. The first one, as the name suggests, is simply a book of puzzles, which are supposedly created by Mr. Benedict himself. If you love puzzles—as I do, this will be a great book to have on a train trip when you need to occupy yourself with a task. The puzzles can be quite hard to do too—I'm not even finished with it yet! But the answers can be found at the very last pages of the book, although it really doesn't help you understand the puzzle, just helps you get the answer. The second one is the prequel of the whole series which tells the story of Mr. Benedict's childhood in an orphanage—which is strange because there was no mention of Mr. Curtain at all. It is quite difficult to imagine the helpless boy from this book—though smart from the start—will become the savvy and intelligent man in the series. But it really does help you understand how he can relate so well to the children, especially Reynie. Just talking about this series makes me want to re-read them! Have you read them yet? Let me know what you think!

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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

A New Commitment

At the beginning of the month, my good friend Cynthia and I went to the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale in BSD. As a self-proclaimed bookworm, it was a temptation which is hard to resist. It was probably one of the biggest book bargain sales to happen in this big city—and it was super crowded. People lose their shit over cheap(er) books—that they were willing to cut lines and abandon common courtesy altogether. We didn't realise how packed it would be and decided to come there rather late, which cost us a couple hours to wait in line—which is about 2/3 of the time we spent there. It was insane! But, luckily, there were still a plethora of books to choose from and I went completely nuts. I might have chosen over 10 books that I would love to buy...but had to cut it down to 2 because—let's face it!—I haven't got a money tree yet. To be honest, the bargain wasn't all it's cut out to be—I've seen books marked way cheaper before—but it sure did offer a lot of titles I have yet to see elsewhere. This book is one of the two I picked up—get it?—and I absolutely love it so far! It is set in South Africa and tells a love story shrouded in politics and culture. I'll talk about it more at the end of month for sure!

Book of Deer top // thrifted skirt (flea market) + loafers (vintage) // old hairband + satchel // photos by Jess

I've been meaning to style my Book of Deer pieces some more but it's been mighty difficult to find the time to lens them. Funny thing is: I wear them all the time! And I've been trying to figure out ways in which I think, "Eilidh might like this," you know—because I would hate to disappoint the designer. This time I thought I'd opt for something a little brighter and...uhh, bold? I don't know what to call it. Also, I just realised how perfect Eilidh's pieces are for reading. This is the look I would imagine a bookworm would rock. I hope she will be inspired by libraries sometime in the future—she hasn't done a collection on that, right?—because I'd get all over that in a heartbeat. Also, from now on, I will label items in my outfit as "old", if it isn't manufactured ethically—or at least sweatshop-free—as I don't want to support their practice any longer. The way I see it, even though I've stopped purchasing from them but if I showcase them here, people will be interested to check out their store and eventually make a purchase—which will indirectly be my fault. Or maybe I'm just being way too serious for my own good...again.

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Sunday, 15 May 2016

Telo Cupcakes with Purple Frosting

Telo is Javanese for purple yam. It is incredibly yummy, a healthy source of carbs and it leaves your teeth purple after you eat it—if you bite into it like I usually do. Purple yam is rich with nutritions, from vitamin A, B1, B2 and C to minerals, such as iron, zinc and calcium. I've been wanting to make something with purple yam for so long and now I've finally done it. It might not look appetising—this is my mistake for adding food colouring which destroys the natural hue—but believe me when I say it is actually rather tasty. It's not too sweet for all those non-sweet-teeth out there. I'm not a sweet tooth myself and I ate this with gusto. It's also super easy to make and could last for at least three days if you put it in the fridge. Plus, isn't it fun sometimes to eat food that doesn't have the predictable golden colour? ;)

For the cupcake
(original recipe via Miki's Pantry, serves 10)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup purple yam, cooked and mashed (250 gr)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-2 drops of red and blue food colouring (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven at 180ºC
  2. Pour the egg whites, butter, soy milk and vanilla extract into a bowl and mix them well
  3. Add in the flour and granulated sugar, mix well by folding
  4. Add in the mashed yam into the mixture and mix well; this requires a little bit of force
  5. Lastly, add in the baking powder and baking soda and mix again
  6. If you feel the batter isn't the colour you wish for it to be, you may add some food colouring but add tiny amount at first and mix well before adding some more
  7. Distribute the batter equally into a muffin dish lined with cupcake papers (or a silicone one, for an eco-friendlier option)
  8. Put the dish into the oven and let it bake for around 20 minutes
  9. Once it is done, take it out and let it cool while you make the frosting
For the frosting
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1-2 drops of red and blue food colouring
  1. Put butter and half of the icing sugar into a bowl, mix well
  2. Add the rest of the icing sugar and mix again
  3. Add in the vanilla extract and food colouring, mix well
  4. Pour the mixture into a small plastic, push it all the way down to one bottom corner, twist the top opening and tie it with a rubber band (or secure it by shaping an L with your index finger and forefinger)
  5. Cut out the bottom corner and gently push the mixture out of the hole to decorate the cupcakes
  6. You may stick the cupcakes in the fridge to let the frosting freeze a little
  7. Selamat menikmati!
Tips: First of all, before you cook the yam (or steam, as I did), poke some holes into it to let it cook quicker. It is also a great way to see if it's soft enough to be mashed. You may peel the yam but it wouldn't taste as great. Make sure all your ingredients are in room temperature to make them easier to mix and bake. The cupcake itself isn't sweet but the frosting makes up for that, so if you really don't like sweets, you can reduce the amount of sugar or substitute them with something less sweet.  You can add chocolate sprinkles on top to make it more interesting and enhance the taste. Lass es euch schmecken!

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Friday, 13 May 2016

Purchase with Care

Three years ago, I wrote a post about ethical fashion. It marks the change in the way I view clothes and retail shopping. The post itself was written quite spontaneously, when I started to think about the way we treat clothes and the people who manufacture them. Like many others, the Rana Plaza incident struck a chord in my heart and I can't, in good conscience, contribute to such practice anymore. From then on, I constantly educate myself on manufacturing processes and what it means to go ethical. Three years on, I can't say I'm already perfect but I do shop a whole lot less often now—although financial aspect also helps me accomplish this mission—and when I do, I make sure they have very little carbon footprint—in comparison to big international brands, per se. I've sworn off retail brands and stopped window-shopping altogether—both offline and online.

Reading this, you might think I'm out of tune with fashion—which is strange for a style blogger, eh?—but I don't see it that way. I still pay attention to fashion, but I pay attention to ethical fashion or the movement towards becoming more ethical and responsible. And, although it is yet within my budget to shop ethical brands at the moment, I still seek out other ways to show my love and support for them, for I will always applaud their effort to stay true to their workers, their buyers and the environment.

Last year I discovered zero waste lifestyle. It is a wider horizon to ethical fashion, I believe, in which we apply the responsible and conscientious way we look at clothes to other aspects of our lives. Suddenly, it's not just about fashion labour and manufacturing process anymore, it's about everything that has ever been made and tossed in this world. Zero waste has really made me question everything I have ever known and been taught since as long as I could recall. When my preschool teacher used to tell me to toss the trash in the trash can, why did I never stop to think: "What happens to it then?" As if a trash can could become a black hole where all trash goes to die.

But trash doesn't die; some of it rots while some others keep on living, possibly longer than mankind. These things need to be stored somewhere, so they won't pollute our environment and threaten our way of living. But if we keep on producing them and no action has been taken to get rid of them for good, the number will grow and, eventually, we'd have no choice but to drown in them. Numerous animals have suffered and died because of the waste we toss—sometimes not even in its 'rightful place'—then we consume these animals and wonder why we suffer from strange, new diseases.

Then it hit me: it doesn't matter if we buy ethical products; as long as we still adopt the buy-and-toss lifestyle, the problem will still not be solved. This is where zero waste lifestyle comes in. It replaces the linear way we see the lifespan of an item into a circular chain, where every item gets recycled or rotted and used to create a new product. This way nothing will ever have to be piled onto a landfill. It will soon be a thing of the past.

Not only that, it also imposes a minimalistic way of living, in which consumption ceases to become a central part of our day-to-day life. The post-modern society tends to purchase unnecessary items on the daily, only to have them tossed out the next day or shoved at the corner of the closet—or, even worse, to condone to social protocol. Seldom do they think really hard and long about the impact of their one very small action. Will this last? What will happen to it if I decide to throw it away? Can I turn it into something else when I no longer need it? Is it necessary? Often, the price is the one thing considered the most in buying stuff, not the aftermath or even function of the item bought.

Lately, I've been trying to achieve this lifestyle little by little. Man, I can't believe how much plastic I use on a daily basis when I try to not use them anymore. In Indonesia, especially, plastic seems to appear as if they grow on trees because they are literally everywhere. You find them on the food carts, you find them at the mall and you can even find them on the streets—because, let's be honest, we're not the cleanest and tidiest of people. Bulk grocery store doesn't even exist on this part of the world. If we want to buy bulk, we can possibly rely on farmer's markets. Even so, it is only limited to a very small selection of products—forget getting zero-waste dairy products and noodle. But I also see that there are tons of alternatives we can go for, which is unique to this section of the earth—because it is embedded in our culture. However, the fault lies in me because sometimes I just choose to give in to temptation without a second thought. But it can all be avoided, of course.

So I am writing this to remind myself—and, hopefully, inspire some of you—to purchase with care. Care for the people, care for the environment and care for oneself. If it's unnecessary, please reconsider. Who cares what other people think? They're not the ones who has to pay for it—not financially anyway. Imagine what that money can do for the less fortunate or the greater good, even! Why not give it to them, who will most likely appreciate it better. From now on, let's purchase with care.

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