27 November 2008

saaamuuiiii (gee its cold)...

It's now serious coats weather, even for the dog :) I dont think its made it to double digits today. But, there is a lot of rain and I'm so happy to see it fall, especially on my grassy garden.

26 November 2008


I finished up my decs for the swap. They have a clip on the back so you can put them on the tree. My hope is that the little nest they are in now will suit any tree type and make it look like a little bird has nested there. I hope to get organised and make my own tree, I am currently using the spikey yucca but it just doesn't say xmas to me .....

I rediscovered the joy of dips. The kind you eat, like hummus etc...dips are hard to find here in Tokyo and really not part of the diet at all. Reflecting on what is found at an Aussie party, dips are right up there. So, we were invited to Thanksgiving at a neighbours on the weekend and we were asked to bring something Aussie....so after beer, I made some dips, lasagne, LAMINGTONS and a couple of other bits and bobs....YUM, it was so nice mixed with all the huge chunks of turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin things...lamingtons were a hit and I guess, they really are tasty and easy to make :)

Just a few weeks until we go home. To say I am excited is an understatement :)

21 November 2008

miso cooking class

M is for miso and G is for a great cooking class!! I do have a lot of photos but genius that I am, I forgot my memory card so they are on the camera but until I get a cable that fits that's where they will stay...so just a little drawing instead :)....there are some good shots of the class in action and the amazing house!! The class was held at a house belonging to a glass artist who makes her living making stained glass windows and of all things, kaleidoscopes...they are so beautiful...and her hobby is painting big canvasses....of course all in her super fab studio in her basement....all complete with a glass kiln....made me jealous because I thought of my work space............. the kitchen bench, usually piled with all manner of non related stuffs and bits and bobs......which I'm not very decisive what to do with so they stay there....until I get sick of looking at them.....ANYWAY...the theme of the class was MISO. That very delicious bean paste which is the base of many Japanese dishes. I was really keen to go to this class as I wanted to broaden my Japanese cooking skills. So the miso paste was handmade earlier this year by a couple of girls in the group....we made about 5 dishes using various meats, veges and combinations. I learned a couple of really basic rules, things I can use everyday so I'm thankful just for those small things. Another bonus was it was all in Japanese.....I miss being immersed in the language, I'm sure my ability would improve out of sight if I had that exposure. Of course I can understand far more than I can speak (just like mooey...!!) so I tried my best and we had a great time. I was so full I couldn't eat dinner but its always good to be full of good food...and boy does Japan do good food :)

20 November 2008

a moment

Look at this winter sunshine.....and its been 4 degrees this morning!! My birds were missing their heads that was the problem...and a little bit of glitter but I didn't need to look deep inside to discover that one :) I still love glitter even though I'm probably a bit too old to wear it these days......so I'm just going to have this little orange cake and coffee and then go to my very first Japanese cooking lesson. The theme is miso. I'm so looking forward to it as these chances are rare in Tokyo :)

17 November 2008


If I told you this shot was taken in Paris you might not think it was that unusual to see such beauty in the city...but this was taken in downtown Tokyo.....and it was so beautiful :) soon all the leaves will be gone....but I think winter is already here....

My xmas ornament swap is going OK...I havent quite resolved what I wanted to but it is happening. I love kirigami, like origami but you cut and fold, not just fold. So, I wanted to include that element....I'm getting there. I have until 10th Dec to get them out so I have plenty of time...amazing....(I visited Yuzawaza today, the biggest craft shop in Tokyo....so I hope some added supplies will help...or maybe its just an excuse to hang out in that store....)

so last night while my computer decided to have a seizure, I did more xmas birds while my loved one worked on fixing its many issues. At once stage, I saw smoke coming out of his collar, so in a useless act of help asked if there was anything I could do...."bring me a hammer" was his reply......so I kept on with the birds....all I can say is that it is wonderful to have a truly skilled IT man about the house to fix up computer problems....if it were left to me I'm sure I would have thought I needed to buy a new one.....

....we did have a nice dinner, home made gyoza dumplings. I have avoided making these as I always thought they were really fiddly but in actual fact they are really easy and so tasty. I wanted to have a kind of 'family dinner making activity' where we could all do a job, but it kind of got a bit complicated so I made them while moo gave bean shoots to Daddy one by one.....it was nice to hang out while making them and talk and just spend the last of Sunday together :)
If you want to have a go:
Finely chop
1/4 Chinese cabbage
1 cup bean shots
4 spring onions
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
3 cm of ginger
a few shiitake mushrooms
mix with:
300-400gms minced pork
season with:
pinch of salt and pepper
soy sauce
fish sauce (the good one)
add enough for your taste
make a watery paste of 2tsp of cornflour and pour into the mix and mix well.
I bought the ready made gyoza skins.
Takes about 20mins to make the mix and 20 mins to fold the dumplings.
You can boil or fry the dumplings......
Dipping sauce can be store bought or simply mix a bit of soy sauce with vinegar

15 November 2008


I have been struggling to find anything interesting to say this week...maybe I'm just a bit homesick and don't want to ramble on about it......just a few weeks now until we leave :)...... today is my loved one's birthday and I wanted to make a nice cake, so his favourite choice is flourless orange cake. I have been looking for sometime for almond meal and I finally found it a few weeks ago. I bought it and have been squirrelling it away until this morning. I found a recipe online, which can always be dodgy.... just because it says it's 'easy and delicious' doesnt always mean that it is....BUT...although this one looked complicated, after a few reads it made sense and now, after making it I can attest it is easy and delicious!! I got it from taste.com.au and here it is:
Melted butter, to grease
2 oranges
3 eggs
215g (1 cup) caster sugar
300g (3 cups) almond meal
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
Orange Syrup
1 orange
155g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
Preheat oven to 170°C. Brush a round 22cm (base measurement) springform pan with melted butter to lightly grease. Line base with non-stick baking paper.
Place the oranges in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain. Return to pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for 15 minutes (this will reduce the bitterness of the peel). Refresh under cold water. Drain. Coarsely chop oranges. Remove and discard any seeds.
Place the orange in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.
Use an electric beater to whisk the eggs and sugar in a bowl until thick and pale. Add the orange, almond meal and baking powder and gently fold until just combined. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside for 15 minutes to cool.
Meanwhile, to make the orange syrup, use a zester to remove the rind from the orange. (Alternatively, use a vegetable peeler to peel the rind from orange. Use a small sharp knife to remove white pith. Cut rind into thin strips.) Juice orange.
Place rind in a saucepan of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes or until soft. Drain. Return to pan with orange juice and sugar. Place over low heat and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves and the syrup thickens.
Turn cake onto a serving plate. Use a skewer to gently prick the top. Spoon over syrup. Cut into wedges to serve.

I dont have a big tin so I used a muffin tin and made mini cakes (takes about 15mins on 170 degrees). They turned out SO well!!
A muffin sized mini cake was a bit too small to put all the lettered candles spelling Happy Birthday so I made a slightly bigger one so we will wait until later to see how many fit :)...I also wrote and illustrated a small book for his gift and had it printed at Blurb which has yet to arrive although it has been shipped. I can't wait to see how it looks...now I have a lot more ideas about these little custom books. Coming up with a truly original idea takes a lot of hard work. I think I worked on this birthday book idea over 4 or 5 months....and scrapped at least 4 works in progress....

12 November 2008

xmas swap

This year I have joined in the freshly blended xmas decoration swap. I joined in 2 xmas's ago sending off my little birds just days before the mooch was born. Last year was a little crazy around that time so with some headspace this year I'm looking forward to making and sending some new fashioned goodies all over the world :) noice

10 November 2008

nikko revisited

There is a loop around the very famous Nikko outside of Tokyo. It is a decent drive from Tokyo but well worth it. It is peak time to visit the autum leaf shows in various areas and this is no exception. We chose the road slightly less travelled (because there are almost no roads in Japan that are free of other peoples...) and wound our way through the mountain ranges seeing some beautiful shows of colours, sweet nature smells and rivers (angry ghost river) and water falls. It was lovely.

Of course no day is complete without trying some local foods.....or getting out the chopsticks...

handmade soba with local mushrooms....so tasty. Luckily there was a small shop outside this place where we bought another pack of fresh mushrooms and we ate them for dinner...always one of those moments you wish you had bought 2 or 3 packs....

we found an old digger which kept us occupied for a while...

but this lovely park nearby was the best place to run around and breathe some air and enjoy having some space and leaf piles...

and look at the nice scenery...I wish we had brought Long Long, he would have been so happy to run here :)

further into the mountains we spotted cows and a roadside stop.....by now it was 2 degrees.....brrr....I got a coffee after being very excited at seeing the sign below....and above, if thats not a clever link sell then Im not sure what is!!...................by the way it was the best take away coffee I have had in a while...............

never ending surprises of prettiness and colour....

and a winding road took us to the misty waterfall and restaurant.....we decided not to walk the almost 1km to the waterfall, it was getting a bit late and cold and a few too many peoples and with a long drive ahead and Long Long inside all day it was time to get going.....another wonderful Japan day :)

7 November 2008

i did it

The grass is now grown.....and before winter has hit!! I am so impressed at how easy this was in a place where water is abundant. Success!! Who would have thought it was possible from this.....Now, we wont mention those real disbelivers in the house who are now so happy to sit on this lovely natural green carpet, will we?!.......there are still a few more tea party weather days before the real chills arrive......more excuses to make chocolate cupcakes...mmmmm

5 November 2008

more cake

mmmmm......tasty AND tactile...what more could you ask for?

4 November 2008

kids party

This image pretty much sums up the 3rd birthday party we went to last weekend. It was a lot of fun, loud and enjoyable. It was for a little friend who is a pretty special kid given he has had 4 open heart surgeries in his short life. The food was so great, like nothing I had seen at a party, sweet potato and pumpkin cupcakes, crepes with either banana or ham/cheese/cucumber (you could make your own combo) birthday cake was cheese cake, stewed pears.....not one lolly, coke or junk toy in sight. Even the leaving gift was a very cute pair of socks rolled up and wrapped! The only bummer was the drive home, it took over an hour to drive about 5km......Tokyo traffic...hideous.....but the mooch was a legend and hardly complained at all :)

2 November 2008

happy halloween part 2

Inspired by a cat I made recently and a conversation after with a super sweet friend, I decided our costumes for Halloween would follow the Owl and the Pussycat theme......great and grand plans to try and spend a little and create a lot ensued.....

but not before some snacks for the picnic were planned...choc and choc chip mini cupcakes.....

I was to be the pussycat, black clothes and a mask, easy peasy...the elaborate costume was for the moo...the little owl.....so I collected some goodies, paint, coffee drip filters and old scarf made from fleece fabric and some elastic. My plan was to make a kind of cape and have the feathers made from the coffee filter papers and to have a kind of mask that was more of a headband with the face of both owl and pussycat attached...so....

I cut out some basic shapes and painted them with a sponge using brown paint. I then used calligraphy ink to paint quickly the shape on each "feather"....

roughly cutting the fabric and pinning on each feather I attached them by sewing them in rows until...

an owl cape!! I planned to put elastic on each corner to put around his wrists to keep it from slipping off but then thought it should be as simple as possible to get off if needed so I planned to secure it at the front of the neck with a small clip pin BUT....

this was as close as it got to his body.......he hated it and screamed everytime it came near him....

1 November 2008

happy halloween part 1

We dont really celebrate Halloween so it was quite fun to go to a party and get dressed up. There were quite a few houses in the area completely decked out with all kinds of stuff. This party was in a local park and there was a schedule of games and activities to join in. It really was lovely and to see the orange/green coloured costumes against the autumn leaves.

There was also a real pumpkin, huge and shiny and perfect for a lot of little people to climb all over...

of course the attention span of a two year old is only so much......

but when the game involves bashing something then moo is right there! I guess being away from home exposes you not only to the culture of the country you live in but also those of others who you mix with. It is an added bonus. We will go to a Thanksgiving party in a couple of weeks, nice :) If you notice moo is not wearing a costume, there is a reason...I will add the details in my next post.....