Amal is on holiday this week and we finally went to a place I had long wanted to bring Amal to which is the studio and workshop of ceramic artist F. Widayanto. His place is called Rumah Tanah Baru, located in Depok, a 20 minute ride from the Ragunan zoo.
I first saw F. Widayanto's works at an exhibition where he sold home supplies such as sinks, mirrors, house signs with his signature small animals such as butterflies, geckos, frogs :) His studio is a huge park with small wooden houses, a small shop and workshop where visitors can try out the art of clay modeling.

Amal and his friends Mabel & Sabine tried out clay modeling and made several cute animals like a turtle, a gecko, a butterfly, an elephant. They had a great time doing hands-on activities and now they have to wait 3 weeks for their creations to be oven-baked and colored. I'll keep you posted on the end result when we get them :)



I've spent these last few weeks in activities involving family, both from my side and from my ex-husband's side. I'm grateful that I have wonderful in-laws, easy to get along with and just basically really nice people. Now, Amal sees my family more because I happen to live with my parents and unfortunately, Amal's grandparents from his Dad's side live quite far from Jakarta. And I think that has to do with the fact that he's not yet quite aware of his Dad's family. He knows his grandparents but he hasn't grasped that the other people he meets are his uncle, aunts and cousins :)
So, inspired by a family tree I had made with my cousin back in 1996, I decided to sit down with Amal and create his family tree and here it is:

It's very easy to make. All you need is:
- Cardboard paper
- Markers
- Watercolors paint & paintbrush
- Tom & Jerry labels

I started by drawing a huge tree in the middle of the cardboard paper and Amal filled the tree with watercolor paint. While we waited for the paint to dry, we wrote down the names of the different family members we have in our family (I had to help a bit!). We then put Amal's name in the center of the tree and just sort of went from there to fill in all the other members of the family.
Et voila!

I personally believe all kids should know their roots, good or bad. It helps to know where you came from. Not only that, I like the saying "Blood is thicker than water" meaning that bonds of family are thicker than those with unrelated people. Families aren't always easy but they do help to understand certain things about yourself :)


Amal has been particularly loving lately and it's heartwarming. One day, he brings me flowers, another it's cuddles in the morning and last week, it was this note given to me discreetly. Honestly, I'm in seventh heaven right now. Amal is a gift, best gift I ever got :)



Ever since I started working at Yayasan Usaha Mulia, I've been more or less obsessed with YUM's Organic Farm in Cipanas. It's so interesting to know how vegetables are grown and the process needed, but even better to know that they've been grown organically, just the way Nature intended it to be grown :)

So last thursday, when 100 8th grade students from the Jakarta International School came to visit our farm, I was over-the-top because YUM was finally able to show off our beautiful farm and teach children about growing food the organic way. All YUM staff at Desa YUM Cipanas and several of us from the Head Office participated as Workshop Leaders and Coordinators.

We had 2 hours to teach 4 workshops: Composting, Transplanting Seeds, Planting & Harvesting.
Everyone worked hard to prepare the event!

Photo left: Mas Samsul, Desa YUM Cipanas' Project Manager
Photo right: The transplanting workshop in the Nursery

Photo left: Kids learning to make organic compost with, among other things, goat's manure :)
Photo right: Preparing the land before planting the 3-week old plants

Photo left: Harvesting green & red salad
Photo right: Harvesting tiny sweet potatoes

We all had an excellent time (though I was a little bit sunburnt!) and I hope the JIS kids learned something from the workshops that they can apply at home or at school. If your son/daughter's school is interested in this type of activity, please email me at vanessa@yumindonesia.org :)



Welcoming 2 new tote bags made by the students of YUM's Vocational Training Center in Cipanas, West Java!
As I might have already explained previously, Desa YUM Cipanas offers sewing classes to young people in the area for free so that they can acquire skills to later on find jobs. Unemployment in the Cipanas area is quiet high. By buying these bags, you will be helping to sustain the YUM project and give hope to the students that what they are doing is actually worthwhile :)

Once again, YUM has teamed up with Alexia Cahyaningtyas from Komik Watatita who has designed the wayang inspired pictures.

Each bag sells for Rp. 60,000
and as usual, all profits go back to the students + YUM's projects.

Email: vanessa@yumindonesia.org



LOOKING FOR YOUR FACE - a poem by Rumi

From the beginning of my life
I have been looking for your face
but today I have seen it

Today I have seen
the charm, the beauty,
the unfathomable grace
of the face
that I was looking for

Today I have found you
and those who laughed
and scorned me yesterday
are sorry that they were not looking
as I did

I am bewildered by the magnificence
of your beauty
and wish to see you
with a hundred eyes

My heart has burned with passion
and has searched forever
for this wondrous beauty
that I now behold

I am ashamed
to call this love human
and afraid of God
to call it divine

Your fragrant breath
like the morning breeze
has come to the stillness of the garden
You have breathed new life into me
I have become your sunshine
and also your shadow

My soul is screaming in ecstacy
Every fiber of my being
is in love with you

Your efflugence
has lit a fire in my heart
for me
the earth and sky

My arrow of love
has arrived at the target
I am in the house of mercy
and my heart
is a place of prayer

[inspired by Mas Ulil Abshar Abdalla's tweets a few days ago]



Cooking has always been a great passion for me, but combined with hanging out with girlfriends & Amal getting a playdate is even better! :)

I always like to surround myself with friends who have the same interests as mine, not just interest but excitement to be more precise. So when Dinda (mom of the cute Jiri on the first photo below) told me she was thinking of gathering some girlfriends to share recipes, cook together and talk about life, I jumped on the occasion!

Our first get-together took place Sunday, 13 March 2011 and I played host. We were supposed to be around 5 women, however we ended up the 3 of us which was probably a good number for the first session since we're still figuring out how we're going to organize these gatherings. Besides Dinda and the cutesy Jiri, there was also my good friend Tarra and her 2 adorable girls, Mabel & Sabine. Amal was ecstatic because he gets along well with Mabel, who is in his class this year.
Dinda made a Couscous Salad in advance for lunch and showed us how to make a Cauliflower Gratin (with buttersquash & carrot puree to make it more nutritious). Tarra made Herb Marinated Chicken Breasts and I shared my Carrot Cake recipe. The theme of this gathering is sharing recipes that are healthy, nutritious and can be enjoyed by our children. The kids were divided as to which food they liked best but they ate everything so that's a good sign :)
The plan is to have these gatherings once a month and hopefully our initial 5-6 girlfriends will be able to join in the next session. After contemplating on this first gathering, all 3 of us felt it was a huge success!



"Some people sweet and attractive, strong and healthy, happen to die young. They are masters in disguise teaching us about impermanence" - Dalai Lama

I read this quote a really long time ago and it hit me quite hard because yes, I had always wondered why some people leave us too soon, though they are the kindest people we know. And just a week ago, this quote is what came to mind as soon as my brother-in-law passed away. He was the kindest person you could ever meet, always ready to give a hand. The least he would do was to give you a huge smile.
If there is one thing that came out during our time of grief was that we got to experience just how many people he touched, friends or strangers, old or young, from senior officials to cleaning personnel, he was remembered as someone who treated everyone equally and made sure that everyone felt appreciated and valued.

It's a precious gift he has given us and in his memory, I will do my best to continue what he has taught us all.

[image found on Say Yes to Hoboken]



Do you like the new desktop image on my laptop? It's an image of one of Paris's gardens taken just last weekend and you have a bonus of the March 2011 Calendar... and you can download it for free!

Just click here.

The talented artist is Shanna Murray, who designs desktop calendars every month, with the help of a contributor. And this March photo was contributed by one of my favorite bloggers, Jordan from Oh Happy Day :)


I've wanted to buy this album for quite some time now, but I just hadn't had the chance to go to a music store till last weekend. I don't know how to express my excitement as I listened to each tune but honestly, White Shoes and The Couples Company is one of the best groups I know (national and international). They always come through with amazing music, one more original than the next and they seem to me as very humble and close to their roots (friends and family) :)

Below is a music clip of one of their songs on the album:

And here's a video of them explaining the process of the making of this album:

If you'd like to hear their latest album, you can go here for a preview :) That link goes to their website where you can find the other albums they've made. Trust me, if you haven't heard their music, go straight to a record store (like Aksara) and buy their album :)



Yann Arthus-Bertrand is an extraordinary photographer, but not only that, he's actually a human being concerned with the state of the Earth (as you can see in the TED talk above). So he decided to create a movie, produced by Luc Besson which uses his images of our planet and show us what is currently happening in our world.
The movie has been distributed for free, and can be seen here. Now, if you're a teacher, they've also made a Teaching Tool that can help you ask the right questions and so ignite your students' desire to change the world :) I think I'm going to try to find a way to download this and make a DVD for Yayasan Usaha Mulia's 2 Community Libraries...


I've always been fascinated with food, especially good food. And sometimes, I feel its overwhelming effects on me, including over-indulging and using food as a tool for boredom or reward. On the other hand, I was also taught to appreciate food especially real, home-cooked food. That's why when I heard about the movie Food, Inc (see trailer here), I was really interested to find out what it was all about.

One of the books that the movie Food, Inc was based on was written by Michael Pollan and after that famous book, he wrote another one, Food Rules, which was given to me yesterday and I couldn't stop reading it until I finished it today (Thanks Dinda!). Below here are a few of those rules that I plan to follow from this day forward :)

[image found here]