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Escapism : Japan + Turkey


This year I went to Japan for the third (or forth?) time and I also went to Turkey for the second time. 

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We went to Japan again for Midsummer Design Festa, our first summer and typhoon experience. It was all about the bad weather. We had to stay indoor a lot, we didn't explored as much as we wanted, the mini hikes we did were tough, the typhoon attacks were super scary. So we were pretty much disappointed because Japan was not as friendly as we remembered. 

But we made a zine out of this trip, called Summer & Typhoon, a collaboration of Af and I. The pictures he took on films and the doodle notes that I did during the trip.

This is a picture of me with the umbrella that Af broke because of the super wind.

Huge reminder : Don't go to Japan during odd season. We went there during the transition between summer and autumn, so a lot of too hot to function and random windy scary typhoon attacks. This was in August. 

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Things I wrote in August :

About the 8 hours bus ride from Tokyo to Osaka :
There are many ways to travel from Tokyo to Osaka, one of the most affordable one was an 8 hour bus ride. The ticket was 7,200 yen (RM 260), we booked it 5 days before the date at Shinjuku Bus Terminal with a guide from people working at the bus station.

The bus ride was super fancy, we each got dedicated private and comfortable seat, with thick blanket (it gets cold), personal space (with private curtains for each seat), can lower down the seating, and rise-up the legs section, individual USB charging deck, free unlimited WIFI and toilet (AirAsia seating is far from comfortable - the 8 hour afternoon ride in the bus was much better than the 6 hours night flight).

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About mini hikes in Nara & Kyoto :
Apart from the bad weather, we had several fun times in nature, we did some mini hikes away from the hectic crowds and summer heat. I did planned to do nature walks in the forest (in Japan), but the weather was not friendly throughout the week, so we had to cancel most plans. 

These mini hikes weren't planned, it was just something that happened during our trips. It was a nice surprise. The first one was when we arrived in Nara, and we already visited all the listed places, so I suggested that we visit the farthest point in the given map, that is Kasugayama Primeval Forest. We had a nice several hours walk, no one was around, just the calm forest silence and old tall trees.


The second one was in Uji, Kyoto.
We hiked to the Daikichiyama observation deck. It was a fairly easy mini hike, I was trying to avoid the sun and suggested we walked towards the place. Not sure how long did we took to hike up because we stopped several times for photos. The observation deck had a nice panoramic view of the Uji City.

In nicer seasons, you can also enjoy lines of sakura (spring) and maple trees (autumn), among all other tall old trees.  


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In Nov, I went to Turkey, just less than 2 months after the Japan trip and without Af.

This was with a Muslim group tour along with my older sister and her friend. Although Turkey is a friendly country, I don't really feel like it is possible for me to do a backpack travelling in Turkey (and those random riots are normal there). Turkey is a huge country with a lot to offer. It even takes up to 12 hours bus ride to reach to the next cities during our trip. So although I hated the group tour experience, I enjoyed the cities we went to during this 10 days trip and it was only for RM 3,250 including flights, hotels, foods and transportation. The last time I went to Turkey in 2014, the flight ticket alone was RM 2,700 :F

I like this photo because I look tall - I am short in nature. 

We went from Istanbul - Ankara - Cappadocia - Pamukkale - Kusadasi - Bursa - Istanbul, covering around 2000 km area on bus. So there was a lot of sitting for long hours in the bus. It was also the starting of winter (again, about the weather - I can't function in cold weather). Most days were below 10°C. I'm thanking God for the decision I made in buying my own winter coat (so I have at least 3 layers of thick clothes all the time). 

We also survived long flights. The worst one was on our way back home, we went to the airport on Sunday morning (at 10am) and finally arrived in Malaysia on Monday morning (at 10am). That is one whole day ! So around 3 hours from Istanbul to Iran, around 6 hours transit in Iran, and around 8 hours from Iran to Malaysia, missing around 5 hours in between continents. 

Lesson : Don't go with a group tour again (I hated the experience) and don't leave your husband (it was tough on me - I never left his side for the past 3 years :F What is the meaning of these travel trips and escapism without my own travel partner? )

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I think I spent less than RM 7k in my 2018's international trips :F


Books : Thing I learned from reading more than 100 books in a year


I read more than 100 books in 2018. 
I never thought I would reach that many books in a year - the last time I read that many was probably when I was still a student. Although this year I got a lot of help from Scribd (listening to audio books while working) and rereading my all-time favorite books (it's easier to read books that you know you'll enjoy). 

I can't help but to ask myself, what did I learned from consuming more than 100 books in a year?  The truth is, I didn't feel like I've read that many, I think I've learned to become more aware of the things that will stay in my mind. Most of the things I read were probably books that I can't relate to, or not-so-important-in-my-life during this phase, or just things that I do not care - so I tend to forget those books. But some books stayed, some stories embedded in my mind. 

Probably when I'm discussing about the hardship in life with my siblings (especially in pursuing our passion), I can mention about Bryan Cranston's life experience throughout his early career, because I read his biography. Or I can mention about the high achievers (Elon Musk / Jack Ma), those stories when most people have doubts in them but they persevered and just pushed through the pain and  endless humiliation. I read Barack Obama's books (about hope) and Jane Goodall about the earth and the animals (I love), or Jon Krakauer's essays on self-exploration. A lot of biographies, essays and motivational books.

I have this library of stories in my mind with anecdotes, reminders, lessons, and personal thoughts. I'm not sure how to explain to people about the things that I've learned in bullet points. I just know that in certain phases when I need some guidance or reminder, I might probably remember these little stories from people all over the world. These books that left invisible marks in me. 

A reminder that I'm not alone, I'm not worthless, even how small it might be, my stories are worth your time. 


Pheww, what a nerd :F

Little Things 244 : Guess who's back ? 2018 Compilation !

I'm back for the yearly compilation !

I love this yearly compilation, of my own successes and failures :o This is a reminder of what I reached every year (because I'm a Capricorn - I tend to take notes and have yearly goals :F). So when I look back, I can track back what I did in my younger years (although I said I'm no longer updating my blog - I'm still crawling back to this site everyday. Or is it because this is the landing page for my browser? Hm)


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1. Read 50 books in a year goal, upgraded to 100 books (Succeeded) 
I actually managed to consume 115 books this year, thanks to a lot of audio books on Scribd and rereading books that I already loved. Comparing this goal with last year, I only read 15 books - so I wanted to really pushed myself in 2018. I subscribed to Scribd for only 6 months and didn't buy that many physical books this year :D Read 'On More Books but Buying Less'.

But, I have a long lists of books I want next year.

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2. Travel + Events (Succeeded)
We went to Japan for the third time, had our first event in Japan (Midsummer Design Festa), and I also went to Turkey for the second time (this time exploring way more cities than the trip in 2014). 

I also joined a lot of events from May - August, and did a lot of doodle workshops throughout the year. It helped me in funding my way through all these trips and paying off my loans. 

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3. Work-wise, freelance life (still surviving)
I started working as a full-time freelancer and independent illustrator in April 2017, and it is already more than a year and reaching 2 years in 4 months. I'm proud of this, my super goal is to reach financial independence, payoff my loans - not to be working for anyone else but me :D

At this moment, I'm having a good time hiding in my apartment.

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4. Having our own child (still trying)
Yeap, we are still trying. Our forth anniversary will be in 5 months and we are still trying to have a baby - but with no luck! But we are still in honeymoon phase (which is a bliss to be in love and be loved :F ).

Maybe we will consider adoption, I don't mind this. 

Random story : Yesterday I mentioned about telur pindang in our group Whatsapp, and just a few moments after, my sister already ordered those eggs and had someone send it to our apartment. Just like that. That's how serious they are taking about random food cravings that I have - even with no pregnancy in sight. Not sure whether I'm lucky to have 'very thoughtful sister + mom' or it's bad for  me for giving them such hope :D 

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5. More shops and more self-published books (Yess !)
I'm now sending my items to these shops, so you can find my products all over the place :
  • Salt x Paper, Kota Kinabalu
  • Stickerrific, Petaling Jaya
  • MyPaperProjects, Shah Alam
  • Ikigai Shop & Smida Paper, Georgetown
I also self-published several books & zines this year : the Wander book (Japan Travelogue), the Doodle Journal mini guide and the latest one Summer & Typhoon (mini travel zine). 

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A lot of I, how about YOU ?
Did you have a lot of fun this year ?

No Longer Updating

Hello !

I don't think I'll be available to update content for this blog anymore. I know I've been writing on this platform for almost 10 years and I had fun, amazing time with you guys. Thank you for being here, for reading my written thoughts and feelings.

The reason why :
  • I started my Patreon last year, and it took most of my writing time nowadays. Although I've been trying to keep up with writing/sharing twice every week, I'm planning to upgrade to 3 times a week (for different tiers) and maintain the consistency. Yes, most of things that I shared about are related to my works and projects. Three times a week is a lot, so I've decided to focus on that alone.
  • I'm not sure whether people still read blogs. For all I know, I just write things for myself all this time.  
  • I also make books/zines for my travel. So I don't think I want to share in a blog form anymore, it feels like a redundancy.
 I still keep all previous entries here, there are a lot of useful content 😃

Where you can find me :
Thank you love ! ♥️

Books : 31 Books in 2018 - Achieved ! (Current : 115th Book)


I already reached my goal of 31 books this year, last month in March 2018 ! 
Last year I failed to read 30 books as planned, so this time I had to change my technique to cater my busy lifestyle and I started early (+ I didn't slow down like I usually do every year). 

What did I do ?
I started subscribing to Scribd ($8.99 per month) and used it to listen to as many audio books as I want. I download at least 2 offline books (for outing activities - which rarely happen nowadays) and I listen to audio books online most of the time when I'm at home. On my laptop while I'm working and on my iPhone when I'm cleaning the house or cooking. That's it - I stop buying books and I just rent all the audio books. By the time I'm writing this, I just finished book 33 (in April).

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Book List 2018 (bold text are the ones that I like) :
  1. You & a Bike & a Road by Elianor Davis
  2. Anthem by Ayn Rand
  3. Porcelain and Pink by F Scott Fitzgerald
  4. The Sense if an Ending by Julian Barnes
  5. The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo
  6. The Little Book of Contentment by Leo Babauta
  7. What Language is That by Uwem Akpan
  8. The Ghost by Robert Harris
  9. The Noticer by Andy Andrews
  10. The Light Princess by George Mac Donald
  11. Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  12. Cici's Journal by Joris Chamblain
  13. Mathilda by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  14. Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen deGeneres
  15. Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman
  16. After You by Jojo Moyes
  17. The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  18. The Magic String of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
  19. Sounds Like Me by Sara Bareilles
  20. Rework by Jason Freid
  21. Yes, My Accent is Real by Kunal Nayyar
  22. An Unquiet Mind by Kay R. Jamison
  23. $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeum
  24. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
  25. The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
  26. Lagom by Niki Brantmark
  27. The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
  28. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
  29. The Misfit's Manifesto by Lidia Yuknavitch
  30. Launch Your Dream by Dale Partridge
  31. The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin
  32. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
  33. Where Am I Now by Mara Wilson
  34. The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey
  35. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
  36. Unfiltered by Lily Collins
  37. The Achievement Habit by Bernard Roth
  38. #girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
  39. The Joy of Less, a Minimalist Living Guide by Francine Jay
  40. Chakra Healing by Rosalyn L Bruyere
  41. Silence by Thinch Nhat Hanh
  42. How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere by Larry King
  43. How to be Everything by Emilie Wapnick
  44. Awkward by Ty Tashiro
  45. Simply Clean by Becky Rapinchuk
  46. Ajak Penumbra 1969 by Robin Sloan 
  47. Madame Zero : 9 Stories by Sarah Hall
  48. Real Artists Don't Starve by Jeff Goins
  49. Talking with Confidence for the Painfully Shy by Don Gabor
  50. To Siri with Love by Judith Newman
  51. Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston
  52. Harvest for Hope by Jane Goodall
  53. 50/50 : Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days - by Dean Karnazes & Matt Fitzgerald
  54. The Faith of Obama by Stephen Mansfield
  55. Angela's Ashes by Frank Mc'Court
  56. Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success by Steve Harvey
  57. South and West by Joan Didion
  58. If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski
  59. A New Model by Ashley Graham
  60. Note to Self by Connor Franta
  61. I Got This by Jennifer Hudson 
  62. Brave by Rose McGowan
  63. The Moment of Everything by Shelly King
  64. The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson
  65. 'Tis by Frank McCourt
  66. Three Cups of Deceit by Jon Krakauer
  67. Always Eat Left-Handed by Rohit Bhargava
  68. Letter to my Daughter by Maya Angelou
  69. Reason for Hope by Jane Goodall
  70. The Longevity Book
  71. Packing My Library by Alberto Manguel
  72. Blue Nights by Joan Didion
  73. Life's Too Short to Go F*cking Slow by Susan Lacke
  74. My Paris Dream by Kate Betts
  75. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do by Amy Morin
  76. Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly
  77. You'll Never Know Dear by Hallie Ephron
  78. Elon Musk Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
  79. Girl in the Woods : a Memoir by Aspen Matis 
  80. A Work in Progress by Connor Franta
  81. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
  82. The Audicity of Hope by Barack Obama
  83. Over the Garden Wall by Pat McHale *<---- i="">The moment I decided to read novel graphics
  84. Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung
  85. Us by Curtis Wiklund
  86. Giant Days 1 by John Allison
  87. Giant Days 2 by John Allison
  88. At the Shore by Jim Campbell
  89. Giant Days 3 by John Allison
  90. Goodbye, Sweet Girl by Kelly Sundberg
  91. Giant Days 4 by John Allison
  92. Giant Days 5 by John Allison
  93. Giant Days 6 by John Allison
  94. Giant Days 7 by John Allison
  95. Over the Garden Wall #1 (2016) by Jim Campbell
  96. Over the Garden Wall #2 (2016) by Jim Campbell
  97. Over the Garden Wall #3 (2016) by Jim Campbell
  98. Over the Garden Wall #4 (2016) by Jim Campbell
  99. Over the Garden Wall #5 (2016) by Jim Campbell
  100. Over the Garden Wall #6 (2016) by Jim Campbell
  101. Over the Garden Wall #7 (2016) by Jim Campbell
  102. Over the Garden Wall #8 (2016) by Jim Campbell
  103. Over the Garden Wall #9 (2016) by Jim Campbell
  104. Alibaba : The House that Jack Ma Built by Duncan Clark
  105. The Crossroads of Should and Must : Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna
  106. One Sip at a Time by Keith Van Sickle
  107. Julie & Julia by Julie Powell
  108. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (re-read)
  109. Men without Women by Haruki Murakami
  110. Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
  111. Onibi by Cecile Brun + Olivier Pichard
  112. The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (re-read)
  113. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (re-read)
  114. The Prisoner's of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (re-read)
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I noticed that it is easier for me to listen to self-help books and biographies (instead of fiction), so I'm using this chance to listen to as many books as I can before I bore myself out and stop consuming books for awhile. 

Books for freelancer / creative souls / aspiring entrepreneur :

  • Launch Your Dream by Dale Partridge
  • The Misfit's Manifesto by Lidia Yuknavitch
  • Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Sounds Like Me by Sara Bareilles
  • Rework by Jason Freid
  • Yes, My Accent is Real by Kunal Nayyar
  • $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeum
  • The Achievement Habit by Bernard Roth
  • #girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
  • How to be Everything by Emilie Wapnick
  • Real Artists Don't Starve by Jeff Goins
  • Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success by Steve Harvey
  • The Crossroads of Should and Must : Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna

    • --

      Books for minimalist / searching for a way to a simpler life :

    • The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
    • Lagom by Niki Brantmark
    • The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
    • The Little Book of Contentment by Leo Babauta
    • The Joy of Less, a Minimalist Living Guide by Francine Jay
    • Simply Clean by Becky Rapinchuk

      • *

        Note (in April) : I think I've decided to upgrade my next book goal to 100 books, inspired by another app developer I followed on Goodreads - he's on book 32 at this moment.

        Note updated (in July) : I've already reached 100 books, so I decided to unsubscribe to Scribd at this moment and wait for January 2019 to start on a a new challenge. Currently I'm taking in super slow back. Picking physical books to reread and enjoy the typed words.

        Note updated (in August) : My subscription to Scribd ended, and I started to read physical books that I already owned instead of buying new books. At this moment, I'm currently on the third book. I'm rereading the 'The Shadow of the Wind' series by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, the series that I started around 10 years ago. Enjoying slow life so far :)

        Note updated (in December) : I've read all the 3 books in the 'The Shadow of the Wind' series by the end of November and I'm slowing down on reading :)

        How's your book reading challenge so far ?
         😁

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        Series : Over the Garden Wall


        Have I ever mentioned about my latest craze since May : Over the Garden Wall ?

        I think I mentioned several times in my Patreon and Instagram.

        Well yes, this is not a new mini-series - it was first broadcast in the US in 2014, and the project was pitched to Cartoon Network in 2006. So it was definitely an old mini series, but I just watched it in Netflix in May so I consider it to be new for me :D


        *

        My latest craze :
        • I loved it so much, I had to ask Af to watch it again with me several days later. There are only 10 - 11 minutes story so you can actually watch everything in one sitting. I've watched it twice in one week and I'll probably watch it again soon because I've been watching a lot of their Youtube snippets when I'm bored. 
        • I doodled the characters in my doodle book and also did a fan-art of Wirt + Greg (the female version).
        • I made a Spotify playlist of my favorite songs from the mini-series and called it "Fun oh so Fun !" so I can listen to it whenever I want to :D
        • I've already put their comics in my DepositoryBook wishlist.
        • I read all the digital comics on Scribd and I still want the physical copies !
        • I'm not sure how else can I say, I love "Over the Garden Wall". Please watch it ❤️It will only take 110 minutes of your time - way better than all exaggerated super heroes movies in theater. 

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        Playlist :



        *

        Watch the chapter 1 here :


        Can you recognize their voices ?

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        Movie : Isle of Dogs

        We watched Isle of Dogs, directed by one of my favorite director : Wes Anderson last weekend. Af'd been anticipating the movie for awhile. I wasn't. Although I love Wes Anderson's movies, I do not like stop-motion. So the movie was not in my list and I just watched it to accompany Af.

        After the movie :
        Booooy, I was wrong (*Like I was wrong when I decided to not watch Kubo and the Two Strings).
        I loved it so much. I cried at least twice.
        There were 2 things that I just can't 'tahan' : Animals and kids. Combination of both always make me bawl.

        Things I love about the movie :

        • The whole aesthetic values : colours, design, frame shots, fonts  
        • The detailing of unique characters : "Oracle" because she can 'see' the future just by actually understanding how TV the works, the gossiper "Duke" although we don't see male gossiper in real life that much, "Chief" that was always there with the pack even though he refused to follow the boy "Atari", so it was so much fun to see him everywhere in frames always a bit farther than the pack.
        • Everything looked staged : organized and structured, as usual. Eye-gasm for OCD-ed eyes. 
        • A relationship between animals and a boy T^T
        • OmyGOD the cottons for cloud and smoke.
        • I love everything - if you have never watched any of Wes Anderson movies, what are you waiting for? Please start now and binge on everything he directed and produced - even short stories and ads are worth you time. 

        Image credit to The Bearded Trio blog

        Questions :

        • Do you think we can have a relationship/bonding with cats as strong as with dogs? Dogs seem to understand human and I always feel intrigued and awed by that. I wonder whether Awan even care about me after 7 years together T^T Noooo, Awaaan.
        • How can someone be this detailed ? Such dedication bothers me a lot :
        I love them tiny maggots

        I wrote about his movies before : 

        *

        Official Trailer :


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        Meet the Casts :



        *

        All stars out of 5★

        Little Story 228 : A is for the Apple that you Gave to Me

        Way back in 2012, I wrote this.

        Gahh. Fast forward to 6 years after, and so many changes : I now own an iPad. I no longer hated the idea of having an iPad. I think this happened after they have created an Apple Pencil and at the same time a lot of companies created apps for people like us. I found it exciting to be able to draw/doodle anywhere without having to bring my MacBookPro (even though my MBP is small, it is still heavy to bring everywhere + wacom tablet + wires). So I always leave it at home.

        But this is different, they have evolved. 
        I loved it, I wanted it, I've put it up in my Patreon wishlist as an investment for my small business. I thought I'll be buying it next year probably after my next 2 trips because I need to invest on my trips first. So although it was in my mind, I didn't think much about it.

        Blog title credit to Ms Langtree ♥️

        --

        Until came to our 3rd wedding anniversary last month. During our dinner, Af suggested exchanging our presents. I didn't have anything to give to him because I already promised to buy a new shoes for our next trip. I can't buy a surprise shoes, he needs to try it on and chooses it himself. So I didn't have anything at all :F

        He passed to me a small wrapped gift and when I opened it, it was an Apple Pencil. I felt grateful, sure, but it was still a long way to go for me to buy an iPad - to give me an Apple Pencil is a bit mean (or so I thought). 

        "Why give me something that I can't use ? - this makes me feel the pressure of having to buy one soon". But I said my "thank you" nonetheless. 

        But then, he passed me another plastic bag with a box in it. 
        This one wasn't wrapped and it was an iPad. 

        " Nooooo, freakin' way ". 

        It was definitely an iPad and it was not a joke. I've never seen this one coming, so I was a bit overwhelmed :
        • I didn't have anything to give to him at that time
        • My budget was limited to buying him a nice shoes
        • I thought I'm not going to have an iPad for at least another year
        So I was excited + mixed with emotions.

        Af bought me an iPad and Apple Pencil ! 


        --

        :F I'm so happy, can't argue with that. 
        I  installed all my nerdy apps for work + travel use (because I'm that kind of nerd) :
        • Procreate (for digital illustrations + doodles)
        • Wunderlist (for checking ✓ lists, of course)
        • Scribd (for all my digital + audiobooks)
        • Airbnb (for accommodation)
        • Agoda (for other accommodation option)
        • XE (for money exchange currency)
        • TripIt (for our travel plans)
        • Dashlane (to organize passwords)
        • Sell on Etsy + Etsy (to manage my estore)
        • Netflix (to watch Will Graham anywhere I want)
        I also bought a cheap-o iPad cover that I can use to keep my iPad and the Pencil from Lazada. I'm serious guys, I'm at the state of needing to use almost all my money to prepare for 5 events and 2 international trips in less than 5 months :F 

        Every pledge means so much to me ♥️

        --

        Aaanyway, that's a little story about how I got my unplanned iPad and Apple Pencil. Af said I've always wanted to be able to travel and still work/manage my business. This should be a nice investment for Azreenchan T^T And I want to cry all over again.

        Thank you LOVE,
        Happy 3rd Anniversary ♥️

        Travel : Morning Thoughts

        At least 3 of us siblings (my older sister, my brother and I) travel quite a lot. We hardly let our money in the bank stays long, and we plan on our own travel trip every 6 months or even less than that. There are always plans to be made, places to go, money to be saved for our next travel. 

        It seems a bit unhealthy because we keep on planning. Never staying. Too anxious to get away. We always had to go to the airport to send/pick any one of us. We need to update our calendar because there are one of us with travel ticket ready and planned in near future. Ma worries about how much we are spending on this / with whom we are travelling / clashing events / crimes & accidents / natural disasters / diseases / anything else moms could be worried about. 

        And I'm always ready to leave.
        I've talked about this for more than half of my life and I don't even know why I'm still here. 
        This house, this loans, all these things still weighing me down. 




        ---

        I already have plans ready for 2 travel trips this year and I will share with you when it's getting near. But if you can't wait for detailed stories, you can have a peek at my Patreon.

        Work Related : Enamel Pins


        *

        Heyy guys,
         I just made these new enamel pins available for pre-order :



        The pre-order sales only available until 31st May 
        and the estimated shipping is the second week of June.

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        Little Things 243 : on More Books but Buying Less


        I'm listening/reading to my 54th book this week. 
        It's been a while since I can consume as much books as I can. Audio books is becoming my almost-daily habit this year. Most of the books that I'm listening to are non-fiction : biographies, memoirs, self-help, and anything knowledge-based. I found it easier than listening to fiction.


        From the reading, I get few new insights about our current state of living among other things. Especially after reading Jane Goodall's Harvest For Hope - she mentioned about how we are destroying the future by being ignorant because we consume too much foods and buy too many things. We need to educate ourselves more and share about this among people around us if we care enough. That's why I'm writing this. I also read a lot of books on minimalism and having less, as a reminder to myself.



        - Jane Goodall's books : Please read/listen to her books to understand more.
        - Books for minimalist / searching for a way to a simpler life :
        • The Year of Less by Cait Flanders 
        • Lagom by Niki Brantmark 
        • The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking 
        • The Little Book of Contentment by Leo Babauta 
        • The Joy of Less, a Minimalist Living Guide by Francine Jay 
        • Simply Clean by Becky Rapinchuk
        -- 

        Side notes :

        1) I'm urging my fellow Malaysians to read more books this year. 
        I know books are quite expensive, so what I'm doing is using Scribd because I only need to pay $8.99 (RM 36) for unlimited amount of digital and audio books every month. That way, I can still consume as many books as I possibly can and also not buy physical books to reduce the paper waste. You can try this too.

        I donated and sold a lot of my unread books and only leave books that I want to reread on my book shelves - so people can still read these books. I have too much books before this (around 2 huge bookshelves) and I thought I should be proud with keeping a lot of unread books :F Shame on me. 



        --

        2) I'm also trying to minimize the quantity of stuffs I buy. 
        On clothes - I'm actively donating unused clothes. The clothes I'm wearing are mostly the same clothes all over again. I stopped buying clothes several years back, I'm never fashionable and a bit boyish in that sense pun. So repeating dark shirts and jeans all over again has never been an issue :F I geli melawa2 pakai make-up, and be all-womanly :F I guess I don't have it in me, even though I'm already 31. I'm that comfortable with those pimples, pure oiled face and huge pores on my skin. I was born  to be as natural as I can get.

        On recycle - we always collect all the bottles, tins and glasses. We give them to uncles and aunties that collect those items in our neighbourhood every week so they can sell it and make some money.

        On buying things - Mmmm.. I guess it is safe to say that we are still living as frugal as we are. We don't buy things that we don't really need. Maybe because we are still living together without any children, or I'm just a frugal person at heart. I care for the environment and I want to make a change, even a small one.

        Let's try to buy less, recycle and reuse more ! 

        --

        3) Cook home-made foods.
        I cook foods for my husband almost every day - he does eat his 'bekal' during lunch time at his office. I've been bringing foods for several years so eating my healthy lunch box isn't something new for me. I hardly eat out because I hate to mingle around during lunch hour - hah hah. 

        Well, this year, let's try to bring home-made foods every day for lunches at work, guys ! :D

        --

        Extra : How to read more books :


        *

        Little Story 227 : Coughs and Herbal Tea


        In the past 2 months, I got sick twice : viral cough and allergic cough. 

        The viral cough took 10 days to recover. It infected my throat (so I was having a really bad and painful sore throat), my nose (I can't breathe through my nose at all), my eyes (there was a LOT of discharges and my eyes were blurry most of the time) and phlegm (infected ones). I went to the doctor and he said that I had to wait for it to recover from the inside and it might took awhile because of the viruses : 10 days.  Note : My sister passed it to me and I passed it to Af.

        Another one is allergic cough. This one had me so sudden because of some herbs that I tried (and maybe isn't suitable for me - I stopped eating it right-away, it was the black seed or habbastus-sauda). It was more like a wheezing non-stop cough and phlegm. Plus, it was also pretty bad, the sound of it terrifies people around me. I had this for 7 days.

        Twice, I had to conduct my workshops at Stickerrific while wearing face mask and they even prepared hot green tea specially for me because they were so thoughtful and probably because it was 'that' uncomfortable to watch me cough like I was fighting a demon inside me (and I love Stickerrific ♥️- please go there and buy a lot of stuffs to support our local business guys). 

        --

        I rarely get sick - except for my migraine, so when I do get sick, it is often a surprise for me. I also hardly eat medicine because I hate to imagine having these unknown chemical drugs in my body, so I usually go for alternative natural ways to help me get better. 

        How I helped to soothe my cough :
        • drink hot Camomile Tea (in the morning / at night) - it's caffeine free, so it won't disturb night sleep.
        • a spoon of honey twice (in the morning and at night). 
        • drink hot Green Tea (while working) - it works like magic. 
        • also tried a spoon of apple cider vinegar in the morning (and it was super awful) :F

        --


        Extra note :
        • If you are still new in the habit of drinking herbal tea, I should remind you that the usage of sugar is unnecessary. You don't have to add sugar. Just add in the tea bag and hot water, that's it.
        • Don't drink too much - enough with maximum of 2 bags of tea per day. Nothing in this world is good when consumed too much.
        • Some teas got caffeine - some teas don't. Do your research if you are trying to avoid caffeine, especially when fasting season is coming soon and you know you need to detox to avoid extra cravings. 
        • Some teas are mild, some teas are strong - please try different brands to find something that matches your taste. 
        • Jane Goodall reminds me to go for "natural, local and organic" foods and drinks in buying things from the mall. So if you can, go search for it ♥️

        Plant Project : Grow My Own Mini Herbs


        Last month I participated in a "Grow Your Own Mini Herbs" workshop by Eats, Shoots and Roots at Riuh in the City, Bangsar - it was my first visit to the beautiful event. 

        If you are new to this blog - big note : I love plants and animals. That explains my Plant Projects throughout my adult life. When we were small, gardening was a weekly chore with my dad - and plus, he opened a nursery in MAEPS called The Plots after he retired. So.. yeah. Among us siblings, I am the only one that still uses all the knowledge that my dad taught us about plants.

        --

        Grow Your Own Mini Herbs :

        For RM 70, we had a quick 1.5 hour class about plants (herbs), soils, fertilizers, compost and basic 101 in caring for our own herb garden. Fair enough - I really want to know the basic stuffs anyway. It was a quick and fun class, because I truly wanted to know. I wish I was eager to learn all these stuffs when I was in school. 

        We each received a metal container, soils (3 compost + 1 cocopeat + 1 sand) and herbs of our choice. From the class, I chose : Ulam Raja (seeds), Thai Basil (seeds), Mint (cutting) and Dill (cutting).


        --

        Things I learned at the workshop (1.5 hours) :

        • Basic soil mixture | 3 compost + 1 sand + 1 cocopeat 
        • Basic on planting herbs using seeds and cuttings (need to choose sturdier ones and give it a clean cut) 
        • Choosing edible plants (they advised us to try planting local herbs first because plants like rosemary, thyme, etc are a bit challenging for beginners - those herbs are not used to our climate) 
        • Easier herbs : thai basil, ulam raja, coriander, dill 
        • Herbs can survive under the shade, they need at least 4 hours of sunlight every day - so it is suitable to be potted at your apartment's verandah 
        • Basic on how to make your own compost



        --

        Almost 20 days after the workshop :
        • 4 Ulam Raja sprouted and already around 1.5 inch tall
        • Only 1 of my Thai basil survived and it has not even reached 1 inch
        • My dill cutting died
        • My mint cutting survived, sprouted and has new roots
        • 2 of my new Pak Choi seeds also sprouted
        • I planted 4 new Season Lettuces
        Aren't this one of the most beautiful thing in life? 
        A new life from a small dot of seed, just with water and the sun.

         
         ♥️
        Today marks a special day in our Malaysian history.
        I write this specially to indirectly mention about the birth of a new life.
        Congratulation on playing your part as a responsible citizen.
        #GE14

        Mini Escapism : Langkawi Island + Family Trip

        We went on a short trip to Langkawi.
        My sister bought me a flight ticket for my birthday in January, and so I bought another flight ticket for Af (for his birthday one week ago). Af also wanted to bring his mom and little cousin (because they never travelled on a plane), and we kinda invited Af's other siblings too. So by March, the trip expanded to 7 peoples ( Af + Me, Af's mom, Af's little cousin, Af's sister + husband + baby).


        *

        Mini honeymoon turned into a mini family trip ! 
        Af already went on several family trips with my family but we never went anywhere with Af's family, so I thought why-not :D 

        I was in charged of the accommodation and the secretary of the family trip (so I take note all our spending except for the shopping). Af was in charged of the transportation and activities. 

        Island Hopping
        Note : We shared all $$ for us 4 people ( the working adults ) and here are all the $$ notes I collected from the trip.
        *

        Accommodation :

        For a budgeted family trip, we can't stay in hotels because we probably need at least 3 rooms.
        So there were several options :
        • Apartments
        • Home-stays
        • Expended families' houses
        I used Agoda and searched for a nice apartment and I found Hotel Condo Asia 2, in Kuah, Langkawi. The apartment got 3 bedrooms, big living room, kitchen and 2 toilets with 1 queen sized bed and 3 bunkbeds (6 single beds). So it is really suitable for big families. It felt exactly like staying in hotels (with towels + toiletries provided, free instant coffees + nuts, fridge, washing machine, internet, full air-cond apartment and swimming pool). 

        The place was really nice, I'm so glad ! It was nerve-wracking to plan for a nice stay when you know it's your in-laws first family trip with us :F 
        The cost : RM 500 for (3 days 2 nights) 
        *

        Transportation :

        We rented a new Alza, suitable for 5 adults + 2 kids :
        • Car rental costs (3 days) : RM 270 (RM 90 per day) 
        • The gas : RM 70

        • Flight Ticket : RM 160 +-
        • + 20 kg : RM 40
        *

        We had a decent big dinners twice and usual makan berlauk for our lunches. 

        Foods :
        • Dinner (1st) : RM 134 (Open dinner - seafood in Pantai Cenang)
        • Lunch (2nd) : RM 38 (Random food stall from Pantai Cenang)
        • Dinner (2nd) : Free (Open dinner - Seafood in Kuah, Langkawi) - treat by *Pakcik Sab
        • Breakfast (3rd) : RM 48 (Mamak in Kuah)
        • Lunch (3rd) : RM 38 (Food stall in Pantai Cenang)
        • Dinner (3rd) : Free - treat by *Pakcik Sab
        • Lunch (4th) : RM 46 (At the airport before our flights)
        Total : RM 304
        *

        Most of our activities consists of shopping. If only the two of us in this trip, we would probably hunt for as many sunsets and sunrise at the beach (Af's fav) and a lot of nature walks to their waterfalls (my fav), and shopping would be our least favorite thing to do. But family trip is different, we had to reduce the amount of nature walking and focus more on the shopping. 




        Activities :
        • Island hopping : Total = RM 180 (RM 30 per person)
        • Dayang bunting tix : RM 16 (in total for 5 adults + 2 kids)
        • Makam Mahsuri tix : Total = RM 48 (RM 12 - adult , RM 6 - kids) 
        • Tanjung Rhu : Free 
        • Shopping in HIG mall + Pantai Cenang

        I'm actually not quite fond of beaches (because it is super hot and surrounded by huge amount of water). I have this weird fear of water - so the boat ride was scary, especially when it randomly stopped in the middle of the sea, far from the island. Plus, my eyes can't process that much sun light, I'll usually have a bad headache afterwards. 

        But, Pulau Dayang Bunting was definitely my favorite spot.
        The beautiful greenish lake in the middle of the island was really magical :

        First island by boat

        Dayang Bunting Island

        Dayang Bunting Lake

        Tanjung Rhu

        *

        My first time to Langkawi Island was in 2006, the second time was 12 years later. We are going to come to Langkawi again for our real exploration in the future :) Perhaps another 12 years, when we are 43 ! :F


        Work Related : March Workshops


        After my last post on all the firsts , I managed to conduct another 3 workshops in March : 2 in Stickerrific and another 1 in MyPaperProjects. March was a month of sharing and I'm glad I actively participated almost every week. 
        Participants : I usually take maximum of 8 people (usually there are requests to add more, but I think 8 is a good number). More than 10 is a bit too much.
        Duration : I think 2.5 hours is just nice. 4 hours - too long, 3 hours still a bit draggy. I did an 8 hours workshop once - with kids (it was craaaaazy).
        Module : I think I improved my module at least 3 times by now, every time I see a task that can be improved in each workshop. It's a try-and-error process (to find a balance spot where it is not too hard, not too easy). 
        Every workshop is a bit different :
        • Doodling & Rubber Stamp Carving : The one with MoodySeagull felt like a failure, because the class was long (4 hours) and I had the last 2 hours - most people looked like they are already bored/tired. I felt demotivated. We had 10 participants. I kept rewinding the session thinking what I've been doing wrong and how I can improve the module. I didn't give up. 



        *
        • Doodling & Zine Making : In my second workshop at Stickerrific that month, we only had 5 people because 3 more people cancelled last minute. So it was a really small workshop and we had an improved module since the last time. I was quite sick during the class (I had a really bad cough + sore throat, the one that make people uncomfortable). I had to wear mask and Szeetoo even made a hot green tea to calm the bad cough. It was a challenging class, I had to stop often to clear my voice.  


        *
        • Doodle Your Day : In my third workshop in March at MyPaperProject event last weekend, we had 7 people (1 person cancelled last minute). The class started early at 11 am - when I mistakenly thought the class starts at 2 pm ! But I managed to get ready on time. Interesting stuff : Marina M. joined the workshop ! I'm glad it was a fun class 😁
        Note : Our face were highlighted + filtered in these pictures (the room was a bit dark) - this explains the look of youth and flawlessness in my face (in real life, my face is covered with pimple scars and it is several tones darker)
        😂

        Every workshop I've given taught me a lesson or two especially in improving my social skill. I can be forever awkward if I let myself be myself, but I think learning how to mingle and converse with people are still important (and very useful). I'm not shy, guys - I just find it hard to be around people. 

        Plus, I'm not that good in conversing using full English (because I rarely speak in English) - so can you imagine me trying to explain something in class ? It must be hard to watch. But oh-well. We do what we have to do. I won't say no just because I don't feel confident teaching in English. All the workshops I did this year were in full English - berterabur wei 😂

        Next workshop :

        Work Related : Wander - Second travel book + Video

        The book, I should have written about my self-published book like 2 weeks ago when I opened for the pre-order (it ended last night). But I was busy and pre-occupied with other small projects and workshops and restocking stuffs  :F I didn't even updated my Patreon page as many times as I should this month. 

        But I had my coffee and chocolate treats and I supposed I should write something about it now.

        *

        This is a project that took a year to finish. 
        Book projects take so much time and energy especially when I'm the one that have to decide on the tone and the style and the cover and the quality of the work. No one gave me any direction - yes, I received suggestions and opinions but in the end I decided on everything. So it is a 'syok-sendiri' project. 

        I didn't want it to be a travelogue, I didn't want it to be a guide, I didn't want it to be a comic. But I wanted it to be just like a personal travel diary - almost exactly like something that anyone can do when they travel because I did just that. That was my daily input when I was travelling in those 14-days Japan trip. I wanted to show people that it is possible to do such thing (even if you are not a comic artist, or a writer - you can definitely compile something and make your own book).

        Wander (buy the book here) 🚀 :


        In this book :
        • Daily activities
        • Places I visited in Osaka, Kyoto & Nara
        • Halal restaurants in Osaka
        • Things I saw and found interesting
        • On foods
        • Stamps & ticket/passes I collected


        More about this book :
        • Size : A5
        • Pages : 60 coloured pages
        • Printed on 360 gsm matt-laminated cover + 128 gsm art paper for the content
        • Language : English
        • Self-published, printed in Malaysia
        • 100 copies first-print
        • Signed and numbered
        Editing was done by my English teacher, Miss Chin.
        Note : If you found any spelling/grammatical mistakes please inform me via email : azreen_31@hotmail.com so I can edit and print the improved version in the next printing. After all, this is a self-published book, I didn't have the budget to hire professional copy-writer 😅



        *

        This book means so much to me, because I did what I wanted to do. I know I travel a lot and every time I travelled, I feel like I should have produce/make something out of it. Useful stuffs. So that my travels will mean something, will somehow benefit others. I'm glad I compiled this in a book form.


        The making :



        Audio Books : The Chosen One - Scribd

        It has been almost 3 months of a LOT of audio books. Honestly this is quite new for me, I've been reading physical books actively since I was 9. Although I listened to podcasts and online talks all the time, I never thought listening to audiobooks would be this accessible nowadays. Several years ago when I first started searching, it was still hard (because of the licensing and expensive prices). 

        I also been having mixed feelings about whether I should convert to digital books or stay with physical books (for almost 4 years now) - but this year, I've decided to convert to digital. Except for comics and graphic books, because I really love to re-read and go through those picture books over and over again. 
        So the search for audio book platform started early in January, I've tried a lot of websites and apps that could offer free trials (because we need to know the pro & cons before subscribing to something - personal preferences is important). Other than online reviews, I did try their free trials happily (and so I listened to a lot of free books before deciding on one).  ♥

        *

        Here are the lists of audio books platform that I've tried :

        Librivox 
        - Free - you can use it anytime
        - Old books, mostly before 1932
        Desktop + app
        - I've listened to :
        • Anthem by Ayn Rand
        • Porcelain & Pink by F.S.Fitzgerald
        • The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura
        • The Light Princess by George Mac Donald
        • Mathilda by Mary w. Shelley
        *


        Audible
        - One free trial = 1 credit
        - An Amazon company
        - You'll buy the audio book (so you can listen to it over and over again, if you want)
        - Great selection of latest books
        - $14.95/month = 1 credit
        Desktop + app
        - I've listened to :
        • The Sense of Ending by Julian Barnes
        *

        Perpustakaan Negara (Overdrive)
        - Free
        - Very limited selection
        - You can borrow books, but you need to wait for your turn
        - You will get a week to finish it up
        Desktop + app (Libby)
        - I've listened to :
        • The Ghost by Robert Harris
        • The Noticer by Andy Andrews
        • What Language is That by Uwem Akpan
        *

        - One free trial = 1 credit
        - $14.95 per month
        - You'll buy the audio book
        - Desktop + app
        - I've listened to :
        • Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman
        Note : I forgot to manually cancel the subscription after the trial, by the end of the month, money has been deducted from my Paypal account and I received another 1 credit =.= So now I've cancelled the subscription and I'm currently listening to : The Year of Less by Cait Flanders using the credit.

        *

        Otto Radio (app)
        - One Free trial
        - Selection of podcasts & audio books
        - I've listened to :
        • Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
        *

        Scribd ★★★★
        - One month free trial
        - Latest selection
        - 1.4M ebooks + 100k audio book selection
        - Online/offline feature
        - $8.99/month, unlimited rents
        - I've listened to :
        • Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman  
        • After You by Jojo Moyes
        • The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
        • The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
        • Sounds Like Me by Sara Bareilles
        • Rework by Jason Fried
        • Yes, My Accent is Real by Kunal Nayyar
        • An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison
        • $100 Startups by Chris Guillebeau
        • Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
        *

        Feelings and thoughts :
        So I used more than 5 companies/apps - the free ones and the paid version ones. I've decided to choose Scribd. Here are my reasons :
        • One month free trial = 10 audio books
        • Renting instead of buying - honestly, I just need to listen to the book only one time. If I really like it, I will probably buy a physical one so that I can hold it and put it next to my bed and pretend I have the time to read it.
        • Subscription = $8.99 = RM 35 per month for unlimited access to e-books and audio books. I don't really need to own books (in this age) when I can still enjoy it by borrowing it from the library (think about the dying polar bear). Plus, RM 35 is the price of one book in Malaysia when I can read unlimited amount of books in Scribd.
        • Latest collection - they currently have more than 1.4M e-books and 100k audio books. I can't complain to that. 
        There are cons for free apps available in the market, for example : Librivox only offers old books and Overdrive offers what Perpustakaan Negara have in their library (very-very limited collection - I've listened to all that I wanted to try). Not to say that I'm not recommending these apps - if you just want to try to listen to free audiobooks, you can definitely try those. 

        Plus all the paid apps/websites that offers free trials. Audible and Audiobooks.com are very expensive (around $14.99 for 1 credit = 1 book), but you'll buy the books and will have your own library to store your digital books. But I don't think you would want to buy expensive e-books/audiobooks when they are just digital files.

        So that's why Scribd is the best option there is, at least for now

        Note : There are still a lot of other options around, I'm sure. But I've tried several for now and I think I'm okay with paying $8.99 per month to Scribd to borrow from their book collection plus, I'm thanking them for their free one-month trial when I listened to those 10 books for free. I am so happy so I've been recommending the app on my social media and now in my blog (See, if you make one user happy, you'll probably get so many more new users by all the great recommendations and reviews by that happy customer) :D