Western Straya

To celebrate my mom’s big 50th last month, I treated her to do one of the things she loves and does best: adventures. With me living in Brisbane and her in Jakarta, Western Australia seemed like a good idea (it’s equally half-way for us both), so I booked her a return ticket to go to Perth with my dad and brother to spend the long-Easter-weekend together. My sister couldn’t tag along but she was having the best time on a school trip to Japan, so I’m not exactly sad for her.

While I’ve actually explored a great deal of Perth with my mom back in 2015 – before I even moved to Australia, we’ve always wanted to explore the southern part of this state, particularly the famous Margaret River Region. Here’s the low-down on everything we did during our 5 days stay in WA, from chasing Quokkas to sipping one of Australia’s finest wines.

Rottnest Island

We kicked the weekend off straight with a day-trip to Rottnest Island, a 30-minute ferry ride off the coast of Perth city (learn from me and have some breakfast before you board – seasick with an empty stomach is no joke).

There’s frankly no other way to describe this island than absolute paradise. Rottnest is made for exploring on two wheels there are no cars on the island. We hopped on from one beach to another, picnicked by the waters, and expended any leftover energy we had left with leisurely bike rides around the island.

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Lastly, you can’t mention Rotto without bringing up the island’s cheekiest locals – Quokkas. They’re practically everywhere – I saw one trying to sneak into the general store near the jetty, one napping peacefully, completely undisturbed by the holiday crowds. These little guys are definitely one of the highlights of the trip and it’s unlikely that you’ll leave without bumping into them.

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The Margaret River Region

After a full day at the beach, I did not exactly look forward to a three-hour drive to the Margaret River – where we were staying for the next three days. But it was worth every minute of it. We stayed in the chalet-style Premalaya Wellness Resort in Yallingup and it was the pure sanctuary that we all needed. We fell asleep to the sound of frogs & crickets and woke up to the sound of native birds with a whispery breeze of the Indian Ocean. I easily switched off from the crazy world where uncomplicated living has somehow been forgotten. It was a place to just be. 

You can probably tell from the photos that the weather had quickly changed from being freakish warm to cloudy and grey the very next day. Luckily, I remembered to check on the weather and made sure to pack everything from bathing suits and shorts to turtlenecks and heat-tech leggings. (I’m always one to learn from mistakes – one time I had packed a suitcase full of summer outfits and zero warm layers when I flew from 23 degrees Brisbane to an 8 degree Adelaide and no clue that a storm was going to hit.)

The Margaret River is already known as one of the most scenic regions in Australia and home to some of the best wines in the world. So it was only appropriate that we spent the next few days vineyard-hopping, sipping Rosés straight from the source, tasting fresh local produces, and exploring seaside cliffs all in the same day.

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Fremantle

For my brother and his love of seafood, I knew I had to take him to the old town Fremantle. We went to the same fish market and sat at the exact same spot my mom and I sat down when we were visiting back in 2015 – and it kind of took a nostalgic toll on me.

My trip to Perth 3 years ago was quite a significant one as I was getting ready to move there to continue my final two years of university. But things didn’t work out. Just when I thought I was all set and ready to go (a few weeks before my departure to be exact), things took a different turn, and I found myself in the complete opposite end of the continent – Queensland.

As I walked by the pier, there was this funny feeling that comes when you look at places you thought you belong and realize how things don’t always work out the way you think they should; but sometimes plans fall apart so better things can fall together. Looking back, I couldn’t be more grateful that what happened, happened – because it led me to this life that I’m living now and I wouldn’t change one thing if I could.

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Perth 

We were back in Perth just in time to celebrate Easter and my mom’s birthday. It was our last full day together before we went our separate ways again, so all we wanted was some easy, laidback, quality time. We drove up to Kings Park and set up a little picnic on one of the hilly spots, got a mini chocolate cake for mom from a nearby café, and spent the rest of the afternoon overlooking the city and making the most of our time together. As I’m writing this, I’m already counting days to our next reunion and of course, more adventures.

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The Only Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe You Will Ever Need to Know

I’m always constantly on the quest for finding the perfect, failproof classic recipes – from brownies, sponge cakes, to chocolate chip cookies. Also, it should come to no surprise that I take every chocolatey snacks very seriously.  So when a friend introduced this recipe as her holy grail, I knew I had to make it too. They turned out amazing with the perfect consistency – a little crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside.

The process itself isn’t difficult or time-consuming, although they require some serious patience when it comes to chilling the dough before baking it (the recipe calls for only 1 hour, but I would recommend chilling it for at least 24 hours, preferably up to 36 hours to guarantee that crispy-exterior-chewy-inside texture). Do keep in mind they only last for 3 months (but who’s really counting when my housemates nearly inhaled all of them in one night).

There aren’t many ways to improve a classic chocolate chip cookie until I read about adding a sprinkle of sea salt from this other recipe (you know it’s legit when it was featured in the NY Times Cooking website). I know how crazy this sounds, but just do it, and thank me later. It makes all the sweetness sing, and I’m definitely never skipping this step again.

Another key to the magic here is the addition of cornstarch – which when mixed into all-purpose flour, actually becomes cake flour! (another secret tip I just learned from my friend). I know I’ll always be prepared with some extra cookie dough from now on, for days when nothing could beat the feeling of discovering a bag of some frozen ready-to-bake chocolate gems in the freezer.

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Advice from a Sunflower

I know I haven’t been sharing a lot of personal stuff lately, but there are currently things that have been bugging me that I needed to get out of my system. It’s kind of hard to grasp that I turn 23 in two weeks time. It feels like only months ago where my 18-y.o. self would sit down with my girlfriends in my room after school and talk for hours about what we’d be doing in the next 5 years.

23 felt like a lifetime away.

Yet here I am 5 years later, nearly a year out of college, diving head first into adult life and trying to make a life of my own 3000 miles away from home. The truth is reality bites. Life gets cluttered with work, bills, savings, and it didn’t exactly come with a manual to tell me how to get my shit together. 

It’s a weird time to be alive. 

Being the oldest one in my family (the oldest grandchild from both of my parents’ sides for that matter) and seeing some of my friends getting married and starting a family, I’m kind of constantly under the assumption that I need to have it all figured out by a certain age or otherwise I’m forever stuck in a rut.

There will be lots of changes, unknown circumstances, and a lot of confusing experiences. So here’s a note for myself to look back on whenever I get tangled in all life’s uncertainties: always be grateful, have faith in yourself, remember that life’s not a competition and that you don’t have to have it all figured out by now. And you might never will, and that it’s okay too.

And when you’re feeling a little lost, I want you to take a second to look back to this warm summer drive to Allora under Brisbane’s January sun. May this sunflower field serve you as a kind reminder to always be bright and to hold your head up high no matter what life throws at you.

Because seasons may change, but you will always get to bloom again.

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A KitKat Themed Weekend

I just got home from the gym on Sunday morning, when my roommate handed me over a piece of folded paper torn from an Indonesian magazine and said “make me this.” I was nothing less than confused at first to see a page full of some random massages parlors’ ads, but on the other side was a recipe for KitKat brownies (also found here). It was a rather perfect timing since I had been looking for something to bake on the weekend (despite just coming home from the gym, naturally).

It was essentially a classic brownies recipe with some chopped KitKats added to the mixture and as toppings too. It was a delicious mix between chewy and crunchy, and I couldn’t think of better snacks to bring into the office the next day (got to start Monday mornings right).

Ingredients:

115 gr unsalted butter
200 gr dark cooking chocolate, roughly chopped
3 eggs
225 gr granulated sugar
130 gr plain flour, sifted
20 gr cocoa powder, sifted (I used Nestle’s baking chocolate powder)
150 gr Kit Kat, chopped into cubes

  1. Preheat your oven to 190’C. Prep a 18x18cm dish with some baking paper, making sure to cover all the sides.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the sifted flour and coco powder (dry ingredients).
  3. In a pan, melt the unsalted butter and dark chocolate over medium heat. Stir continuously until it is shiny, smooth. Once completely melted, lift off the heat and let it cool for a bit on the counter.
  4. Mix in the granulated sugar using hand whisker or electric mixer on low. Let it dissolve into the warm chocolate mixture.
  5. Mix in 3 eggs into the wet ingredients.
  6. Mix in 1/2 of the dry ingredients and 1/2 of the chopped Kitkat into the wet mixture. Whisk briefly with a spatula until everything is just incorporated. You don’t want to over-mix.
  7. Pour mixture into the prepped baking dish and sprinkle over the rest of the KitKats on top.
  8. Bake in preheated oven (190’C) for 20 minutes on the top rack of your oven.
  9. Transfer the dish to the middle rack and lower heat down to 150 ‘C. Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  10. Let brownies completely cool before cut and served.

Ps. best served with a heaping spoon of vanilla ice cream!

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Chocolate Baileys Soufflé

Besides baking the annual chocolate pavlovas for Australia Day this year, I invited my girlfriend over (and her bottle of Baileys) to knuckle down our first attempt at making soufflés. I recall my first encounter with a chocolate soufflé in Bakerzin. It was served with the richest vanilla ice cream and was easily love at first bite.

A few legal drinking years later, this time we decided to incorporate some Baileys Irish cream to make it extra luxurious and take the flavor to the next level. Light as air, melt in your mouth puffiness, this one is complemented with dollops of homemade Crème Anglaise (don’t get intimidated by the name, it couldn’t be easier to make). Sure, it collapsed 2 minutes after we took it out of the oven, but it was the most delicious hot gooey mess I’ve eaten in weeks.

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This recipe is originated from Chocolate & Connie and makes 6 servings. 

Ingredients:

For the soufflés:
½ cup milk
¼ cup + 6 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz dark chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup Bailey’s® Irish Cream liqueur
10 egg whites at room temperature

For the Bailey’s Crème Anglaise:
½ cup milk
¼ cup + 6 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz dark chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup Bailey’s® Irish Cream liqueur

First, we want to start with our Crème Anglaise since we want our soufflés to be served immediately after coming out from the oven. We need to make sure our Crème Anglaise is ready by then.

1). In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt until slightly thickened and lighter in color. Set aside.

2). In a medium saucepan, warm the heavy cream and milk over medium heat just until steaming but not boiling.

3). Slowly pour half the warm milk mixture into the yolks while whisking continuously. This method of tempering the eggs will keep them from scrambling.

4). Pour the now-warm yolk mixture back into the saucepan, whisking to combine.

5). Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. This will only take a few minutes.

Now here comes the fun part, our soufflés.

1). Preheat the oven to 180°C

2). Lightly butter your ramekins and sprinkle the inside with sugar, tap out any excess

3). Whisk the milk, ¼ cup of the sugar, the cornstarch and vanilla in a small dish and set aside

4). Melt the chocolate and butter in a small sauce pot over low heat, stirring constantly until melted

5). Stir in the milk mixture in 2 additions, whisking until evenly blended (Expect the mixture to be a thick paste and may look a little grainy – it will smooth out after the whites are folded in)

6). Stir in our Bailey’s® and keep the chocolate paste warm over low heat, stirring occasionally, transfer the warm chocolate to a large bowl.

7). Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until they are foamy then slowly pour in the remaining 6 tbsp of sugar.

8). Continue to whip until the whites hold a medium peak when the beaters are lifted

9). Fold in a third of the whites into the warm chocolate and quickly but gently fold them in – they will deflate quite a bit, but this is expected

10). Fold in the remaining two thirds of the batter until incorporated then pour this into the prepared soufflé dishes

11). Bake the soufflés for 10 to 12 minutes until the tops take on a dull look, but the inside still looks shiny and soft where a crack may form. Serve immediately with the creme while it’s warm.

 

Sydney Gets Better the Second Time

by Pricilia Clarissa Syafira

(I was just going do a post about my recent trip to Sydney when I found this piece about our trip already so perfectly written by one of the most adventurous souls I know, Fia. I decided to keep the title as this was my second time visiting too, since the last time I stepped foot in Sydney in 2009. Easily one of the perks of having a QUT student blogger and an incredible photographer as your best friend. Read her original piece over here). 

Especially in the beginning of summer.

I felt lucky, with time and prodigious boundary size of mine dragged me to be able to explore. I mean, everywhere in Australia clearly is not a cheap destination compared to my travels to local cities in Indonesia. But there I was, graduating soon enough and I’m going to explore the city one last time in a while.

The holiday started out by hunting a promotional airplane ticket by Tiger Airways; TigerAir Tuesday, where they discount the price every now and then for certain dates. The ticket was $150 return Brisbane – Sydney. The budget trip took us to another level; we rented out a private room hostel in Kings Cross Station (we didn’t know then it was a party area, there was loud music now and then but we were pretty much a heavy sleeper), Astoria Pop Space. The place was near the Kings Cross train station and the train is pretty much the most effective public transport the whole time I was there. The time spent was 4 nights.

The first day we arrived quite late, so the only thing we explored was dinner around Kings Cross. We found this underground restaurant, looked much like a bar as the place was so dark. Turned out to be Ms.G’s Restaurant, the best Asian fusion restaurant I’ve ever tried in my life. As an Asian, the recipe is approved. Best food: Cheeseburger Springroll, Silken Tofu, and Baby snapper with sambal balado.

The next day we spent the whole day as a tourist and did a lot of photoshoot. I like to take pictures more than taken, so here are the photographs I took, mostly of my weird friends Amanda Indriani and Sara Setiadi.

46302313652_d2cac27fac_o.jpg31413655097_c36c8d984d_o.jpg Sydney’s festive displays on George St. 

46139854702_d98453ce95_o.jpg45278122115_9eb8928fc7_o.jpgMr. Wong. A popular Chinese restaurant that I think is overrated and overpriced.

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46190344241_7685865c2f_o.jpgWendy Witheley Garden – one of Sydney’s best kept secrets.

46190326141_008346bacf_o.jpgScreen Shot 2019-01-23 at 10.03.30 PM.pngHopping around Luna Park.

46139673072_91db2ac38c_o.jpg31250917027_02f7be5269_o.jpg46190148561_4546cf2470_o.jpg Opera House in the golden hour.. is so great for my Canon EOS40D to be in action!

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together with this view!

The next day, the day started off with brunch at the Sydney Fish Market. We had a fight though with a bunch of seagulls and an ibis who decided to take three slices of fresh salmons off our plates! Lol, it was so fun nonetheless.

46190085571_38481ba390_o.jpg32870263528_ab2069c797_o.jpgEssentially a seafood paradise

46745621581_e07d75ba92_o.jpgDarling Harbour’s Tumbalong Playground Park

We spent the afternoon eating McDonalds $0.75 ice cream while sitting down on the side, planning on how to slide on the playground slide without destroying the children’s dreams, and also talking about marriage… how we’re going to face adultery and many other dark stuff.. WHOOPS! however we ended up playing on the playground and not give a damn about that part of life, and kept thinking like a child because we’re on holidays after all!

Well the day didn’t end there, but I went to a rock show afterwards. It was Neck Deep in Metro Theatre, Sydney. I don’t have pictures but I have some videos that I will keep to myself and my instagram for 24 hours.

The next day, we needed fresher air. So off to Bondi we went.

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It’s true that hanging around the beach makes you hungry at the end. So we went off directly back to town, Chinatown, to try one of the best ramen known to asian people in the city ~ Ramen Kan. IT’S SO GOOD.

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The last day was spent in The Grounds of Alexandria for both brunch and coffee hour. The place is too crowded, but we were too tired to explore with our three suitcases tagging along.

Your feminine side will definitely go out when you’re here, it’s all garden and being cute. They managed to blow out some snow in the middle of the day in the Christmas aisle. It was hot that day, but the glass houses filled with plants kept us lukewarm.

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Since one of the chef is a friend of ours, she ended up bringing her recipe for us, a recipe that she brought to the restaurant; Mango Parfait! It tasted amazing.

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We were accompanied by Fluffy, the house’s bird pet! He just sat there without anything to tie him, he was just amongst us minding his own business with the passionfruit that he showed off on purpose.

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This girls trip is just what I needed while waiting for graduation. Cheers to these two!

-PCS

Head to Fia’s Flickr account and mine for more pictures.

Twelve Commandments

Inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s Twelve Commandments from her book “The Happiness Project,” I wanted to have something similar of my own to live by. Something that I can easily look back to when I get lost from time to time, when the struggle is real, or simply in times when I need a kind reminder to sometimes just let things be. 

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After days of contemplating, adding and removing items from the list, I’ve finally arrived at my Twelve Commandments – made up of lessons I’ve learned and resolutions I actually want to live by.

  1. You will only be exactly as happy as you decide to be.
  2. Let it come, let it go.
  3. Prioritize peace.
  4. Call my family more to say 'how are you' and 'I love you.'
  5. Chase more sunsets, hike more mountains, gaze more stars.
  6. The days are long, but the years are short - be present. 
  7. Grateful for small things, big things, and everything in between.
  8. Everything would make sense. Not always immediately, but eventually.
  9. Don't stress the could haves. If it should have, it would have.
  10. God's timing, not yours.
  11. Work smart, play hard.
  12. Write it all down.

Comment down below if you’re making one, I’d love to read yours too. X