Beef Bahn Mi

Back in December 2009, me and Ara had our babymoon (with Azka inside) in Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon. Before we get there, we did not really fancy Vietnamese culinary, so I wasn’t really intended the trip as a culinary trip (though I searched for the best restaurant and gems in town). When we’re there, we had our first Pho-gasm experience in two well-known Pho restaurants  and the famous Ca Phe Da (ice coffee) which we just realized that Vietnamese coffee is really good. Besides the pho and ca phe, the most enduring foodgasm that we had is the bahn mi (Vietnamese French baguette) and omelet that the landlady served us every morning during our stay in backpacker hostel. That bahn mi, without any exaggeration, was MAGIC, hell, it was only a baguette, but it tasted really good and freshly-baked…! It looked as humble as this:

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So what is bahn mi? As quoted; this is a product of French colonial Vietnam, the sandwich combines the basic French baguette (cut with rice flour, giving it a crisper crust and a lighter, more tender crumb) with Vietnamese takes on common French cold cuts or roasted meats, a smear of a sweet, buttery, mayonnaise-like spread, and plenty of vegetables—cucumber, cilantro, pickled carrots and daikon, and chili peppers. When done right, they’re an insanely tasty combination of contrasting textures and flavors, but the overall impression, as with much Vietnamese food, is of lightness and freshness.

The best bahn mi in the world must be at its epicenter, which is in SAIGON itself. Which makes me feel kinda bummed-out because during out trip to Saigon, we didn’t buy any bahn mi from the street hawker and at any restaurant. Because I was pregnant and freak out to buy something from the hawker (cleanliness) plus not sure whether it is halal. But I’m curious now, maybe I’ll visit HCMC again for the sake of it! 

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Anyway, here in New Bedford, we couldn’t find any Vietnamese restaurant. There is one resto that sell Bahn Mi, it’s good, but pricey. The nicest Bahn Mi that we could find neaby is in Boston, which is not near at all since it is 1 hour drive. Last week I was craving for one, and decided to make it. I planned to make my own bahn mi “baguette”, but I failed the recipe. So I bought just a regular buns, and make the most of my marinade beef lemon grass and Do chua (Daikon and Carrot pickle) with the confidence that the result would be as foodgasmic as the “real” one. 

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Recipes as follow, modified from here:

Ingredients

  • 1 pound beef sirloin or shaved steak, sliced strips marinade with 4 tbsp of Kecap Manis + 2 tbsp of Fish sauce + 1 stalk (white part) of Lemon grass + 2 tablespoons finely minced shallot + 3 cloves of garlic, minced + 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper and salt. Marinade at least for 2 hour or overnight.
  • 6 6 to 8-inch baguettes, sliced in half ( I used regular Subs, make sure if you’re using baguette, you have to use it right away or else, it would be hardened)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sriracha sauce if you like 
  • Pickled carrots and daikons
  • Maggi Seasoning sauce or soy sauce
  • Your choice of boldly-flavored meat or tofu, sliced and at room temperature
  • 3 or 4 thin seeded cucumber strips, pickling or English variety preferred
  • 2 or 3 cilantro sprigs, roughly chopped
  • 3 or 4 thin jalapeño pepper slices

Procedure

  1. I’m using a grill pan: Grill beef over high heat until browned on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  2. Place baguette or subs slices on grill, cut side down, and toast until browned, about 1 minute. Remove from grill and evenly divide beef on bottom slices of bread; top with pickled carrots, daikons, and cilantro. Spread sriracha mayo on top slices of bread, arrange on top of assemble sandwich and serve. 

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IMG_4088Enjoy…!

 

 

Fitter, Happier

I’m fully realized that our family need to spend more time doing some body (and mind) exercise. It’s been a long pause since my last yoga, jogging and zumba, and swimming for the kids, and running and futsal for Ara. We definitely has to do something with this good habit and make it as our everyday lifestyle. Last year, I enrolled Azka for YMCA member all year long – and we ended up could only made 4 times in the entire year for swimming. Four times out of 365 days?! Yeah, we’re as lazy as that (not proud). I couldn’t be more despondent and yet couldn’t do anything how to fix this. But I promise myself, when Azka turned 4 next month, I will be more discipline for his swimming routine no matter how tired I am or busy (or lazy).

As a starter for the new beginning and to embrace the spring spirit, our family just started a new habit that hopefully can be routinely kept for as long as possible: 1 hour walk or family outing every Saturday and it has to be done by the four of us. Usually, I let Ara enjoyed his Saturday/ Sunday staying at home all the time while I go out for an hour or two just for having a good long walk by myself. But lately, noticing the few kilograms keep on adding up in Ara’s weight, I have to really push him do some exercise. If running or swimming sounds “too hard” for him, maybe walk together could be a good starting point.  And we did…! Though after the walk he and the kids seemed very tired (Azka keep saying “Ibu, my feet is pegel, tolong pijetin” and “My feet is very tired”, hahah). Little steps y’all..! We can do it together..! :D

The first walk, we did around 30 minutes walk plus playground time -which sum up around 1 hour “exercise”. Not bad. We just went half-way of Buttonwood Park:

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The second walk is actually a light trekking in Parsons Reserve Dartmouth, we were there with a group from DNRT and went to Vernal Pool. This activity actually intended for family with kids to do some kind of Habitat Hunting and in touch with the nature. This is Azka and Khalif first trekking, both were having a good time – though on the way back to parking lot Azka wanted me to hold him all the time -__-” (which of course I refused by keep on walking ahead of him several steps).

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IMG_4388Salamander Eggs

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IMG_4379Cheers!

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IMG_4357Forget to bring his cap, he said ‘Silau Ibu!” and use his umbrella instead :I

IMG_4371 IMG_4405Khalif with Daffodil fields which hasn’t bloomed yet

IMG_4377Spotted some snakes (they’re pretty safe)

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And after that we had our lunch by picnic in the Town Landing/ playground nearby;

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Can’t wait for the next Saturday…! We planned to do some volunteer with Operation Clean Sweep. Hopefully the weather is good and we can walk and volunteer at the same time…!

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How To Make Protein Energy Bars

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Last January I received a 1 kg packaged of Medjool Dates from Tante Dian – she did her Islamic pilgrimage in Mecca and brought me some dates that she mailed me through Tante Wina. I like dates, considering its nutritional values and sweetness… But 1 kg?? What I supposed to do with that? Since I usually only use it as a topping in my cereals, it would take months to eat the whole package. For roughly two months I’ve abandoned the dates. As it’s get harder as the days goes by, I know that I need to do something with that, or maybe I should just give it to Masjid for Juma’ah prayer. But I keep the dates instead.

Last week, during my playdate with Ana, as usual our topics of conversation is about green and sustainable lifestyle *uhuk*,  she’s reallllyyy into that. And she told me that she likes to make her own energy bars or balls from dates and chickpeas with some seeds, grains and nuts. I’ve heard about that kind of thing, but never actually made it. Later that day, I look up online for some inspirations – there are a lot of varieties that we can make try like in this and this site.  Then I just realized that I have all the things that I need to make the jam-packed protein energy bars/ balls…! I have coconut oil, peanut butter, flax seeds, chia seeds, almonds, and dates. I sneak some chocolate chips too, just to make it more “fun” to eat…! Hehe.

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As a breastfeeding mom and mom of two, I always in a need of healthy and fulfilling snacks – and this is one of it. It’s homemade, rich in fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, and protein…! Not to tell you HOW EASY it is to make one.  The essential equipment to make this is: food processor. That’s it. No oven needed, as it’s a no-bake recipe. After you crush and mix the ingredients, just transfer it to a ziplock bag or food container, and put in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. After that you can cut it (if it a bars), or make it into balls. These will stay long if you put in the freezer, and it won’t take much time to thaw it. More details of the recipes in below.

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This is the recipes – and this is very versatile, please feel free to adjust it for your own satisfaction :) I grab the recipe from here and modified it myself:

How to Make Choco Peanut Dates Energy Bars at Home

Makes 8 large bars or 16 small square-shaped bars

What You Need

Ingredients
1/4 cup nuts (I use Almonds) + 2T chia seeds or 2 T flax seeds + 1/3 cup peanut butter or  coconut oil + 1 cup (12-15 whole) dates, pitted + 1/3 c semi sweet chocolate chip

Equipment
Food processor + Plastic wrap or wax paper + Sharp knife

Instructions

  1. Roast the nuts (optional). Nuts can be used raw or roasted; roasting will add a toasty, nutty depth to the bars. If desired, roast the nuts at 350°F for 10-12 minutes, until fragrant and golden. Allow to cool before using.
  2. Combine the nuts, seeds, and dates in a food processor. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse a few times just to break them up. Separate the dates if they start to clump together.
  3. Process continuously for 30 seconds. By this point, the ingredients should all have broken down into crumb-sized pieces. Scrape the edges of the bowl and beneath the blade to make sure nothing is sticking.
  4. Process continuously until a ball is formed, 1-2 minutes. Continue processing for another 1-2 minutes, until the ingredients clump together and gather into a ball.
  5. Press into a thick square and chill. Lay a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper on your work surface and dump the power bar dough on top. Press the dough with your hands until it forms a thick square, roughly 8″ x 8″ in size. Wrap and chill for at least an hour or overnight. Or to cut the time, just freeze it for at least 30 minutes/ gets a little bit hard and easy to be chopped.
  6. Divide into bars. Unwrap the chilled power bar dough and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 8 large bars or 16 small squares, as desired. Wrap each bar in plastic wrap or wax paper.
  7. Store the bars. Store the bars in the fridge for several weeks or in the freezer for up to three months. The bars can be eaten straight from the fridge or freezer and will be firm, but chewy. Room-temperature bars are perfectly fine to eat and can be kept in a lunch bag or backpack all day, but will be more soft and paste-like

If you choose to make balls instead bars (which I prefer), no need to do step no.5 – after everything combined, you just formed some balls from the ‘dough’.

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Enjoy…!

 

Plate Walls

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If you visit our apartment, the first thing that you would notice probably is our walls – that fully decorated with stuffs: pictures, paintings, postcards, kids’ arts, page from magazines – in every room. Sometimes it could be “too much” – I know:

IMG_3454 IMG_3404 IMG_2772I like them all, but after almost three years looking at the same thing, I started to feel bored. So, I decided to sell some of the paintings and pictures – alas, buy a new one. This time I really want to redecorate our dining room and been looking for inspirations in Pinterest for months. And my heart fell into plate walls…! I always love plates and we have bunch of them at home, because every time I went to flea or yard sale, I always ended up to buy some cute-looking plates. But when it came to decorate, sometimes I could be really picky. Thus, the plate hunting began. I really expect to get lots of plates from the flea market that I usually went to (trying to be thrifty here). But after thrift-hopping and didn’t find what I’m looking for, I gave up and went to IKEA instead. There, I got some pretty Trendig designs (for $2.99 each) and to Marshalls where I got some nice Turkey calligraphy-look decoration plates ($4.99) – not as cheap as I wanted it to be, but I heart them. I want to put more, but let’s stick with that for now.

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These are some of the inspirations (all images are directly linked to the source):

  

Questions: How to hang those plates?

They have a special plate wire hanger (come with different sizes) that people use in the old days, but I’ve read some reviews saying that it won’t do good to the plates. So I bought this adhesive plate hangers instead. It is good but it’s damn expensive! So I try a thrifty way to do it: by using a very strong adhesive glue (E-6000) and a paper clip! This genius credit belongs to one blogger momma – you can take a look step by step from here. Just remember, you have to wait 24 hour before you hang the plates after you applied the glue, otherwise it won’t work…! I was impatient, so after 2 hours I hung the turkey plates…..and it FELL down! Good thing is, it wasn’t broke (phew…). Lesson learned, I waited 24 hours – and voila…! After two months, they still stay strong (and I hope for years). Oh, another tip: make sure you put the paperclip in the direction that you want it to be, otherwise it looked like mine: not straight -___-” and the Turkeys plates, by my mistakes – I didn’t put the paperclip in the middle of the plate, so it looked not as pretty as it should be.

IMG_29321 IMG_2933Next! Redecorating our “study room”!

Dyed Pastas and Colored Rice

Azka and Khalif loooooove to play with their rice box – they use it for everything: pretending that they’re cooking (I gave them some cooking utensils), put in the jars, play with their dump trucks, etc. But never crossed my mind that I actually could colored them – until I saw Reti’s Instagram. So, I made one – and I thought, why not doing the same to the pastas? Pastas have lots of shapes which make it interesting. Thanks to creative moms in Pinterest and Blogosphere, I could find many related posts about this. I love the pastas, we can also use it for the kids gross motor skills by making a necklace out of it, and with all the colors, it makes the activity even extra fun…! This activity is so simple, there’s no excuse why not doing it…! PLUS it makes the kids stay focus with for 45 minutes or so… We’re talking about a 21 months and 3.5 y.o in here, I KNOW…right! Sensory play is fun :)

I have a step by step picture of it – but sadly, either Azka or Khalif deleted all the pictures from my camera. Oh well, you could always Google it. Enjoy! More tips in here and here.

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Summery Taste in Winter

During wintertime, our frequency of baking is 3x more productive than in other seasons – what we do basically eat, play, eat, play, watch, eat, play, watch, all day long (I became more loose with their screen time, I let them watch 110 minutes full-length movie so I could do other errands peacefully while they’re watching Cars or Winnie The Pooh or whatever on the PBS kids. I know, I know…. Still trying to not exceed 3 hours screen time tho‘). So in between of those activities, I put baking time 2-3 times a week. Baking is one of me and the kids favorite activities. During baking, Azka and Khalif cooperatively standing next to me in the kitchen; while Khalif contently happy of doing his mixing job, Azka wants higher task – which is measuring any ingredients that we use, cracking the eggs, pouring the milk, scooping the batter into the tins or pans or plates – and after he’s doing all this job, he demands to lick all the spoons and bowls that has been used; His face is utterly cute while licking it religiously.

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So last week we decided to make Blueberry Summer Cake (which is ironic, because when we made it the snow storm is coming). It is one of the simple cake ever – I’ve made variety of quick breads and cake with blueberry before: banana-blueberry muffins, blueberry muffins, blueberry cheesecake, blueberry crumb cake, blueberry scones, blueberry pancake – basically all that I can do with banana, I did the same with frozen blueberry. It is so versatile that I always stock them in the freezer – oh, I use it for green smoothies too. I love this superfood – but I have to make sure to always buy the organic one or from the farmers market if I buy it fresh because the amount of pesticide in blueberry is the worst among other fruits.

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So here is the recipe, originally from here which the person adapted from Martha Stewart:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsps unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract ( I don’t use: I avoid to use it lately because of the alcohol in it)
  • 1/2 cup milk ( I used soy)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 tbsps sanding sugar (optional – I don’t use, instead I give powdered sugar by the end as garnish)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°. Generously grease a 9-inch round cake pan. Whisk dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar until creamy. Add egg and vanilla (if using), mixing well. Add flour mixture in 3 portions, alternating with the milk. Mix just until combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Scatter blueberries over the top of the batter and lightly press them into the batter. Sprinkle top with sanding sugar. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and firm. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cake. Transfer cake to wire rack to cool completely. (You’ll need to flip the cake twice so it can cool right side up.)

The cake is just the right amount of sweet, a bit delicate, and just lovely:

IMG_2320Enjoy!

Life is About Courage and Going Into the Unknown

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Quotes from the movie – “The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty” – I love the story and the soundtrack is one of the best movie soundtrack lately…! My favorite one is Dirty Paws by Of Monsters and Men and Rogue Wave - Lake Michigan. The movie synopsis: Ben Stiller directs and stars in THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, James Thurber’s classic story of a day-dreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his job along with that of his co-worker (Kristen Wiig) are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined. Read more at http://collider.com/the-secret-life-of-walter-mitty-clip/#rmZL3kR58S9DA1cH.99

Listen, The Snow Is Falling

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It’s almost a month since my last post – and I didn’t complete the #30tulisan challenge. I forgive myself for the lack of commitment and ability to consistently able to write and post daily to my blog. You know, from time to time I’d like to give myself a break from social media, including blogging – That is when I became too obsessed with ‘likes’, ‘loves’, or stats hit / or when I can’t wait to post something in my blog for the sake that I want to bragging about my last trip to Montreal (fyi, it didn’t happened)/ or when I want to show off my selfie with my new Balenciaga bag  (that’s of course didn’t happened too)/ or the time that I realize I did something just to please others or want their attentions/ or the time when I realized I write or post in a not sincere way …. That’s the time I knew that I need a break. Luruskan niat: aku menulis untuk apa? 

So I did, it wasn’t a 5 months break like last year, but it’s pretty much a relieved for 1 week not posting and checking anything on Instagram and Path- and 3 weeks in this blog. I could focus myself to something else, my hobby, more circle time with the kids, decluttering our apartment, more time in the kitchen, though (sadly) not so much time with the books – but more time in front of the screen and leisure myself catching up with some good music, TEDX inspiring sessions, and some movie trailers (yeah, trailers first, full-length can wait), and if the weather permitted I’d love to do some physical exercise or just a quiet time with yoga or pilates. Wait for me spring!

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Anyhow, this winter -just like the previous years- gave me extra burden by long hours staying at home, plus the kids were not feeling well for 3 weeks, papa went home late (not complaining, I’m a fully supportive wife, love you Papa, semangat!); sure we have a lot of things and activities to do at home, but sometimes what a mother really needs is a 5 minutes peaceful moments for herself. When I said 5 minutes, I actually meant at least 2 hours. But if 2 hours too much, gave me 5 minutes, that’s the amount of sanity I need. Curcol much? I’m sorry.

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Apart from that, I can say that I’m happy to see all the whimsical beauty of winter wonderland that all the snow storms brought so far…. It took my breath away (literally) by capturing these, and it was my first thing to do in the morning after the storm. It’s the moment to remember and it was one of the best 45 minutes ‘me time’ so far. This one taken around my neighborhood 5- 10 minutes walk, simple things that caught my eyes. Snow is very exhilarating.

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Subhannallah, Alhamdulillah, Allahu Akbar.  As I’m writing this the snow is falling all over again… It’s just so pretty, me and Ara couldn’t stop saying “Bagus banget ya…”. Listen, the snow is falling over town. Listen, the snow is falling everywhere. Between your bed and mine. Between your head and my mind. Between Tokyo and Paris. Between London and Dallas. Between your God and mine. John Lennon and Yoko Ono- Listen, The Snow Is Falling.

Banana Nutella (Banana-tella) Crepes

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If you Google images the title, there will be hundreds of similar posts from foodie in the blogosphere. So just consider I am one of those people that loves the combination of Nutella and banana – especially in this winter days, that all you want to do is just gobble things of whatever available in your fridge. Plus, it only needs several basic items and 10 minutes preparation or 15 minutes in total including cook time. What are you waiting for?

Recipe is from here:

Ingredients

2 eggs
1 cup milk (I used Soymilk)
1/3 cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I omit this)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
About 1/2 cup Nutella
1 to 2 bananas, sliced

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Directions

Sift the flour with the salt into a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the eggs. Pour in the milk, slowly, stirring constantly and, when half is added, stir in the melted butter (and vanilla if you’re using any). Beat well until smooth with blender or whisker. Add the remaining milk, cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before using, you can use it directly – if you’re running out of time or the kids are whining. The batter should be the consistency of light cream.

Heat a well greased 6-inch skillet and use a very low heat. Add 1/3 cup batter. Tip skillet from side to side until batter covers bottom. Cook until the bottom is golden brown (will take about 1- 2 minute) , turn and remove to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter. Spread a thin layer of Nutella or any spread that you use onto crepe and place banana slices down the center. Roll or fold crepe. Serve immediately with any fillings you please….! If you must serve them later, wrap the crepes in plastic wrap and place them into a sealed plastic bag. Refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

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Enjoy it with some hot chocolate-coffee and marshmallows….! (Yeah, sweet-tooth I am)

Winter Storm Janus

Another winter storm that hit Midwest to East Coast, including New England areas. It wasn’t as bad as the first Polar Vortex that happened two weeks earlier, but still leave a trace of 8-12 inches of snow and dropped temperature around -14C in New Bedford. These pictures are taken at the afternoon after the storm, all taken in South End of New Bedford. I was obsessed with pile of snow on the rock, such a sight!

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I actually feel guilty when I took and posted these pictures. I know that some of my relatives, friends, and many people in Indonesia right now is facing a major disaster by flooding in Jakarta, Bandung, Manado, Pamanukan, and other areas that I don’t know. Also people in Sinabung which currently facing difficulties with their temporary camp-site and lack of foods related to the active volcanoes… My minds, pray, and thoughts are with them. I really hope everything will be gradually better and all right in there. I remember back in 2000-2009 when I lived in Jakarta, I had to deal with the flooding every single year… Pulomas is one of the “langganan” area, my family dealt with no electricity, hundreds books and items are broken because of the flood, not to mention the energy of moving the furniture from the first to the second floor, and I couldn’t express how uncomfortable the time when the flood is finally over and we had to cleaning up the mess and dealing with hundreds of flying cockroach and debris. Right now in US, my little family facing a different kind of ‘disaster’, a storm that the aftermath could be celebrated with sledding, making snowman, or at least good for sightseeing. In some part, I am thankful but on the other hand I feel kinda selfish that I feel ‘grateful’.

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I believe that after the storm or disaster, something good would come up. I pray for you, my families in Indonesia.