A Little Bit of Everything

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Strangers That Turned Into Family

I’m so stoked to be back from finals and with a ton of pictures and stories to share. Today marks the end of my 4th semester as well as my last day in University of Indonesia. Don’t get too excited, I’m still far from graduating itself but as I’ve mentioned a couple times before, I’m transferring to Australia this July for my double degree programme (If all goes well, Amen) . These days time seems to just fly by and although I’ve been looking forward to today for as long as I could remember, I simply freaked out when it hits. The fact that I’m already halfway through uni itself seems like a bit of a brain-jumble. I think I’m supposed to say some cliché quotes here about how time flies when you’re having fun and all, but the days run away. They really do.

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Much love to Z for our almost matching off-shoulder topsIMG_7769

As I’m writing this I’m trying to throw way back to the first day the 15 of us sat together for a class. It was somewhere in early September 2014.  I remember looking at all of these new faces, having a hard time recalling half of the class’ names (because I naturally just suck at names), and simply carefully avoiding awkward conversations. But in between our long sleepy lectures, our Thursday lunches, our unquestionable “teamwork” performance from homeworks to finals, heart-to-heart convos, and our dumb inside jokes, I looked around and are just struck for a moment at what a family these once complete strangers have all become.

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Growing up, we make all different types of friendships.When I was younger, I put more emphasis on the amount of friends I had and whom I was friends with. But as I’ve gotten older, I truly value having a smaller, but closer circle of friends. Ones you can really trust, make new memories with, and constantly provide you with love and support. In essence, my #squadgoals are modest. And this right here, is one pretty damn good example.

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Our last full team lunch at Blue Jasmine at The MajaIMG_7726Chemical Engineering International Class of 2014, University of Indonesia

Bandung in 24 Hours

My girlfriends and I had been wanting to plan a quick relaxing getaway and we simply took advantage of our 4-days long weekend last week. Bearing in mind we couldn’t really go far away considering we have final exams starting on Monday (I don’t know what is it with me but going on a vacation right before exam just seems to be my thing), Bandung sounded perfect and our minds were set. We drove up to Bandung on Wednesday right after class and arrived around 8 at night. The drive took about 3 hours with some traffic, in which I switched driving with my girlfriend halfway. We didn’t really plan much, and considering we were on a budget, we decided to crash in my grandma’s house up there.

Since our trip was pretty much unscheduled, we were able to arrange a spontaneous dinner with some friends on our first night in to simply catch up and grab some drinks afterwards.The weather couldn’t have been better and we decided we wanted to spend as much time outside in the sunshine, so we started the next morning with our first stop at Armor Coffee for breakfast. I had been reading a lot of good reviews about this place and the coffee itself definitely didn’t disappoint. We ordered some bites, salad, and coffee and enjoyed them in the middle of a pine forest with leaves falling and birds chirping.

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We went for a little hike afterwards and made it to this historical cave site used back in war times that now serves as tourist attraction. We had conflicted feelings about going in at first but we thought that the whole point of the trip was to explore new places so why not. We trailed our way inside and it was spookily pitch black. The fact that it was broad daylight outside didn’t help, and there were bats actually living inside, so go figure. I’d have to say it was fun and we came back learning new things about the history of the place itself, and we got to watch Z overcame her fear of going in at first!

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We made another hour drive up to FarmHouse in Lembang where were supposed to have lunch, but the place was so packed and we ended up just exchanging our entrance tickets for some free milk and sausages, took a few pictures and left. We eventually found ourselves in Dusun Bambu for lunch, in which they served Sundanese cuisine in our own private little huts with this lake-facing outdoor terrace. I couldn’t think of any better way to spend the rest of the afternoon with my girlfriends, taking countless selfies and laughing our hearts out. We drove back to Bandung and decided to just chill and grab a few drinks on our last night in town (we were still too full for dinner). It was a perfect end to our little getaway with a slight melancholy knowing that we’re already reaching the end of the semester, and later we’ll be going our separate ways.

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But most importantly, I had an absolute blast running around town trying to hit up all of the best places, good foods (I still can’t comprehend how we managed to squeeze in so much food and traveling in three short days), and scenic views to share with my most favorites. And it doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing, we always have the best time filled with endless laughs and stories to look back on.

Five Things

Last week was pretty laid back in a very good and relaxing way. Besides classes and work, my days mostly involved watching Netflix and YouTube videos on my bed, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. On Sunday we celebrated one of my girlfriend’s birthday over dinner at FJ Bistro & Deli in Kemang, which I’d been to before, but turned out to be lovelier by night.

Today marks the start of the last official week of our lectures before finals start next week and I’m planning to only make the best of it. Looking forward to a short getaway with my girlfriends in a few days and to just have plenty of fun before we enter our back-to-back exam days. Have a great week ahead.

IMG_5797The prettiest cotton candy sky on the way home from work

thumb_IMG_7066_1024Some major photo booth game with the goofiest squad

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Still obsessing over this Kikki.K coffee mug that I featured on my last post

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Pardon the poor quality but babes stay babes

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Highlight of the week: Nameera turning 20 and wishing her nothing but the best!

Teas I Love

I’m always more of a tea person than a coffee one, and this post will be dedicated for my recent love of the beverage. I don’t really know how to describe it but I feel like tea is “lighter” than coffee and a gentler way to start the day.  I used to only drank a few cups every now and then, but now at least a cup of tea in the morning has become my daily norm and I’ve started to incorporate it into my evenings as well. I find it really relaxing to enjoy a hot cup of tea after work, especially in bed with a good book, while shuffling through my many Spotify playlists.

On another note, it seems that I get more cold and scratchy throats in spring than any other time of year. Maybe it’s the seasonal weather changes, but it is no fun when it hurts to swallow, and drinking tea simply tops my list of natural soothers. Seriously, what isn’t tea good for? It’s a great way to warm up, change things up from regular water, and get some extra antioxidants in.

While I’m all about ordering fruity-flavored iced teas in restaurants, I mostly gravitate towards the classic English Breakfast and Chamomile for hot teas at home. However, I’ve recently discovered some interesting flavors and tea blends that I totally got hooked on! Here I wanted to share my favorite tea varieties that I’ve been rotating in my daily takes along with the benefits of each and what I like about them. Straight up!

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Calming Blend – English Tea Shop

Besides the cutest packaging (which obviously drew my attention on the first sight), I love how this one is naturally caffein free, since most teas tend to still have a subtle taste of coffee. It’s a heady, calming blend of natural ingredients – smooth licorices, sweet peppermints, aromatic cinnamon, and intoxicating lavender. The scent of this tea smells just like cinnamon with a hint of mint and I love that it’s very light and mild. I bought this in a gourmet store in Perth and definitely looking forward to re-purchase it when I’m back in Australia.

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The Rose (Rose Tea) – Mlesna Singapore Specialty Gourmet Tea

This one is the loose leaf kind and although it takes few extra steps and tools before enjoying, using loose leaf tea creates a much more delicious and flavorful tea than pre-packaged tea bags. I bought this in Singapore Botanic Gardens on my last visit when they happened to be giving free tea samples at the shop that time, and I fell in love on the first sip. This is a light and gently flavored tea that will treat you to the sweet aroma of the rose garden.

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Peppermint – Tea Drop

This has to be my favorite since it tastes very light with just the perfect hint of mint and so easy to make. This one comes with these little peppermint-infused cubes and all you have to do is unwrap one of these babies and pop it right into a cup of hot water. This is a delicious green tea that is perfectly minty without being too overpowering. It gives me that nice, cool sensation in my throat and has none of the bitterness that traditional green tea has. I love how much this tastes like sucking on a peppermint candy!

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Lastly, this mug was such a sweet find that I picked up at Kikki K a few months back in Singapore. They’re perfect for drinking tea or coffee and I just love the rustic look and how the cute quote reminds me that every day is a new chance to get things right.

A Little Bit of Everything

6 stories from around the web

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  1. These seven bright Scandinavian spaces are sure to be a major source of #homespiration this week.
  2. A beginner’s guide to face oil. I personally love virgin coconut oil and that’s what I’m currently using for my face and hair.
  3. Guide to creating your own homemade Nut and Coconut Butter.
  4. These 9 wedding photographers reveal the most memorable photo they’ve ever captured that will absolutely melt your heart away.
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  6. Coachella-Inspired packing list for your upcoming summer getaway.

Coffee Cupcakes with Espresso-Infused Buttercream

I’ve never been a really big coffee drinker. I certainly don’t tolerate plain espresso shots, and call me lame, but I still like my coffee with cream and sugar. I only drink them occasionally when I’m pulling an all-nighter or just whenever Starbucks is throwing a membership discount and I feel like sipping a light caramel macchiato or whatever they were advertising in my email subscription list.

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But there was always something about the smell of coffee that just wakes me up without even taking a sip. One of the reasons I love making these cupcakes (besides the fact that they are irresistibly delicious)  is because it leaves my whole kitchen smelling like a coffee shop even hours after we were done.

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If your coffee preference is anywhere near mine (Not the really strong kind and just with a hint of sweetness), then I’m pretty sure you will be obsessed with these cupcakes because they came out exactly like my perfect cup of coffee, with a subtle chocolate flavor, and the right amount of espresso-infused buttercream on top. This is a really great recipe to experiment with different types of coffee (I am currently using Excelso’s premium roast ground Java Arabica), but I do recommend using the darker roasts or any kind with the stronger flavor to really bring out that coffee taste. It’s been a new favorite in my workplace and I want you to be able to make them too. The results are a moist, melt-in-your-mouth coffee cupcake experience.

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Mocha Cupcakes With Espresso Buttercream
Yield: 16 cupcakes

Ingredients

For the Cupcakes:
½ cup brewed coffee, at room temperature
1½ teaspoons espresso powder
½ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature

For the Espresso Buttercream Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons espresso powder

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard-size muffin tin with paper liners.

2. Make the Cupcakes: In a measuring cup, whisk the espresso powder into the brewed coffee until completely dissolved. Add the milk and vanilla extract; set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

4. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of the coffee mixture, mixing each until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, give the batter a final stir to ensure everything is incorporated.

5. Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting the cupcakes.

6. Make the Frosting: In a small bowl, whisk the espresso powder into the vanilla until dissolved; set aside.

7. Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping once to scrape the sides of the bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar a little at a time, waiting until it is mostly incorporated before adding more. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, scrape the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium-high and whip until fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the espresso and vanilla mixture and continue to mix at medium-high speed until it is completely incorporated, scraping the sides as necessary. Frost the cupcakes as desired.

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker and My Baking Addiction