I'm so happy that after so many trials and recipes, I finally found the perfect Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe! Each time I've tried in the past, it would taste good but it never looked perfect. Most of the time, it would melt and the cookie dough became one big huge chocolate square!

But I never gave up :)
So when I saw the Martha Stewart "Cookies" book at my local library, I picked it up and promised to try the recipe, which I did this weekend and lo and behold: the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe!

Below is the recipe from the book, which you can also find online, but I made a few changes. This time I put the dough in the freezer for up to 1 hour and I think that's what did the trick!

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 200gr unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups semisweet and/or milk chocolate chips
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Divide the mixture in half, and put each half in plastic film (see sample below). Since the dough is very soft and sticky, I prefer to put it in the freezer first to let it set and become hard. Keep in the freezer for approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • 15 minutes before you want to bake your cookies, preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Take the dough out of the freezer and cut around 2cm and roll into tablespoon-size balls of dough. Place them about 4-5 cm apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, but still soft in the center, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

Photo courtesy of this blog



I've been thinking about my second project recommendation and it has to be about books! Amal has been reading non-stop for the past 2 weeks, and it came so sudden.... Before that, he would only look at books with images! And I can see how much he's enjoying it, how he starts imagining what he's reading and I'm so happy that he's finally opened that part of life where children are able to roam free with imagination just by reading a book...

I remember when I was 7 and I had just moved to Boston with my family, and my mother took me and my brother to the public library. I was hooked! I couldn't stop reading, I even read at night (in secret) with a small night light. I was devouring Judy Blume, Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, and even until this day, I feel so happy curled up reading a book.... and every child should feel that way!

That's why I feel it's so important to give that opportunity to every child. Unfortunately in Indonesia, reading is not part of the culture, especially in the rural areas. Besides that, buying a book is not an option if you live on less than $2 (Rp. 19,000) a day. That's why in Bukit Batu, Central Kalimantan, Yayasan Usaha Mulia (YUM) created a community library where now more than 500 visitors come every month to check out the books, and also participate in other educational activities such as the English Club, arts and crafts, watching movies, dance classes, etc. It's not just a place to borrow books, but it's become an educational facility.
If you want to help this project, YUM is working with GlobalGiving, a philanthropic site, to receive donations from all over the world. Here's the link: Help Promote Good Reading Habits in Kalimantan 

There are many other organizations who work in this direction and with the same goal such as Yayasan Pustaka Kelana (which my mother and aunt founded by the way), "Drive Books, Not Cars"Taman Bacaan Pelangi, and countless others...

So if you're a book worm like I am, and you realize just how precious a book is (and a library), try to find out how you can help, either by donating money or books or your time at a nearby library for disadvantaged kids :)


Last night, I had the privilege to meet 2 young french people who are on a trip (almost) around the world. Their goal was to go from France to Indonesia, but along their way, they managed to spend more than a year visiting countries like: Germany, Austria, Hungaria, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, China, Vietnam, Laos, just to name a few... Oh and by the way, they've been doing the whole trip by bicycle!! :)) 

You always hear about people who do these kinds of extraordinary voyages, but to actually meet them and hear their stories is something pretty special. They seemed like very open-minded, energetic people and one of their aims is to share their stories and the sounds and music of their travels to people back home. So they've created a blog, in French but you can certainly Google Translate it. I can imagine them looking back 20-30 years from now and have a huge smile on their face thinking about this wonderful journey :)

Here's their blog is you're interested to check it out: http://lesoreillesbaladeuses.blogspot.com/


I found this beautiful quote by Brian Andreas on Pinterest, and thought I'd share it with you:


The weekend is here and it's usually an occasion where we can spend time in the kitchen, try new recipes and think a bit more creatively about what we want to eat. Recently I've made these 2 nice salads, with organic vegetables from YUM's Organic Farm, and thought I'd share them with you...

This one's shredded purple cabbage and shredded carrots.
Dressing: olive oil + apple cider vinegar + 1/2 tsp mayonnaise + sea salt + pepper 

This lovely red one is cherry tomatoes + big tomatoes cut in 8.
Dressing: olive oil + apple cider vinegar + parsley flakes + sea salt + pepper 

If like me you work during the week and you don't really have time to think about what you put in your mouth, then try to at least spend some time during the weekend, go out and buy some organic vegetables, cook on your own, cook for your family, think about what you're feeding yourself and your family :)



Ok so here's my first recommendation for you to start the year by giving back.

Did you know that over a quarter of a million poor primary age children in Indonesia aren't going to school even though it's supposedly free? And did you know that only 55% of poor children complete junior high (SMP)? That means, almost half of the these children have to start working or getting married at age 14-15!!
I bet you didn't know that...

Now, there are many organizations who help kids find sponsors, and Yayasan Usaha Mulia is one of them. But you can start even closer to home, with your staff's own children, or the children of the person collecting your garbage or the security guy in your compound. It really isn't much money at all; I'll give you an example. At YUM, our Sponsorship Program helps primary school children and secondary school children. For primary school children, we ask donors for Rp. 1,500,000 per year and for secondary school, we ask Rp. 2,500,000. Now, this may seem a little more than you expected, but we deal with children from a very poor background, so besides the school fee, we also give for books, uniform, exam costs, extracurricular, transport, bi-annual medical check-ups and bi-monthly parenting and health workshops for the parents. We also have a full-time staff who monitors these kids and makes sure they stay in school...
Now think about it, if you think in terms of monthly cost, it's only between Rp.130,000 and Rp. 200,000 approximately.... Come on, that's one meal at a nice restaurant or a t-shirt :)

I myself started sponsoring a girl last year, together with my aunt and uncle from France, and added another little kid a few months ago. I'm happy to know they can stay in school and hopefully one day, acquire some skills to be able to find a decent job and live a decent, happy life.

One more thing I'd like to add and this is really important: once you start sponsoring a child, think about seeing through until the end of his or her studies. It's great to help for a full year, but it's a dreadful feeling for the child to know that her or his sponsor has dropped him/her and the child doesn't know whether he/she can stay in school...

Read Kukywa's story about sponsoring a child on her blog :)



I'm not a regular resolutions-maker but at work today, I had a light bulb moment. I was thinking how I am aware of so many great social projects that people could help with, and why not share it with my family and friends. I know I've been sharing once in a while already, but I think I'll make it this year's resolution to share more.

So let's start this year thinking about this quote:

Stand by for the next few days and weeks for links to amazing projects you can help with :)