Saturday, 30 December 2017

December in Overview

The face of a grandma focused on creating paper cut-outs (would've been cooler if I was sewing, right?)

December was a terrible month for me, mentally. For the past three years, every time December rolls around, I am quickly reminded of the giddy feeling in my stomach, looking forward to spending winter break with Firu. Unfortunately, now it's really just a dream. I felt deeply unappreciated, unloved and absolutely alone—especially on campus. Needless to say, I used other means to cope with it—joining workshops, reading tons of books, listening to various podcasts, etc. To top it all off, I am broke as all hell. Then Christmas and New Year's break rolled around and I can't be more grateful for it. It allows me the time to really sort out my shit, prepare for changes I'm planning to make in the new year and, basically, taking breaks from the daily stresses of life. However, I am transported back to the days when I hated any kind of time designated for festivities—like the weekends or holidays—so I'm sorry if I don't sound too excited now.

Currently Reading

Still continuing with the Harry Potter series, after what felt like the longest 2 weeks of my life, I finally finished The Goblet of Fire. I had to go back and re-watch the film to this one, as I haven't watched in maybe over ten years. This is where the film and the book start to really branch into two very different entities. Afterwards, I decided to take a little break from the Harry Potter universe and opt for Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, a small, modern story that really contrasts the wizarding world—felt like I was jolted back to reality, although still quite magical in a high-tech kind of way. A little surprise awaited me, when I discovered that the brief prequel, Ajax Penumbra 1969, was also included inside. Lastly, I braced myself as I started on The Order of the Phoenix. I asked a lot of people how to actually read this book and everyone came up with the funniest answers. But, since it's very heavy and I have an aversion towards e-book, I'm also reading When the Killing's Done by T. C. Boyle simultaneously. This one is for the commute and those lulls outside the house.

Currently Watching

This month I really didn't seek out films to watch, aside from The Goblet of Fire, actually. But I did watch a few new and enlightening motion pictures. First of all, I am proud to say that I've finally watch the legendary Shawshank Redemption. Honestly, I totally understand how it could have been such a classic. It is so heartbreaking and inspiring in a lot of ways. Absolutely worth watching! Then my sister dragged me to see Coco, which, at first, wasn't appealing to me, but in the end I got really invested in it. Many say it's a tearjerker, but neither my sister nor I cried over it—I guess we just can't relate. It is very immaculately done, of course, as it's Disney. I thought it was going to resonate with Book of Life, but it's completely different. I also watched 2 documentaries. First one is called Titanic 20 Years Later with James Cameron—on NatGeo—that shows James Cameron's research post-film, where he finds out so many facts about the ship and the victims, which render the film invalid. The second one is called Science to the Rescue! The Science of Adolescence—on NHK World—that digs deep into the inner workings of adolescents' brains. It really explains the emo phase a lot!

Currently Listening

For whatever reason, for the majority of the month, I really prefer listening to people talk rather than sing, so I haven't been listening to songs much. Instead, I've been watching a lot of Youtube videos—and discovering a few Youtubers I turned out to like—and listening to podcasts. Aside from the ones that I've mentioned before—which I still listen to even now—I've also discovered a couple new ones. The first one is called All the Wonders, which is a podcast for children's books. One of my favourite illustrators posted about being in this podcast months ago—honestly can't remember who it was—and it turns out that a lot of my favourite illustrators have made an appearance. I love how passionately Matthew Winner, the host, talks about each book! The second one is called Out of Line, which describes itself as "Online personalities share offline realities." I first found out about it from Elsie Larson, since she shared her adoption story from China. Absolutely inspiring! So far, she seems to be the only guest that I'm familiar with, but I'm willing to know more.

Highlight of the Month

Workshop #1: Surprise box // workshop #2: basic handlettering // the Hogwarts persona of Firu and myself // Marine Heritage Gallery opening // first outfit flatlay in such a long time // a book borrowed from Uli // currently reading + fast food // reunited with the Germany gang again! // first time visiting the new-and-improved National Library, it's huge!

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Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Mix It Up a Notch: Purple Knitted Jumper

Okay, I've got a confession to make: the jumper you see in this post are actually two different jumpers. There's quite a unique story about this jumper. Several years ago, my sister received a purple knitted jumper by Marks & Spencer from my Grandma. But she hardly ever wore it, so I took it Germany with me in 2012. However, it seems to have been stretched out a bit, cause the neckline and hem feels rather loose. I don't mind, but my Grandma reckoned I should get my own jumper when I returned home. For some reason, she got me the exact same purple one—but obviously with much better neckline and hem—and I love it to pieces. This is the only jumper I can happily wear in the tropics. Because it's knitted, it has small pores that allow wind to slip through, but still warm enough for chilly days. The colour is subtle, but stands out, which I love. It has that classics rope-like pattern on the front and back—you know, the kind of form that often appears on knitted jumpers. Wish I could wear it more often.

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Sunday, 24 December 2017

Hoarding: Books I Need to Read in 2018

Everyone who loves books will relate to this: we've all bought books before that we haven't read yet. Mind you, when I buy a book, I have full intention to read it at some point. But, sometimes, I do buy too many books to squeeze into a limited amount of time. As a result, I find myself with an abundance of books to read at one time. This year, in particular, I don't really know how—okay, it's probably all the hauls I've been doing—but I ended up with a plethora of books. It's crazy! In the book blogging and booktube world, hauls seem to be highly encouraged. You see a lot of book haul videos, but rarely do you get to find out if all of them get read—as far as I can recall, mostly they really don't get read straight away. I find it kind of wasteful and it just doesn't sit right with me, especially for people who may live on a tight budget—like me. So I thought I would show you the books that I've been hoarding and hope to be reading in the new year. There are quite a lot, to be honest, but I'm excited to get through them all. Woohoo!

Splitterherz by Bettina Belitz

This book was given to me by Iva. She found it in a box full of books at her front door—she lives in a dorm, so it's not entirely unusual. She was supposed to take the second book to the Jette Weingärtner series, but she didn't pay attention and swiped this one instead. I'm not entirely sure what it's about—it's supposed to be a YA fantasy novel—and I'm not sure if I'll like it. It is also quite thick, with 630 pages in total, so I'm not sure how eager I am to read this, to be honest. At least I feel like I should give it a try, because Iva lugged it all the way from Germany for me (lol).

Astray by Emma Donoghue

I bought this book at Big Bad Wolf Book Sale in April—which was the most painful experience I've ever had with books. Emma Donoghue is not an unfamiliar name for me. I've read her previous works, Room—which I love so much!—and Frog Music. Judging from the cover, I think it will resonate better with Frog Music, though. From the synopsis at the back, I can't really tell much about the story, to be honest, but I believe in Emma Donoghue's story-telling and can't wait to read this one.

Number 11 by Jonathan Coe

My sister works as a teacher at a local primary school. One day the school got quite a number of book donations—I don't know if they were for the students or the staff, because they didn't seem suitable for children—and my sister was kind enough to take photos of all of them and offered to bring home as many as I'd like to read. This was one of the books I asked her to bring, most definitely only because of the cover. The synopsis on Goodreads really got me intrigued though!

The Registrar's Manual for Detecting Forced Marriages by Sophie Hardach

Another purchase from Big Bad Wolf Book Sale. It's also one of those books I grabbed mostly because of the whimsical cover—I mean, look at it! The title is just as intriguing and whimsical too! The synopsis at the back is incredibly intriguing and described in such a metaphorical string of words, that I can't help but to feel quite excited to read it. Sophie Hardach is a name that I haven't heard of before, though, so I have nothing to expect, in terms of writing style.

No Regrets by Wimar Witoelar

This was also part of the donations to my sister's school. Wimar Witoelar is such a familiar name, although I couldn't quite place it, but I knew I wanted to know what the book is about. His face also looks quite familiar. After reading the full title, I realise that he was the presidential spokesperson during the Soeharto regime—Indonesia's most controversial president/dictator to date. The New Order is such a mysterious time in the government and I always welcome information on this period.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Part of the purchases I made at the Gramedia World Fair, which is an imported book sale from a local bookstore chain—yeah, I go to too many book sales. At first, I was intrigued by the cover, but didn't really give the story or subject matter a second thought. Then my sister, who was with me, mentioned that it's about the environment and I quickly picked it back up. To this day, I'm still not exactly sure what it's about, but I'll find out when I read it.

Underground by Ika Natassa

When I first stumbled upon this book, I was highly intrigued by the rock-concert cover and English language. Why? Because this book isn't imported and Ika Natassa is definitely a local author. As far as I know, her other books are all in Indonesian, so this was quite an interesting anomaly. At first, I didn't know what to make of it, but then her other book was recently turned into a film, so I'm hoping this will be a book I thoroughly enjoy.

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

Been interested in Classics lately, when my sister offered her school's donations, I was excited to pick out the classic writers from the pile. The next three books are also from the same pile. Elizabeth Gaskell, to me, always feels like a Horror writer—I'm familiar with her work included in The Virago Book of Ghost Stories. Also, the name Gaskell...doesn't that just remind you of skulls? Anyway, I just mean to say that I expect this book to be along the same lines.

Platform by Michel Houellebecq

One of the authors and books mentioned in Romancing the East. From the cover, you can probably already guess the subject matter being brought up here: sex tourism. Although this was written quite a while ago, unfortunately this industry is very much the centre focus of Thailand's tourism, as I recently read on Jill Matthews's instagram. Very, very intrigued to learn about Southeast Asia from the eyes of a Western visitor.

The Beach by Alex Garland

Also a book mentioned in the previous non-fiction. However, I've also watched the film adaptation of this starring Leonardo Dicaprio. It was quite hard to watch, to be honest, but it really made an impression in me. Also, Romancing the East mentioned the aftermath of the film on the beach it was actually shot in. Rarely do fictions create such a catastrophic impact on the real world and it left me intrigued to read the work it's based on.

Amsterdam by Ian McEwan

Again, this author—and book, perhaps—is mentioned in Romancing the East. As most of you would probably know, Ian McEwan is the famous author behind the James Bond series—and, you know, Atonement. I've never read any of his books, but I found the story of Atonement rather tragically beautiful—although the film put me to sleep, unfortunately—so I'm pleased to try one of his works. I've got no great expectations, to be honest.

Lafcadio Hearn's Japan by Lafcadio Hearn

Okay, last author and book from Romancing the East—I promise. Upon reading his life story on said book, I was quickly intrigued, because Lafcadio Hearn sounds like the kind of man I want to meet and exchange stories with—or, at least, I'd hear all of his. This was definitely an impromptu purchase after a terrible day—using the money I don't actually have the liberty to spend—from a highly discounted section of a local imported-books store.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights is a title that brings back memories for me, because my high school classmate Maya had incredible difficulty with this book that she couldn't get past the second or third paragraph. A few months back, while browsing at a local flea market, my sister picked up this book. I thought I'd add this to my list too, because I'm curious about the story and writing style. A lot of people seem to love it so much, though. I've always wanted to know what the Brontë sisters are all about.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

It was Sanne who first got my interest piqued on Jane Eyre—I think it's her all-time favourite book—and when it adapted into film, starring Mia Wasikowska and Jude Law, I decided to watch it. From the trailer, I thought it would be quite a thrilling and scary story, but it turns out to have no ghosts at all. This was purchased during an imported-books sale on my campus, which is deadly for me. I love this modern, tricoloured cover. It'll be one of my first Brontë sisters experiences too!

Wow, writing this post actually got me excited to finally dig into these books. Who knew I hoarded quite a number of books with such varying stories and topics? This will hopefully keep me from feeling the need to blow all my money on more books. How about you? Do you have books at home that you've kept for a while, but haven't read at all? Maybe you should list them, write a tiny synopsis of each of them or where you bought them or why you did so. Pin it somewhere you will most likely constantly see it and may it always be at the back of your head. I guess you can say this is the other side of book hauls. But what good are books when they go unloved and unread? On the flip side, if you want to see the best ten books I actually read this year, you can check out the video down below!

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Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Feigning Festivities it is! The last outfit post of the year. I seriously can't believe that it's almost 2018 already—I could've sworn 2017 just started yesterday. How the time flies, huh? I'm sorry this is what the last outfit post of 2017 looks like. I wish it was more exciting and eventful, but life has been pretty boring for me lately. It's also been pretty chilly too—or I'm just slowly getting ill—hence the chunky jumper. Okay, I'm kidding myself, it's never cold enough in the Jakarta area to justify the jumper. Or the bubble hat, for that matter. But, hey, I was feeling the festive season, so why not, right? If I'm going to a Christmas party of some sort, I might give this outfit another go. But that doesn't seem likely. Also, I'm broke, so there's very little chance of, uh, deliberately going out to eat in the next...month, I think. I know, that pretty sucks, but such is life. A little update of what's going through my head at the moment: I'm getting a haircut. Yep, it's finally time to chop off the locks—I've had enough of long hair. It's time to accept that Firu isn't coming home anytime soon—plus, even if he is, he won't care what my hair looks like. So there.

Old jumper + hat + socks // thrifted shirt + loafers // Book of Deer skirt

As I've confessed before, I haven't been feeling up to blogging lately. I don't know why, but I sometimes lose the will to blog—like earlier today, for instance. My life has been pretty mundane lately, with uni, work and, well, the absence of money. I can't really dress up to campus much anymore, since they have stupidly strict dress codes—how that is relevant to our GPAs I'll never know. And, since I barely have any money to spare, I spend a lot of time at home lately, brewing tea, reading books and watching Youtube. While I find it fun and enjoyable, it's not photogenic, you know. Also—what I think is a huge factor—my blogging friends have mostly ceased to blog anymore. In turn, I also hardly ever read other people's blogs anymore too. The fun of sharing my life with people is almost completely extinguished. But I am still a person with a lot of thoughts, opinions and experiences that I'd like to share with people—who may or may not care about them—so I'm sometimes still driven to blog. I don't know, can you guys please tell me if you want me to continue? Am I talking to walls?

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Friday, 15 December 2017

Apple Ring Fritters

One of the last winter memory I had of Germany was its Christmas Market, particularly the one in Kassel. There is one dish there that I quite enjoyed, although I've only ever bought it once. It was this Apfelringe—translated to Appel Rings. It was very simple, quite warming and rather good. This time of year just always reminds me of Germany's variety of Christmas Market and how much I miss trying out different kind of food in different towns/cities. The smell of mulled wine in the air really signifies Christmas and the ending of the year—honestly, nostalgic! Since, unfortunately, I can't experience it again myself for the foreseeable future, I thought I'd reimagine the recipe that I found rather fitting for the season. However, before we proceed, there are a few things you need to know. First of all, this is actually my Stepmom's recipe for good ol' banana fritters—she would add egg too sometimes, depending on what kind batter she was looking for. Second of all, this is a vegan recipe, so if you want something meat-free and festive, you've come to the right place. But, if you want fluffier, non-vegan variety, please scroll down below for tips.

  • 3 apples
  • 3-4 tbsp. flour
  • 200 ml water
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin spice (optional)
  • cooking oil for frying
  • 1 tsp. icing sugar (topping)
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon (topping)
  1. Slice the apples and remove the core, creating ring-shaped slices
  2. In a bowl, mix the flour and water together until there are no clumps
  3. Add in the salt and pumpkin spice, mix well
  4. On the stove, heat up a frying pan/wok then pour oil accordingly
  5. Dip each apple slice into the batter, make sure each surface is coated
  6. Put each slice into the hot oil, fry for 2-3 minutes in medium heat
  7. Once each side is already golden, take out the slice and strain the excess oil
  8. Put them on a plate and sprinkle with icing sugar and ground cinnamon
  9. Serve them while they're hot!
Tips: First of all, you can choose to peel the skin or not, according to your preference. People would usually discard of the top and bottom part, but I don't like to be wasteful, so I use them all. To remove the core and create a hole, I think you can use a corer or—if you're poor like me—a knife, both are just as good and easy. The batter should be liquid enough to drip freely, but thick enough to stick. To test if the oil is ready, you can use a small piece of the apples. When it floats, you can put your slices in. If you live in Indonesia, pumpkin spice is basically what we know as "Bumbu Spekoek," which is available in most supermarkets and ingredients stores. If you want thicker/fluffier batter, feel free to add eggs. If you add eggs, mix the eggs with the water first and then add the flour in. Lass es euch schmecken!

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Sunday, 10 December 2017

How to Move On with Your Life

This year 'moving on' seems to be the theme of my life. A few months ago I shared a post on that. While I feel like in the past 365 days I could finally start to make peace with my life-changing decision, compared to the previous years, I can't say that my doubt and pain have completely gone away. There are days when I can totally focus on the present and be optimistic, but there are also days when everything seems pointless and I've got my head in the clouds. In December, particularly, do I feel down right off the bat, because this is the time of year, when I would usually look forward to spending Christmas and New Year's break with Firu. Now there is this void in my heart and I don't know how to fill it.

You know, I have this habit, where at the dead of night, right before falling asleep, I would imagine surprising Firu at his apartment. I would stand at the door of his building or sit on the bed in his room, waiting for him to come home from uni. A smile would be pasted on my face, because I know I wouldn't be able to help it. His face, hopefully, would be full of surprise and delight as he collects me into his embrace. His environment feels so familiar, I could almost see so vividly how he would walk out of the tram station opposite his building, approaching his door. Or the teal-coloured walls that we painted together, the contrasting white bed against it and the mix of orange and red carpet on the floor. Even when I'm not imagining myself in the scenario, just trying to picture what his life looks like at the moment, these details come into view.

However, three months ago, something drastic happened that indirectly affects my life: Firu moved out of his home. It threw me for a bittersweet loop, where I'm not sure whether to feel happy or sad about it. I know, it's probably irrelevant to my actual life, but I can't help but to feel sentimental about the whole thing anyway. I mean, it was the last home of his that I've ever been to. We've created so many precious memories together there. Leaving that place means letting go of them. The walls of his room had to be repainted. His roommates can no longer include me in their lives. And the place is no longer relevant in both of our present—like so many other homes we created before it. Now he lives in a place I've never even known about beforehand, so I can no longer imagine what his life looks like. I can no longer imagine a surprise visit for a faraway future. Everything is completely new and strange.

On the other hand, I'm also relieved. I feel freed from my doubt and haunting regret. If I had stayed in Germany—and, most likely, mainly because of Firu—I would have been miserable, because he would move away anyway. I would be pursuing an education in something I'm not passionate about. I would be living in a shitty apartment that I barely liked. I would only have a few friends to keep me company, granted they'd never left. Who knows what my health and financial condition would be by then. The only light I probably would have had was seeing Firu again soon, which wouldn't happen all that often in his current location. I would be living life as if I'm a ghost, just gliding through each day. It's as if Firu's decision to move away confirmed the vague feeling I have, that the choice I made three years ago was the right one.

Still, I can't help but to feel somewhat guilty, because—let's face it!—whatever the reason, my homecoming was a selfish choice. I constantly feel like I abandoned him, to tough it out alone in a foreign country. Whenever I feel lonely because I miss him so much, Firu constantly reminds me of how lucky I am, to live in a familiar environment, surrounded by my friends and family. And it got me thinking of how alone he actually is, especially now in a different location. While I dream about golden leaves, baroque castles and trams, Firu wishes for rendang, beaches and warmer weather. I would give anything to trade places with him. However, even when he's mad pissed at me, he always says that he doesn't blame me for returning home without him. Why not? I was the reason we couldn't spend time physically together anymore. But, I guess, he doesn't see it that way. He knew I thought it's what was best for me.

Memory is a funny thing; it only lets you see the past the way you want to see it. It emphasises the good and amplifies the bad, depending on where you lean towards. It makes you forget that, even back then, you were just living life. There is a reason the past is in the past and we should trust that we made the right choice leaving it there. People tend to say, "The past can't hurt you," but, at the same time, it also can't make you happy. We're just afraid that change will only bring unfamiliar things—ones that we may or may not like—but if we give it a chance, it may be the best decision of our lives. Every year I say I'm afraid of change—and it may be more glaring and prominent this time—but the next year it proves me wrong. Change is scary, but change is good. Move on.

Goodbye, lovely room, you've been great!

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