Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Grainy Season

It's been quite a while since the last black-and-white outfit post on this blog, so since these photos don't have the best of lighting—and the outfit is almost devoid of colours—I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do this again. I love the intimacy the lack of colour and a bit of film grains can add to a photo—it creates this romantic vibe to the whole atmosphere—which is just absolutely perfect for this set of photos, since they were taken when I was hanging out with my best friends around a week ago. I'm so happy to be able to do this and be myself in front of them now—they rarely ever see me in this kind of settings, so it could feel somewhat awkward for me, to be honest. Something else I find awkward is whether or not to post photos of my friends at times like this. Would they expect me to post photos of them? Would they prefer if I don't? If it were me, I think I'd want them to—but that's because I'm a blogger and it's good for networking. Personally, I would love to post as many photos of them on my blog as possible—what better way to show someone you love them, no?—but since they tend to be quite private, I think it's better to stick to just our selfies together from now on.

Hand-me-down shirt // swapped dress // old hat + boots + tights // Exsport bag (really old!) // photos by Uli

As for the outfit, it was actually an after-class-hangout kind of outfit, so the clothes might be quite chic but the bag is, well, my usual uni bag (lol). I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this before, but this bag and I went way back—I mean, way back from middle school—so it's definitely become an item of nostalgia between me and my friends. It's also a bit of a rebellious outfit, because on my campus—I don't know if this applies across the country—people will scold you if you wear clothes even slightly above the knee. I did it on my first day and people stared at me and the security guard told me off—even though it was this dress, which is not revealing in any way. But with a pair of tights, nobody even bat an eyelash—okay, not really, but still—so I think it should shut them up a little. I don't know why it still matters what we wear to school, if we respect the lecturers, do our assignments and get good grades anyway. Typical Indonesian to make mountains out of molehills—and vice versa—so different from Germany, where people could wear tank tops and shorts to class in the summer, nichts schlimmes!


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Sunday, 15 October 2017

Mini Pink Pearl Pudding

Okay, I'll be honest with you: this recipe was actually a fail that I prepared last month. I wasn't going to post it, but I seriously can't be bothered with creating a new recipe for this month—usually I would be reminded to cook and be able to think of something, but lately I'm just not in the mood to create food, except the really simple variety not worth of a recipe. While we're at it, let me just share a few things on this cooking experience. First thing's first: this recipe was actually taken from my Stepmom's recipe book, ... . The instructions weren't...correct, though, for some reason—despite the beautiful photo of the food—so I ended having this really...err, gooey thing, in the end. I tried making it a second time but it also didn't pan out very well—I think I was being impatient, though—so I technically don't have the correct photo of the successful food, but will try my best to give the correct recipe to you all. In the spirit of Halloween, we could just pretend these are tiny edible brains. Whatever the shape, though, it still tastes rather good.

Ingredients
(original recipe via Kue Klasik Favorit 2)
For the pudding
  • 150 gr sago pearls
  • 700 ml water
  1. Boil the water and add in the sago pearls
  2. Cook until the pearls are translucent and expanding
  3. Strain the pearls, put it in little moulds and let cool
  4. Transfer the pudding to a plate/bowl to eat
For the kinca sauce
  • 200 gr palm sugar
  • 200 ml water
  • 3 pandanus leaves
  • 5 jackfruits (optional)
  1. Boil the palm sugar and pandanus leaf in water, until the sugar melts
  2. Strain the sugar and leaves from the pan
  3. Remove pan from heat and transfer to a bowl
For the coconut milk sauce
  • 450 ml thick coconut milk (from 1/2 coconut)
  • 1 pandanus leaf
  • a pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp. rice flour, diluted
  1. Boil the coconut milk and pandanus leaf
  2. Add the salt and rice flour, stir occasionally
  3. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl
To eat the pudding, pour both the sauces on top of the pudding and dig in!
Tips:  The coconut milk used in this recipe is the one for cooking—which is quite thick—and definitely not one you can have as a beverage. To dilute the rice flour, add enough water to the mixture until it turns into somewhat thick liquid. To create the gooey texture in these photos, soak the sago pearls before boiling in 1000ml water. To make it hold its pearly shape, this recipe might do, but it'll be a bit too sticky on the pan to be transferred to the moulds, so be extra patient. The gooey version will be much easier to transfer. Let it cool for 2-3 minutes before transferring for the best outcome. Lass es euch schmecken!

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Thursday, 12 October 2017

#24Before25: German Books That I've Read

In the spirit of my birthday month, I thought it would be nice to continue on the review of my 24 Before 25 List. As is the case for several years, last year my list contains literary challenges as well—not one, not two, but four. For this post, though, I would just like to focus on the German books challenge. I didn't put a minimum number of books to read, which is nice, considering how unpredictable my life had become. Most of these books were given to me for free by my friends who still reside in Germany, so I'm super psyched about them. And, you know what, reading in German is definitely different from English—there's a character in each language, you know. Albeit not all these books are originally German—one is translated from Japanese, one from Swedish and one actually from English—the experience is more or less the same. Let's get started, shall we?

Der Dieb by Fuminori Nakamura

My friend Frederick got this at the Frankfurt Book Fair—it's a proofed manuscript, not for sale—and he didn't like the genre, so gave it to me. It's a very thin book—around 200-something pages—so it was a great introduction to the whole reading-in-German thing. It's actually been a while, though, since I last read a Japanese novel and I often forget how poetic even the proses can be. This book is concealed almost fully in mystery. To this day, I'm not entirely sure what the story is about—something along the line of mafia/hitman—but I will try my best to jog my memory. The story follows the main character, a professional pickpocket who, after an encounter and dangerous mission from a yakuza clan in Tokyo, drifts through the city, unsure of the condition of his partner—alive or dead? His world is painted black in the cold of the winter and his skills untouched from the traumatic experience—but he seems to still be in constant danger. I'm not sure how it ends, I feel like it has an open ending, but it was quite entertaining for a quick commute read.

Und morgen du by Stefan Ahnhem

Being the first Swedish book I've ever read, I absolutely loved this book! According to Goodreads, it's the longest book I've read this year so far—yes, it is quite thick. The story, though, wow! It's so full of mysteries, gore/blood and definitely plot twists that catch you off guard. It feels a bit like a maze, where there are twists and turns that you wouldn't expect to be there. The story follows Fabian Risk, a police officer who just moves back to his hometown of Helsingborg from Stockholm due to a sort of scandal. Not two minutes into his new house, he is already welcomed into town with a murder case. At first, he doesn't want to be involved just yet, because his working period has yet to start. However, it turns out the victims and crime scene are remnants of his childhood memory, which dragged him in anyway. Not only are there multiple murder cases, the victims are also killed violently—being quite vividly described throughout the book. It is so gripping! I found it very hard to put the book down—even at night, when I usually don't read scary things. Definitely one of the best reads of the year!

Archie Greene und die Bibliothek der Magie by D.D. Everest

Although translated from English—and being set in the UK—I've never heard of this book before. I felt quite encouraged when I saw the cover and it mildly reminds me of The Pagemaster. However—I don't know if it's the story or if it was just my preference at the time—I felt so unmotivated in reading this book until the end. I did finish it, mind you, but I definitely felt like nothing held me to the story. The characters also haven't had time to bond with each other very much before the climax happens and gets resolved. I think it is the first of several books, but I definitely will not continue the series—partly because this came to me free of charge. Younger readers might find this entertaining, though—I actually did too—but I don't see anything more to it than that.

Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo by Christiane F.

Probably one of the most intense books I've ever read in my whole life—even more so because it's non-fiction. I think this is the first German non-fiction I've ever read that isn't for school. The story follows Christiane who, at 13 years old, already tried her first heroin and got completely hooked it screwed over her life. It talks about the drug scene in late 1970s Berlin, particularly at Bahnhof Zoo, where Christiane, her boyfriend Detlef and their friends tend to hang out. Honestly, it's so scary how addicted one can be, basically selling themselves to get money for the dope and going from toilet to toilet to get it in their system. The scariest part is, at the time, Christiane wasn't an exception—many teenagers had somehow fallen victim to heroin, some of them even died. The book offers many false climaxes, with Christiane saying she wants to quit over and over again, but somehow always finds her way back to her drugs. The deeper you get into the book, the less of Christiane's dignity is intact. By the end of it, I'm just glad to get away from that whole world—and, thankfully, how different Germany is now.

Der Erdbeerpflücker by Monika Feth

This one was given to me by Iva, because she happened to find a box full of discarded books on her front door one day—this and two other books happened to be inside. It's a crime novel and—it turns out—not that bad. I actually loved reading this! The story has a really nice flow, the relationships between the characters feel natural and the case is rather interesting. We are offered various point-of-views, including the culprit's, so we know exactly who it is and how he did it, but we don't know how the others will be able to catch him. That in itself is quite exhilarating! For a thriller, it's not too thrilling, I must say. So, if you're a fan of this genre, you probably wouldn't find it as enjoyable. However, it makes up for it in philosophical and psychological backgrounds of the characters. It really gets you thinking that people are almost never as they seem. I have another book on this series—although it's the third one, since Iva mistakenly took another book and not the second one—and I just can't wait to read more books by this author.

So those are the German books that I've devoured this past year. I feel bad that there are only five, but I've still got a couple more I can flip through, so this will definitely not be the last you see me reading German books. One of the things that I've learnt from the experience is how much longer it takes me to finish books in this language—twice as long, I think—but also how differently I relate to the stories within the books. I'm sure it was pure coincidence that most of them have quite a serious/dramatic theme, but the language kind of suits it very well. In fact, it's probably much more serious and suspenseful exactly because they are written in German. Maybe next time I'll try reading comedy or romance in this language, just to see how they would feel. Also, here's a video of the top 10 YA series I used to follow as a teen—in regards to another literary challenge I gave myself on that same list. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Lessons Learnt: Managing Money

October is officially here, which means it's time to countdown to my birthday and do a bit of a review of all the goals on my 24 Before 25 List. One of it was to manage money better (and save for the future). While the latter part of that goal/challenge was yet to be achieved, I think I definitely learnt how to organise my money much better now—especially since I have a relatively steady income flow as of 2017. I've gone from a hedonistic, ignorant girl to a full-fledged money-saving woman in the span of one year—okay, actually, this journey has been going on for longer than that. A little disclaimer: I am no money expert, perhaps even far from it, and my money-managing journey is far for perfect, but I feel like I have some lessons in my pocket now that I can share with all of you. Of course, if you want actual, professional tips, you could check out The Financial Diet—there are some kick-ass money-savvy ladies over there. In the meantime, I hope you'll find these lessons somewhat helpful.

Have It on Record

All your expenses, all your incomes, all your debts—make sure you have a record of all of them. When I used to live on my own, I used to have an actual book where I keep these things on record. But, after moving back home and familiarising myself with technology, I started to have an app for these things. I use Monefy to keep track of all my earnings and spendings and Splitwise to keep track of all my debts. Having the apps on my phone really helps me keep up with my day-to-day spendings at all times. Although I don't have an actual, nominal monthly/weekly budget, doing this helps me so much in knowing which aspects of my life I could/should cut back on, which parts of my life I should invest in and how much of my monthly salary I could save up. Sometimes I lose track too, though, and a great portion of my money disappears into thin air—but that's okay, because I still can find out how I use my money and what can I do to make it better.

Two Is Better than One

This is something I've been learning over and over again through various sources on the internet: have more than one income. Usually, it applies to freelancers, but I think everyone should do it. The thing about income is you actually never know when it'll stop coming—freelance or otherwise. Your office could declare bankruptcy tomorrow or your boss might have to let you go or you might not get any clients at all this month. Who knows? Which is why it's always best to have a spare income in the pocket. You can do this through various means. Some people have side jobs—this is how freelancing often starts—and some people make investments. If you get a side job, make sure it doesn't get in the way with your main job, lest it would defeat the purpose. Pick something light on your body and brain or maybe a passive income—which is where you create something and you can sell it forever, making an effortless income flow. A plan B, you know.

Pay Up Front

Debt isn't something I like to keep—although I do still have a lot—and I'm sure a lot of people feel the same way. Whenever I borrow money from my friends, I try my best to pay them back as soon as possible. Last year I finally acquired a credit card and, while I don't like to have it burning holes in my wallet, I started using it almost right away, out of necessity. My Dad sat me down and gave me some great advice on managing my credit card—and the debt it comes with. He said, pay more than you owe and try to use it after the billing date, if possible. This I do, but also added my own rule: try as much as possible to pay it off at the beginning of the cycle. For instance, my credit card is billed every 19th of the month and due every 4th of the next month. Personally, after acquiring my salary, I try to pay the upcoming bills—which I can already pretty much check online—on the 5th or within a week of that. That way, I wouldn't have to worry about it for much longer or blow that money on whatever—ending up with possibly bigger debts.

Switch It Down

What I realise more and more as I grow older is how many things are unnecessarily pricey, i.e. "healthy" products. Honestly, not all things that are more expensive have better quality—sometimes they have even worse quality. How can that be? More often than not, all this excess money goes to their branding and packaging. It is best to buy something for cheaper, especially when you don't use it very often. Buying something packaging-free is often less expensive—and you can buy in bulk too! Getting certain things at the farmer's market can be a good choice for your wallet too—while supporting local farmers in the process. Also, pay attention to limited offers/promotions that could save you a lot of money. Check your local supermarket's weekly catalogue and note down the on-sale items that you might need. It might be a bit of a chore but you wouldn't believe how much of a difference it could make.

Pick Your Battles

Obviously, with money, it always comes down to the owner. How and where you want to spend your money are entirely up to you. There is no one formula for how to manage your money, basically, because everyone treats their money differently. You might want to invest on certain things, but not others and your friends might want to do the exact opposite—and it's okay, because we all live different lives. Just always know when you should save and when you should splurge—and why. Maybe if last month you spent a lot on eating out and clothes shopping, this month you focus your money towards groceries and homeware items. Make that a commitment and let your friends and family know, when they ask you to hang out in a fancy eatery. Also, make a (mental) pros-and-cons list of a potential purchase when you see something you like in a store—online or otherwise. If you feel like you would get a lot of use out of it, maybe it's worth buying. If not, then put the item down—trust me, your life won't feel less complete without it.

The most important thing of all to remember is to discipline yourself and keep at it with all these tips. It's no use if you do it once and then never do it again. Or if you note down all your spendings and earnings, but don't keep yourself in check and keep splurging on things anyway. As the TFD ladies once said, just as you never fully feel like an adult when you grow up, no one ever feels like they have financial success in their hands. Managing money, like most things, is an endless journey. As long as you have it, you need to keep doing it—and most of us need to have it to survive. Don't worry, a lot of people still struggle on how they should treat their money—as am I!—but to remember to keep on managing is the best thing to do. Related to this, you can also check out some lessons I learnt on a year of no shopping. It might really help you follow that last tip there ;)

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Thursday, 5 October 2017

Brand New Life

A little glimpse of the humble cafeteria building

As you might know, I've recently started a new life at a new campus—yep, it's been my life for the past 3 years now, hopping from campus to campus—and it's been...a struggle, to say the least. It's probably not the campus's fault—or the classmates', for that matter—it's just these things always take time. That being said, I do actually enjoy my new campus building very much. It's so green, spacious and well-facilitated. The architecture is also rather nice, although a bit too modern for my liking, actually. But it being so big—and goddamn tall, like 19 floors—means that there are definitely some nooks and crannies that would be devoid of people at some point of the day. Flashback to several posts from my Kassel days, a big campus is literally a place to scout a new place for outfit photos, am I right? And that's what I did last week. In case you're curious, I'm still taking Graphic Design as a major and continuing on from my previous studies—although I was held back a semester to take some classes I hadn't had yet. Most of my classes this semester are, sadly, theory-based and quite tedious, but I can only power through.

Sis's shirt (borrowed) // drsv pants (giveaway!) // gifted jumper // thrifted backpack // MKS shoes

As if I'm going full flashback on my Kassel days, this is actually my second wearing of the outfit—that week, at least. The first time I wore it, it was raining quite hard and super cold, so the jumper is very fitting. However, on this day, the sun was a-blazing and the temperature rather high, so it was sweat city for me. You might be able to tell that from the photos, though. There is something slightly autumnal and full-on college-appropriate about the whole ensemble, I feel. It has a jumper, a preppy touch and a backpack. Have you missed this backpack, by the way? It's been too long, since the last time it made an appearance on the blog. I've missed having it around. And these pants; they're one of the only pairs to fit me at the moment, to be honest. Thank goodness it's a cool one, so no complaints here—though not really. These photos were taken at this—honestly—shady corner outside of the second floor of the campus library. Not a bad place to chill, honestly.

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Sunday, 1 October 2017

September in Overview

Spent my first analog camera roll in less than a month—or was it actually a week?

September has always been one of my least favourite months of the year. It's always felt like that limbo—between summer and autumn, between holiday and uni, between the festivities of the previous months and my birthday month—without any particular significant date in my life. So I never really know how to feel in September—especially now that uni has re-started again, after a long break. Less has been going on this month in comparison to the previous months, taking a bit more time to work and slow down before the whirlwind of Inktober and Uni and birthday festivities—all I have planned is to have a cake on D-day. That being said, I've managed to catch up with old friends, relatively new friends and visited two local markets by myself—among other things. I didn't go out of town, though, nor did I get out of the house too often. But it was a nice month to learn and grow and let myself heal and rest.

Currently Reading

Starting with Ghana Must Go during my trip, because it was the last-minute book I decided to bring and it turns out to be quite a touching family story. Another African book to add to my bookshelf. The story is so unbelievably raw and unpredictable! Pushing close to my 25th birthday, I am on rushing-to-finish-my-book-goals mode right now, so I continued on with Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo, which is a non-fiction memoir by a former drug-addict of 1970s Berlin. It is such an uncensored story about a 13-year-old who fell into heroin addiction and her years of struggle between trying to acquire money for more dope and to quit drugs altogether. Such a heavy story, to be honest, and it got me feeling really glad that Germany is a whole lot different now. Joining Goodreads Indonesia's monthly challenge again this month, I chose The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith a.k.a. J.K. Rowling. It's a crime novel about a suspicious suicide pursued by a glum private investigator and his newly-acquired, overqualified secretary. Not the best crime novel I've ever read, but it's not that bad and Rowling used the pseudonym thing right. Lastly, finally closing the Artemis Fowl series with its last instalment—can't say I was happy with it.

Currently Watching

Already at the start of the month was I instantly hooked into Wayward Pines, which was playing on re-run on TV. I've been wanting to watch this series for months, but never seemed to find the time to follow along. Now that I have a bit of free time on my hands, I decided to binge watch the whole 2 seasons. I can't believe how invested I was to the story and characters! I didn't really watch much else of note, except for Kingsman: The Golden Circle on cinema—which was just as hilarious and gory as the first one—and Fantastic Mr. Fox on TV—which I've never watched before but enjoyed immensely. Roald Dahl and Wes Anderson is serious match made in heaven! Love George Clooney's voice acting too. Lastly, I got completely hooked on Dan and Phil Play: Sims 4—which I prefer to call The Life of Dil Howlter. Their narrating and reactions are so funny! It's very refreshing and interesting to see someone take The Sims seriously. Dil feels like such a real person.

Currently Listening

This month has started off with hordes of podcasts, which is quite unusual for me. I've been getting into more podcasts lately and I'm so glad to find various of my favourite Youtubers have really good ones. The first one is Being Boss, which talks about how to become the boss of your own career—whether you have your own business, you are freelancing or you work at a company. It is really inspiring and helpful, perfect for listening during work, to be honest. The second on is a cute, segmented podcast—talking sometimes about conspiracies, about science and about culture—called Crash on My Couch by Arden Rose and Will Darbyshire. I absolutely love learning new facts and sharing ideas from this podcast—especially the adorable segment transitions. Lastly, probably the best one of all for me, is a really casual, advice-focused podcast by Lex Croucher and Rosianna Halse Rojas called Make Out with Him. I love their rather mature and intelligent opinions and statements. It's so good to listen to with a cup of tea and a bit of rain, I think.

Highlight of the Month

Meeting up with my old friend Tiara again (after 10 years!) // celebrating International Literacy Day // went to two local markets on my own and went home with awesome souvenirs! // another #TantanganBacaGRI contribution // meeting up with former uni mate Caro (and her thirdwheeling bf) // bumped into my high school senior Wulan who made the design for this model at WOG Exhibition // pre-class chilling and throwback sketches // Taco Tuesday with les best friends // daily view on the daily grind

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