30 April 2008

illustration friday-wrinkles

simple dinner

This was my dinner last night, as well as a bowl of rice and miso soup. This is katsuo sashimi. Katsuo is like tuna, so quite flavourful and oily, very, very good. And the best bit, well theres a couple, it has been seared on all sides, yum, and when you eat it you put a little wasabi and a little fresh ginger on, roll it up and dip into soy sauce, then eat. It is so simple, ready prepared, this amount cost $4 and super dooper healthy. It is my latest kick, I have been eating it a lot. And to balance it out I found a very good block of orange swiss chocolate...lucky I only visit that shop once a week.......

29 April 2008


I was driving today and happened to have Paul Kelly on the stezza. Portable Aussieness and home-ness such as tunes and the like are so important when you live far away. And, for a change I wasnt using music as a means to block out schreeching (KISS works best) or helping to prevent it, I was actually listening to it. This song, Deeper Water, these days brings a lump to my throat. What a beautiful song, it is so much more meaning ful now I have my own son. I think PK is one of the most clever and sweet and simple yet profound storytellers of my time.

28 April 2008


I am not kidding you when I say dogs are dressed like mini hooman beings. There is also a huge dog pram thing going on. Looks like a pram for a baby but it has higher sides and some vents, for the dog, coz it cant walk or anything?! The clothes (and accessories) are a must wear when going out, I havent seen many dogs undressed, I mean in just their fur. Long Long must be seen as a total loser as he has no clothes except his fur, which I think is beautiful. The best dressed dog I saw was wearing a denim skirt and lovely purple t shirt with a diamond brooch.....ok......I wonder about when they do a wee....I did spot someone today wiping the butt of their very large wolfhound, I mean, getting right in there with tail wrenched up in the air with one hand and tissue paper in the other and some serious inspection going on. Maybe I was staring, I think I might have been.....big dogs like wolfhounds and dobermans and rottweilers wear hooman t shirts....or basketball jerseys.....Im sure they wear shoes in winter. Dogs with long hair all have pig tails (thier ears) with brooches in their hair, I dont think they sell many boy dogs with long hair. While I have been doing my research for a vet and a dog hotel (that doesnt cost $400 a night) I found a place that rents a pet. Yep, tragic but if you ever need to get a 'lil chihuawa to go with your outfit, then you can. Problem is these animals are in poor condition and is it any wonder. I think when someone wants a dog to match their outfit they dont plan on it doing a wee or poo or need to eat....stoopid, stupidity if you ask me.

27 April 2008

weekend gone

Noisy but fun for him and fun for me to watch. Strangely he put them all in piles when he was finished so all I had to do was put them back in the cupboard...nice one....
and whats the weekend without a bit of wizzy dizzy action?
My sister taught me how to make good froth with my coffee maker...........oh gee I am so happy!!

26 April 2008

coffee and friends to share with

Wow, coffee, just like at home. I am very excited that I can now make my own special coffees and try to limit to once (or twice) a day....now I just need some good cookies....this might never end....
..and have some great old friends to share in the excitement....

..and even more excitement, I got a new camera for my birthday...........

24 April 2008

illustration friday-primitive

Illustration Friday

my day

I was so lucky to have an amazing day today. Well, the mooch went to day care for half a day and my darling took the morning off work so we could go to buy me a coffee maker, hooray!! We planned to go to one of the most bizarre/interesting places in Tokyo called Kappabashi . It is so interesting you could really spend a lot longer than we did. Everything you could ever imagine you need to operate a food establishment is found here, and it is not that expensive, unless you want to buy a deep fryer etc...We found a nice little coffee maker, so I have had a couple of tries...we also found some Illy coffee beans. At this point I am good at making cappuccino froth. But it is very nice to have a coffee smell in the house and now I can save so much on take away coffee and no more disposable cups!! After the coffee machine purchase, we headed to a very sweet handmade/handmade looking ceramics shop (of which there are many). Of course I needed a nice coffee cup didnt I? I didnt find the perfect one but I got a nice one. We were on the same side of town as my darlings work so we parked nearby and he took me to a lunch spot that he visited the day before and was so impressed he had to return today. It was so cool and definantly only the kind of place you can go to if you have someone show you what to do and some language skills. It is so busy they dont have time, or space, to fuss with a foreigner...anyways, a very, very small dark place with all the tables set with trays and full cups of barley tea. It was 5 to 12pm, so we got a seat and didnt have to line up, by 12pm it was full with 10 people in a line. My loved one was right when he said it is faster than McDonalds and 1 million times better. The speciality is fish, with rice and pickles. Very simple variations are available but it is a verbal menu and most people know what they want. I had the fish with miso flavour. It was so good, fish was fresh and flavour was beautiful. In less than 10-15 mins we were served, eaten and out. They even had all the change in piles as most meals are the same price ($8.80). It was such an awesome Japan experience. I drove home in Tokyo traffic quite enjoying it now. At home, I used to get such anxiety at merging or making a mistake as you get blasted or road raged, but here people let you in, move around parked taxis (which are everywhere) and just go about the job of driving without getting all mad. I was aiming to get home by 1pm to take Long Long to the vet to get his rabies shot, and I made it.

I was supposed to take him to the out door annual vaccination place but I was worried if he had a reaction I knew no vet to take him to. As it turns out there is vet about 10 steps away which is also a dog hotel...and he didnt get a reaction and got his nails cut for free!! Im so happy, I think he is too as he was very waggy tailed tonight!

So, the mooch had a good day with his buddies. I did manage to avoid another supermarket meltdown, which would have shattered a great day. He gave me two seconds warning and started the shrieking and yelling BEFORE I got in the door. Thank goodness. I turned around and walked home. It didnt matter that I needed to get stuff for dinner, I was able to avoid a hugely embarrassing and stressful situation. So, we had ramen noodles for dinner as there is a great shop, also 10 steps away!

20 April 2008


Nature and beautiful things to see are not far from Tokyo. It was a bit of myth I believed that it was too hard to get out of town. It is not true at all, the road and excellent, smooth and free flowing (most of the time), drivers are courteous and if you dont have a car the PT is amazing. We saw some amazing things this weekend, just 2 hours out of Tokyo. There is no end of things to see. I do believe as an Aussie we need our space and getting out of town for the weekend is just a normal thing to do rather than hit the shops with the (literally) millions of other people. I find weekends in the city quite daunting as it is just so crowded. I'm happier to go there mid-week at 10 am, that way if there is a meltdown of the child, its just me and the other Mums...
My beloved loves to use Google map and find a place usually by looking at the satellite image and seeing where there is no real built up areas, pin pointing a location, getting the town name, putting it into the car navigation system and go!! It's too easy. Lucky too, as we are only in Japan for a short time and I dont want it to be 6 months before we leave and feel like we havent done or seen anything of the country.

We went to see waterfalls, beautiful trees, a big cave with lots of dripping water, shrines, rivers, lakes and just lovely, clean, fresh air. AND the biggest bonus is the the mooch has been so WONDERFUL with no screaming or silly stuff at all. It make me so happy when there is calm.

One of the best things about travelling around Japan is those secret finds. The times when you just go down that odd looking road because it looks interesting and invariably there is always somewhere to eat or drink. Today we found a beautiful restaurant/cafe selling handmade soba noodles and tempura. I think one of the tempura veges was a piece of fern leaf. It tasted very nice. The environment of these places share my favourite things, quiet, calm, beautiful food and nice things to look at. Well, it was nice until the mooch fell off the stool and hit his head...but he just cried for a moment as there was very cute birds and stones to look at outside.
Also, a happy anniversary to my dearest darling. 5 years has passed so quickly. We have done a lot and shared many highlights, we are so happy and lucky. I love you. It struck me today the beautiful things in nature we saw reflect our relationship - abiding strength, simplicity, power, beauty and colour.

18 April 2008

brolly etiquette

I find the whole brolly thing fascinating. As an Aussie, rarely does the brolly get a day out, usually only for sunny days, here in Japan, almost as naturally as you put on shoes to go out, you also take the brolly. Of course that is if rain is predicted. I dont know the percentage accuracy of weather forecasts here but I'd have to say its close to 100%. Not only can you find out if it will rain but approximately what time, how cool is that?! There is no such thing as 4 seasons in one day here. Crowded House would never have written that song if they were Japanese! So, today in a moment of madness, I thought I'd go out and get a coffee, in the rain. It's always a challenge with the brolly and the pram. Long Long stays at home on these days. What I didnt realise is that I think some kind of typhoon is coming through......so not only torrential rain but wind so strong it blows you along (and anything you're carrying).....so today I witnessed some etiquette I had not seen before. Even though its raining cats and dogs, everyone puts thier brolly down coz its so damn windy you either lose it to the wind or it gets wrecked from being blown inside out. It was quite amazing to walk along in the rain and see most people wih the brolly down. What was also funny was the HUGE pile of broken brollies piled up at the entrances of most buildings, people just dump them as they go inside. Of course there was someone cleaning them up. Another really cool thing I saw was a brolly drying device. Usually when you go into a shop or building they have long plastic sleeves and a special machine that you put the brolly into and it covers the wet and soggyness, this place might have been a bit more eco friendly and have what look like two white boards mounted on a trolley at ground height. The boards are parallel and have pads stuck on the inside facing each other. So, when you walk into the building you put your brolly in between the boards and shake it so all the water comes off and the pads soak up the water, genius! Then theres the brolly preciousness. You shouldnt have any. I have now lost two brand new brollies because at a restaurant you leave your brolly on the stand with all the others and invariably someone will pick up yours on their way out. So, I think my $5 limit just got reduced to $1....and then theres the lost property. I saw a station master with a huge armful of brollies, all tagged and ready to be returned. Japan is so cool :)

16 April 2008

kick the ball

I took the mooch and the pooch to the big park this afternoon. It has been raining a bit lately and more predicted for the next 3 days. I wish I could send some home. I wanted to take advantage of then nice weather and so did a lot of others, apparently. We had such a nice time kicking the ball around and looking at dogs and all the other people doing all kinds of things, things that we would never see people do at home in Melbourne. Here is a list of what we saw:
  • a guy practising tap dancing on the boardwalk
  • a couple practising juggling
  • a couple practising some kind of routine with pretend swords
  • a guy playing a very strange instrument
  • a girl practicing her trumpet
  • another girl practising her saxaphone (badly)
  • more juggling and circus tricks

and things we would see at home, lots of love/couples, many dogs, drinking, eating, babies and mums, bird watchers, lots of homeless people getting warm...

For a private group of people, it is strange to see practicing things so publicly. My theory is that there is no room at home either physically or because the whole family is there so the park is the only place to be by yourself. It was great! We stopped and looked at a lot of these people doing things. It was like a free revolving concert. And of course we had to stop to pick up stones and dig in the dirt. My old buddy from Australia who I met in Japan a few years back came to see me today. It was so lovely to see her. After all this Aussie-ness this week I'm feeling a bit homesick.

The mooch has been a bit of a ratbag these past few weeks with lots of public screeching and crying, hard to take. I have even resorted to buying a couple of books on how to handle these situations. I used Baby Love a lot in the early days for its practical, no nonesense advice, so thought The Mighty Toddler will give me some heart in those tough times. But, just as I bought those books, he has come good. I think 5 teeth at once has something to do with it? The books will no doubt come out next week for some other reason.......I now say to him "Ma-Ma kiss kiss" and he leans his face towards me so I can give him a kiss. What a little moo.

How worried should I be that two guys were videoing/photographing (with a tripod) my front window today and slunk away when I came home and found them?

illustration friday-fail

Illustration Friday

15 April 2008

bye bye

My big loved one is back in Oz for a couple of days, my little loved one and the hairy loved one are here in Tokyo. We miss Ba-Ba, especially because he is at home where they make good coffee and eveything is familiar. He said it is not the same because we are not there and he doesnt have a home to go to.....but he will be home here soon bringing with him all the goodies I have ordered in a long list. Today I finally got my Japan licence, after two tries at the licencing office, and it didnt even involve a driving test! The whole thing is pretty crazy, after I submitted my paper 10 times after getting the stamps, eye test, photo, and other various things (all on different floors of the building) then I went to pick up the card, on yet another floor, and then got told it will take about another HOUR!! I had been waiting, this time for an hour already. BUT, I really needed it as I was driving only on my Oz licence which you shouldnt do and I was getting a bit paranoid I would get pulled up and then never get my Japan licence!! It is traffic safety week after all.....next thing is the rabies shot for Long Long. They have an annual session where you to go to the specified public place, out front of station, in a park etc and get the shot. It sounds very random to me, but Im sure it is very organised....and I started a new blog, because i take so many photos but dont always know what to say or think they are relevenat to the grassy garden. It has no words, kind of like a photo essay. Its here: one-second life

14 April 2008


We just hung around these very nice snow capped mountains and very clear lake over the weekend. I did not expect to have such beautiful nature so close to Tokyo. Well, Tokyo didnt feel too close on the way home...the drive is over 2 hours one way and although mooch is getting better in the car, he was well and truly over it by the time we got 3/4 home. Yes, you heard it correctly, 3/4...........so, we had a lot of screaming while we sat in the city traffic. Poor little mooch. It was so pretty in this area and we will go back and stay for a few days. I collected some bleached driftwood which I plan to make into some things. I wish I was very clever and could make some furniture as there was a lot of wood, but I am no good at that so I just got some sticks instead. Mini mooch just likes to pile up stones. He really likes stones. Big ones, small ones, rough and smooth. He likes to collect them, hold them or just move them around. He also likes to pour sand on his head.
I had some guests for dinner tonight, my old boss and her family. It was so nice to have some friends and Aussieness.

10 April 2008

I might have stooped too low...

but before I go into that....this dude above was the guy who served me at the licencing place today. When you're sick you wear a surgical mask so you dont cough your goobies all over everyone. I think its a great idea especially on a packed train. Anyway, I have to get my Japan licence which involves a lot of running around just for a simple task. It is these kinds of things that after a while drives you completely mad. So, after a very intense one way discussion, that is, this guy above speaking in very fast Japanese, which I dont understand, except the sit down, sit down, bit. So, after an hour of waiting with 50 million others, knowing I still had to buy some stamps which prove you have paid the licence fee (from another window) then you submit again and wait again, then choose a pin number and submit and wait again.....and I didnt have a passport photo.....luckily my loved one was with me and found a manky one, a few years old in his wallet. I was sure I was going to get told I needed more stuff and I couldnt get it today.........so, then I get a call from daycare to say the mooch has just done some serious poopage and is in a bit of a screaming fit so I might want to come and get him. I KNOW he has 5 teeth coming through at the moment and is a little screecher, so not too surprised by the news but a bit worried. So I collected my 10 bits of information from the guy with the mask. I asked him if it was better to come first thing, he said yes, but they are always busy. I would think so with 50 million customers, 2 counter staff and 2 people processing the licences! We got stuck in serious traffic on the way to pick up the mooch but while on the way got another call to say he had fallen asleep. As it turns out I think they just were covering themselves coz he is fine. Before leaving the licencing place, I did get the stamps after I paid the fee and got a better photo, so I hope to bypass the system a bit and save some time. It also may be my downfall as I didnt follow the proper order....will keep you posted.

I said I may have stooped too low.....well, no one goes through the hard rubbish except the homeless people...and me. There are literally bags and bags of clothes and hard rubbish in the collection spots every week. There are no thrift/op shops so people throw their good stuff in the rubbish!! And , because everyone updates their things every season just about, there is a never ending collection of stuff. It would be so good to have some kind of collection of these things to then send to people who have no clothes. I did meddle with this idea in my last time in Japan...it was going to be the full time work of 10 people and thats just for a town of 4000. Imagine Tokyo....anyway, there was a great Japanese style coffee table, a low one, black laquer, not new but great for a making table with the mooch. I did a few laps, weighing up the options, and then, in the pouring typhoon rain, pushed the mooch in the pram with one hand and carried the rather large table back home. I have cleaned it up and it is great. I so think people saw me, so I am waiting for some back lash. My loved one said 'so youre bringing junk back home now?'...........but he hasnt seen it yet.....

7 April 2008

last days

The cherry blossoms are almost gone. This time is more beautiful than the peak, I think. The cherry blossom petals snow storm as it is known is just so pretty, just about everyone stops still to watch the petals flutter to the ground after a gust of wind.

We have a big window in the staircase and I am trying to make it look a bit nicer as the days go by, so these cherryblossom themed garlands help...mini moo stuck coloured dots on odd ones for extra colour.

You can see the cherry blossom petals like snow on the ground. This is mid-egg and basket race...it wasnt going so well.......but it wasnt long until big smiles and funny noises were back on the agenda.

On another note, today I got my real Tokyo licence. The one you get just from experience. I drove on a couple of expressways, used our new toll card, which means you dont have to stop to pay the toll but you have to drive quite fast through the toll gate so no one hits you from behind...it is so cool, it is just like a credit card but you insert it into a slot in the glovebox. It is a much better idea than the big bulky e-tags at home. I can see why many poeple do not want to stick them to their windows. I also used the navigation system which is about 80% accurate so you still need an idea of where you are going (I didnt really). Mini moo came too so just us two made great progress. The only thing I am really bad at is merging, you have to do it fast and without hesitation. I did it very badly at first but then got the hang of it. It helps if you are bad but the car picks up fairly quickly....I did feel good when I got in the flow, even though I had been passed by about 10 cars. I was like the one at skipping rope just waiting to find the right time to jump in and start skipping...

6 April 2008

hopefully the last time.....

My supermarket journey went from this....
to this in a matter of minutes. It was horrible.....

4 April 2008

home things

I think its nice to have some plants around the home especially when they are as cute as this little beauty. So simply Japanese with a little bit of moss. This little plant and the pot is about the size of a large apple. I also didnt realise how nice it is to have curtains. I have been making do with sheets taped to the windows until my sewing machine arrived. The sewing machine has been en-route to Japan via Korea and Thailand and Malaysia (along with 11 other cartons of our clothes and furntiture) and still not here so I cant wait any longer. Last week two nights in a row, Mr Freaky Peeping Tom decided to make a visit to our bedroom window. This is such a common practice that when I mentioned it to the lady in the curtain shop she kind of rolled her eyes. There was no intent to enter our home (I dont think so anyway) but it is scary and gross that it happened. It is just that it happens all the time and almost everyone you talk to has had an experience like it, or had their underwear stolen from the washing line...f.r.e.a.k.y....anyway, strangely, I dont feel scared. Maybe because we live with shared walls to other houses that if something happened I could yell out.....PT hasnt returned, maybe the new curtains are doing such a good job our place is no longer any good for voyueristic pursuits....I really like our new home, it is shaping up to be in a very good location and is very light and airy, and now we have curtains and plants it feels like we have arrived. Speaking of which there is washing to do and junk to clean up coz my loved one returns home from a long trip soon and I would like the house to be a bit neat.

1 April 2008

new stuff...

A new thing I am working on to coincide with my new website launch, new cards range and 2009 calendar (I know it's early...). It will be available later this year....