Friday, 23 June 2017

Eid Mubarak with Paperless Post

Wow, I can't believe Eid ul-Fitri is coming in a couple days—it felt like just yesterday Ramadan was starting. This is probably my favourite time of the year—especially if I get to visit the Grandparents in Surabaya and reunite with my cousins. Everything just feels very festive during this time; there are ketupat everywhere, good-natured songs echo the streets, the family is together, and food galore. This must be what Christmas feels like to Christians. Sometimes, though, we can't always spend the holiday with our loved ones. They could be going to their own homes or even be oceans away, but we might still want to share our festive spirit and happy thoughts with them somehow. When they're not too far away, we could probably send them a greeting card by post. But what if they live continents away?

Usually, I never send greeting cards—hardly ever include them with birthday presents too—because I tend to think they are a waste of paper. Most people would just chuck them in the bin right after anyway. And e-cards or digital invites never appealed to me—I feel like they have a reputation for being really generic and not well-designed. That is, of course, until I found out about Paperless Post.

Starting in 2009, siblings James and Alexa Hirschfield launched Paperless Post "to prove that communication could be personal and well-designed regardless of the medium"—damn straight! It was love at first sight—from the very first moment I visited their website, I instantly wanted to get me one of those cards. They have greeting cards and invitations for practically any occasion—even Ramadan and Diwali, which you barely ever see in Western card businesses. Collaborating with great names, such as kate spade new york, Oscar de la Renta and Rifle Paper Co., they offer some great selections of amazing and eye-pleasing designs to choose from. If you still prefer the printed option, they also offer those with price starting as low as $1.65.

For the purposes of this post, they have offered me coins to be used on their website and to try their services. Since Eid holiday is only a couple days away, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to send some last-minute cards to some of my loved ones—another great advantage of using Paperless Post. So, first, I went to their Ramadan section to check out some of the Islamic designs which might be perfect for the occasion. After choosing a card, I can customise the card however I see fit. I can change the writing, the backdrop, the colour, even the envelopes and reply card—they have a lot of great options to choose from. When the editing stage is done, I can add the recipients—and even schedule the sending or have a free test sent to me. You can see some of the cards I decided to make for this occasion below.
What a simple and quick process to create well-designed products—even the recipients will get it in such a short amount of time! If you're not celebrating Eid, you could also perhaps send your loved ones birthday cards, holiday cards or even, if you're getting married, the save-the-dates and other wedding stationery necessities. I know I want to have my wedding invitations done by them. Plus, if you sign up to their website, you will get 25 complementary coins to start off with—cool way to try out their digital cards, right? So, if you're in need for some last-minute greeting cards, you should give Paperless Post a go!

This post is in collaboration with Paperless Post but all the opinions written are 100% my own

Also, if you want to get in the Islamic mood, check out some of my favourite books down below!


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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

A Fort By Any Other Name

The other day I went on probably the longest journey I've ever taken in the city by myself. Another historical building in Jakarta to cross off my list: The National Archives Building. It's located on the part of town that I have never truly ventured into, so when I took the bus, I saw the underbelly of the city that I never even knew existed—who knew Daan Mogot was that far away? Although I had to stand in said bus for three hours on the way there—and two hours on the way back, plus several minutes waiting for them—it was really worth it when I caught the sight of this gorgeous building from across the street. Starting as a townhouse of a governor of the Dutch East Indies, this 18th century structure started being used to store the state archives in 1925 until 1974, when it is turned into a museum. At the time of my visit, the place was actually used for a private event—to which I sneaked in—so I couldn't see what was inside, but the area is a famous choice for a wedding venue. Plus, it's a great area for outfit photos, so that's always good news for me!

Thrifted jacket + loafers // gifted top // old skirt // Kaboki macramé purse // Dad's old watch

Recently I've just realised how I used to live so close to castles and forests back in Germany. Hell, I practically went for an afternoon stroll to a nearby castle in the forest in this post. But now...well, that ship has sailed. Not only do I live in a big city blooming with skyscrapers and the pollution that comes with them, but also that there are virtually no castles in Indonesia—palaces, sure, but castles? Not so much. When I realised this, I was so bummed out because I miss being able to relax in nature with picturesque structures nearby. I can't believe how casual they were, so much so that they felt like a part of my everyday life back then. Luckily, Jakarta is, as I've mentioned several times, rife with historical sites, so we're not entirely lacking on old buildings—mostly from the colonial times. I know, 18th century townhouses don't exactly hold a candle to Medieval castles, but they're practically the next best thing. When I realised this, I can finally make peace with trading my European castles with post-colonial buildings.

P.S: Tomorrow I'll be heading out to Surabaya for Eid holiday, so all the posts for the next two weeks will be pre-prepared ones. Please excuse any late replies on (possible) comments!



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Thursday, 15 June 2017

Sweet Potato Porridge

Since it's Ramadan, I thought it would be appropriate to share an iftar recipe idea with you—like I did last year and the year before—albeit a very simple one. Sweet potato is one of my absolute favourite food in the world. It's not too sweet and there are various types of them—you can see the extend of my love in this one. So when my Stepmom told me she was going to make this for the first time, I was thrilled to have a taste. I've never really eaten sweet potato this way before—fried? Sure. Roasted? Perhaps. Turn into nice, slimy porridge? Never. I'm not entirely sure how it is in other countries, but in Indonesia there's a tradition of breaking your fast with warm, sweet dishes before actually gorging oneself with savoury meals. So, during Ramadan, this kind of food is very, very popular—with vendors lining the streets, ready to target those stuck in traffic—which is why I thought this recipe would be perfect. Now, without further ado, here's the recipe.

Ingredients
(makes 3 small bowls)
  • 1 sweet potato (around 250gr), diced
  • 3 blocks brown sugar, melted
  • 500ml water
  • 5 tbsp. tapioca flour, diluted
  • 65 ml coconut milk, diluted 
  1. In a saucepan, pour in the melted brown sugar and let it boil
  2. Add in the sweet potato, boil until it softens
  3. In a separate bowl, dilute the tapioca flour and pour it little by little into the saucepan
  4. Turn down the heat and mix well as the mixture thickens
  5. Remove the pan from heat and distribute the mixture to containers of choice
  6. Serve with coconut milk to taste
  7. Biale'aafia!
Tips:  The brown sugar I use is the block ones, so before boiling them with water, I dilute them by adding enough water (and pandanus leaf for aroma) and boiling them until they dissolve. Don't forget to sift the solution afterwards! Before you dice the sweet potato, remember to peel it. To test the softness of the sweet potato, try using a tooth pick—if it can easily stick to the piece but not all the way through, it's ready. While boiling the sugar and sweet potato mixture, pay attention to the thickness and add the tapioca flour accordingly—feel free to add or subtract from the recommended measurement above. To dilute the tapioca flour, add enough water to the flour and mix well until the mixture becomes liquid. To dilute the coconut milk, simply add a bit of water to the thick milk and whisk until it becomes runnier. You don't need to do this if your coconut milk is already runny. Lass es euch schmecken!


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Saturday, 10 June 2017

The Soundtrack of My Life

A couple weeks ago I spotted this post on What Olivia Did, which turns out to have been inspired by Lauren of Novella Afterglow. I was instantly inspired to do the same, although I hesitated because—let's face it!—I'm not as cool and passionate about music as these two ladies are. I've only been to three concerts in my whole life, I don't buy vinyls—heck, I don't even own a turntable—and I could barely play a musical instrument—except for piano, which slowly fades from my memories. But when, in my excitement, I tweeted about her post, Lauren encouraged me to write my own version—you better believe I went straight to it. Now, looking back at what I wrote, it surprises me how beautifully it manages to sum up my life—and how a lot of my favourite songs and artists aren't listed. Without further ado, take a walk with me down memory lane, won't you?

THE FIRST ALBUM I BOUGHT: Mandy Moore

As is probably the case with most people with siblings: almost everything I own is basically my sister's too and vice versa. So I'm not sure if this is the first album my sister or I bought—or if it's even the first—but the memory of it goes as far back as the fourth grade, so it's got to at least be one of the firsts, right? There are still songs on this album that reminds me of a crush from back then—cringe, I know.

THE LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP ALBUM: Today Is a Beautiful Day

Although this may not be how to interpret the question, I really like how Liv answered it. Firu and I have immensely different tastes in music, so I always find it hard to make a soundtrack for our relationship. However, there was a time one summer when he introduced me to Supercell and practically got me hooked on several songs from this album—eventually driving him up the wall with my obsession. I won't even pretend I have the whole album on my iTunes, but I still listen to plenty of songs from it and will always be reminded of, well, their music videos (LOL).

THE SONG THAT MAKES ME WANT TO DANCE: Carried Away

Not only due to the beat of the song, but also thanks to its incredibly creative music video, Passion Pit never fails to make me move to the tunes of this one. I find it ironic and funny that the lyrics—and the video's storyline—seems to depict a dysfunctional and borderline unhappy couple, but the tune is really fun and cheerful.

THE SONG THAT MAKES ME HAPPY: No More Lovesongs

Doesn't matter what mood I'm in, this adorable breakup song by Lacrosse will always make me smile. The lyrics seem like the singer is angry, but the tune is far too bouncy for me to feel sad or pissed.

MY FIRST/SWEATIEST GIG: Fall Out Boy

Yeah, I'm not cool enough to go to a lot of concerts—three in total, so far. It just so happens that, by far, my first gig was my sweatiest, so it was an awesome plunge into the concert life. It was September 2007. I couldn't believe that Patrick and Pete and Andy and Joe were right there in front of me. There were moments where I could hardly breathe—I'm pretty sure I got sucked into an intense mosh whirlpool in the middle due to Pete's guitar pick being thrown in.

THE SONG I WISH I'D WRITTEN: The Third Temptation of Paris

Greek mythology is an old love of mine, so to have that in a song is simply a stroke of genius. When I first heard this song, introduced by a best friend, it definitely felt like I was transported to Troy and saw the whole incident unravel. I love how the song tells the story rather well, using emotions to depict the situation, like the words came from Homer himself—although they might have, I haven't actually read Homer. To think that this track comes from Alesana, with their usually hard-on-the-ear music, is simply brilliant.

THE SONG THAT REMINDS ME OF MY TEENS: Call and Return

There was a phase in my middle school when this used to be the soundtrack of my best friend's life, basically. I can't help but to remember the energetic way she sang this song back then whenever I listen to it and the story behind what this song meant to her. It often brings me back memories of those sunlit days when we laughed, we hurt, we cried and we fought, oblivious to the fact that those days wouldn't last forever.

MUST-SING KARAOKE SONGS: I'm Not Okay + Mr. Brightside

Karaoke is different in the west from it is here—we have the Japanese private room version, so often sing more than one song to a group of people we actually know. It basically means we can sing without the fear of being expected to "perform" and sing our utmost heart out. For me and my friends, it's often a tool for emotional outlet—hence these song choices.

THE BEST GIG I'VE BEEN TO: Lucy Rose

It was March 2013 in Cologne. Being the first gig that I decided to watch on my own—although later on Saku-chan tagged along—it stayed in my mind for months afterwards. It's the only concert I've ever been to that is so small and intimate. The gig was opened by Peter and Kerry—which I later on learnt to love—and Peter proceeded to stand next to me for the rest of the gig. I even got to buy a poster off Lucy, shook hands with her and got her autograph—during which when I told her my name she said, "Wicked name!" and I basically flew to heaven.

THE SONG THAT REMINDS ME OF HOME: Yumeji

It's kind of ironic how a song that seems to speak about change reminds me of where I come from. You might have heard this song from the anime Hanasaku Iroha—and may then understand why I choose this song. Personally, it reminds me of my decision to come back home to Indonesia—leaving Firu in Germany—every time I give it a listen. It's bittersweet and very mature in a lot of ways, which is what home feels like to me now.

MY LEAST FAVOURITE SONG: Don't Let Me Down

I actually have too many songs that I hate and my opinions on them often change with time. At the moment, though, this one is at the very top of the list...and I hope to God I won't change my mind about this one. Ever. (Ironically, the song seriously lets me down....)

THE ARTIST I LISTEN TO WHEN I'M ON MY OWN: Regina Spektor

If I were being honest, Regina Spektor is at the top ten list of artists I'd listen to all the time. Sadly, not many of my friends share this sentiment—including Firu, who practically hates her songs with a passion—so I usually have to refrain from playing her tracks when I have company. To be fair, she is definitely not everyone's cup of tea—but I'm an avid tea lover, so...

MY ULTIMATE DESERT-ISLAND DISC: Heroes & Thieves

One of my all-time favourite musicians has to be Vanessa Carlton. She is a true genius when it comes to songwriting and her songs fit into all phases of my life. This one in particular is an album that would best suit all my moods. There literally isn't a single song on this whole disc that I wouldn't listen to at any given time. If I were to be stuck listening to just one album for the rest of my life, this would be my best option.

THE SONG I WANT PLAYED AT MY FUNERAL: Wish You Well

This one's rather emotional for me—aren't they all?—because the first few times I heard it, it brought me to tears almost instantly. This track by Katie Herzig reminds me so much of my late Mom, for some reason. I realise that it may not have been meant for someone who passed away, but I feel like it's such a beautiful notion with which to send someone off. I wish someone would think this way of me at some point of my life.

Being an over emotionally-attached human being, it's hard listing these songs and not remember every single memory that lies within. Songs that I used to sing with my friends, songs that I used to listen to when I was lonely, songs that drive Firu absolutely nuts and songs that I will keep chiming in to from now on. Maybe one day I will read this again and change a few answers. But, for now, this is what my life looks like. What about yours? Please let me know if you're doing this too!

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Monday, 5 June 2017

A Thread of Impulse

The Textile Museum (Main Building)
Time for another solo museum outing from yours truly. This time my destination was the Textile Museum—located by the Tanah Abang train station, only less than 10 minutes on foot. The site is actually a complex of old buildings dating all the way back to the early 19th century—the main building was built by a Frenchman, apparently—surrounded by a gorgeous garden with a touch of traditional Indonesian shacks and gazebos. It's actually a great place for learning anything about textile. They offer workshops for batik, natural dye, tie-dye, sequence application, silk painting, embroidery and creating textile patterns on pottery. If you only feel like taking a look around, unfortunately, I don't think there is very much to see, in terms of exhibitions. Aside from the Batik Gallery, which houses all sorts of batik from all parts of the country and its materials, there is only the main building you can look into. When I went there, there was a special exhibition being held. However, the place was rather small for a museum and I can't imagine it housing much of anything, normally.

The Batik Pavilion for workshops
The Batik Gallery

Hand-me-down batik top + jumper skirt + purse // thrifted loafers // old boater hat

To be honest, when I planned a quick trip here, I didn't think about an outfit post at all. However, when I arrived on the spot, seeing how beautiful and devoid of people the place was, I just couldn't resist. Granted, I came during the Friday prayer, so everyone there pretty much swarmed to the nearest mosque. I was so mesmerised by the place that I couldn't help but to start propping up my camera and take pictures of and by myself. I climbed on a bit of walls, threading the line of proper conduct as people were streaming back into the area—oops!—but, luckily, nobody said anything, so I just kept on going. After I took some photos, I decided to actually take a look around the museum—and it was then that I found this city guide of Jakarta. Yes, we have the internet and all that but the information is never as detailed and orderly as this adorable guide. If you ever want to explore the city, I definitely recommend picking up one of these at the nearest tourist information offices—or download the digital version here, if you prefer that.


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