Well, it’s official: I’m cooling down a bit.

This month, all the books I read are nonfiction: a few about plants, others about homemaking, one about human cadavers—which easily is the book of the month. Granted, it’s not a book for everyone, but the author (a science journalist) is just so, so good. Two thumbs up.

So without further ado, here they are!

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It’s quite remarkable how humans adapt to a situation.

Merely eight months ago, the only few times I slept with another human being in my bed were either with my sister or my mother during a trip overseas. And another a few handful times when I went on a trip with friends (which could be counted by one hand). Point is: I love sleeping alone. And I couldn’t possibly imagine how I would get used to a permanent human being sleeping by my side, night in, night out.

(I don’t count the times when my toddler-nephew slept with me, because sleeping with him feels a lot different. For one, you don’t really care of moving around when you’re sleeping because once he falls asleep, he will stay asleep no matter what. Getting him to sleep is the hardest part.)

Sleeping on the same bed, no matter if it’s with your sister, mother, or friend during trips, requires you to exercise control even when you’re asleep. You’re scared of moving too much, because it will disturb their sleep. You feel like tossing and turning, but doing so will wake up the other person.

So you stay still, unable to sleep, unwilling to move, probably for hours, until the oblivion comes.

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I’ve heard it and you’ve heard it too. Maybe you believe it, maybe you don’t. I do believe it though.

We are creatures of habit.

(…I think the opening paragraph is too dramatic for this post’s purpose. Anyway.)

If you’re a friend (or family), you’d know that I absolutely hate waking up in the morning. In fact, I used to wake up late, somewhere between nine-thirty to ten-thirty. On some occasions, I’d still be in bed at eleven, too lazy to kick out the blanket and start the day. Especially when it’s winter.

I know, I do have the privilege to be waking up whenever I want.

But in these past few months, I’ve consistently got up at eight-thirty in the morning. You might think that it’s still late, but it’s actually quite an achievement for me.

I now wake up to make breakfast for the husband before he goes to work—basically taking out the homemade bread from the freezer and popping it in the microwave for thirty seconds. Then I prepare his lunch (shoving fork and spoon into his lunch bag) and bid him goodbye. Then I go onto my routine: checking the plants, watering the plants, making coffee, and having breakfast while reading the Bible myself.

Oh, I’m so proud of myself.

(If you’re a night owl, you’d understand.)

It took me two months of forcing myself to kick the blanket every morning before I automatically, and voluntarily, get up from the bed. I have to remind myself that my coffee machine is waiting, that once I wake up I’d be able to reward myself with a cup of homemade latte. It kinda works, but I find that the biggest motivation to wake up is to take care of the plants. (I’m not even joking.) The later I water them, the stronger the sunlight and the faster the evaporation rate (or so I read), which means the water would just be gone with the wind instead of getting absorbed by the roots.

I’m really super into gardening right now.

Aaaaanddd there’s the husband—who would happily go to work without having any kind of breakfast, as he did in his bachelor days.

My ultimate goal is to wake up at seven every morning. But winter is coming, so probably I’d do just that in a few months…

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I started the month strong, but read considerably less nearing the end of the month.

Instead, I borrowed heaps of books on gardening (bonsai, indoor plants, propagating, herbs etc) and flipped through the pages. Heh. Yet I still finished nine books in total!

(Btw, you can access the books I read in January, February and March.)

After reading several heavy fictions, I’m in the mood for nonfiction. In fact, I read exclusively nonfiction this month, half of them heavy and half of them very light reading. From the pile, I really, really recommend Evicted by Matthew Desmond (about poverty in the US), The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee (about a North Korean defector), and Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat (about the science of cooking). They are all wonderful!

So without further ado, here they are!

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It seems like I’ve put more thought into turning 26 compared to turning 25.

Being a quarter-of-century old seems like an achievement, but you can still argue that it’s still part of the ‘early 20s’. And being in your early 20s comes with the societal understanding that you’re still young, still have a lot to learn, still able to make a lot of mistakes, and still trying to discover yourself. In your early 20s you’re doing things for the first time: you get your first job, fall in love, make big mistakes. And it’s okay.

Then you hit 26.

Twenty six means it’s the start of heavy adulting, a term that I just coined to explain that play time’s over. It’s time to get serious about money. It’s time to plan ahead on when you want to buy that house. It’s time to think about babies, figuring out whether you want two children, or three, and when’s the time to start having one to minimise the risk.

It’s time to, if I may borrow the words from the Bible, “put away childish things” (see 1 Corinthians 13:11).

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When Tjok and I first decided to try grow some greeneries, we really, really have no idea how to do it.

Growing plants should have been instinctive—after all, our ancestors have done it for hundreds of thousands of years. But we really don’t get the genes, and everything henceforth is trial and error.

In January, Tjok bought a seed planter kit for parsley, basil, and chive. Since it was summer, we decided to only plant the basil and chive. (We read somewhere that it wasn’t the optimal season for parsley to grow from seed.)

Weeks went by, and our seedlings looked so, so sad.

Really sad.

I wasn’t sure whether I’ve watered too much or watered too little. Or was it too much or too little sun?

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When we brought home two medium-sized orchids from the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show last month, our apartment was already full of plants.

In our humble two-bedroom, one-bathroom residence, we have a medium-sized peace lily, two terrariums (one big, one small), a small peperomia, four bonsai plants (all small, thankfully), and two herb pots (basil and chive).

With the exception of the bonsai plants (jade, juniper, buddha belly fig), all the others reside in the living room. So with the arrival of two orchids, we have to make room for them.

“Probably the peace lily should move,” Tjok said. It was situated on the small marble table beside the sofa, and I do agree, it has to move. (I always felt like the peace lily was too big for the table anyway). So we moved it to the floor just beside the door to the bathroom.

Not ideal, but it would do for now.

We placed the bright purple orchid on the marble side table. One down, one more to go.

“What if we put it behind the peperomia?” I asked. The plant was sitting on top the TV cabinet, just next to the window.

“Can’t,” Tjok said. “Too much sunlight.”

He decided that the white orchid would sit in the middle of the coffee table. It would have to share space with the small terrarium.

I was not convinced. But we’ll see whether this arrangement would work.

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Another impressive total of 7 books. I still think I’m on a roll.

(You can read the books I’ve read in January and February too!)

I’d have to say that so far, the books I’m reading are that good. I only had given one book a two-star rating—the others four and five. I really love the first three fiction books I read: Never Let Me Go, Salt to the Sea, and The History of Love. They are too good, and the words stayed with me long after I finished the last page. The other fiction, The Girl Who Drank the Moon, is wonderful as well, although in a different way.

Oh by the way, I read a full book on vagina. And it’s highly recommended.

So without further ado, here they are.

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Two months into my marriage, I attended a friend’s bridal shower.

We were all strangers to each other, coming together to celebrate our dear friend’s last few days as a single woman. But over the two-hour flower crown making session, we got to know a little bit about each other.

Since it was a bridal shower, talks, naturally, centered around each other’s relationship status. Some were married longer than I have been in a relationship. Others were married with babies and/or toddlers. A few were in a long-term relationship.

I was probably the most recently married at that time—it still felt weird to be wearing a ring on your left index finger all the time. Interestingly, someone asked, “How’s your first year of marriage?”

She was asking another woman, and soon everyone talked about their first-year experience. One said that it was wonderful, another felt that it was okay. Nothing like the bed of roses advertised everywhere. But I never forget one woman who described her first year of marriage with such passion.

“It was horrible,” she said. “We were in long-distance relationship for years before we got married, and adapting to be together under one roof is hard. We have different habits, different ways to do things. I think we quarrelled all the time.”

It turns out she’s quite right. Living under one roof is not easy.

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There are those who consider grocery shopping a chore. There are others who genuinely love to do groceries. I’m part of the latter group.

Even when I was still young(er), Mom would ask me whether I want to accompany her to go to the supermarket. Oftentimes, I would say yes, because I like the experience—browsing aisle upon aisle on things that I don’t need nor want, discovering that people do invent weird stuff.

Since I got married, I’ve made grocery shopping some sort of a project. Since my local supermarket (Woolworths) offers fuel discount (4 cents a litre) when I spend AUD 30 or more, that number has become the weekly benchmark. I try my best in shopping the specials, changing my planned meals for the next week should the beef is cheaper than the pork, and vice versa. And it doesn’t really matter if I don’t need other stuff apart from milk, I’d still walk down most of the aisles anyway.

I’d go to several Asian groceries to find out which one sells the cheapest soya bean. And I’d buy fruits at another store—which are of better quality and cheaper price.

Yeap, I really enjoy grocery shopping. I wonder how many of you feel the same.

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