Friday, February 29, 2008

How come plastic bags can ruin your day?

I live with everything has to be carefully planned. Especially my everyday routine since waking up in the morning. Like what I wants (or have) to do every single day, morning until midnight. Or what cloths I have to put on my daughter for daycare, or which shoe or bag will match with my outfit for certain activity. Or even what I have to do today, tomorrow, following day, the day after, next week (this all including the matching bags, shoes, and outfit).

Call me boring, or robot-alike, whatever it is, it doesn’t mean I don’t like impulse needs to swing from my planning.
But sometime, when you do something less planned, it will end with chaos, disaster or cost you extra –whatever the extras-.

Like today.
I wasn’t plan to shopping for groceries. After I dropped my daughter, I just felt I don’t really want to go home. So, shopping is the option. Not ‘shopping’ shopping, it more likes groceries shopping. Stacked extra things for weekend.

And –of course- because it was impulse shopping, I left my shopping list stick on my fridge door. On the way to shopping centre, I tried to picture that paper and remembering what on the list. Failed to do so, I decided to have a coffee -once I arrived at the Shopping Centre- and thinking about calling my husband to read the list. Not a good idea though, but rather than wandering around buying something I don’t need and missed important items, I took the risk. Rang him, and problem solved.

I was happily shopping until I’m ready to check out and suddenly realized I had no bag. Yes, I didn’t bring any cloth bags. Just one small that always handy inside my bag pack.
This is what happened when I went shopping without planning!

Since I promised myself not to buy more cloth bags – I had heap of it, I kept forget to bring some bags and ended with bought more and more- I tried to struggled with about 10 plastic bags. And there are no supermarket plastic bags in the world that doesn’t blister your palm’s skin.

Promise is promise.

I survived though, came home safe and sound. The only downside was my journey took 15 minutes longer than usual –thanks to constant stopping- because of my blistered palm.

And now, I swear to break my promise next time I forget to bring those bags. It cost my palm for $4 saving, and another $50 for takeaway food for dinner, because my palm is too hurt to cooking dinner.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Organic Piggybank

Inspired by Sydney Slow Guide Book, we –me & my husband Zi- decided to do our own slow and joy guide around Sydney. Time flies, we had less than 6 months here, and sooo many places we always wants to visit.

Our first destination last week was one of the Organic Shop in Bondi Junction –about 20 minutes by bus from our place- called Macro Wholefood. We passed this shop couple of times and we always wanted to stop by.

This shop, divided into 2 sections, Greengrocer & Café. We started from the Café which serving organic food, organic breakfast and –of course- organic coffee. Breakfast was good. I ordered buckwheat pancakes with strawberries compote poured all over, sweet and yummy, and Z went for scramble tofu –yes, tofu- with organic rye bread toasted plus salad.

The winner? The coffee. We agreed to add their coffee on our ‘Best Coffee around Sydney’ list.

As I expected, groceries price from their greengrocer is bit expensive. I know when people walks into the organic shop, they understand that they have to pay more (and deep down inside they cursing the prices when stacking groceries into their shopping bag). With fruits or veggies, I can’t say anything. Hard to compare with non-organic shop. But for ‘dry food’ as noodles, or even cereals, I found the same products on small specialty shops or health stores about 1-2 dollar cheaper. And for this saving you have to walk from one shop to another, which may cost your leg, not to mention cost for coffee and cakes between those shops. So, fair enough for the sake of convenience.

Oh, yes. About the Piggybank.
Instead of usual stick-with-table-number-attached-on-top- things, the gives customer this green piggybank with number written on her head as table number. So if the customer wants to spare their money for tips, just insert it on this piggybank. Stare free from staff behind the register. Don’t have to deal with embarrassing moment if the only money left for tip is 20cents. Isn’t that great idea?

Monday, February 18, 2008

My Monday

Thanks God it’s Monday!

After 2 days running around, kicking and screaming, tried to take care of everything around the house while the kids happily scattered their Lego everywhere –literally everywhere from balcony to bathroom-; it is a big relief to had kids back to school today. I started to feel I love Monday, and I can have lounge room, bathroom and bedroom all for myself.

And back to business.

It’s been a while I wanted to build new website for my new online shop. My target is the end of this month. All products are ready to upload and sell, but not the shop. Since so many players in this World Wide Web, always bit confusing to choose which the best one. Oke, not the best, at least can accommodate my needs. FYI, I am not good at all with these IT-things.

I landed on Ashop Commerce, who does e-commerce software and offers a complete solution for merchant to sell online. They are in Australia, which is good, local. Their website is clear and easy to follow. What I need is shopping cart software, so I just follow their step by step instruction, submitted for 10 days trial, and gotcha! Got my dummy website in a flash. Looks good. Easy to manage and add or change the content, or even layout as they had quite a lot of template.

Half way re-designed my ‘website’, I got the first hurdle. There are no Indonesia Rupiah on their currency list. One of the most important things I need for my online shop (I plan to sell everything in IDR, based in Indonesia).

I contacted Customer Support, answer came within minutes. Quick response, even though I did not get the answer I want. They can’t add IDR. What a shame. I’m bit disappointed, after get excited about my website will be launch soon. I’m even managed to register a domain with their affiliate company, here in Australia. I was thinking, if everything based here, will be easy to manage. It supposed.
Now, it kind of setback again, I have to swim around again in this big pool of WWW to find another company. So, I had to say goodbye to my shopping cart for now.

All of sudden, I felt I don’t like Monday anymore (sigh…)

Sunday, February 17, 2008


We supposed to attend a birthday party. We ended eating garlic prawns.

After week of constant raining, the sight of sun pumped new energy for us to go out. And my son got a birthday invitation from his new kindergarten friend (mind you, he only been to kindergarten for 12 days, 3 birthday parties already). So, we went to the venue, a playing ground called Lollipop Play land on Moore Park. The only thing that bothers me is the party time, which stretched from 1pm to 5pm.

Since the beginning, I told my son I don’t really want to stay that long, 15 minutes presumably long enough (good mom, huh?). I just can’t stand the noise, constant happy screaming from kids whiles they running around, or their coffee. That’s it. So, I told him that we will only handed the birthday present, make up story for an excuse for leaving early, and heading to the city for great lunch.

Instead of went to city, we got stranded around this playground –Entertainment Quarter at Moore Park-. Once I’m out from Lollipop, I felt massive headache caused by very confusing conversation between me and birthday boy’s mom (and this boy cannot stop screaming every time his mom moved an inch away from him!). Oh, and another things, I haven’t met this boy before, neither his mom. Every time I asked my son –Rama- about him when I dropped or picked him up from school, I never saw his presence. Sometimes the devil though inside me said he doesn’t exist. No wonder it was very hard to find him, or his mom, even though they’re all wore a big badges and birthday boy/birthday boy’s mom written on it.

Ok, back to my headache, that so severe I profusely rejected my husband idea to off to city just for lunch. Too much. My empty tummy cannot wait any longer, the more I wait for food, the more the headache. So we wandering around the show ring area with Saturday Farmers Market inside it, and beautifully organic fruits or vegetables or food from around the world displayed. Very tempting. Until we saw on the very end of the market isle, there are kind of small wooden bar table with quite classy wooden barstools under black small marquee displayed “Garlic Prawns, Chorizos and Salsas”.

We are garlic prawns lover.
What would be better rather than prawns to cure my headache?

As we sat on the stools, we saw kind of medium size BBQ stove (or grill or whatever you want to called it) and prawns and prawns and chorizos being cooked on it. When the chef splashy added the sauce, the smell of the sauce spread thinly to the air, we couldn’t resist the prawns.

Only in less than 10 minutes, our order was deliver. 3 garlic prawns coated in generous homemade salsa sauce accompany with bread rolls. The prawns served on small metal-I soufflé-I bowl with pair of handle (gosh, I don’t know how to describe it…), putting above an ellipse shape wooden plate as the base. Looked beautiful, tasted fantastic! And they don’t do any cheap-ordinary drink like coke or ice tea (ok, coke or ice teas not cheap...) instead they stocked bottles water and San Pellegrino Sparkling Flavored water. Perfect. Flushed away my headaches.

Later on, I chatted with one of the girl who served the food (I suspecting she is the brain behind this yummy food) about the sauce, and she told me she grew up with this sauce on her homeland in Canary Island (firstly I was thinking this place must be close to Spain-as they speak Spanish during cooking – and must be full of Canaries. I proved myself completely wrong when I googled it later on. In fact, this island next to Africa, and was Spain colony). We liked the Salsa sauce too, and decided to buy one small jar. She didn’t have to convince us, the sauce and prawns speak for it.

At the end, another surprised when I only pay about $46 fro 3 garlic prawns –with heaps of prawns, not like in our favorite Italian restaurant which only 5 prawns swum in a bowl for $15. I shouldn’t compare, they different though- 3 San Pellegrino drink and 1 jar of sauce.


PS: As written in the sauce jar, Mojo means Passion…hmmmm….

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Welcome to the Year of the Rat

This is not Beijing

Nor Shanghai

but Sydney

Labeled as the biggest Chinese New Year Parade outside China (mainland), as a Sydneysider I am as proud as Sydney Lord Mayor to said so.

The parade that took over part of George Street –Sydney City bloodstream- passed through Chinatown and finished in Darling Harbor lasted only about1.5 hours, with around 80,000 crowd flocked on every inch of the street passed by parade, and in some place it was like 4 people deep. But somehow, made me feel I’m not in Sydney, nor China, but Indonesia.

When I was a young –I mean kid, because I am still young now-, we –Indonesian- had big parade once a year, on Indonesia Independence Day. Some small cities done quite simple with people marching with traditional costume represent tribes and cultures of Indonesia. As I grown-up –mean high school student- I found the Independence Day Parade as the way we compete against other high school to perform the best car decorated with a theme. Biggest parade –of course- is in Jakarta. With cars decorated with flowers, every province sent their contingent to this biggest parade in Indonesia. There are Government and Private Offices to. And TVRI –the only one national television back to my era- had the live coverage of this parade, people all around Indonesia seems glued to their TV, watched this parade with joy of Independence Day.

I don’t think that such Independence Day Parade still exist in Indonesia now. Not that I’ve known. Sad.

Back to Sydney, this Chinese New Year Parade is getting bigger and bigger by year. Not only from the amount of spectators, also had had the presenter or groups joined the parade itself. More people or groups flew direct from China to present. I can wrap only in one word about it is: fantastic! And if you don’t bother to watch this parade behind the fence, standing for like 1 hours before it starts to secure the best view you can get, now City of Sydney sell some best view seat for $55, located in front of Town hall and guarantee you’ll sit close to Sydney Lord Mayor and the Councilors. Good isn’t it? This city moved quickly when it comes to generate money.

Anyway, welcome to Year of the Rat (or Year of the Mouse as my son said).
Gong Xi Fat Choi.
All The Best

Friday, February 8, 2008

Extra money does(not) come easy

I thought it will be easy to back to work to my old job, after my kids were going to School and Daycare. The reality was hard. Since I have bills to pay, and holding ‘casual staff’ badge from the workplace doesn’t help.

So when one of old friend recommended me to try this website, I couldn’t agree more. It’s called Smorty, a blog advertising network that helps advertiser or website owner advertise on blogs. I’m not an advertiser, of course. But there are lines that catch my eyes: get paid for blogging; blog for money.

Whoa, who don’t want extra money?

Its looks simple, I mean I just have to sign up here and they send me list of websites I have to review. And get paid to blog. So why not trying? My friend told me it might take about 5-7 days from the day we sign up to get our blog approved (ups, I forgot to mention, you have to had a blog to became reviewer), and we get a list of the websites. In fact, it’s only took 24 hours for me to get the notification e-mail that my blog is approved and I can start working with the list they provided.

So, I just start now. Its looks fine so far. Not easy, it would need quite consistency to write a good and un-prejudice nor overrated kind of feedback. But I always wanted to be a writer. It might open my door. Once I submit, I’ll see what happen.

Finger cross.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tears allowed....

Today is my son 7th day at Kindergarten. He seems blend quite well with his new environment, make friends, and enjoy ‘big school’ as he always said. It’s been very hectic week for me, with my daughter also starting her new ‘life’ on Daycare.

As he found new friends –even got birthday invitation for next week- , I makes friends with some of the mothers who their children are in the same room with my son. Quite contrary, my son found new friends on his happy kindergarten classroom, I made friend with other mums on what we called ‘sobbing room’ – that actually a hall which some mums spent their morning sobbing together, on their children 1st day at school-.
And you know that I’m one of them.

We –mum- never be ready for our children first things, I guess. Like 1st time they start walking, 1st day of school –which school could mean kindergarten, primary school, high school, or maybe even University; so kind of tears every couple of years or so- or any other first occasion. It hit me hard then, on that morning 7 days ago when I saw my son dressed proudly in his new uniform, new bag pack and new shoes. I hold my tears seeing him walked confidently to his teacher, asked for his name tag. I am proud of him, and on the other side, I felt I don’t want him to grow up so quickly, so I can hug and hold his hand all the times. And I’m not the only mum who feels that way.

The Kindergarten itself –teachers, principal, and staffs- did some effortless thing to make us – sobbing mums club- feel comfortable. They provided one of their halls for us to sit, have a cup of tea and some biscuit, and heaps of tissues to helped mums stand on their feet. There was a big sign inside the hall: “have a cuppa, and don’t worry about tissue. We got plenty”.

Tears allowed, mums. Happy sobbing.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Weight it now, or you’ll miss your flight

One month on, since we arrived back here in Sydney, and I managed to unpack our fifth-last- luggage. When I did this big task, I remember something. Not funny but memorable.

We spent one night in Jogjakarta, in one chain hotel located in downtown Jogja. With their chain across the globe, we felt we in the perfect place for quick overnight rest before fly to Bali the following day.

On the next morning, we busy packed our luggage’s –as I mentioned before, we had 5 luggage’s- and with last minutes shopping for gifts and some Indonesian snacks foods, we were hopeless to see our luggage’s was nothing but full. Considering the airline regulation about maximum weight for every bag and luggage, we searching for help. We want to make sure nothing over 30kilograms and everything under control. FYI, we’ve been through trouble once with over 30kgs luggage’s and resulted in we had to buy a new bag in airport, unpack that big fat bag into the new bag. We don’t want to repeat the horror.

The Guest Relation Officer can’t be much help when we request for body-scale, to weight our luggages. She suggested us to pack just as minimum as we can, so it won’t be overweight. And that not the answer we expected from GRO when it comes to guest request. On the other word, she suggested me to left some of my belonging behind. Great.

On the second time I contacted her, I asked about body-scale on the Gym –this hotel had a quite good Gym- and she not recommend it as the Gym was closed for one day for maintenance. Again, she couldn’t suggest anything in sense. With time started flying, we started to worry. And irritated with GRO answer.

I contacted her again, and now I pleaded her to help me to solve the problem. What is the problem with allowing guest to weight their luggage’s on the Gym, while every GRO’s in every hotel in the world would do anything to please their guest, as long as the request is in sense? Even my GRO friend works in 5 star hotel in Jakarta chased vegemite on 2am for her guest because they couldn’t eat breakfast without it. So, is it that hard to find one body-scale –a bathroom body-scale might cost them about Rp.100.000, - each, and they always can keep it handy for the future, right?-

At the end, she was throwing the ball to the On Duty Manager. Apparently, our simple request was the first request ever on such this matter. She allowed us to use their scale on the Gym –with the bellboy help of course- and case closed.

As we thought, one of our luggage was overweight, we got bit extra time to unpacked-and-packed to another luggage, but I’m still not happy with the service. Took us a whole morning -3.5 hours to be specific- to solve this problem.

For next travel, we might bring our own scale, for sure.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Odong-odong is a new Merry-Go-Round

When I was in Solo, my eyes catched another interested object : traditional Merry-go-round, as local called it Odong-Odong.

It's very similar with usual merry-go-round, only this simple version -if we may called it simple- had only at least 3 wooden horses or cars or anything kids can ride on it, and works with human power, no such thing like electricity. The operator just had to kicked the pedal along -like pedalling a becak- and this odong-odong will moving around.
Parents just have to spend about Rp.2000,- (approx 25cent in Australia Dollar) for one go, which about 5 minutes. Enough to make their kids happy without spending a fortune.
Very good invention.
(Odong-odong, with 2 aeroplanes on background. Quite contrast. Human power, traditional and simple vs human technology, modern and full of precission)

Becak : Solo vs Sydney

First picture is my son Rama, inside Becak in Solo. Unfortunately we can't really see the driver which standing behind his Becak.

Second picture is Becak in Sydney. Very stylish, modern yet futuristic. The driver equipped with standard helmet -becak driver in Indonesia equipped themself with cap or big floppy hat to fight sun strike- and first aid inside his becak.

What a difference !

Solo at glance

Here are some pictures, taken while I was in Solo

Welcome to Solo
This is one of the entrance gate to the City

Ballons Seller
Taken around Manahan Stadiom, Sunday morning. The seller with his bike and ballons sting attached, waiting for children to passed his bike and begging their parents for Rp.2.000,- ballon each (about AUD 25cent)

Soto Gobyos
Another picture taken while I was wandering around Manahan Stadium with dokar.
Gobyos mean -damn- sweaty!
Soto is kind of Indonesia soup, with chicken or beef stock based. Vermiceli, sliced cabbage, bean sprout, and sliced or chicken or beef will complete this dish. Eat with rice -or some soto do rice cakes a.k.a lontong-. Soto in Solo style is kind of clear soup, which Jakarta stlye adding coconut milk onto the beef-stock based.
(I bet the soup is very hot, once you've finished, you can't resist the sweat!)

Traffic Light

What is so interesting in traffic light? For me, it very unusual to see there is a box next to the light that flickering seconds, shows how long will be the light lasted. I never seen in Sydney.

If you think about speeding, think twice when the box show green number -let say number 5, means green light will be last only five seconds-. You better forget it.

That is clever!

Becak crossed the busy road

This photo was taken around Manahan Stadium too, when we got shocked of this becak, all of sudden crossing our way, inches from our Dokar!

This becak drivers must've guts to do this!

Little girl early step

One of the events our parent organizes in Solo is a ceremony for our daughter, called ‘Tedhak Siti’. As in Javanese, Tedhak Siti means the first or early steps for little one who showing the sign of capability for walks. Some Indonesian called it ‘Turun Tanah’.

On this event, she had to step onto 7 ‘Jadah’ – a traditional cake made from sticky rice- which been colored in 7 different color, each represent one major thing reachable in life, such as yellow for wealthy, red for courage, and there are brown,green,white and so on.

After stepping into Jadah, she had to climb small ladder made from sugar cane which represent of hopes for her sweet life toward. On the top of ladder, there is a tiny chair, which she had to sit there for a couple of minute, as she will have best time of her life.

I was nervous on that day. She is very different with Rama –my son, her brother-. When we did Tedhak Siti for Rama, it wasn’t quite early in the morning, so he was just waked up from his morning nap, fresh and happy through the ceremony. This time, the ceremony started at 9am which was her morning nap time. I tried to feed her breakfast early, hoping she would fall asleep afterwards and wake up fresh. It didn’t happen. With guest started arriving about 8.30am, she get excited to see many people around. When my mum & dad came in, she even happier.

So when the ceremony just about to begin, she fall asleep. We had to wake her up just after 10 minutes nap. She was cranky at first. She feels disturbed. We washed her feet for the start, she started to cheer up. She saw my face, my husband face, and her brother face. She must feel safe.

Everything went smoothly, thank God, Alhamdulillah. She stepped happily onto Jadah, climbed the sugar cane ladder quickly, and sat on the chair with smile on her face. She even looked around to all guest, smile –politely as a princess- and when the guest all smiling and waving at her, she start clapped her hand. Super duper funny and cute. Melted all my nervous down.

When it’s came to following ceremony, which she had to sit inside very big cage (and me too…don’t try imagining, the cage absolutely to small for two of us altogether) and there was a tray with bit of pieces like jewellery, book, play-on kitchenware, play-on home ware, Al-Qur’an, stationery, calculator and so on, which she have to choose one of the items. Whichever she choose, it’s a symbol of what she will be when she growing up (my son choose a book, and believe or not, he loves book so much, at least for now).

Rama tried to guiding her sister, to choose National Geographic magazine –she been interested in National Geographic for the last 2 months, he though it will be good to sneak this magazine into the tray-. She only touched the magazine for a second and grabbed bracelet and necklace next to it. The crowd cheered, she put it down, sweeping around the tray, touched calculator, and back to necklace and bracelet. This time, she holds those things tight, and with right hand punching the air, she tried to say something. The bracelet and necklace been chosen.
What a g girl.

Some guest said she can become jeweler, business woman in jeweler-field-relating, and many other professions related to jeweler.

For us, we just happy the ceremony is over. And running well and smoothly. For Little Miss Jeweler’s future, let’s not talk about it now.
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