The Sitch and Cinnamon Buns

I really hope you had a lovely Easter weekend! It’s honest but heartbreaking to say that I was not really feeling it this year, but I’m trying. This week personally has really been about trying to focus on the silver linings, besides throwing myself a couple of short pity parties here and there.

Hate to ruin the spirits and sound like an ungrateful brat, but I could’ve been spending the holidays with my family this weekend if all of my plans didn’t get canceled, and I just needed to get it out there. And if you know me and my love for Indonesian foods, you’re probably not surprised that I had my trip planned out down to the foods I was going to eat on every meal, so when they announced border closures and travel ban a few weeks back, I just had to give myself some rights to a number of impulsive breakdowns throughout the month.

On another note, I turned 24 two Fridays ago. It’s more or less a “Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool. No doubt, no doubt, no doubt” – Jake Peralta, practically every Brooklyn99 episode. Time really flies but at the same time, it felt like March alone had lasted a decade.

It should go without saying that I had a really lovely one, despite only getting to celebrate within the confines of our apartment – Chinese takeout from this fancy new place we’re trying across the street, making wishes and blowing candles with my housemates, countless of Facetime/Zoom sessions with my families, and the sweetest surprise from my closest friends. It’s an understatement to say that my people are what keeps me sane, the loneliness bearable, and the days just a bit lighter.

And while it’s disappointing that all my plans were postponed, I have become increasingly aware of how blessed and lucky I am in this situation. I instantly feel more grateful than upset knowing that we are healthy, our family is healthy, and I am in the incredibly fortunate position of having jobs that allow me to work from home. I know that all of us are doing our best for ourselves and for the people around (but far away) from us.  Those are truths we can carry with us today. 

The fact that I’m unable to stand still and not being able to plan much is enough to drive me insane around here — which is why I’ve been distracting myself with intricate recipes, home workouts, good books, binge-worthy series, and Facetiming everyone as much as I can. So to end things on a sweet note (see, I try) – these Cream Cheese Cinnamon Buns were brought to life last weekend, because no matter how crazy the sitch is, some things remain the same – my sweet tooth and need for little cakes.

P.s. It takes almost a whole day but I promise you – it really was the most decadent, comforting, cinnamon smelling, yeast rolls I could find. And it’s not like you need to spend even more time staring at your wall, it’s not going anywhere.

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Some comfort worth sprinkling

How are you?

If you’re anything like me and alternating between two realities of “occasional unsettling fear” and “snoozy TGIF feelings” every day, then we’re on the same boat. And maybe we can all be in both places these days and that’s okay. At the same time, I’ve been trying to practice social distancing as much as possible and embrace working from home (new discoveries include finding the noise from our dryer running in the background to be quite soothing when I write emails).

It’s quite unsettling that we somewhat have an idea of what’s going on but at the same time don’t have any of the answers. I personally think that this whole experience is the jarring reminder we all need that there are things in life which you are in control of, and those you’re not. Shit happens, but you can always control your attitude and how you deal with it.

It’s uncharted territory for us all and we’re all experiencing some disruption one way or another. Weddings get postponed, flights get canceled, and birthdays are spent at home. But in what is true and good news, if there is anything this whole event has taught me, is that 1). we’ve got each other while we navigate through this weird and temporary reality together, 2). some folks really can’t live without toilet papers, and 3). we’ve got plenty of time to bake.

As baking is what I do best in times of ease and times of trouble, here’s a foolproof tiramisu recipe worth making (heads up: very easy, requires no baking but a lot of patience), just to give you another reason to stay home. Hoping you’re all staying healthy and cozy indoors and finding the little things that bring you joy: it could be doing your nails, FaceTiming your friends and family back home, or maybe you want to sit on the couch and stare at the ceiling for 45 minutes, I’m not here to tell you that’s a bad idea. Sounds pretty chill if you ask me.

Be well, stay in, and see you on the other (brighter) side. X

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Ingredients:

125ml strong black coffee
3 tbsp Amaretto, brandy, or Kahlua (optional)
2 eggs
4 tbsp caster sugar
250gm mascarpone cheese
300ml double cream, whipped thick
50gm plain dark choc, chopped (I used 54%)
50gm plain milk choc, chopped
50gm white choc, chopped
2 packs of Italian Ladyfingers
Cocoa powder for sprinkling

Mix the black coffee with the amaretto or brandy (if I’m not self-isolating I would run off to the nearest BWS and get myself some liquor for that kick, but this time I just make a strong espresso base).

Whisk the eggs and sugar in a bowl until light and thick.

Put the mascarpone in a bowl and stir in a small amount of the egg mix. Fold in the rest, then the whipped cream.

In a large serving dish, dip the sponge fingers quickly into the coffee and liquor mix, then layer the sponge fingers as the base. Spread half the mascarpone on top, then sprinkle over half the white choc and dark choc. I substituted this with some Daim chocolate my housemate got me from Sweden.

Repeat the layers using the remaining ingredients and sprinkle the remaining chocolate and cocoa powder.

Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or even better overnight.

Served best with a cup of black coffee with a dash of milk!

Two Thousand and Nineteen

Hello hello sweet pumpkins.

Can you believe we’re settling into another decade already? It honestly feels very much like a privilege this time around with everything that’s been going on (Australia’s record-breaking bushfires, ongoing conflicts on the other side of the world, and I could easily go on but let’s not turn this into a depressing post).

I know I hadn’t gone back here for the latter half of the year as I’ve had some personal crap that I needed to deal with, and at the same time blessed with work that kept me occupied with travels and exciting new projects. 2019 was a lot, and I wanted to take a moment to thank myself for staying reasoned and grateful despite the roller coaster of emotions I had to go through. Relieved to say I’ve made peace with all that’s happened and I’m starting the new year on a very hopeful note – you too you too. 

While it’s going to be impossible for me to sum up a decade, here in no particular order, are some of my favorite moments from 2019: an impromptu day trip to see the sunflowers in January,  spending Mom’s birthday in WA, trying out new recipes, late night conversations in the balcony, countless picnics by the beach, swimming in Lake McKenzie, spending Christmas with my family in Europe, and simply finding comfort in familiar faces. The year was far from perfect, but you always find magic in the mundane, and life is always worth celebrating again.

Have an amazing 2020, X.

Processed with VSCO with fv5 presetAllora, Darling Downsphoto7My birthday barbeque in March with a viewProcessed with VSCO with kp5 presetA birthday cake that I baked with a friend without a recipe but turned out amazing
(I wish I’d jotted down what I did)
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Summer dipping in waterfalls (Mount Tamborine National Park)
Processed with VSCO with 9 presetA sweet long weekend in Bali
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One of the best books I read last year: Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton
IMG_4260Attending my first press conference in Melbourne
Processed with VSCO with c5 presetPlenty sunshine on the first day of spring and making the most of this one before she went back for good Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetAnother Melbourne trip: speaking as a guest panelist in Monash UniversityProcessed with VSCO with ke1 presetRoad tripping Fraser Island and swimming in Lake McKenzieProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetAnother wonderful week back home
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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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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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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

Two Thousand and Eighteen

Since I’m a pretty sentimental person 90% of the time, it’s only fitting that this first week of the New Year has me feeling all nostalgic – I’ve been constantly looking at old photos from my phone and polaroids, going through my old agenda, and simply reflecting on how much one year can do to a person.

2018 was all about building my grit. I learned the hard ways that achievements are earned, not gifted on a silver platter. That dreams demand hustle, hard work, and persistence. While it may seem like I always ‘have it together’ most times, the truth is far from that. People close to me are aware that I’ve had my share of failures and breakdowns, because juggling uni, job, and being 5,000km away from home has not always been a breeze.

While it wasn’t without its share of downswings, I learned a lot and came out feeling more confident and sure of myself.  This year brought me my angels in human form. It brought me grace upon grace, showed me the harvest of my hardships, and reminded me to have faith in myself. 2018 was a good one and I’m nothing less than thankful for every big and small bits of it.

Here are a few of my most favorites from last year:

IMG_1532.jpg1. January: Completed my first internship in Australia during my summer semester. I had the pleasure of working with insanely driven young individuals through a fin-tech start-up. While it was a long shot from my engineering degree, I’m glad I was able to pick on their brains around all things business and finance (something I obviously didn’t get enough exposure on).

30829467_207756613154407_6747935599644114944_n.jpg2. February: Set foot in Cairns and snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef. Another thing checked off my bucket list!

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3. March: Turned big two two with the sweetest surprises from my loved ones, my home team. To say that I’m thankful to have them is an understatement.

35948698_428971210903964_2198940130754953216_n.jpg4. June: Submitted two thesis projects which I somehow manage to complete in one semester. I will forever remember walking home from the library at 4am most days only to catch a 3-hour nap and a quick shower (which was often opted out because an extra 15 minutes of sleep was clearly more crucial than one’s hygiene) before heading back to uni. This photo was taken right after my final presentation with a gorgeous bouquet from my man and a grin bigger than my face.

38802364_242607113246381_5978184723267059712_n.jpg5. Graduated with two degrees behind my name: Bachelor of Engineering with Honours from The University of Queensland and Sarjana Teknik from Universitas Indonesia. Easily one of my life’s proudest moments.

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6. Took a well-deserved break and spent two months back home to catch up with my family and friends. One of the highlights has to be this impulsive trip to Jogja with mum, my best travel buddy for life.

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7. Despite the mounting rejection letters in my inbox, I got a call one day with an offer for a position I didn’t even apply to through someone’s recommendation that I met on one of the many networking events I attended. Networking sure takes you places. I’m so grateful to have found a place to learn and grow professionally and to be surrounded by the friendliest group of colleagues I could ask for.

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8. July: Left my old place behind and moved into a two-bedroom apartment in the city. It’s definitely been an interesting change of scenery after two years of suburb-living, but Carr Street will always have a place in our hearts. I know that it’s not just the house I’m missing, but the love that filled it (and the parties too).

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9. September: Bought a studio apartment as my first property investment back home. It won’t be finished until 2021 but my Pinterest is already so full of interior/decoration ideas that I can’t wait to recreate.

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49650791_531100570730520_2560627160771461120_n.jpg10. Explored Tasmania in June and Sydney in November with my favorite people. I’m one to constantly plan my next adventure, so I’m excited to see all the places 2019 will take me.

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Credits: Pricilia Clarissa Syafira

11. 2018 marks the year I’m finally able to fully support myself financially. After starting my first real job, of course (packing groceries at a local deli weren’t exactly the most lucrative careers). While it’s thrilling to be independent, I’m still learning to manage my finances and trying not to spend like a rock start after every paycheck. One of my resolutions this year is to learn more about saving/investing, so if you know any good tips or books on them, give this girl a shoutout.

49661536_300110913982944_3198398614174957568_n.jpg49428987_2165026370185687_483911628778110976_n.jpg12. Another Christmas away from home, but made sure I’m ending the year with the right people at the right places. We spent the last bits of 2018 swimming in waterfalls and counted down the New Years playing sparklers by the pool in our cosy Airbnb in Lota. Wouldn’t have want to spend it any other way.

Looking forward to great things to come in 2019. Here’s to new chances, new adventures, and to trust in the magic of new beginnings. Happy New Year! X.