September 2020

My colleague started a running challenge to be achieved as a team and it has inspired me to run. The last time I ran as a form of exercise was, well, never. I used the app NikeRun and have clocked in 70km this month. I am targeting 100km next month.

I celebrated my first (and hopefully last in this lifetime!) ISO birthday together with Fafa, Jik, and my parents on Zoom. It was a memorable birthday; it reminded me that I have infinity things to be grateful for.

Every Friday evening, I take out the watercolor set I got myself for my birthday and pour a generous amount of of rose to my tea mug, and practice gouache for fun. it has been great work week stress releasing outlet.

New and Loving

ISO September turned out to be my busiest month this year, which means I had to put the cooking on the back burner (pun intended).

In the first couple of weeks, I resorted back between UberEats, sending Fafa to do Indonesian food pick-up, and going to Hecho Mehico to collect my triple order of $5 prawn chorizo tapas. Though I have been eating delicious food (definitely better than my home cooking), I can see the hit on both the weighing machine and ISO-savings acc, so I thought why not try those ready-made meals subscription. I don’t believe the 20s-yo me had envisioned the 30s-yo me standing in front of a microwave waiting for my food to be done daily. But here we are. YouFoodz has been great — except that one time when they rang the doorbell to deliver the food at 3.30 AM.

This month I also drank a copious amount of tea from Tea Tonic, shifted to oat milk, have been using Neutrogena body oil excessively,

Internet

I published three posts. I must say, for someone who almost retires the blog, it feels like a mini accomplishment. I wrote about food, obviously – stroopwafel and Tahu Gejrot and interviewed Neera, a blogger who I met at a blogging conference last year.

I also resurrected my KodakKween IG account, so I can post my side passion for film photography all willy nilly without making it culture-y or artsy.

Read

My read numbers have been running behind on Goodreads 2020 List, so I tried to catch up this month.

At the start of the month, I read and loved a thriller His and Hers by Alice Feeney.

I also finished my first ever fiction audiobook, The Secret She Keeps (free to download) by an Australian author, Michael Robotham. It’s the Avid Reader online book club choice for October. “It started good but finish off meh“, will be my feedback during the zoom sesh.

On nonfiction section I read: Don’t Be a B*tch, Be an Alpha by Seo Kelleher (read and loved), I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron (currently reading), The New Diary (presently reading, loving and kicking myself for not reading it earlier – the book was published in 1978), The Power of Tarot by Liz Worth (currently reading), You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero (reading this almost immediately after You Are a Badass), Reading the Leaves (currently reading and savoring), Pilgrimage in Japan by Lauren Hines (read and mega loved because it was published in diary/blog format).

Media

TV – I watched a few horror movies this month. Starting with The Boy II, The Grudge, The Wretched The Pyramid (really liked this one), As Above So Below, and Room for Rent (the best!). These movies sent me into a rabbit hole of the horror-movies-explained rabbit hole on Youtube. There, I discovered FoundFlix. It’s a horror movie commentary channel. I also watched and loved Away, #Alive, Criminal UK season 2, and American Murder on Netflix.

Podcast – my current favourite, which might surprise you since it’s not another true crime, the Wildy Tarot Podcast. The girls in it recommended the Power of Tarot book above.

Alice Feeney – I have been playing On brulera by Pomme on repeat on Spotify. I accidentally heard and immediately loved it when it’s played on an ending scene on one of the episodes in AWAY.

Last Time

Last year this time, I was living my best life traveling around Scandanavia with my best friend. During which I wrote about Rijsttafel-ing Indonesian Food in Amsterdam and said Hi from Bergen.

Thank You, Next!

The seven million Victorians are looking forward to being freed from lockdown in October. That is if the 14-day average for the new cases continues to drop etcetera.

Meanwhile, Fafa and are also going to celebrate our wedding anniversary with dinner-date at Yagiz and a staycation in Meletos.

There are more than a few good things to look forward to, I guess.

On the opposite side, I am sitting for CPA exam mid next month. All I can say about that is GAH!!!! But I am going to try to stay positive while still operating with a come-what-way attitude, which has been serving me well this month. I am also worried that I might experience the case of lockdown nostalgia.

But that’s for me to be worried about, next month.

March 2018

Highlights and Happenings

I had plenty of face time with Jik this month. Early this month we visited Sydney for Mardi Gras and she is spending her Easter weekend here in Melbourne. This means loads of girl time discussing anything and everything under the sun.

Meanwhile, the Sydney trip was great. We stayed over at Jik’s apartment, met up with friends, had breakfast at Devon and lunch at Shalom, went thrice to Kinokuniya, and ate plenty of watermelon cheesecake. Jik also introduced to a few new places which I will elaborate on in the half-written Weekend in Sydney post soon.

We picked Cape Schanck, the southern part of the Mornington Peninsula, as the destination for this month’s road trip and drove there last weekend. We stopped by a pebble beach and stayed by the waterside for some time sharing light conversations and big dreams. It was one of my favorite memories of us in Australia so far.

I also visited Melbourne Uni; caught up with Newman on a steak night; attended the Moon class; read The Woman In The Window by A J Finn for the book club discussion; had spicy noodle at Tina’s Noodle Kitchen (I am going back there again!) and drank honey wine, both for the first time; ate at doode paidang too many times, and fell in love with a pup called Archer.

Liz celebrated her birthday dinner at Xiao Long Kan Hot Pot in Boxhill. Happy Birthday, Liz! It was the best hot pot I had in my entire life. I have been dreaming about it ever since, so much so that I invited my work teammates for a hot pot session to welcome the colder months. We are going sometime next month.

I also celebrated my half birthday with a vanilla cupcake and a bottle of Moscato. It was fittingly half grand.

This month marked my two years in Melbourne. I celebrated by UberEats-ing poke-bowl for the first time. It made me realize two things: I don’t like this highly hyped bowl, but I freaking love my life in this happiest city in the world. Another new thing that I tried and didn’t like was the cheese bubble tea. Meanwhile, we discovered a Malaysian restaurant that prepared Singapore hawker’s type of food in the neighborhood. I now know where to go to console my longings for Singapore which still pops up every now and then. 

The most loved Kulture Kween IG of the month was the onsen which I sneakily took a picture of with my phone during our last trip to Japan. Still, about IG, I have been deleting and blocking spam followers of my account, it’s pretty time consuming but I prefer to have a smaller number of engaging IG community instead of another travel.addict123987.

Highlights and Happenings

Kulture Kween, the blog, has a new design. It wasn’t planned. Over the long weekend, with plenty of time to avoid the things I need to do, I changed the design of it. As you can see, it’s still a work in progress, but do let me know what do you like or don’t like about it?

Kitchen update: even though I haven’t been cooking most of the time this month, I made meatball rogan josh which blends really well with the Indonesian chili paste we got from Sydney. I also kept making and failing on perfecting a chia pudding recipe, which means we have had chia pudding for dessert every night for the past two weeks.

I have streamlined my blog and news reading from Bloglovin and Flipboard respectively to Feedly. I can’t say I love Feedly just yet as I haven’t set it properly, but it’s definitely much better than having two different not so great reading apps.

Inspired by Charlotte’s post about using cruelty-free products and aligning with the goals I made when I moved to Melbourne, I have started to be mindful of the products I applied to my skin. After brief research, I decided to switch to natural deodorantNo Pong. So far? No complaint! So, if you are considering gradually switch to a more ethical and or natural lifestyle, I think a switch in deodorant or soap would be an easy start.

This month I bought a slow cooker and half prized Nike running shoes. I have been wanting both for a while. Unfortunately, I haven’t done any slow-cooking nor exercising this month. Can I blame it on Mercury Retrograde?

Another purchase this month was the IRIS Oracle deck. I am not really into oracle decks, but this one caught my attention for a while. So when I had enough coffee money saved up to get a tarot deck, I decided to get this one instead. I have been using it exclusively to get the answers from the questions asked and the messages have been light-hearted, fun, and pretty spot on. I highly recommend this deck if you are into woo-woo stuff.

Speaking of woo-woo stuff, I recently read an article about more ways to use crystals and been trying to utilize mine as much as possible instead of just collecting it. 

Media and Links

Our next book club meeting prompt is going to be about Biography. Since I am not a fan of Biography in general, I picked up a diary styled Get A Life by Vivienne Westwood and hoping it will pass as a Biography. Other than that, I have been pretty bad at reading this month. But that didn’t stop me from establishing the Glitter Geek Book Club with Jik. This is a BFFs only book club with a monthly themed meeting over Skype. Will share more about it next month.

You guys must watch Queer Eye! It’s SO GOOD! I love how positive and kind all of them are. They are now officially my one-sided best friends! I am also loving the newest season of UnReal and Billions. Have you watched The Returned? I am currently using it as the background show while I do my chores and blogging.

This month, I wrote about my Melbourne goals, and last meal; of my first day, and the time, I cried at work. Travel wise, I also wrote about HobbitonBorobudurDisneyland, and Thousand Linggas river.

Favorite how-tos from different corners of the internet: how to make money travel blogging, how to know whether your photo is good or not, how to stop being a distracted reader. , how to travel journal, how to live fully, how to get the best out of your frequent flyers points, how to use the Epsom salt you got from the hipster shop, and lastly, from yours truly: tea leaf reading.

Next Month

There are many exciting things happening in April. Starting with Fafa’s birthday, a long weekend with Amma and friends in Singapore and hopefully ending with another weekend in Bali. I haven’t been to Bali for almost three years now and am super looking forward to it.

Another thing I have been looking forward to in April is the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. But so far I haven’t found a show that I really wanted to attend so maybe we will do a comedy pub crawl instead.

Frida is back! And we will be attending monthly meditation with Sandra and a mass meditation for women in mid-month. Nameste!

February 2018

On the first Friday of the month, my colleagues and I spent a day volunteering at the Foodbank Victoria. This is something I have always wanted to do but didn’t know where and how to start. We helped to pack more than 7,000kg of food to feed more than 12,000 people. To say it was a soul-satisfying day would be an understatement. My wish is to do more volunteering work regularly, and it would be even better to do it together with my loved ones.

Highlights and Happenings

This month I learned that I like taking pictures of people instead of things and scenery. It’s been a big revelation for me as I usually wouldn’t say I like having people in my scenery pictures. Still, after some soul-searching, I gotta admit street photography is where my interest peaks. Another photography goal is to submit a picture of Richard Renaldi’s Touching Strangers series. 

Still, about photography, I registered and been uploading my pictures on SmugMug, hoping that it will push me to keep practicing photography, which comes with a bonus of some me-time. 

If you ask me about one of my life regrets, it would be for not consistently keeping a diary. I have tried so many things, but it kept getting pushed back on the daily priority list and eventually got neglected. I recently made a new rule to write a diary before I step into the shower at night. No dairy entry = no shower. Hopefully, it works.

I finally collected the Apache bowl, which I bought last year, and left it at my parents’. I will write more about it and other woo-woo stuff that has been filling our apartment. Speaking of which, I also have been using crystals to cleanse our home’s energy. The effect has been lovely and lasting.

The crystal of the month is called Chevron Amethyst. It’s like the regular Amethyst, but with the additional superpower. It enhances intuition, repels negativity, cleanses the aura, and soothes anger. It’s freaking fantastic!

Kitchen update: I perfected the 10-minute pantry pasta, and it has been a weekly staple in our household ever since. Also, all the chilis for this month’s cooking came from our own chili plant.

I have been inspired by the tiny house movement ever since I read it on some blogs and knew Beth of Little Red Tarot lives in one. I have already chosen one I am going to buy, need to convince Fafa.

Sandra, my tarot consultant, once advised me to connect more and often with nature. Her words fueled my love for trees, and I have made an effort to have regular contact with it ever since. I also bookmarked world-famous trees and planned to see some of them before I die. Fingers crossed.

Travel and Trips

This month’s road trip destination was Daylesford. Compared to other road trips we have done, by far, it’s my favorite. We went to the Wombat Hill Botanical Garden for brunch, visited and had drinks at the Convent Gallery, and packed a bottle of delicious spiced cider from the Daylesford Cider Co Brewery, which has been polished off by yours truly by the time I write this.

Another highlight of the month would be when our couple friends invited and fed us the best fish biryani of my life. They make a living in Melbourne, far away from my family, easier.

Mid-month, I went to India for the second time! This time to Goa with a stopover in Chennai. I will share more about it soon.

The day after I came back from India, I attended Gala Darling‘s event. Even though I no longer relate to her, I thought the younger me, who was a fan, would appreciate seeing her IRL. I ended up having a great time, and to my delight, Julie Parker is there! OMG, major star crush! I told Julie that I was a huge fan and that I listened to her soothing voice all the time on the Priestess Podcast. In return, she hugged and enveloped me with her warmness.

In honor of Leslie Knope’, I threw a Galentine’s party at my place and invited my Tree of Trust teammates. They all came and brought too many wines (my love for cheap wines is public information at work), chocolate, donuts, flowers, and cats post-its (Thanks, Manda!). We spent the night getting to know each other better using the conversation cards from Kikki.K.

I will make this Galentine’s party a yearly thing and align it with the Lunar New Year to tap into extra blessings.

New and Favorite Things

NGV Melbourne is featuring Flower Obsession by an 89yo Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. It’s an absolute visual treat. Do check it out if you are in Melbourne anytime before the end of April this year.

I discovered the delicious Badam milk at Chennai airport and Feni in Goa. Both have become instant favorites. Liz’s point rings true about the best ways to experience a new place’s culture through eating, or in my case, drinking. Here is an idea, maybe I can make a beverage pilgrimage throughout India.

I am definitely revisiting India this year, starting from Chennai. I have bookmarked the oldest bookstore in Chennai to visit next time I am there. Hopefully, they sell Badam milk there too.

On Lunar New Year (not a holiday in Australia, boo! Yet another reason I miss Singapore), I got an ang pao from the boss. He gave it in a red packet symbolizing good luck. Inside there were two $5 bills symbolizing double happiness. It made my day! I also got a little nostalgic about the company I worked for in Singapore, where we get ang pao in a green packet during Lebaran and in a red packet during Lunar New Year each year.

Liz dragged me to hot yoga yesterday. I came prepared with a water bottle and a hair tie. Still, I was completely unprepared to repeatedly do downward yoga in between other yoga positions I didn’t even recognize while sweating profusely. Hot yoga ain’t easy! But it gave such a happy high that I am planning to go back tomorrow.

Media and Links

I thoroughly enjoyed Good Me and Bad Me, which I finished over a weekend, and am currently in love with RubyTandoh wrote Eat Up, which I have been savor-reading for half an hour every night. Meanwhile, I am forcing myself to listen to A False Report, which I have to finish in two weeks as it’s the theme in our next book club discussion.

As a super fan of Legal drama TV show ever since Ally McBeal, it was such a joy to discover The Good Fight, the spinoff of The Good Wife, on the flight back to Melbourne.

Other than that, I have been watching Scandal, HTGAFM, Law & Order SVU, Criminal Minds, and Grey’s Anatomy. I also have been playing Deadly Women in the background throughout the month while doing this and that around the house. I was bummed for a short while thinking that I finished all 38 episodes of it, but it was just the 1st season to my utter delight! There are more than 100 episodes to accompany in the upcoming months.

This month, I wrote about leaving my legacy in writing, and my Postcards Project, Hokkaido breakfast and Hyderabad Biryani, Valentine, and that little things matter a lot, also about Liechtenstein.

With the above posts, I have crossed the 500 blog posts milestone, thinking that I want to retire from the blogging world after I write 1,000 posts. I have been pondering about this for a while, about when to stop or will I ever stop blogging. For now, 1000 posts feel like a good number, milestone, and measurable goal to achieve. So, here’s to 500 more posts! How about you? Do you have a blogging milestone, deadline, or endgame?

If you are into monthly recaps, here are some of my favorite bloggers’ monthly recaps, such as Setarra’s Little Happenings, Erin’s How To Know It’s, Richelle’s Freedom Life series, and Kate’s monthly recap.

This month’s video is called the 160 characters. Check it out. Still, about the video, I don’t get why YouTube would restore an ignorant public figure’s channel?!!! I mean, seriously?! Word of advice, please choose your idols carefully, you guys! Better yet, look up to the best version of yourself and strive to be that person every day.

Thank You, Next!

February has been an epic month indeed, and I wish March will be even better!

As a starter, I plan to train weekly to prepare for the mid-year marathon, which I signed up to push myself to exercise more. Speaking of which, I have officially joined the gym now. Yeah, the 2018 version of me is doing great! I am hoping these short Audiobooks will be a good companion while working out.

We will be flying to Sydney for the weekend to hang out with Jik in her Pineapple House. Hopefully, we get to tick-off Devon Cafe, Shalom, Blue Mountain, Kinokuniya, Tea Cozy, and cat yoga during the short visit.

It will be 2 years of me living as an expat in Melbourne at the end of March. I am planning to celebrate it by eating crocodile meat. Because, why not?

January 2018

Happy New Year, you guys! I made myself experience more things and somewhat record it to ensure this year doesn’t fly like the years before. The result is summarized in this random, long, hopefully, readable life recap. I contemplated breaking it into two parts but decided to stick with the ongoing theme. Buckle up and enjoy!

Highlights and Happenings

I am writing this accompanied by the rare super blue blood moon. It’s magically gorgeous, you guys! As a Lunar Kutti, I feel so grateful to see and interact with it from our balcony. I also made a full-moon wish, here’s hoping that it will come true super soon 🙂

Spending the new year in Japan was another highlight of the month, but as much as I love being away, the best part of traveling still is to come back to a blissful home.

We went to Ballarat as the first of the 12 road trips we wish to clock in this year. It was nice, though not our favorite road trip. I discovered the trifecta of Australia road trips during this trip, which I will share on this blog next week. So stay tuned!

The triple date with Manda, Sumit, and our partners went smoothly. We ate a new variety of delicious food at the Black Toro and got to know each other better. Must do this kind of thing more often!

Last week, I went to Jakarta, with a stopover in Singapore, to attend my cousin’s engagement party. I had a lovely time, packed with gatherings, eating, and shopping. I also got to eat one of my favorite tropical fruits, rambutan. Gratitude-o-meter filled to the brim.

I took sick leave from work to recover from the year and weather change on the 8th, which happened to be the birthday of my split personality, Yoges. Yeah, I know; I owe you a huge explanation about this and him. Someday I will. Other than that, the work pace is picking up fast. I am finally busy, but not as busy as before, where I couldn’t breathe. It’s more like creating valuable outputs during the day and reaching home to cook dinner somewhat busy. I hope it stays this way.

My Brazilian-work-cousin, Pedro, will be on annual leave, which means there will be no long-lunches and morbid conversations for the whole month of February. On the upside, this means I will able to save money on morning coffee. Also, Amma packed a month’s worth of meal in my luggage. I plan to use the saved money to get the numinous tarot deck, something I have been eyeing since last year.

Kitchen update: I tried and failed at cooking my first South Indian dish, a super easy and simple spiced soup called Rassam. I forgot to put onion, which is one of the main ingredients of South Indian dishes! Instead, I put too much water, too many black seeds, and cooked it for too long. Ugh! Let me try again on one of the cold Summer nights (yeah, Melbourne has cold days during its’ Summer).

This month I learned that preparation is the key; pushing myself to step outside of my lazy-comfort-zone gives a healthy inner glow and that the more I do things I enjoy, the more fulfilled my life feels.

New and Loving

I have been a fan of Connie Wang from the first time I read her post online. Unfortunately, she didn’t have a personal website; hence I couldn’t follow her as my heart’s wish. Recently I stumbled upon another great post of hers on Cup of Joe titled My Beauty Uniform; ever since, I started to follow/obsessively stalk her on Instagram. Still, on Instagram, the most liked Kulture Kween’s IG of the month is a shot of frozen iced overlooking Chuzenji lake, Nikko, Japan.

Eric Kim’s post about photography new year resolutions inspired me to pick up the camera again. I went to a photo-walk on a Sunday, made new friends, snapped different angled pictures, and immensely enjoyed myself. Remind me again, why did I stop doing it last year? I plan to do all the assignments stated on the post throughout this year. Maybe I will blog about it too.

A colleague introduced me to a whole new world called Magic The Gathering, and I am super intrigued. Do you play? Please teach me the basics!

I did a major cleaning and tidied up the South-East/money corner of our apartment. I believe Fengshui wise had affected our finances badly, as I couldn’t phantom receiving another credit card bill twice as much as my paycheck! Gah!As the first step of abundant living and after being pushed many times by Amanda, I started tracking my expenses this month. In the beginning, the revelation was pretty gruesome, but it made me treat my finances better. My big purchases this month were an Indonesian origin pearls strand other than flight tickets, which I have wanted for years, a Gorman dress which I wore for the engagement party, and a bunch of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty products that stayed on the whole day.

Read

Currently, I am reading The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk (inspired by Amirtha’s post), The Immortalists (It was a creation of my thoughts), and Moshi Moshi (I am a  fan of Banana Yoshimoto).

I read but didn’t love Yoko Ogawa’s The Housekeeper and The Professor, though I appreciate the story’s tenderness, maybe because I couldn’t really relate to it. Back in Jakarta, I finished How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits, which I bought during the peak of my Francophile era years back. I paused reading The Girl Who Lived as that girl became too whiny, but I will finish it because, after all, I need to know who killed her sister.

Another fave from Instagram this month: Bianca Sparacino and her poems. Oh, sweet lord, what a self-love powerhouse! I downloaded her book, Seeds Planted In Concrete, yesterday and am waiting for the weekend to savor it. Another book I am keen to read is The Perfect Nanny, but it shall wait.

Media

I watched Top Of The Lake China Girl instead of sleeping on the plane from Tokyo. It’s a murder mystery highlighting a usually overlooked social problem, peppered with blossoming friendships, flawed, but strong layered characters, especially the female lead, Elisabeth Moss. Also, Nicole Kidman, as a middle-aged mother, looked utterly gorgeous in the show. I highly recommend it, you guys! I also tried to watch Wolf Creek, recommended by Fafa’s hairdresser, but there weren’t enough murders and too much cowboy stuff, so I left it halfway.

Fafa and I started watching Somebody Feed Phil recently. Phil is so adorable! I appreciate the way he enjoys food from different parts of the world, so much so that I  want to adopt him as my stepfather. Also, the show makes me want to visit Portugal. Another TV show we watch together as a part of our couple’s activities is The Good Doctor. I like it, but not as much as Fafa does.

I am making an effort to leave comments on the blogs I loved and read regularly. I figured it’s time to establish bloggers’ connections and show them that they have a fan-girl out there. I also worked on publishing several old blog posts. I must say, compared to 2008, grammar and writings have improved.

I have several podcast recommendations this month, mainly true crime ones, but instead of writing it here, I will share it as a part of 2 true-crime podcast post.

Thank You, Next!

As mentioned earlier, I realized that the more I do things, the happier I become instead of lazing around. So I packed my February with more activities. 

I took up the #100HappyDays challenge and promised to reward myself with something relevant after I successfully post happy pictures on Instagram every day for 100 days. You can follow my IG to hold me accountable, or better yet, why not join me? I will update the Day One Journal app daily, even if it’s just a picture and a sentence. I also joined a book club with a monthly meeting schedule near the office.

I plan to incorporate yoga at home into my weekend schedule. I have bought the mat, the spray, the pants, and downloaded the app, #basicbitch. I need to stick with it and occasionally boast my effort to Vi, who inspired me to take up yoga this year.

Lastly, in honor of Valentine, I vow to wear lipstick daily this month.

Speaking of Vi, next week, I will be meeting her and her mom here in Melbourne. On the same weekend, I am throwing a Galentine party in our apartment. This time I invited the Tree of Trust sisters.

The week after that, we are celebrating Valentine, you guys! I plan to treat Fafa to a nice dinner at a restaurant of my choice, which I believe he will enjoy, on a day close to Valentine. That way, he doesn’t need to think or plan or do anything on Valentine for a change. Let’s see how does he feel about it when he reads this.

Over Valentine’s weekend, I will be on the plane from Melbourne to Singapore to Chennai to Goa to attend my gorgeous cousin’s wedding. Two days later, I will be taking the same routes to come back to Melbourne. I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself?!! I can already imagine operating in a low bandwidth mind-groundless soul-dead tired body when I go straight from work after the damn long flight. Exactly how I felt last Tuesday when I came straight to the office, with big luggage in tow, after a stopover in Sydney accompanied by a canceled flight.

For now, I shall focus on the happy wedding and spending quality time (cue cousins sleepover party) in Goa.

December 2017

I want to start with I am so f-ing glad that Mercury Retrograde is done and over with! Phew.

After skipping its course last year, Summer has finally arrived in Melbourne, which makes it my first Summer here! Oh, how I welcome short shorts and smooth legs after what feels like a full year of jeans and sweater combos. Summer also brought a daily dose of rainbows into our apartment, thanks to the rainbow maker.

Work has been hectic this month, even though everyone is already in the holiday mood. The office has been half-empty since mid of December, no complaints about that. It’s nice to have proper lunch dates with Amanda where I creeped her out with death and failed marriage talks.

My Tree of Trust team had our Year End dinner celebration at Rice Paper Scissors, started with drinks at Double Happiness, and ended with another drinking sesh at Madam Brussels. It was nice to catch up and learn more about them as we usually don’t hang out together in the office. Is it time to invite them to the Burrow? Hmm.. maybe over Galentine day next year.

Liz and I went to a Tea Blending workshop (another gift from Jik) in Brunswick on a Sunday. I made coconut chai blend while she took home mango coconut fruity blend. The day was continued ended up with my first ever high tea in Mary Eats Cakes followed by exploring the Middle Eastern quarter and brunch at the Stables of COMO. Liz, man, you know the best corners of Melbourne!

I continue going to our meditation class, even without Frida (which means less fun) who is on a soul-searching trip to South Africa. I also have been reading and documenting tarot every day. Some days I get the message, some days I don’t. Oh well, here is to more practice.

My cooking obsession continued with green prawn curry and redfish curry, among others. I also started to get interested in kitchenware, something I vowed never to do when I witnessed Amma’s excitement over a bronze cooking pot in Little India Singapore years ago. I bought a hand-powered vegetable chopper, which I proudly showed to Amanda and forced Fafa to try. I even baked brownies (failed on the first try, semi-succeeded on the second one) and chocolate chip cookies, now that I have a useful baking tray and paper.

Jik and I went to the Sunshine Coast for her birthday trip. We spent the days at the beach and the nights in the bars. We talked, as usual, mostly our deepest and weirdest thoughts. And she once again saved me this time (don’t feel like going into details, just yet, maybe another time. Sorry for being cryptic).

Using festive as a reason, there were dates with Fafa and drinking dates with colleagues, ex-colleagues, and friends throughout the month.

And we are in Tokyo! How about that for the highlight of the year! I am so excited and so cold but still so happy! So far, every single day of this trip has been a highlight. I am counting my blessings.

New and Loving

We set our Christmas tree a little late this year, but it’s extra glorious with the fairy light set I got from Target. The best part of my mornings has been waking up groggily to the living room and being greeted by the pretty tree.

Jik introduced me to Weis Mango Macadamia ice cream recently, and I have been contributing to their EBITDA by demolishing at least two bars daily.

Meanwhile, I introduce Rose Quartz infused sparkling water to both Fafa and Manda. I told them it would fill them with self-love. Both accepted my explanation and drank it even though it smelled exactly like a facial toner.

After Kris Kringle last year and Secret Santa the year before, this year we did a Bad Santa gift exchange at the office. If the name sounded wrong, blame it on Manda. I gave a tea mug from T2Tea as a gift. I liked it and was happy that Anne from Legal got it, so I went and got another one for Liz as her Christmas gift. I know it’s a little weird to give a tea mug to a friend who grew up well versed with everything tea, but it was too pretty not to be gifted. Something I would love to get it for myself. I asked her to fill it with gratitude notes, and she said she would fill it with candy and chocolate instead. Either way, use it, Liz.

Whilst at T2Tea, I tried and got hooked on a limited edition tea called Choc Molten Marvel that has bits of cocoa on it. It’s heavenly with a dash of soy milk. Still, on the topic of tea, I got a gorgeous gold peacock teapot from Fafa as a Christmas gift. I don’t know whether he realizes that he has been gifting me limited edition tea sets three Christmases in a row.

Speaking of the limited edition, I went into The Body Shop looking for their Honey collection, didn’t find it, but stumbled upon their Christmas edition, Vanilla Chai. My kind of bathing paradise!

Internet

New Zealand topped dominated my Best Nine, according to Instagram, with one of Uluru and one of the Great Ocean Road slipped in between.

I started this month with a Christmas Haiku. It’s short and meh, but check it out as I have always been a little proud of my non-existent poem writing skill, so much so that I have been considering Carmen Ramen’s suggestion to create an IG account for it my poems. I wrote mainly about food in December (I don’t know why); Penang food, Sacher Torte, space brownies, alternatives to Hong Kong Dim Sum, the boozy weekend in Adelaide at least with a sneak-peek into South Australia Art Gallery.

New Zealand plays Secret Santa nationwide. How cool is that! I wonder whether Tihana participated. Speaking of participating in something grand, Rach have you visited the giant Starbucks in the world? If not yet, please do today! And get me a Starbucks mug Christmas ornament from there!

Reads

I couldn’t finish Ikigai maybe because I couldn’t relate to the concept behind it yet. That’s okay. Life is too short of having to force me to read some books. So instead, I am reading Man At The Helm, which is a fantastic read! It reminds me of Adrian Mole’s diary series, which I loved so much when I first read it years ago.

I also finished the salt by Nayyirah Waheed in a couple of nights. It’s golden! My love for poems has been cemented with the ten poem books downloaded for this trip, for free, thanks to Amazon Unlimited.

Have you guys tried it? For $10 a month, it’s a great deal! I also bought The Rape Of Nanking by Iris Chang, which admittedly a bizarre choice to read on an 11-hour flight to Japan.

Media

I have been binge listening to a new to me True Crime Podcast called The Generation Why. It’s terrific, especially the parts where they dissect the 911 calls and the no or short introduction and ad. Other additions in the library include 2 Dope Queens and My Favorite Murder.

Jen got me hooked to SBS On Demand’s Search Party. Speaking of Jen, to her Grinch-like-annoyance, I have been sporting Christmas jumper, decorating Mary (office Christmas tree), and blasting Christmas jingles all month long at work. Check out my ultimate Christmas playlist called Kulture Kween Christmas Playlist on Spotify.

Even though I couldn’t relate to Lagom but I thoroughly enjoy the writer’s Lola Akinmade, blog. I shared a few productivity articles written by Sarah to my girlfriends with Ways To Comfort Yourself When You Don’t Know What’s Wrong being my absolute fave.

Thank You, Next!

We will be celebrating the New Year in Japan, my favourite place in the world! I have scheduled gulping 12 grapes minutes before the year ends and the first sunrise of the year viewing in the Meiji shrine.

I will also be going to Jakarta at the end of the month for my cousin’s bachelorette party, with a stopover in Singapore to get myself a stitched saree for her wedding.

There will be a triple date with Manda and Sumit to an Ethiopian restaurant in Fitzroy called Saba, sometime in the mid-month.

Other than these plans, I reckon January will be a pretty chill month.
Wanderlist update: I had my first ever high tea session. It was delightful!

September 2017

I am starting this month in Tazi! We haven’t done much planning for this trip, thought of winging it with lots of wine drinking and cheese-eating.

September is my birthday month. As you know, I am pretty big on birthdays. I look forward to turning as many days as possible into another reason to celebrate. I have written down my birthday wish list and ongoing traditions. I also have prepared a birthday box where I plan to put happy things, including love and thank you notes and wishes for the time ahead.

In the mid-month, I am going to Jakarta, to meet the family; and later to Singapore, to hang out with my best friends and relive Singapore expat memories for a couple of days.

September agenda will also be sprinkled by Jik’s visit, meeting Che, a chakra balancing session as a birthday gift to myself, spring equinox gathering, and meditation classes.

Coconut oil finally seeped its way into my life. I plan to use it for as many things as the internet advises me before being grossed out by it.

August 2017

Highlights and Happenings

Melbourne was awarded the most liveable city in the world for the 7th time in a row. I am both grateful and prideful about this fact.

We went to Amanda’s house in Mitcham burbs’ last weekend. We had yummy yum cha at Wealthy Kitchen, drove around Box Hill and played with Charlie, her gorgeous dog.

Liz and I continued and turned the evening into a drinking session at the famous Caffé e Cucina at Chapel Street. She had chill infused cocktails while I had Negroni. Both were strong.

I have been lunching at Ratee Thai at the Port Philip Arcade at least once a week. They are the closest I can get to the authentic Thai spiciness. Unfortunately, they are closing this week without announcing their next place. Ugh! Meanwhile, If you are looking for a good Japanese restaurant in Melbourne CBD, try Mugen Ramen.

I started packing lunch to work, things like pita bread and hummus. Things that I don’t cook by myself. Still, I feel a little more adult-ey sitting with my lunch box with my lunch buddies.

Egyptian hibiscus tea! This red gold is perfect for winding down after a long day at the office.

If you are a foodie visiting Sydney, do check out Kepo Street Kitchen for brekkie, continue with Indomie for lunch and close it with supper at Dodee Paideng.

I went to a Leo moon herbal workshop and was drawn to Nature’s Wisdom deck. I have incorporated into my weekly reading and been drawing crystal clear affirmations from it—an excellent addition into my rituals.

Meanwhile, there was a new seat arrangement in the office, which resulted in a higher negative frequency near my desk, to put it mildly, ugh—time to place black obsidian between us.

Media

We watched My Neighbor Totoro in the movie theatre. It must have been a rad animation in 1988. The storyline is simple, but I do like the message of appreciation the forest spirits and dancing around the seeds to make it grow.

TV shows wise; I only started watching GoT and been contemplating whether it’s worth it to spend hours watching the earlier seasons. Thoughts? I am amid Netflix Original called White Gold. I tried it because of Chuck Bass and stayed for Vincent Swan.

Stardew Valley has been taking most of my free time this month. I have been farming well into winter now, with four chickens and four cows. The next upgrade will be a big barn so I can start raising sheep.

Read

Despite the addictive childhood game, I managed to finish four books; Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur (why oh why didn’t I read this gem right after it came out?!) it’s absolute gold; Spirit Of The Night Sky, which I got in Uluru; and physiological thriller fictions: One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus and All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda. For next month I have downloaded The Naked Witch and Are You Sleeping? and I am planning to read both on the flights.

Internet

Always extra excited to have stumbled upon another Indian female travel blogger, this time it’s Sonal (and her boyfriend Sandro) of the Drifter Planet.

June 2017

I am not a fan of this month. It has been unkind. Most of the time, I felt like I was flailing and unfocused. Like I have been pulling in many directions, mostly just distractions. I wasn’t as organized nor as productive as I would like to be. It’s a month with less structure and routines, where I have been over-committing, under-delivering, and not trying my best. My weekdays were gone without noticeable outputs, and my weekends were gone with massive swept of doing nothing.

On top of that, I have been complaining way too much (like now!) and feeling out of control. It might have to do with the emotional moon in Cancer (The Chariot), the beginning of the cold season, or the fact that I had fallen sick twice this month. The winter blues are hitting me hard. And I, for one, am glad that June is going to be over and done with within a matter of hours.

Even though this month generally sucks, I had my happy moments with Fafa and my parents. The highlight was visiting Jakarta. I got to spend time with my parents, ate mouth-watering warm home-cooked meals, and went out for dinner with them, just like the old times, at Jittlada. I spent quality time with my cousins and uber-cute nieces, who got board games from me this time. I also met, prayed, and thanked black Ganesha.

In Melbourne, I went to a hot-pot with a few Chinatown colleagues, where they gave us individual soup bowl. It was the perfect dinner during the cold season. I hope we eat hot-pot more often, like once a month, during the winter.

We celebrated Eid with spicy chicken and Gorman shopping. I also invited a couple of colleagues to our place. We drank wine, ordered BBQ chicken from Kong, and bitched about work and people at work. Good times.

This month’s new-to-me Australia product caught my attention is the essential oils from Perfect Potion, especially the EMGODDESS range.

Inspired by the book Lunar Abundance, I have been charting the moon-cycle and comparing it with my moods. So far, I haven’t discovered any significant connections yet, except for being more introverted during the waning moon. Still, about the moon, I went to a moon workshop and wrote ten manifestation wishes during the dark moon. I will keep you updated on how many and what are the wishes that come true in July.

EMF happened last week. The first one I attended was the Food Writing. It included a five-course dinner at Ricky & Pinky, shared with the famous food writer, Michael Harden. I learned a little, enjoyed the food and the company a lot. The second was the Bad Writing, where six writers shared their bad writings from the past. Though a couple of them were good, generally, the event was a snooze fest.

Autumn arrived like a couple of months ago, but now, having celebrated Yule on 21st June, Winter is officially here. Ugh! Even though I don’t hate it as much as last year, I feel a bit more bitter this time around, as if I have internalized my hatred for the cold season. Is this a symptom of winter blues?

When Play Station didn’t come with a number yet, I played a Harvest Moon farming game. I played it together simultaneously with at least half of my high school classmates. Every morning, we exchanged notes on our farms’ progress, the live stocks, vegetable gardens, and some accidentally discovered game hacks. This game single-handedly increased this misfit teenager’s happiness and ended up being one of my most treasured memories.

Later, my love for farming was temporarily satisfied when I played  Farm Ville and Hay Day on iPhone, but it’s not the same. Meanwhile, I have been keeping track of the original game’s installments that I could play on Fafa’s Play Station. I finally found one called Stardew Valley. At first, I didn’t want to buy it; rationalizing that it was a waste of time, it’s not the Harvest Moon, and that as an adult, I would get bored after a couple of hours of playing. The second time I saw it, I was in vulnerable conditions, I was sick, and it was on discount. I bought it and played it on a sick day. I named my character Kal and the farm Kulture Kween, naturally. After the many, MANY, hours spent farming virtual corps later, I could attest that the game still brings me joy.

I also received Tsum Tsum PJs and rabbit socks from Che, even though it’s her birthday, and I was the one who was supposed to give her something! Thank you, Che! I like it! Once again, Happy Birthday, bro!

I cut down online shopping to zilch this month. And I finally paid my credit card bill in full. I also bought replacement jeans after I tore my jeans at work. It has happened once before during an important work meeting, so this time I wasn’t too distressed by the tragedy.

Next month, I want to keep a record of my daily spending. Suppose the mission is a success. I will reward myself with a new wallet with a zip to hold my crystal, I-Ching, and Aussie coins.

I read and finished The Girl Before, a psychological thriller by J.P. Delaney, on the plane ride to Jakarta. It was terrific! I forgot the last time I read a book I couldn’t put down. On the way back to Melbourne, I got Get A Life The Diaries of Vivienne Westwood. This, together with the other half-read books, will be my next month read.

Also, I watched and became an instant fan of the British sitcom Chewing Gum. It’s written and starred by Michaela Coel and made me LOL. But, I don’t think it’s for everyone, because the scenes can be inappropriate at times. If you are not sure what I am saying, check it out for yourself.

You guys, I have been so profoundly hooked on true crime podcasts, my absolute faves are True Crime Garage, Case File, Australian True Crime, True Murder, Felon, and They Walk Among Us. You can download all for free from the iPhone podcasts. I have downloaded True Crime Japan as well, but haven’t listened to it. Now, my morning coffee routine includes discussing the cases with Pedro, my colleague, who has memorized the names and stories of these notorious criminals since he was a teenager. Please tell me if you are a true crime fan as well!

Yesterday, with the hoo-ha of the Petya ransomware virus attack across Australia’s business, my office laptop got confiscated after being flagged for the brute force attack on WordPress. Damn you, WordPress!

Even though life has been messy, I managed to write a fair amount of posts this month. My absolute favorites were when I ate at the Jiro Sushi in Tokyo, becoming a plant mama, and ten power of travel. I wrote about New Zealand, the alternatives to coffee in Auckland, and sleeping in the most beautiful BnB in Rotorua. I also squeezed in a foodie post for the month. This month, it’s the Khmer cuisine.

The new interest in Tarot made me go through the archives of Beth’s writing in the Little Red Tarot. I emailed her recently to tell her I loved her and asked her whether she would be featured here. If she says yes, expect the revival of the “Meet The Kween” blog series soon as I already have a Q&A interview with a kick-ass witch brewing in the background.

I am taking time off from adulting this weekend to recover from the flu and hide from the winter. This means staying in, fully charged electric blanket, takeouts, and logging in serious farming hours. I also plan to do grounding meditation soon to shake flailing-ness off. Next week I am going to visit Jik in Sydney for the much-needed girly/pow-wow time. In mid-July, a few colleagues and I are doing a Dim Sum Sunday. As usual, I try to squeeze in one more travel to a new place sometime in the month.

Thank you for reading my rants for the month. I shall come back with a rosier worldview next month.

May 2017

The highlights of this month would be going to my Indian colleague’s house half-drunk for an Indian Dinner & Drinks Part 2; going to comic-Con with Fafa and Newman, dressed as Kamala Khan, just Fafa, and Luke Skywalker; and girls only hot-pot session at Liz’s.

I took a day off work last Monday because I wasn’t feeling well, both physically and mentally (needed to recharge). I also went to hardware Societe (still can’t pronounce it) and had the best salmon dish in Melbourne. The hype is real, people! If you don’t mind waiting in line for some time, do give it a visit.

The best friends and I have reinstatedFace-Mask-Thursday routine. I am in the progress of collection 100 pictures of us to display it ala Andy Warhol.

New and Loving

Let’s start with the big news. I moved to a cross-functional job a few weeks ago. Working on a new project in the company. I have a significant imposter syndrome! I zero knowledge on how to manage a project. And the accountant in me is cringing at the idea of working with a big group of people. I am worried that I am not contributing or understanding enough. I am careful about not stepping on other people’s toe, something I never had to worry about in the previous function. What should I do? I welcome any suggestion, you guys!

I filled up my weekends with workshops, including the healing power of herbs. The best part about it was meeting and making new friends.

I also tried the famous Anzaccookie for the first time, which I bought from IGA. It was terrible. Ugh! Why are we celebrating a holiday with this horrible tasting cookie??!

Autumn is here, baby! And it brought a ton of gorgeousness into the air.

My colleagues in the new project are fantastic! The female-only team does meetings over chai-latte, where the words like “family”, “tree of trust” and “circle of sisterhood” are being thrown around.

We tried Mukka, an Indian restaurant in Fitzroy, suggested by a colleague. Oh, my lord, it was so good! It finally manages to replace my year-long good Indian food craving. We are going there again for lunch next weekend.

I donated eight bags of clothes to theRed Crossover the weekend, special thanks to Uber free-pick up service. It felt good to give away clothes which don’t bring me joy to others. Bonus: no more mini-anxiety attacks when I open the cupboard.

Read

Books bought this month: Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism, Healing Magic The Guidebook to Conscious Living and Kitchen Table Tarot. I am halfway through the first one and dabbed here and there on the last one.

We loved and highly recommended Train To Busan, a Korean zombie movie. It’s on Netflix, add it to your list for the weekend!

I also finished and had plenty of discussion with various groups about13 Reasons Why? Which resulted in more than a few arguments. Side note, how cool was the Skye reading Clay tarot scene.

There is no new-to-me blog this month, just glad that Y, the blogger behind I Live In Japan start writing again after being hiatus the first half of 2017. I enjoy reading and slightly jealous of her daily life in Japan.

I started listening to the Lunar Abundance podcast by Ezzie Spencer, whose book I purchased a few months ago. I have been studying about the moon phase, including woman cycle, and it has been fascinating. Check out Emgoddess in Perfect Potion.

Internet

I wrote about five reasons why you should take a gap year. If you are currently in Japan, check out the Charming Journey exhibition in Tokyo. Well, if you are in Japan, do visit Mt FujiFushimi Inari in KyotoKoyasan, and Takayama.

Thank You, Next!

I am going to Jakarta next month! Can’t wait to bear-hug Amma, awkward-hug Appa, kiss Kiwi, my cousins, and Che. And food! I have made a list: nasi campur, nasi Padang, bakwan, KOI bubble tea, sweet pancake, chilli noodle and chicken porridge.

The Emerging Writers Festival is also happening in June. I got the weekend ticket. See you there?!

Lastly, I am planning to squeeze in Ayer Rocks into the calendar for either next month or July. I am trying to convince Jik to come with me. She is stalling. Jik come on, C’mon, C’mon! Let’s go!!

You guys, it’s not easy to rewind the whole month, I only remember last week clearly, but the first three weeks? Not so much. I need to do something about it. Either I start bullet-journaling my weeks’ happenings or break the expat’s diary into two parts in a month, on the new moon and full moon—end of the rant.