My Dad

My Dad was an extraordinary man. I also like to believe that he lived an extraordinary life. He fought an extraordinary battle with lung cancer before God decided it was his time to rest eternally.

He was the fourth out of five children, the second-born son in his family. He was the cheeky one, with an outgoing personality. As a father, he was the wheels that kept our family moving. He was loving, he was present, and he was fun.

He wanted the best for this family, so he worked hard. He wanted us to see the world, so he took us. We didn’t have a lot but somehow he always managed to spoil us with presents, family vacations, family outings, and his time.

His time was precious – he was a busy man. Often times he would leave for work before I woke up and only came home after I went to bed, but then my mom made a deal with him – that he had to take me and my brother to school everyday whenever possible. (I guess this made my mom the rock that holds our family together but that’s a story for another day…)

So he did. No matter how late he came home the other night, he always took me to school until I graduated high school. I remember the drive, where we would talk about anything. I cherish that moments, and I kept replaying that moment over and over, wishing that it never goes away.

I guess I was too small when he left, or maybe the tragedy of losing him left a mark on me, that I now startung to struggle to remember details about my encounter with him. It breaks my heart that memories of our togetherness are starting to fade away, that I now only see snippets of images instead of the whole picture when I try to remember.

But I remember the kind of man he was. He was a hardworker, one that still had the time for family and friends. He was much loved by his friends, I know that his staffs and colleagues loved him too. He put family first, always with open arms to help. He was stylish, presentable, neat. I remember his polo shirt and the way he always brings a handkerchief in his pocket.

I remember his upbeat personality, how he lit up the room whenever he walked in, how he liked to sing on events (his favorite karaoke song is Separuh Nafas by Dewa 19 haha). I remember his love for sports, how he played it all – basketball, hockey, golf… and how his love for sports guided me to finish my first 5K race.

Although it has been 12 years since he passed, every day I try to live my life following what he showed me. One can only hope that he’s happy to see that person I have become ๐Ÿ˜Š

I wanted to post my favorite picture of him but I couldn’t find a digital version of it, so this picture will do (and yes, that’s baby- me! :D)

Happy Father’s Day to my #1, and to every outstanding Dads out there!

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Es Kopi Ala Dapur Christa

Ahaha gaya banget ya judulnya. Ini semua hasil ngidam es kopi sebangsa Tuku dan teman – temannya yang dulu sering banget saya minum di Jakarta. Disini banyak banget sih yang jual es kopi, mulai dari es kopi Vietnam, es kopi di McD, es kopi di Dunkin Donuts, es kopi di tempat Boba, sampai es kopi gaul buatan Blue Bottle Coffee.. tapi rasanya nggak ada yang sesuai es kopi Jakarta.

Kebetulan awal tahun kemarin saya beli mesin kopi rumahan demi menghemat pengeluaran jajan kopi, dan jadi rajin eksperimen bikin kopi sendiri di rumah. Sejauh ini sih saya udah merasa puas dengan latte bikinan sendiri pakai bubuk kopi (Iya kopinya beli bubuk aja, belum punya grinder soalnya hehe) keluaran Trader Joe’s… walaupun belum bisa bikin latte art. Tapi sudahlah, kan buat minum sendiri, yang penting rasa enak tanpa dicantik – cantikin.

Tapi tetep deh ada yang kurang gitu rasanya.. masih kangen banget rasa es kopi Jakarta yang khas, apalagi sudah mulai masuk musim panas. Saya coba cari – cari resep dengan keyword “es kopi ala Tuku” dan muncullah beberapa resep. Rata – rata semuanya sih bahannya hampir sama – kopi, susu / krimer, gula aren, kadang – kadang ada resep yang pakai susu kelapa atau gula merah.

Setelah beberapa kali coba – coba akhirnya saya ketemu juga resep es kopi susu yang menurut saya paling pas, hore! Resep nya menggunakan bahan – bahan yang mudah didapatkan di Amerika, gampang banget cuma 3 bahan. Supaya nggak lupa, saya mau share aja di blog, siapa tau ada yang mau coba dan cocok juga ๐Ÿ™‚

Resep dan Cara Buat Es Kopi Susu ala Dapur Christa

18oz (~532ml) Espresso – dengan mesin kopi diatas, ini perlu 3x seduh, karena sekali seduh hasilnya 6oz (~177ml). Kopinya saya pakai Organic Sumatra Mandheling dari Archer Farms yang beli di Target. Kopinya medium roast, menurut saya rasanya cukup smooth dan rasa kopinya nggak hilang begitu sudah dicampur sama bahan – bahan lainnya ketika jadi es kopi.

16oz (~473ml) Half&Half – Saya pakai Half&Half merek Great Value keluaran Walmart. Karena kebetulan kemarin belanjanya di Walmart, haha. Sejauh ini saya selalu pakai merek yang beda – beda, tergantung lagi belanja dimana, dan rasanya sama aja kok. Tapi kebetulan udah 2x pakai merek ini karena takarannya pas, 1 kemasan buat 1 resep.

2-3 tbsp (~30-45ml) Maple Syrup – Nah ini dia bahan ketiganya. Karena saya masih ragu dengan gula aren / palm sugar disini, saya memutuskan pakai maple syrup aja sebagai pemanisnya. Saya pakai Organic Maple Syrup Grade A Dark Color merek Coombs Family Farms. Takarannya bisa disesuaikan aja sesuai selera, suka manis atau nggak. Menurut sayaaa rasa Maple Syrup mirip lah sama rasa gula aren yang saya ingat di berbagai es kopi hits ala Tuku pas di Jakarta.

Setelah semua bahan dituang ke dalam botol, dikocok – kocok supaya bikin tambah smooth rasanya. Sejauh ini sih saya puas dengan resep ini, si R juga suka, cuma ya karena alatnya terbatas, jadi bikinnya lamaa.. kudu sabar nyeduh kopi 3x hahaha. Nggak apa – apa lah, kan bikinnya nggak tiap hari, buat obat kangen aja ๐Ÿ™‚

Summer Activities

This is another post from the โ€œStories from the Westโ€ project which I am doing withย Dixie. We will be writing 1 post each month with the same topic, to give you a glimpse of our lives as new immigrants in our respective countries. This monthโ€™s topic is about โ€œsummer storiesโ€. Check out some things that you can do during summertime in Southern California, and don’t forget to read Dixie’s story here ๐Ÿ™‚

In the US, summer usually starts with Memorial Day long weekend. It falls on the last Monday of May, and it’s a holiday to honor those who have passed away during their military service.

However, since I am lucky enough to live in Southern California, our “summer days” actually started way before that. As soon as the weather gets a little bit warmer and sunshine’s out, R and I like to go to the beach. So it happens that the beach is only 15 minutes away from where we live, making it convenient for us to go frequently.

I remember last year, my first summer in the US. We went to the beach almost everyday! I was so tired of the cold weather (Mind you I arrived here during winter time), so I was embracing the warm summer days wholeheartedly.

Last year – chillin at the beach

Unfortunately it’s not the case this year. I haven’t spent a proper day at the beach at all this year! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Somehow the weather is yet to warm up, I still find it too cold whenever I tried to spend a day at the beach. But I’m patient. I know summer is just right around the corner, so I’m counting days to where I will spend most of my days at the beach again.

Anyway, going to the beach is actually just one of the many activities that you can do during summer here in Southern California. Here are other exciting things that you can do during summertime…

Festivals and Concerts

Coachella 2015

I think festival season in Southern California starts with Coachella in April. Then a ton of other festivals follow. From music festivals like Just Like Heaven that I went to, to culinary festivals, book festivals, comic festivals, art festivals… there’s always a festival for everyone! I personally love going to festival, especially music festival because I just like to be part of the energetic crowd! Then there’s also music concerts. Summer is usually the time where musicians go on tour, and living in LA, I am never short of concert wishlist. If I had the time, energy, and money, I’d probably be out going to a concert every weekend hehehe.

Fairs

When I was living in England, I was made familiar with markets. From a small-scale weekend market that usually takes place in your neighborhood to a big-scale Christmas market with tons of stalls, games, and some attractions. Here in the US we got fairs. It is similar to markets in concept, only in a bigger scale. Well, at least that’s what happen here in Orange County, where I live. Last year I went to OC fair and I plan to do the same this year. OC fair has hundreds of booths from food to trinkets, and there’s also a lot of other activities like petting zoo, mini amusement park, and mini concert. It’s fun and it lasts for one whole month!

Outdoor Activities

Summer also means it’s the perfect time to go outdoor. The US is blessed with such beautiful nature and people here like to go out and about when the weather gets warmer. We go out camping, hiking, visiting national parks, or just spending time at the beach or at parks doing barbeque with friends and family. R and I are going to a national park too this month, I really can’t wait! Last but not least, summer is also the time for baseball! Although this one is really not my cup of tea but I would love to see a Dodgers game one day this summer. Let’s hope I can get a good deal for a ticket!

So those are the things that you can do during summer in Southern California. Is it any different than where you live? I’d love to hear your stories in the comment box. See you in the next Stories from The West post, and have a great summer ahead ๐Ÿ™‚

Catatan Ramadan 2019

Nggak berasa ya, sekarang sudah hari – hari terakhir bulan Ramadan. Ini adalah Ramadan kali kedua saya di Amerika, kali kedua sebagai istri, jadi tentunya banyak hal menarik yang bisa saya rangkum buat bahan kenang – kenangan di blog ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh iya kalau mau baca cerita Ramadan tahun 2018 disini, tahun 2017 disini ya.

Oke, lanjut. Awal bulan Ramadan kali ini saya berasa lemes banget, rasanya puasa tuh berat banget, hampir seminggu saya jam 3 siang udah berasa lemes, lesu, kedinginan, dan cuma bisa tidur sampai menjelang buka puasa jam 7:30 malam. Saya sempet nanya2 di Twitter, gimana sih tips nya puasa panjang, dan juga nanya2 sama teman disini. Jawabannya bervariasi sih, tapi banyak yang bilang, makan kurma! Alhasil saya coba deh sahur pakai kurma, begitu juga pas buka puasa. Eh bener lho, nggak tau karena kurma nya, atau karena badan sudah beradaptasi, Alhamdulilah habis itu saya kuat puasa, nggak pakai lemes – lemes dan kedinginan lagi.

Sama seperti tema keagamaan pribadi saya akhir – akhir ini, tujuan saya di Ramadan ini pengen cari kedamaian dan ketenangan hati. Lumayan luas ya artinya, tapi Alhamdulilah saya mulai dituntun ke arah yang bikin saya senyum – senyum di bulan Ramadan ini, melalui bentuk yang bermacam – macam. Hehe, bingung nggak? Intinya memang kedamaian dan ketenangan hati itu memang personal sekali ya sifatnya.

Ramadan kali ini saya banyak menghabiskan waktu sendiri. Jadi karena sempat merasa lemas di awal Ramadan, saya memutuskan untuk libur sejenak dari berbagai kerjaan freelance saya. Eh, di minggu kedua saya sudah sehat, malah R yang kerjanya sibuk banget dan lembur terus. Jadilah saya sering buka puasa sendirian dan banyak waktu untuk mempelajari hal – hal yang memang ingin dipelajari ๐Ÿ™‚

Tapi, mungkin karena saya banyak sendiri, mungkin karena sudah satu tahun lebih belum pulang ke Indonesia, Ramadan kali ini saya merasa kangen banget dengan Indonesia. Kangen keluarga besar, kangen komunitas, kangen puasa bareng – bareng, bahkan saya sempet bilang sama R “duh sedih juga ya disini sepi puasanya, nih lihat deh temen2 di Jakarta pada saling kirim2an hampers lebaran, disini mana ada yang kasih hampers” Cetek banget ya keinginan saya hahaha, tapi bener sempet ngomong gitu ke R pas saya lihat instastory teman – teman di Jakarta yang saling berbagi kiriman makanan berbuka atau sahur.

Eh, nggak taunya, nggak disangka hari Jumat ini ada teman saya telpon pagi – pagi, bilang mau mampir ke rumah karena dia lagi ada urusan di daerah saya. Pas buka pager, dia dan suaminya nenteng hampers dong buat kami! Isinya puding coklat rumahan pakai fla, yang nggak sabar saya makan buat berbuka puasa nanti. Yaampun, terharu banget deh. Beneran saya bilang, gak ada kepikiran sama sekali bakal dapat sesuatu buat lebaran disini, karena kan beda aja ya budayanya. Taunya malah dapet kiriman, Alhamdulillah ๐Ÿ™‚ Kadang – kadang, keajaiban itu bukan sesuatu yang masif, tapi tetap aja efeknya bisa membuat hati tenang, senang, dan senyum – senyum seharian. Alhamdulillah ๐Ÿ™‚

Semoga Ramadan kali ini juga memberikan ketenangan dan kedamaian bagi kamu, kamu, dan kamu, dimanapun kamu berada. Semoga kita masih dipertemukan dengan Ramadan berikutnya dan bisa menjadi pribadi yang lebih baik lagi di hari – hari selanjutnya, dan semoga kita tetap diberkahi dengan keajaiban – keajaiban besar atau kecil yang membuat hati senang. Mohon maaf lahir dan batin, selamat menjelang lebaran ya!

Finding Peace

For a while I refrained myself from writing about this, even though I have been thinking about this (a lot) for quite some time. I understand that it might be controversial to some, but hey this blog is called ‘Christa Bercerita’ because this is where I tell my stories.. and today it’s about faith.

I was born and raised Muslim, I am still a Muslim and I should note here that I was brought up in an interfaith household. My dad was a devout Muslim, my mom is a devout Christian and together they raised me as a Muslim. Whole my life, I am used to the exposure of the two faiths, and strangely enough my husband comes from a diverse background too – half of his family is Christian, while he is born and raised Muslim. So – that’s a little background about me.

Fast forward to the last few years, I started to question my faith. Not the Islam that I grew up with, but particularly the way some Indonesians Muslims practice their faith …. (I don’t want to generalize but that’s how I see it). In the past few years, I’ve seen more and more people / friends / colleagues / family / acquaintances getting more religious and especially with social media they are spreading their “newly-found-again” faith out loud.

I get it, I’m all about free speech and I (try my best) to value everyone’s opinion. But there’s this thing that I found very disturbing. I found that the narrative of this whole “newly-found-again” (or in Indonesian – hijrah) Islam is mostly (again, I don’t want to generalize) fear.

I’ve lost count of the times I went to a sermon, only to hear about how I’ve done soooo bad as a human being and I’m super sinful that I will burn in hell. I’ve lost count of the instagram posts telling me that I will get X punishment in hell because I donโ€™t cover my hair or because I didn’t do this and that.

Truth be told these things donโ€™t make me feel peace at all, instead they make me uneasy, and I thought being religious is supposed to bring peace on to my daily life.

I mean I don’t want to pray because I’m afraid that if I didn’t I will burn in hell. I don’t want to give to the poor and needy only because I want something in return, as I often hear, “give to the needy, your prayers will be heard!” I mean do I really have to have a motive in giving back? That does not feel right. I want to give because I feel like giving, because I feel thankful, and I want to pray because I want to feel close to God, because I want to feel peace. Not because I’m afraid. And definitely not because I want something in return!

So yeah, I kind of stop following Indonesian Islam (if there’s such thing.. but you know what I mean). Which is a bit sad, because I know Islam is all about communities and at the moment I don’t feel like I belong in my own community.

Thankfully, I am starting to find peace at my mosque here. Although I am yet to go there often, I love what I’m hearing so far. Every sermon I heard made me smile, made me feel at peace, and maybe I’ll find my community here. For now, I’ll continue observing Ramadan with an open heart, may this month brings Peace to you and I โค

Sunday

I woke up early, and we decided to get breakfast. We tried a brunch cafe not far from our house, only 10 minutes drive away. We were the first guests when we arrived at 7AM, right when they just opened. Not long after, another couple came in. Then another. And another. It was a full house by 7:30AM. Wow, it looks like the cafe is quite popular in the neighborhood. Why haven’t we been here before, I asked R. Let’s try the food first, he said.

I ordered a typical American breakfast menu – eggs, sausage, potatoes and toast. Only I asked for the toast to be changed to english muffins. It’s the closest I can get to crumpets here :)))) R ordered pesto bagel – it was really good, he said. I also had a cup of latte which was not bad at all, similar to what I usually make at home. But it’s Sunday, I want someone to make my coffee because I don’t wan’t to deal with the dishes :)))))

After breakfast we spent a bit of time at the beach, then went back home. I did some freelance work, R went on relaxing. He needed the rest&relaxation day after his long week.

I was too caught up with work when I realised it’s already past 4PM and we haven’t had lunch. I woke R up, we were both starving. Well, it’s the perfect time to use our Gyu-kaku points, I said. Let’s go! He said. There’s nothing better than eating good food with points, which brought down our bill to 50% less! ๐Ÿ˜€

Btw, tonight is the start of Ramadan. We will be fasting for a whole month starting tomorrow. So we went to Target to stock up on some pantry items. I haven’t finished my meal plan so I just stock up on some fruits, oatmeal and protein bars for our suhoor. We will be fasting for 15 hours this year, and this is going to be my second Ramadan in the US. I’m excited! I’m hoping for some miracles this month and I’m also looking forward to reflect and give back.

Now I’m relaxing at home. It’s been a long day. R is right beside me, watching Game of Thrones. I don’t follow the series, I just don’t get the hype. Don’t get me wrong, I tried to watch a couple of episodes… Anyway I let him have the TV every Sunday night, so here I am typing in my WordPress app while listening to Spotify with earphones on. All good, it’s been a good day, and I hope it will be a good Ramadan for us all ๐Ÿ™‚

5 Phrases That Make You Sound Like a Californian

You are reading another post from the โ€œStories from the Westโ€ project which I am doing withย Dixie. We will be writing 1 post each month with the same topic, to give you a glimpse of our lives as new immigrants in our respective countries. This monthโ€™s topic is โ€œlocal lingoโ€. Don’t forget to read Dixie’s story here and hope youโ€™ll enjoy our stories! ๐Ÿ™‚

Some of the best way to immerse yourself into a new culture is by speaking is language. This is actually a part of immigrating that at first I didn’t find too hard to be done, because I already speak English. Even so, I still found myself confused at times when I was talking to a local, because they were speaking in some lingo that I was yet to understand. It took me a while to understand these phrases, which I am going to share with you.

“To get to Hollywood from Santa Monica, take theย 10 toย theย 110 toย the 101″

If you look at Los Angeles’ map, you will see that this city has a lot of freeways! The freeways are numbered, and if you spend just enough time in Los Angeles, you will hear people casually use freeway numbers in sentences to describe directions. I found it very confusing at first and I had to sort of memorize LA map to finally be able to understand what do they mean when people are using these numbers. Oh, and btw, try to avoid the 405 at all times ๐Ÿ˜‰

“What’s up, Homie?”

Are you following American Idol this season? If you do, then you probably saw how Katy Perry called Alejandro Aranda – one of the contestants, her homie. Homie is an American slang from homeboy, mostly used to call your guy friends, someone that you are close with and hang out regularly. This phrase is mostly used between people of Mexican-American background, and since there are a lot of people with Mexican-American background in Los Angeles and Southern California in general, you would probably hear this phrase often.

“I’ll Have it Animal Style, Please!”

There is a fast food chain that Californians really love, and it’s called In-N-Out burger. This chain is different than most burger chains because it keeps its menu simple, in fact they only have fries, cheeseburger, beefburger, soft drink and milkshake. That’s it. No fancy burger menu, no sides, and definitely no seasonal menu like McDonalds. The best thing about In-N-Out is that they never freeze their produce, so it’s always fresh. Anyway, although their menu is simple, they allow you to customize your burger as you like, and there are a couple of “Secret menu” that everyone likes to order. One of it is the “animal style”, which means extra sauce, grilled onions, and mustard. The best thing? you can order both burger and fries animal style!

Image source: https://www.bustle.com

“I’m from SoCal but I went to NorCal for College”

Contrary to popular belief, Californians never refer California as Cali. Instead, they separate the region by NorCal or North California which is basically San Francisco and other cities up north, and SoCal or Los Angeles, Orange County (where I live) and San Diego.

“I Had Like, a Super Long Day”

Do you remember Cher from Clueless? Then you would probably remember how she likes to use the word like in a sentence. Adding the word like in a sentence is so common in Los Angeles (well, probably California in general). I heard it’s originated by people from the Valley (the upper north area of Los Angeles) since the 80s but it’s like, becoming super common to be used casually these days!

So that’s it! 5 phrases that will make you sound like Californian. Is there such thing in your city / country? Do share in the comment box, and I’ll see you in the next “Stories from The West” posts ๐Ÿ™‚