A review of The Selection Series from a 27 y.o

Last week I started reading The Selection Series by Kiera Cass… and managed to finished all three books in three days!

Image from Google.com
Image from Google.com

The book is another teen story with dystopian setting which revolves around the life of America Singer – the heroine of the book. She lives in Illea, a country where castes do exist and the prince (named Maxton) finds her wife from an American Idol-like show called The Selection. Through The Selection, the selected girls of Illea got to meet the prince, stay in the castle and “compete” with other girls to become the one a.k.a prince’s wife a.k.a future queen of Illea.

Now the story gets more exciting because.. well, America did not want to become part of The Selection at first, she was in love with somebody else. Then there’s the rebels. Then there’s the mean girls. Sounds like any other teen books? Kind of…

I am fully aware that this is, a teen novel. I am… Not in my teenage years anymore. I should have gotten over romantic love stories. I should have known better than to be swayed by dialogues between two madly in love teenagers.. But, Surprisingly enough, what makes it unputdownable to me is the dialogue between America and Maxton! They were so cheesy-ly (is there such a word?) romantic and forgive me for being a total hopeless romantic but the words really got my attention.

All in all, this book is a really a fun and light read – no need to think much while reading it (the more you think about it, you start to lose all the fun), just embrace the hopeless romantic in you! :p

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One for the bestfriends

In my late twenties now, almost all my best friends are either married or getting married soon.With all the festivities, my group of friends like to host bridal shower and/or hen do for the ones getting married… and baby shower for the ones pregnant. Though it’s not a typical Indonesian custom, but we somehow managed to host such parties in different schemes, and they’re all fun!

Last weekend I went to both – hosted a baby shower for three pregnant ladies on Friday night AND went to a hen do (bachelorette party) for a friend who’s getting married next Saturday. With almost all my friends married now, I’m going to recall the kind of hen dos that we have done..

Image from Google.com
Image from Google.com

The embarrassing early twenties hen do 

Looking back, I don’t know who first started this kind of tradition. In my early twenties, our kind of hen do was like this: we “kidnapped” the bride to be, put her on a crazy costume, gave her the ugliest make up and took her to shopping malls/ restaurants where she had to do some crazy stunts.. (took a photo with a stranger! pose in front of the security guard! dance in front of the mall’s lobby! things like that..hahaha). Please don’t let me do the same when it’s time for me to get married. Pretty pleaseee! :p

The all night long mid twenties hen do 

During my mid twenties, we somehow got tired of the crazy costumes and pranks and moved on to a more upbeat hen do, which involved a lot of dancing. The scheme was quite simple, we gathered the bride to be’s friends, chose a simple dress code for the guests (mostly black), gave the bride to be a tiara or sash or something that says she’s getting married, made her drunk and took her dancing all night to our favorite club.

The lovely late twenties hen do 

Nowadays when another best friend is getting married, we’d arrange a nice dinner in replacement of the crazy stunts and dancing. Though we’re no Preston Bailey, we’d prepared nice decoration with specific theme and find some cute games to be played before dinner time. We’d be bringing the bride to be some presents.. cute ones, kinky ones, all kinds. We’re basically showering her with tons of good luck before her big day.

Depending on the bride to be’s request and/or the number of bridesmaids, sometimes we even have both, we’d host the nice dinner AND go the club afterwards.. which is my favorite scheme! 😉

Have you been on a hen do yourself? or have you had a hen do for yourself? What was it like? 🙂

This Month’s Music – Shy Girls

I’m currently obsessed with Shy Girls – a Portland based band. Their first EP, “Timeshare” was actually out on 2013 but I just discovered them very recently. I’m no expert in classifying music genres, but from what I’ve read, they are classified as RnB-Soul-Smooth Jazz. Some are referring them to Sade, Prince, and The Weeknd… and I actually agree with the latter, plus I also think that their sounds kind of remind me of good old 90s slowjams tunes. Anyway, I think their music is perfect for lazy Sunday days, the ones you like to spend just chilling in your room. I’m actually listening to their Soundcloud as I write this so I guess it’s a nice companion for writing as well.

Here’s my favorite track of “Timeshare” EP – you can purchase them on iTunes.

And.. I also found out that they’re doing a rendition of Brandy’s Sittin Up in My Room, which I think is quite sexy 😉

I commute

Now that I’ve (temporarily) moved office to Sudirman area, I have to commute from my house in South Tangerang everyday. Distance – wise, it’s 19km from my house to the office, in which according to google map should take between 40minutes – 1hour travel time.

In reality, it takes me minimum 1,5hours everyday driving from home to work – even longer when traveling home from work. It is indeed exhausting to drive that long everyday when you obviously still have to give your 100% at the office. During my first days working here I actually did not have any energy left when I reached home on weekdays – around 9PM, and had to leave my house the next morning at 6 the latest.

Feeling knackered almost everyday, I spoke to my colleague and she told me about commuter line! This train system sounds like the perfect option for me. It would only take me 20 minutes from the nearest station from my house to the nearest station from my office.

BUT.. it takes me 20 minutes driving from my house to the train station, and then another 5 minutes with ojek to the office. So in total around 45 minutes. Is it the best option to commute though? Not really.. because there’s also the train drama. I don’t understand why they only have trains every 30 minutes in rush hours, they should have more. With that kind of schedule, the train gets sooo crowded, sometimes you can’t barely step booth feet in the ground!

This is how it looks like inside the train every day! - picture from www.tribunnews.com
This is how it looks like inside the train every day! – picture from http://www.tribunnews.com

See that picture? Yep, that’s my (and lots of other people’s)daily routine when taking the train. The train, simply put – is not the most convenient way to commute but we choose it because we have no better choice. I still drive sometimes, if i need to go somewhere after work. But if I did not have any plans, I’d just take the train and let my personal space be ripped off from me for 20 minutes during the train journey.

However, since it’s still holiday week in Indonesia and I’m not taking my leave, I’m getting the privilege of commuting comfortably! WOOHOOW! Just look at how I could still take this picture below during my usual commuting hours (I take the 7.30/8 AM train).. barely any crowd there!

commuter line
Now this is what happened yesterday..

Okay, okay.. I still did not manage to get a seat. Okay there are still few people standing. I was standing too. But hey, personal space were safe! I did not have to stand so close with other people! I even could take selfies on the train hahaha…

Yesterday’s train ride (and today’s, still) was so comfortable I almost cried tears of joy. Hahahaha. Though I’m very pessimist that this will last, I still hope that one day I can commute comfortably. Well, maybe not in Jakarta 😉

The US Trip: Food Fiesta!

This is the eighth post of ” The Us Trip” series. To read other posts in this series, click here.

In this post, I will simply list down the best restaurants and food joints I visited during my trip to the West Coast! Enjoy 🙂

KogiKing BBQ

I visited KogiKing right after I landed in LA. In fact, it was my first meal after more than 10 hours flight. I’m already a big fan of meat and Korean BBQ, plus I was so hungry and tired from the long journey, so I was so excited when I found out that this restaurant offers all you can eat buffet! I actually forget how much did it cost per person, but I’m sure it’s below $20. I think it’s somewhere between $15-18, which I think is a very good deal considering it would normally cost me around $15 when I eat Korean BBQ in Jakarta (not all you can eat). If you’re into meat, this is a must visit as they serve high-quality meat. If you still have some room in your tummy for side dish, do try their kimchi “lunch box” which I supposed resembles old school Korean lunch box (not Korean so I’m not sure.. hahaha). Although not my very favorite dish, the lunch box is indeed a unique dish because it’s not common in Jakarta’s Korean restaurants that I’ve been.

kogiking LA
Kogi King!

Fred 62

Still in downtown LA, Fred 62 is a typical American Diner that you’d normally see in the movies. It opens 24 hours every day… in other words, they never close! I visited Fred 62 twice during my stay in LA. The first was for breakfast where me and my friends ordered two of their breakfast menu to be shared (For me, their portion is quite big so it’s safe to share). It was delicioussss!

Big breakfast!
Big breakfast!

Then I came back again a couple days after for a late night snack after going to Local Natives’ concert. This time I had their famous bossa nova waffle. Now I’m talking about serious waffle business here. Their waffle was sooo good, fluffy and crispy at the same time.

Fred 62 waffle
Bossa Nova Waffle

Oh, one other thing! Not only they have excellent food.. Fred 62 is also the location set for Hollywood movie and TV series. You might find it familiar if you have seen the 2009 movie Spread and have been following Dexter the TV series (season 6).

In – N – Out Burger

If the East Coast has the famous Shake Shack burger.. California has In – N – Out! Many foodie articles have mentioned that this joint is one of the must visits when you’re in California. I had Animal Style burger PLUS a vanilla Milkshake. Classic American style burger, a total yummmm! 🙂

In N Out!
In N Out!

Umami Burger

Another burger joint, this one serves more fancy and unique menu. One of the must try is their truffle burger – with truffle cheese and truffle glaze. However, since I visited their Santa Monica branch, I tried the branch’s specialty instead – Oxtail Burger. It’s basically a beef burger with shredded oxtail and truffle cheese topping, which was soooo gooood. If I told you that In – N – Out is a total yum, this one too! They can’t actually be compared, both has different taste. But let me put it this way, try In – N – Out for a classic American burger, but don’t forget Umami for a feast of toppings.

Umami Burger
Umami Burger

Pampas Grill

Now this is another meat joint. Located inside LA’s farmers market, they serve Brazillian BBQ  by the pound. I can’t say much about this place except they offer one of the best meats I’ve tasted. Sooo juicy, with affordable price 😀

Pampas Grill
Meat Frenzy at Pampas Grill – Farmers Market

NBC Seafood Restaurant

Though it is originally a chinese – seafood restaurant, I visited only for their dimsum. Dimsum is only served there from 8AM – 3PM. Since they are quite famous in LA’s chinese food scene, be prepared to queue when you’re going there. The queue will be worth it though, they serve an extensive selection of yummy dimsum..

Dimsum
Dimsum Galore at NBC

Now, the next restaurants will not have any pictures simply because I forgot to take some. Hahaha. But keep reading, There are more yummy restaurants still to be reviewed 🙂

Gyutan Tsukasa 

Located inside Mitsuwa Marketplace in Costa Mesa – Orange County, they serve the BEST beef tongue plate that I’ve ever tasted. It is juicy, tender, and very flavorful. Beef tongue is getting more and more popular in Jakarta’s Japanese food scene and I can tell you that no one tops Gyutan Tsukasa so far.

Phil’s BBQ

This restaurant is originally located in San Diego. I did not get the chance to visit San Diego though, but I managed to visit their San Marcos branch. Serving American classic BBQ, their ribs is to die for!!! It is voted top 10 restaurants in San Diego, so be prepared to queue. Don’t worry, the queue will be worth it!

The Kickin’ Crab

Serving Cajun style seafood.. this is truly the place to have seafood fiesta. Their specialty is the seasonings, and I had the Kickin Style – Extra Mild (Hahaha.. I can’t eat spicy food). Basically you pick your seafood of choice, pick one of the available seasonings and your spice level. They have Lemon Pepper, Cajun, Louisiana, Garlic Butter, and last but not least.. Kickin Style, which is a mix of  all the mentioned seasonings. You can also choose some extras, and I would recommend you to choose corn on the cob and garlic noodles for a different experience of eating seafood.

Native Foods

If you have been reading this post and my blog.. you’d know that I’m no Vegetarian nor Vegan. However, my boyfriend successfully persuaded me to visit this restaurant – a Vegan restaurant. At first I felt hesitant, because I’ve never tasted Vegan food before, nor am I used to the lifestyle. But I finally visited just out of curiosity… and I have to say that the food was delicious! It might not be my favorite food… but it’s nice to visit for a different experience 🙂 P.S – don’t worry if you’re a first timer like me, their staffs are very friendly and would gladly recommend you some options that will suit first timers like us!

So, that’s it! I hope I can give you some ideas to visit if you happen to be around Los Angeles… 🙂

Happy birthday, my long distance lover!

Having known my boyfriend for 3 years (including 3 birthdays!) now, this year is actually the first year (his birthday was last week – July 16th!) we celebrated as a couple. So what did I do? I sent him a care package! 🙂

Back in 2012 (his first birthday since I know him) I managed to send him a birthday cupcake. Thanks to Google I found a bakery near his work area which lets me pay online and delivered the cupcake to his office. Though we were not together at that point, I felt like I needed to give him something on his special day, just to show that I care… A birthday cupcake seemed appropriate that time. Fast forward to 2013, just before we finally got together.. I contacted the same bakery and ordered a whole cake for him. It was successfully delivered to his office (again!). Oh btw, I finally visited the bakery – Susie Cakes in Newport beach – when I visited California. Trust me they have the best cakes!!

Now, a month before his birthday this year I started to get confused on what to give him. I did not want to send him another cake despite how good Susie Cakes’ cakes are. I wanted to make it more special simply because it’s the first birthday we celebrated as a couple. I googled for some ideas, until I finally found out about care packages! and thanks to Etsy I found some sellers who are able to take my order despite not being in the US at the moment. I contacted one and ask the seller to made me a custom care package with Game of Thrones theme with snacks inside 😉 Of course, it has to come with a card. I found another seller who makes really nice custom handmade cards.. and ordered a “happy name day” card (you’d get me if you are into the series!). In addition, I sent him a birthday video greetings from me, my family, my friends, his family and his friends. I think that should be special enough for a long distance birthday, right? 🙂

Btw..  for you couples in a long distance relationship like me, here are some ideas for a birthday present that is quite simple to do. I’m aware that there are many who have written similar ideas… but I think they are more suitable to younger couples. So this is my list, which I think should suit couples in their late 20s/ early 30s like we are 🙂

– Send a Cake / Cupcake 

Try to find a local bakery near your lover’s house.. this should be the easiest thing to do thanks to the internet!

– Create a Birthday greeting video 

Although you need to possess a video editing skill to do this.. this idea should be the most fun as it involves a lot of creativity. Don’t worry there are also a lot of video editing tools online if you can’t do it on your own. Me? I asked my design major baby brother to help me 🙂

– Sing a song

Actually my boyfriend did this to me on my birthday last year. He got the talent and knows that I like to be serenaded so as cheesy as it may sound.. he sang me a song for my birthday!

– Send a care package

If you are in a long distance relationship but still in a same country, it should be easy for you to make your own. You can add your own personalised gifts and can put your lover’s favorite stuffs inside. But.. if you’re like me, whose boyfriend lives in other part of the world.. this might be hard to do. BUT, thanks to the internet I managed to find help so it is still doable 🙂

– Send a card / letter 

Not just an e-card or e-mail, but actual hand written one. I did this once (not for birthday though), and it succeeded to make him smile.

So that’s 5 simple ideas from me! Any of you in a long distance relationship as well? What are your birthday gift ideas?