Monday, May 23, 2016

A Birthday of Concious Choice



Here in Indonesia, when one celebrate her birthday, she can expect two things: presents, and treat her friends to dine out. That's the tradition that we have here.

I read somewhere:

"Life is inexpensive, yet brand make it expensive.
LIfe is simple, yet pride makes it complicated."

My point is, for some with pride bigger than her wallet, this kind of tradition is something that will stress them out days before the actual birthday. For the birthday girl, AND for the friend. Why? Some think that birthday presents should be expensive. And some also think one should treat friends to expensive restaurant. Simple present and simple food hurt their pride.

Well, I personally think that's silly. Of course we are all have some pride, and we should, in a proper portion and in good way. Tell me one new parent who doesn't feel at least a slight feel of pride for her child, and I will tell you that's not very healthy! But pride should be under our control, and not controlling us.

Months before my birthday, I already hinted to my coworkers, and I don't want nor need "another thing to dust". I love decorative objects, yet one can have so many in her house without starting to feel suffocated! And I love dresses and bags and shoes just as much as the next woman, but I already have a closet full of them, which I am still in the process of purging and editing.

I am not lacking anything.

Yet I also understand and respect the custom of giving gifts for one's birthday. So this year, I make it easy for everyone. Weeks before my birthday, I told one coworker, that all I wanted for my birthday is fancy toiletries. Surprise? Not really. I don't like perfume, and I never wear deodorant in my life, but I do love wonderfully scented body lotions, delicious soap, sweet smelling shower gel in pretty packaging, and scented candle whose fragrant can light up the whole atmosphere of one's bedroom. I especially love Bath & Body Works products.

But there is one problem: I am way too stingy, ahem, frugal, to justiying spending the amount of money one needs to spend on such luxury at any Indonesian BBW stores.

You might laugh at me for writing this, especially if you live in the US, where BBW holds annual and semiannual sales regularly, and you can get pretty good deal online with coupons and sites as Retail Me Not dot Com. In Indonesia, with different currency and somebody in the marketing department deciding that BBW products should be positioned "up there" as luxury brand, the prices are ridiculous.

So I never have the heart to splurge on their products, for myself.

Hence, I told that particular coworker that I would love to receive something that I can enjoy, but won't create new clutter in my house. Such as fancy shower gel. Of course, I didn't know at that time that the whole team would pitch in to buy a basket chucked full with products from my favorite brand! I got the whole she bang: a body lotion, a shower gel, a bubble bath, three hand sanitizers, a body creme, and a scented candle. All in beautiful shades of pink, in the wonderful and lovely scent of Japanese Cherry Blossom. Yayyyyyyy!!!!

My coworkers also noted that I don't like extra waste. I am frugal and I don't like being wasteful, either. For my card, they bought a card that's handmade by a little girl from recyleable materials. The little girl made many cards which she sold and then donated to the proceeds from the sale for the needy. Isn't it sweet?

They also opted out of buying me a birthday cake, noting I don't care for cakes. I love chocolates, but whenever anyone has a birthday, I never eat the birthday cake, giving my share to someone else with sweet tooth. Instead of a birthday cake, they got the office chef created my favorite sandwich with french fries, put them in my own food boxes that have been kept at the office pantry, and put a spare candle on top of the box! Now, that's my kind of birthday cake! Want not, waste not! Too bad I don't have proper picture of the unique "cake"!

For lunch, we went to a nearby restaurant called Sanjaya. They serve good food, lots of it, with reasonable price. And the dishes are delicious.

In the evening, Hubby brought out a heart-shaped melted brownies, made of dark chocolate, which is the only brownies that I really really like, put on some candles, and ordered some noodles from a nearby noodle shop. Noodle is a must for birthday, for it signifies long life. That's pretty much my birthday celebration this year.

It's simple and unpretentious, but I was so happy. I felt blessed and in such abundance. I felt loved and cared for and celebrated.

Thank you, Lord.

My men and my birthday cake of melted chocolate brownies.

Love, love, love this scented candle! Thank you!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Life of Experiences, Not Stuff



 
Hubby and I can be like two children at times. I mean, look at the collage of pictures taken when we were bored and sleepy, waiting for our 7 am flight from Jakarta to Singapore for our mini getaway.
 
The end of April is our anniversary, while the month of May is my birthday. We decided to combine the two celebrations and went for this three-day trip to Singapore. If you ever lived in South East Asia, once upon a time, Singapore is well knows as a shopper's paradise. While we do plan to purchase some clothings for Hubby - after all, the last time he updated his wardrobe was four years ago! - I am not into shopping mania whatsoever.
 
On the contrary, I'm trying to shed layers and layers of stuff from my life, our lives, getting rid of things that we no longer need, clothes that don't fit my body or lifestyle anymore, decorative items that no longer define my style, and yes, even thoughts and relationships that create negative influence in my life. You might know about this new habit I am acquiring of getting rid of one thing per day which you can read here. I don't aim to become a minimalist, which has been getting a wide following worldwide, I am just trying to simplify my life, though many said that is quite simple already. Hubby and I are simple people who loves simple life.
 
I have never been a girl who loves shopping too much. However, as I got older, I realized more and more that I'm the type who is more willing to invest and spend more resources - time, money, energy - on experiences instead of stuff.
 
In Singapore, we just walked and walked experiencing the tiny country. We ate. We took pictures. We tried out their excellent public transports. We visited the humongous, ultra modern malls as well as their local hangouts.






 
By the way, we left Michael home with my parents, who are overjoyed to have him all to themselves for three whole days. Michael and I have this tradition of placing fridge magnets for the number of days that Mommy and Daddy are away. Every morning after he wakes up, he will move one magnet to the other side of the fridge, and when all the magnets have been moved, that would be the day Mommy and Daddy are going to be home again.



Whenever we travel overseas, I always wear something in traditional Indonesian batik. Like this one here. It's a hand-stamped batik dress, with details around the collar, which I love. The fabric itself is not extraordinary. Afterall, it's not handpainted batik. But the craftmanship and tailoring is just exquisite.




Also although we stick to the budget for eating, opting for street food sellers and stalls most days, once in a while we will splurge. This time we went to Ce La Vie, a posh establishment on top of the famous Marina Bay Sands, on 57th floor.



This is Marina Bay Sands. Can you believe that the whole complex, not just the skyscrapers, were finished in only 3,5 years? Ce La Vie is located at the top, on the "ship" part of the three skyscrapers.

Marina Bay Sands in the evening - 20101120.jpg

Singapore is a melting pot, so naturally one can try a good variety of dishes: Malay, Peranakan, Chinese, Indian, and we tried this one restaurant next to the river at Clarke Quay that serves Spanish food. I don't remember the name of the dish, but it's like a Spanish omellete.




 
Going home on Saturday late in the evening, we woke up early on Sunday to pick Michael up, as well as meeting my family. My older brother and his wife, who lives halfway around the world in the US, were in town. We don't see each other much, considering the distance, so it warrants a special effort to hold a family reunion.







Monday, May 2, 2016

One Can Do A Lot With Old Office Uniform

Sometimes, the good things in life really come for free.
At my previous office, uniform is a must. Hence, every year, we girls receive a uniform set consists of two short-sleeved plain black shirts, two white ones, two black blazers, two pairs of black slacks, and one black pencil skirt. Now that I've moved to my current office, I'm free to experiment and be creative with this free, versatile piece: the black shirt.

I can wear it belted with a scarf, like in this post.
Accented with this huge purple bead necklace, like in this post. Ow, forgive the squinted eye...

Wear it under this Missoni-inspired baggy tank, cinched with a belt, like this.

Layer it with a lavender vest like I did here, like a school girl!

Pair it with my Mom's vintage skirt for dinner and watching sunset at the beach, like this.

Ooooor, even spruce it up with a children's necklace for casual days, like here!

See? Free stuff, Ladies! And it works wonders in terms of versatility!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Our Praying Corner


This is our praying corner. It's actually just a tall drawer counter top located on the corner of our living room, but we think it will suffice. The polished high-gloss drawer is of Vinotti brand, which is not the most expensive brand out there, but definitely the most 'glam' furniture in our house, which mostly consisted of mix-and-match of different furnitures from various brands. In other words, any frugal finds that we managed to secure for the home!

Some family dedicated a spesific corner or even an entire room for the praying nook. We picked this corner for some reasons.

The first one is practicality. Basically it's the only place where we could build one without any renovation. While having a special place for family worship would be amazing, the main point is to HAVE a praying corner without procrastination of saving the money to build one, not to mention the renovation time, etc. It's not a Pinterest project for us, and what we have now already served its purpose. There is room for improvement, of course, but I would urge anyone who plans to build a praying corner to focus on the reason WHY you want one in the first place, and its purpose for your home and family, instead of aiming for perfection. For us, this is it. We've got everything that we need.

The second one, is of course, as I mentioned, the drawer that we used for praying corner is the most beautiful piece of furniture in our living room, and one with the highest elevation, which could be easily seen from every corner of the room. Surely a praying corner deserves the best spot in the room, rite!

The third one, we spend a lot of time as a family in the living room, which also serves as a dining room and an extension of Michael's playing room. It's the biggest area of our home, where we converse a lot as a family, though it's not a quite place with all the comings and goings, TV, DVD player, table, Michael's toy chest, etc.; for us, it's just a perfect place for the purpose. Other family might treat the praying corner as an altar, a place to pray, but to us, it serves as a daily reminder. More often, we pray in the bedroom instead of near the praying corner. Also at the table before meal times, of course.

In the morning, before leaving for work, we grabbed something to eat from the table and we will see the praying corner. During the day, Michael will always see it, as well, while he is playing. In the evening, when we come home from work and sit down to eat dinner, we will see the praying corner again. It's a daily, constant reminder for us to pray, to spend time with the Lord.

We placed some icons on the praying corner.

A standing crucifix, which we got during Church bazaar. We spent a long time looking for the 'perfect' standing crucifix. During our trip to the Vatican and Assisi, we scoured the shops looking for one, yet we could not find anything suitable. It's just apt that we happened to stumble upon 'the one' literally on our backyard, aka the Church backyard! The crucifix had served on numerous Friday Mass at my office, so it definitely has a good vibe, with all the praying and worship happened around it!

A statue of Mother Mary that we received as a wedding gift. She also graced the altar for Friday Mass several times.

An empty Cana wedding wine and the prosperity ceramic bowl that I got from Holyland trip. The wine was especially bought to be consumed on our wedding day to remind us of the first miracle that Jesus did. The bowl was the first decorative object that I specifically bought for our home and it had a special lesson for me. The bowl represented the multiplication of bread and fish by our Lord Jesus Christ, yet the chapel to commemorate the event, which signifies prosperity and how Lord provides for all of us, was the simplest and humblest place of worship that I saw in all Holy Land! It didn't boas intricate architectural designs nor opulence, it doesn't scream wealth and glam, it was a serene little place. So there you go, glam does not equal wealth, in money and faith alike.

Then we also have a small orange candle that was Michael's baptism candle, and a bigger red candle with Our Lord prayer emblazoned on the glass container - a gift from Hubby, which means a lot to me.

Everyday, we see this praying corner, as it calls gently to us that above all the business and importance of day to day matters, family matters, work matters, financial matters, politics, tax, government, gossip, materialism, stuff, and everything, there is a high beauty and power out there that is forever and untainted by all the worries of life here on Earth.

That as we should live well for our lives here on Earth, let's not forget to prepare for our forever home in Heaven.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Love Your Parents, and Show Them That You Do

What I learned during my month of absence from this little blog...

Love your parents, and show them that you do

It's so easy to take our parents for granted. In fact, it's a convenience. Though I had spread my wings and left the nest to live on my own at the young age of eighteen, had been paying my own bills after graduating college, even bought my first house when I was twenty six, in the back of my mind, I always feel like I can depend on my parents for emotional support, and that they will be there for me no matter what.

The problem is, I am not always there for them no matter what. 

Last month, my over seventy-years-old parents were sick, and for the very first time, I was reminded that we are not guaranteed forever. My parents are old, and the Lord had been blessing them with good health and work through old age when many other friends of them have been hospitalized or spent their days in wheelchair.

Well, it's true that I had been showing the world that I am a dutiful daughter. My parents could boast to the whole town that their daughter had paid for their trip to the Holyland, and also to Lourdes. But that was only the highlight. the pendant of a necklace. And necklace is not a necklace with only a sparkling, glamorous pendant. It needs a solid chain, in order to make it useful and wearable. In this case, the chain is regular, constant, consistent way of showing one's love. Not just once a year big bang.

Shamefully, with busyness excuse, I had failed to keep giving them regular attention over the past year. I paid so much attention to myself, my husband, my child, my work, my life, that even I fail to stick to my once-a-week phone call.

Well, let's face it. No one is too busy for anything that is important enough for them to prioritize.

Not until my parents became ill, did the reality hit me.

Hubby was being a champion and reminded me to call my parents every single night, during their recovery. He believes that the love and attention will speed up the recovery process.

I don't know and I don't care about that, but I did call every single nite, just to check on them and make sure that my Mom goes to bed on time. Yeah, she has this bad habit of surfing the internet until the wee hours of the morning, then wakes up daily at five o'clock. So I made myself sort of her chirpy alarm and call her every night around 9.30 to rHave emind her to log off soon and go to sleep.

Do you love your parents?
If you do, have you shown it to them lately?

Perhaps you can make a phone call. Or a visit. Whatever.

Just show them. Trust me. It's not only for them, but also for you, and for the Lord.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Quick Update

Once he was only a tiny bundle that I could carry easily with just one hand, and with a blink of an eye, Michael turned into a three-year-old little boy. This is just a picture of Michael's birthday in January. I knooooowwww.... I'm a terrible blogger. I've been having so much trouble uploading pictures to blogspot, and since I don't earn a living from my blog, I am too lazy to research on how I should cope with the technical difficulties. Usually I just upload from my Facebook pictures' URL, but for some reason, it didn't work anymore for blogspot. Anyone knows how to fix this?

We are not the kind of people who like to throw big, elaborate birthday parties. I admire, well, perhaps a little bit jealous, of those Pinterest mommies whose talent rival Martha Stewart in DIYs, cooking, baking, and don't get crazy planning such beautiful themed parties for their children; but as much as I love entertaining, I gravitate more into casual, informal entertaining. No fuss, no theme, just some family members and friends gather together to eat from mismatched diningware! Good food, good company and good conversation. Not very Pinterest worthy, but it seems like the guests (and the hostess) are quite happy with my limitation and lack of creativity!

 

So many things happened after that: my husband's sister got married, my father in law's birthday, my parents got sick, changes at work place where Hubby and I were both assigned more responsibilities, then all of us got sick in the family.

Hopping to last Sunday, which was Easter Sunday. It was the first time after several weeks that we as a family was able to worship together, after long illness, so it was really special to us.

Meanwhile, the Lord had continued to use every comings and goings in our lives to teach us something. Many things. I read somewhere, that in the Lord's economics, nothing is going to waste. Absolutely right!


Monday, February 15, 2016

Purple Rain: A Simpler Life



Hi Friends!
 
Rainy season is visiting us again here in Indonesia, hence the title, though it has nothing to do with what I am about to write.

Lately I've been loving following some glamorous mommies on Instagram, who looks like being fashionable 24/7 in 4-inch stilletos and being followed by personal photographer everywhere they go while carrying a newborn baby is as easy as a duck jump into a pond.

I know these glamorous pictures are not real. Or at least for most of us. The only way I can achieve all time perfection like those pictures, I would imagine, it to have a small army cater to me at all time: photographer, hairdresser, make up artist, personal trainer, chef, cleaning lady, chaffeur, manicurist and full-time nanny! Long, manicured nails with dainty sophisticated design doesn't go well with cleaning, cooking and potty training. If I'd like to be glamorous 24/7, I need to outsource a lot of daily duties to third party.

I love seeing those pictures for inspiration and motivation. Some lady bloggers are so angry at Megan Fox being featured on magazine cover, looking slim and fresh as a daisy just several months post partum. Well, I admire her hardwork and want to get to the gym! Not neccessarily to get Megan Fox body, come on, her body is her asset to make a living and it's not the case for me, so two-hour workout daily is not worth it for me. I'd rather spend the two hours for, well, for living! Yet, to me, the pictures are inspiring.

My look and wardrobe had become much more streamlined and simpler after having a child. Looking good and presentable is a priority to me, but looking smashingly flawless and dolled up is not. I'm striking a balance among a lot of people and things that need my attention.

I learnt to say no not only to bad things, but also to good things. Being fashionable, included. I still dress up everyday. I still wear makeup everyday. I still take a good care of myself everyday. But I no longer change my purse nor my shoes and accessories everyday. That's just an example.

And that's OK. I deliberately make my whole life simpler, so I'd have time to take care of myself, because when I'm running on 100% or close to 100%, I'd be able to give as much to the people around me. 





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Monday, February 1, 2016

One Resolution A Month: Purging Part 2

 
 
Hi Lovely Friends!
 
Here's an update of my one resolution per month project. You can read about what I'm doing in this post here, but in summary, it's programming yourself to do one, - yes, just one, so it is very feasible and achievable - resolution per month on a consistent, daily basis; thus within a year we will have accomplished twelve resolutions in total, which doesn't sound too shabby, ain't it!

I am perfectly aware that by the third week of January, the word "resolution" has a stinking feeling to it. Terri Savelle Foy claimed that 30% of those who set New Year's resolution for themselves quit in the first week. And then we feel guilty, and yet twelve months later we keep doing the stinking mistake all over again.
 
Now, I'd say, why do we have to wait until the clock strikes midnight on December 31st to improve ourselves? Self improvement is like tax, it's for a lifetime. Just because it's already February and therefore can no longer be considered as New Year, it doesn't mean we cannot start something fresh, anew, a good habit, make a resolution to better the quality of our lives and make us feel better about ourselves, right here and NOW!

My January resolution was to declutter, to purge one unneeded item per day. So how did I do?
  • There were many many days when I purged more than one item!
  • There were many many happy recipients who are blessed with things that I purged. A girl maid received a lovely mint cardigan that had become too tight on me. The man who hauls our trash daily received lots and lots odds and ends from our home that we no longer care for, but he could sell for some money. The local gardeners and security guards received promotional T-shirts, notebooks, and jackets that Hubby and I regularly received for free from the companies we work for.
  • On days that I couldn't think to get rid of anything tangible, I purged unneded files, pictures, or videos from my hard drive.
  • I don't limit myself to just stuff inside my drawer/closet/cupboard, but expanding it into unneeded furniture, as well! A neighbor gladly took a small drawer that had been sitting idle and on everybody's way for months, empty and not adding anything to the room but the nagging feeling of "I don't need this, it should not be here." I also got rid of two old shoe racks and an old chair that had become an eyesore.
  • Hubby donated a box full of books to a local school project for underprivileged children.
  • It feels soooooooooooooo good to know that so many unneeded items have left my home, and that some of them even could benefit other people!
  • Whenever I open my closet/cupboard/bathroom/storage or see the empty spots where I used to "display" my unneeded items, as well as the rooms where it used to feel so cramped with uneeded, unlovely furnitures, I feel so much relief and much much less guilty feeling of having so many stuff that I don't need!
  • I have done major purging and decluttering in the past, but only sporadically. Knowing that I only need to purge ONE item per day instead of going through a whole closet/room, encouraged me to get down and actually do it; because it did not feel overwhelming or overly ambitious.
  • I didn't need to set aside a spesific time to do this "project". I am only about to toss ONE thing! So I have no excuse that I'm too busy, since purging one item literally doesn't take time at all! And quite often, I ended up purging more than one item, so that's a bonus!
I like to see how much I have gained with this new habit, I am so happy with my progress, that I decided to prolong the "purge one unneded item per day" habit another month till February, just to make sure the habit of regular purging really sticks with me.

This is a resolution that I'm sure I can carry for years to come, because eventhough we are not shopping a lot, people always give us things and we receive a lot of things for free all the time, sent to our home. I still have so many things to purge: seasonal decorations, digital files, plastic food and drink containers. Lots! So I want to make sure that this habit will stay with me instead of deteriorating if I try to eat more than I could chew and add a brand new habit or resolution to my plate.
What's your resolution for February?


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