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Menstrual Cups

I started using these goodies 2 years ago when I began scuba diving intensively. One time I was diving with a college bestie Katie Velasco and her colleague Audrey Wayso – both had flown in from California to Bali for a diving holiday. They were the ones to introduce me to the fabuloso menstrual cups, so thanks ladies!

Does It Hurt?

The question I get asked a lot when people find out I use the cups is: does it hurt? The answer is no, it doesn’t hurt at all. In my opinion tampons can get more uncomfortable and actually feels like something is sticking inside down there, but the menstrual cups are so comfortable that the danger is to forget it’s there. Don’t though – forget. Put your alarm clocks, phone reminders, anything.


I rinse mine with hot water (some advice boiling water) before the first use of the period. Throughout the day and the week, I just use clean water to rinse it whenever I take it out and empty it. You’re most likely to pick up an infection from your hands as you are inserting and taking it out, so wash and clean your hands before you deal with the cups.


Yes, I do sleep with my menstrual cups, though on nights of heavy flow I also use a thin pad to prevent leaks.


Do I still use pads? Yes, sometimes I still do. I switch off between the cup and the pads depending on the activities of the week. For environmental purposes though, it is much better to just stick to the cup (less waste generated).


The brand I use is Organicup, now and it starts at a price of Rp 400K (about 30 USD). Over the long run, it saves money as well if you completely switch over to the cups!

Do you use menstrual cups? What are your thoughts?

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Composting Through the Pandemic

The great lockdown of 2020 no doubt shocked everyone and forced a cataclysmic change of lifestyle whether you were ready or not. I chose to spend the lockdown with my then-fiance Cung in his house in Bogor, right next to a huge organic farm called Kuntum Farmfield. There are worse places to be locked down in, so no complaints from me about location.

We walked daily to the farm to visit the horses, cows, sheep, goats, and many other farm residents. In addition to the animals, Kuntum also grew fresh produce, so we did not tire of fresh organic produce. The price? 1 bunch of fresh organic bokchoy for less than 2$. And only a 3 minute walk away. Glorious.

One of my future dreams is actually to be able to grow my own food, so I took advantage of the situation to start gardening. Well. experimenting really. With seeds, media, and compost being sold only a step away, it was the perfect situation.

Gardening Experiments

My gardening experiments started with garlic. Lo and behold, all the bulbs ultimately died because garlic is not a native herb to Indonesia (it needs cold winter months to hibernate before its growth will be stimulated). Silly me! I then tried everything from mint, rosemary, potatoes, sweet potatoes (got stolen by a rat! URGH), onions, and even avocadoes.

I had a lot of fun, but no success except for the avocadoes. The avocado babies bloomed, and there were so many in our backyard that it inspired me to name avocado as the theme of our wedding in August 2020. But to be fair, it takes about 7 more years before I can judge whether the avocado is a success or a failure so I probably should just hold off my big mouth.


Bins filled with organic food waste and dried leaves.

One thing for sure that was a success was composting. Yes, we made soil!!! From our food waste during the lockdown! At first, we both thought oh god, we’re just collecting trash in the garden. Cung stared helplessly at his stone garden which was I was demolishing with pots and pots of organic trash.

Most of the gardening blogs I looked at suggested a composting recipe of “greens” and “browns”. Greens are the food waste. Browns are dried leaves. So the compost bin should not stink, and if it is smelling bad that means there are not enough dried leaves in it. Simple enough!

We started about mid-March 2020, and religiously composted our organic trash until it became a habit and we didn’t even think twice about it. Fast forward 1 year to March 2021. Cung decided to peek into the pots. For him, the sooner the better to get rid of the pots.

Ta-DA! We have SOIL. Life-giving, food growing, brown earthy stuff. With long, fat, slimy wormies-major sign of fertility! It’s a one-year miracle. I never “made” soil before and simply knowing that I finally gave something back to my planet and mother earth instead of just taking and defiling her made me feel so much better about myself.

Rolling up my sleeves, getting my hands dirty, and composting is the life.

That’s one of my special memories from the 2020-2021 lockdown. We composted through the pandemic 🙂

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My Acne Journey, part 2

I noticed the vaginal cysts because I started bleeding (having my period) twice a month. The “second” cycle came about two weeks after the usual cycle. It was brown older blood, and it hurt. Like, hell.

I consulted friend, nutritionist, and pharmacist Anna Meiliana (remember her from my very first podcast episode?) about my problem. Well since about 2019 I have been building much healthier lifestyle habits. I exercise daily by walking or swimming (or even diving when I’m on the island!), cut down on the MSG and junk food I eat (I still eat some, but it’s vastly reduced), have a much healthier mental state, and consciously drink a lot of water. I don’t drink alcohol too much. I do smoke from a pipe every once in a while- in once every couple of months so I don’t think it affects my lungs too much. Since the pandemic started, I’ve also gotten much more sleep hours in.

Vaginal cysts.

From this, she deduced that it was probably something hormonal and urged me to check with a gynecologist. I chose Melinda Hospital because it’s one of the best (pricey, but very good) women’s healthcare hospitals in Bandung. People recommended Doctor Julius, and my husband Cung accompanied me.

Dr. Julius was great! Highly recommended if you are looking for a gynecologist in the West Java area. Images from the ultrasonography indeed confirmed the cysts. When I told Doctor Julius about my healthy lifestyle, he also asked if I was taking any hormone pills. Out came the confession about my acne pills.

Needless to say, I stopped those meds. Dr. Julius recommended birth control pills instead for 1 month, with very strict daily timing. I checked up again after a month and the cysts were all gone.

Seeking a Healthier Long-Term Solution to My Acne Journey

But… you know what’s coming right? I had to deal with my reappearing acne again. This time, I was determined to try something more natural to prevent future cysts. And I wasn’t going to try urine therapy again (check out part 1 of this topic). During the lockdown, I experimented with lemons. It didn’t have any bad side effects, but I just felt it was not strong enough. I wanted to exterminate the acne bacteria. Aloe vera proved to be a stronger disinfectant.

For the aloe vera, I simply cut off a small piece of the plant, store the rest in the fridge, and rub it on the inflamed places on my face. If you don’t have a garden, the aloe vera plant should be easily available at grocery stores near you. It’s a great low-cost option. Make sure to do an allergy test though by testing it to a small patch of your skin before rubbing it on your face.

In addition to aloe vera, what has been helping my acne journey includes also AFC supplements, The Skin Diary Squalane Sherbet Cleansing Balm, and Argan Rosy Velvet Moisturizer. I’m happy with the result so far-finally feeling that it’s getting manageable with a better long-term solution than the pills I took when I was younger.

The 5th episode of my podcast is with The Skin Diary’s Anna Febriana Jaelawijaya (another awesome Anna!), so please tune in if you’d like to hear more about The Skin Diary!

Do you have skin woes? How do you deal with it? Share in the comments!

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My Acne Journey, part 1

May 2008, With dear friend Katie Velasco (now Katie Crosby).

I’ve had acne for as long as I can remember. Oops, scratch that – I’ve played piano longer (I started piano when I was 6 years old). What I mean is, it feels like I’ve had acne forever. If you see pictures of my skin looking alright now, it’s probably the Tiktok filter, or just the right light hitting at the perfect moment and I’m quickly pointing to my husband Cung saying “Hurry! Take a photo now!”

My acne journey has gotten better since the lockdown – interesting how the pandemic improved my skin quality. I think it’s a combination of not being out so much in the polluted air of Bandung and Jakarta, getting more sleep, drinking more water, eating great supplements, using aloe vera, and using all-natural skincare products.

Complicated eh? You bet. Way too many factors. That’s skincare for you, especially if you have sensitive or combination skin. It’s seriously way more complicated than relationships.

My skin is much more complicated than any relationship I’ve been in. And I’ve been in a lot.

The first outbreak of my acne journey started in junior high when I was about 14 or 15, and continued on until my mid-20s. I’ve tried everything under the sun, even – look don’t judge me here – even my own urine. I think it’s something called urine therapy. It’s far-out, I know. But I was desperate. I didn’t feel good, nor beautiful.

Drastic Actions

May 2011, in Texas. Taken by roommate Hye Young Lois Bang

When I finally got sick of my acne, I decided to try hormonal meds. The hormones were so strong the dermatologist said I have to stop eating this 1 year before I want to have kids. Well luckily, I didn’t plan to have kids soon. But I did plan to end my acne, whatever it demanded.

So I consumed the meds, and IT WORKED. However, when I was not taking it, my pimples would start to appear. That’s why I kept taking it for about 5 years until 2020.

To be honest, it was fine for those 5 years. My acne disappeared and I was happy. One day, all that hormonal build-up finally showed side effects.

In October 2020 I developed vaginal cysts.

To be continued to part 2.

Acne can be debilitating for self confidence. If you need a reminder of your beauty, read this poem.