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hi, welcome to a completely new segment on the blog inspired by Adriana’s zodiac series. this is where I’ll talk about my opinions on astrological signs and possibly more in the future. I’m not an astrologer and I do not see myself as one. I’m just someone who loves to blame the stars for all the misfortune that happens upon my life – just kidding, but not really. as such, things shouldn’t be taken too seriously and only with a grain of salt. just because a zodiac’s trait doesn’t resonate with you doesn’t mean it’s a complete buzzfeed lie. in fact, astrologers will tell you that a person’s “blind spots” is to be predicted based on their entire birth chart and not merely by their sun sign. these blind spots do not justify who you are as a being and certainly do not determine your fate but rather, they help you see certain things such as your strengths, weaknesses and potential growth. of course if you don't believe in this then you might as well consider it as fun and games. 

today, we are going to talk about my sun sign — Leo the lion. born between july 22 and august 23, Leo is a fixed sign ruled by the sun and is one of the three signs to carry the fire element. the lion corresponds to several birthstones namely peridot (which is governed under the sun), onyx, ruby, diamond and sardonyx. as a fire sign, Leo is said to correspond well with the summer season and is generally described, in colours, by oranges and golds. when it comes to bodily correspondence, Leo rules the core part of human anatomy — the heart and the spine, including its marrow and nerves. as such, the lion is also said to be the source of vital power, ruling over creation and creativity in general.

a list of celebrities born with Leo in their birth chart include Jennifer Lopez (Sun, Mercury and Mars), Ben Affleck (Sun and Mercury), Madonna (Sun and Venus), Whitney Houston (Sun and Venus), Daniel Radcliffe (Sun, Mercury, Venus and Mars) and Mila Kunis (Sun).
Disclaimer — I am not an astrologer and everything written here has been based on my personal research and experiences. I'm also going to talk about astrological aspects I only believe in so something like 'Mercury Retrogade' is probably one I will skip. sources used for my research are, though not limited to, astrologers and websites such as Mlkstrology, Astrogrlz and Cafe Astrology. for this Monthstrology series, I will solely focus on talking about the Sun sign of each month — Leo for August, Virgo for September, and so on.

understanding the glyph

to first understand a sign by its bigger picture, a glyph helps us understand what represents each astrological sign. for the ‘king of the beasts’, we are often thought to be strong leaders driven by sovereignty, courage and rulership. Leo, like lions, are said to be nobles and possess “a noble manner that is hard to miss.” if you happen to be an avid fan of Harry Potter like I do, it’s no surprise that the lion is there to represent Gryffindor due to this qualities.

🌌 as a fixed sign alongside Taurus, Scorpio and Aquarius, Leos aren't very welcoming and are generally very particular about change. fixed signs are also very loyal, steadfast and stubborn, often possess "excellent follow-through." fixed signs are also very grounded and in some Leos, it helps keep their ego at bay.

🔮 in tarot reading, Leo is represented by 'The Strength' and of course, 'The Sun' thus depicting the divine expression of physical, mental and emotional fortitude.

♌ the leo glyph, as depicted here, is said to represent two valves of the heart because that is where our sign rules anatomically. alternatively, it can also be interpreted as the mane of the lion.

☀️ the Sun represents our conscious mind and is part of our ego; it represents the will to live and our creative life force as well as the factor that rationalise things out for decision making purposes. as with typical Leos who are generally proud leaders, the Sun is one big energy that you just cannot contain to a small box. this is the reason why the lion is always there to think big. 

🌻 like colours, ruling planet and birthstones, each zodiac sign has their own symbolic flower(s). the lion, in this case, is represented by the sunflower. this is no surprise as it correlates to other aspects in the sign — e.g the Sun, the colour scheme of oranges and golds, etc. the sunflower here is meant to represent vitality, admiration, strength and positivity. I always think that most outgoing and positive Leos are happy summerchildren dancing in the meadow.

🔥 like its siblings Aries and Sagittarius, Leo rules by the fire. typically, fire signs are very adventurous, goal-oriented (we get things done and hate dilly-dallying) and highly competitive in some cases (Aries understands this aspect best.) in this element, we carry pride, passion, courage, creativity and impulse. specifically for Leos, the fiery traits that we carry are passion and loyalty. 

understanding Leo 🦁

generally, if you ask other signs, they’d tell you that Leos are either a). very conceited, b). self-obsessed, c). bossy b*tches or d). all of the above. I’m not saying this because I’m a proud Leo sun but really, when you think about it, we are one of the most misunderstood signs (alongside Scorpio and probably Aries as well but that’s another topic for another day) among our twelve other siblings. the thing about us is that we tend to have this very monumental air wherever we go which often leads to several misinterpretations. now I’m not saying that all the stereotypes surrounding Leos are entirely false, however, before you judge all the Leos in your life, here are a few good things about them that you might have completely missed.

Leos are extremely loyal to the core

there’s a reason why we’re dubbed as noble folks and it has something to do with us taking great value in something called loyalty. we are the sign who will be there to watch your back and defend you whenever someone fucked you up. Leos are very protective in a sense that, like the lion, we can go from 0 to a 100 real quick when our loved ones are cornered. I can assure you that this is true because when I see or hear someone messed with my Virgo friend or my Taurus man, I’ll be there in a blink and start defending them (this is, of course, considering that they’re not at fault) like a protective lioness I was born to be. this is also why questioning a Leo's loyalty will be a bad, bad idea for you since it makes us feel like you are questioning our nobility as a person.

and if we want it, we'll get it

let’s not beat around the bush: we all know that cats love to take naps. it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about domesticated cats or the big ones in the jungle — they can be very laid-back and lazy. it’s quite the same with Leos. we can get lazy and we can procrastinate for a long period of time, however, when we have something that we want, that’s when you’ll see our determination and ambitious self — the part where we won’t stop until we actually get what we want, particularly when it concerns the good things in life. this go-getter attitude is something typically associated with fire signs in general, especially the strongest in our oldest fire sibling, Aries.

Leos and their complex relationship with confidence

there’s a reason why most Leos often see themselves in such a prideful light. for us, confidence is everything we are learning to be. often misunderstood as conceited and self-centered, Leos actually hide an existential angst at the center of itself, which is represented by insecurity and self-criticising thoughts. beneath our supposedly bright and sunny exterior, some Leos would rather bloom from the sidelines. I, for one, am an introverted Leo who is extremely insecure but would love to adopt confidence from time to time. whether it’s due to shyness or insecurity, a Leo will see confidence as a never-ending work in progress of ‘fake it til you make it.’

even so, Leos like to boost the confidence of their loved ones. this fixed sign is one that will tell you to love yourself, even when the world doesn’t seem to let you feel like it. I would say that some Leos are pretty good at lifting your spirit up because, just like the sun, they are pretty well-known to be a very cheerful and sunny. the sad thing is that even though Leos like to cheer their loved ones up, they tend to hide their wounds and let them rot internally. so the next time you see a Leo sulks in the corner, don't forget that they are the sign that likes to pretend that they're okay when they're not.

honesty is the best policy

like its sisters, Aries and Sagittarius, Leos tend to say it like it is. despite having a big heart, Leos are honest and will tell it like it is. as a result, this often cause other signs to associate us as the mean girls sign but that’s only because we just don’t beat around the bush. I personally cannot hide my honesty to the point where people often mistook me as the bad bitch in town. it gets even worse because I’m a triple fire sign so you can probably tell how brutal I can be with my honesty.

big heart energy

one positive thing about Leos other than their firm belief in loyalty is their big, big heart. no matter how seemingly conceited they are, it’s undeniable that they are also the sign who wears their heart on their sleeves. generous and grand, Leos tend to openly show their emotions to their loved ones. some introverted Leos like me may have difficulties in trusting others at first but once we’re comfortable with you, we might easily open our heart onto you. this energy, however, is often difficult to digest by other signs hence the reason why some Leos may find it difficult to form a relationship, whether platonic or romantic. even so, Leos will give you their heart if they want to and when that happens, do not even think about taking advantage of their kindness or there’ll be hell to pay.

Leos teach you about self-love

I can go on and on about a sign’s good traits but it’s going to eat up all my time. this, however, is the last thing about Leo that I feel has to be said and it is how we acknowledge the practice of self-love. when other signs call us selfish and narcissistic, we call it self-love. there’s a reason why August is often dubbed as the month of self-love among astrologers and that’s partly thanks to Leo. this is the part where Leos redefine selfishness as ‘taking care of yourself first and foremost.’ when the rest of the world is telling you to mind about others and what others have to say or want from you, Leos will be there to tell you to ‘fuck them and you do you boo.’

in summary, Leos are loyal, adventurous and caring individuals with lots of love to give to you as long as you do not take advantage of them. they are also very playful rays of sunshine known to shower their loved ones with grand gestures and compliments and will also watch your back a hundred percent. it should be noted, however, that you do not provoke the lion unless you want to get bitten. this means you shouldn’t betray, backstab or underestimate their pride or loyalty to you. playing with fire is also not a good idea unless you want to get burned since Leos do not back down from a fight so unless you want to face a really hardcore challenge, I don’t suggest you do this. contrary to popular beliefs, more evolved Leos can be very nurturing and mature as they progress through life, with more positive and radiant traits such as inner strength, protectiveness and possibly wisdom as well— more on evolved vs less evolved signs in the future post so stay tune for this! like Scorpios, Leos are very complex and layered and will require more work to unleash their fullest potential because once they’ve reached the phase of the Lion (or the Sphinx, for that matter), they might break your stigma of what a Leo is.

to end this monthstrology appreciation post, I shall quote what my Taurus man said in regards to being in a 3-years relationship with a work-in-progress Leo:

"there is never a dull moment. it's kind of difficult when a challenge arises because you can get aggressively competitive at times but only because you're determined to win and I think that's kind of fun to see. but that aside, it's an exciting relationship filled with sassy humour and dramatic flairs, especially since I, a Taurus, is pretty much bland and stagnant all the time!"

next month we're going to talk about Virgo so stay tune!

It's been a while ever since I dedicate a post for my monthly favourites. The last time I did was last year! Wow, I'm so lazy I didn't even nudge at this section anymore — that and I didn't think this would make an interesting post at all, just like how I kind of suspended my 'life recap' post because I felt like a walking boredom.

If you can’t already tell, I’ve been really slow with blogging and probably slower than I intended to. It’s kind of done on purpose because I had this shut down moment where I wanted nothing but to take a break from a few online activities, watch youtube and loaf around on the bed doing nothing — which I still do as I type this post, by the way. In turn, the month of June mostly revolved around me, my real life and I. Now that we’re transcending to the month of Cancerians, I feel like I kind of owe this blog a life update.

When I wrote this post about adapting to certain skincare-related changes in my daily routine, my skin was breaking out in the T-zone, felt a little tight with uneven dry patches. Before believing that my skin barrier was damaged, I first thought I needed to exfoliate the dead skin away. Turns out, they were never dead skin piling up on my nose because despite exfoliating twice a week, my sebum production kept increasing, my concealer went on patchy and of course, the dry patches were still there. That’s when I realised that my skin barrier has been compromised. 

Skincare is, to me, one of the most difficult science to figure out. Sure, you can determine your skin type and condition; you can also watch a crap ton of skincare related videos on YouTube but at the end of the day, skincare stays as a confusing science. As such, I find myself watching a crap ton of skincare tips and tricks on YouTube, constantly reading articles on The Klog and browsing ingredients on Skincarisma  — which is exactly what I’ve been doing these past few days as I freaked out over six new zits on my chin. Yes, a good six that is enough to make me stay on Google day and night just to see what is happening (it’s probably hormonal period acne but six is quite a number, at least for me).
Jajan Pasar, Indonesia's traditional street snack

There are so many things about Asian culture, tradition and conservatism that I disagree but cuisine is not one of them. When I remember about the diversity and variation of our spices, I feel a great sense of pride and happiness. So when the makers of Netflix’s Chef Table bonded together to create Street Food, I just knew I had to marathon it as quickly as I can. 

Known for its affordability and versatile speed, the Kodak Ultramax is easily one of the most popular film stocks available in the market today. As an all-purpose, daylight colour negative identified by its bright yellow canister similar to Kodak Gold, the Kodak Ultramax is an easy to get and easy to use stock for everyone who refuse to burn their wallet for professional grade films.

discovering local made film rolls feels equally the same like discovering hidden gems, although I never found actual gems myself but we all get the gist of it, don't we. the thing with analog is how experimentation with various film rolls gives you this boost of adrenaline on how the pictures will turn out. as someone who just recently got back to playing analog (in which I stopped in 2013 because I couldn't find where to develop my negatives), experimenting with every film roll I could get my hands on is the main priority. of course, the more professional lineup like kodak portra and fuji pro aren't cheap; the higher their ISO, the more expensive they get. that's just the basic rule for film rolls. most people usually start with the more affordable series such as kodak colorplus, kodak gold, kodak ultramax and fujicolor c200 and while I love them for random photo days, having a higher ISO film is really handy for someone who pretty much stays indoor 90% of the time.

If there’s one thing jakarta is known for other than its street food, it’s the traffic. One simply does not commute in this city without experiencing it. For so long the authorities have always been trying to minimise it, from changing the rules of ’3 in 1’ methodology where a car requires at least three people in it to adapting an odd-even number plate rule for a specific set of time, we now have the long awaited mrt that other foreign countries have adapted since aeons ago. Indeed when it comes to public transport, mrt is a big thing among locals who never experienced it. For me, having mrt in the city sort of pulls me back to my experience in foreign countries, specifically hong kong where, if I remember correctly, was the first country I ever rode mrt at.

We see articles and tweets and social media postings about toxic relationships all the time. Most of the time, these relationships are either romantically or platonically in cases of families and friends. The one toxic relationship that people rarely talk about, however, usually involves the culture and environment we expose ourselves to on weekdays. When it comes to workplaces, toxicity tend to hide beneath the claws of structural hierarchy. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the boss, the team leader, the project manager or even your fellow coworkers – anyone is prone to enforcing toxicity to a fellow colleague.
I know that excuses are overdone but I swear every time I want to sit down and blog, some kind of crap always happened and I just lost the energy to do it. I have quite a few blog drafts sitting in my dropbox paper account and I hope I'll get around to finish them soon. But right now, for someone who's trying to stand back up amidst all the chaos in her personal struggles especially with depression and anxiety, I am in need of some moodboard collective that's somehow a reflection of my February.

A teacher of mine once told my friend that it's normal for us to hate our first job. In fact, he thinks we should hate it. Although I wouldn't use the word hate, I do understand where that saying came from. If we get too comfortable, we'd be too lazy or too scared to venture forth. Settling down was never a bad idea, however, when you're a recent fresh graduate who's still on the hunt for good portfolios, settling down at one company may not be ideal — at least this is how I see it. In my case, quitting was made easy when I realized that I've wasted two years of energy in a toxic company who doesn't seem to care about its employees.

Oh hi there folks, welcome to the new version of Mlkbx, now known as Lait et Fraises from the French words 'milk and strawberries'. Before you start asking why I changed my blog url or how I've been these past few days, grab some popcorn because we have quite a few things to talk about.
In my last post I talked about how I wanted to pick up film photography again. When I got the chance to go to Bali for my cousin's wedding, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to trust my ongoing skill with the analog mechanic. Also, since Bali is a very sunny place, I had a good feeling bringing my film rolls with me — they were all Fujicolor C200 and Kodak Ultramax 400 though, one perfect for outdoor sunny places and the other for better versatility.

Aside from temporarily neglecting my blog to give myself an untimely break and to enjoy the holiday, I've been having fun with astrology. Mind you, it's not the bullshit today's horoscope trivia that says today is your lucky day and you'd find a dollar under your pillow. I'm talking about astrological birth chart, the whole sun, moon and rising sign fiasco which surprisingly can be quite accurate to who you are.