19 December 2010

2010 xmas cards

I couldn't bring myself to buy store bought cards since making them is so easy and so much fun!
A few simple ingredients meant a quick craft project and Christmas card problem solved. First part is a potato stamp with a random shape chosen, glitter and coloured, chopped foil....
using the stamp for shapes and as a kind of glue.....
and sprinkling the foil to decorate....
finished with a healthy dose of glitter...I must ensure the loose stuff is stuck down so when the envelope is opened, it doesn't look like out backyard did....heeellllooo sparkles!! I also made a simple illustrated version for 2010 which you can see here, so now I have two choices.....I had better hurry up and put them in the mail or they will be for 2011.......

27 November 2010

summer project

I have a summer project in mind and its nearly summer and I haven't really made much progress on it. The goal is to have a nice garden environment to sit in, relax in and have dinner or brekky or just hang out. We have a great yard but after all, it is a square of pavers, surrounded by pretty garden. I want to create a nice space using recycled, renovated or second hand furniture and to have a mixture of things to sit or lay on. Since my creativity is limited to cooking dinner at the moment, its nice to have a small creative project to focus on. The painted pieces above are a small daybed bought from the op shop. Its needs some tlc and a few layers of undercoat finished with a bright red top coat should make it an outstanding addition to the summer project. The base of this daybed is the old spring type, so after some measuring and visits to bunnings, I will replace the saggy springs with pine slats. The last thing to be added is the mattress. That bit is easy. I have visions of very nice matching handmade fitted sheets in blue polka dots or gingham...but at this stage, with constant rain, I will be lucky to finish the paint job by xmas....I do love a project though so I'm happy about it and hopeful we can use it on xmas day, since this year we will host the lunch.
This is Long Long enjoying his part of the garage sale haul from around the corner....a new $1 rug. I also found an old BBQ table and teaming it with the chairs we already had, I'm well on the way to having a great place to hang out. Now, if it will just stop raining!!

14 November 2010

mango season

Mango season makes me very happy, not only because I love mangoes, but I love the onset of summer. This year, especially the Xmas shop assault, doesn't seem to have happened too quickly, in fact, I'm quite excited to see all the decorations in the shops. Its also getting warm, much rain, but also warm.....it seems like the blink of an eye since we went to Tokyo and now a few months has passed, life has returned to normal, a wedding and a birthday and other dates have passed....all the while keeping busy, still keeping up with my running hobby, which is now even more enjoyable for instead of running in the cold and pitch black of the morning, I can see pink and purple sunrises, lunchtime runs are now along pathways with fluffy, leafy trees.....life moves on, my little moo turns 4 in a few weeks, amazing, so he has instructed me about the type of party he wants, a small affair, with a karate kid theme.......since my time in now limited I'm not sure the party will be as well planned as some of the ones Ive seen others do, but the most important thing is that the DAD of the house keeps to his promise of being Mr Han, the karate (or kung fu) teacher, then all should be OK!!........

24 October 2010

tokyo report - food

I have blogged about visiting this restaurant before, it IS a truly Japanese only experience and it was high on my list to go back to. As with all restaurants, for a first time visit, it can be hit and miss, so we didn't want to waste a dinner on an average meal, so we scheduled each night a favourite place. This is on the very top. We sat again, in front of the chef, and we were the only customers. The menu is laid out above, handwritten on washi paper....as each dish was placed in front, we went through it in the menu....

..appetiser was as follows starting with the spoon and going clockwise, yuba - the skin of tofu, with a sauce, sea urchin - which I cant eat, spinach with tofu, soft and skinned eggplant, renkon or lotus root.....beautiful mix of crunchy and soft, sweet and salty, slippery and dry....tonight has an Autumn theme, using the most ripe and fresh ingredients...
followed by very big and meaty soya beans or edamade...
...very slightly flavoured soup with the famous matsutake mushroom (the one that can cost upwards of $100 for one mushroom....), included, fillet of barracuda, which was skillfully prepared in front of us. See top photo and notice the spear in the eye to give stability while he fillets the fish....
...preparing the next dish of the most amazing sashimi...
...this is how you prepare fresh wasabi....when I lived in Shimane, it grew wild on the side of the road.....
...there it is in the front, green and rich. I have never eaten the crispy garlic with sashimi but the flavour and texture contrast was just amazing.....
this is the small area he makes his magic...
this basket contained, 2 kinds of grilled fish, more matsutake mushroom, chestnut, ginko nuts and small kind of lime, all served on seasonal foliage...this was my favourite dish.....it was hard to choose!!!
next dish...grilled chicken with a miso paste sauce and small grilled veges which taste a bit like capsicums..
another incredible soup dish containing a slow cooked sweet mackerel, mushrooms, a kind of tofu make with flour, beautiful and delicate...
This was a beautiful noodle dish again with matsutake mushrooms, fish and green herbs....
the second last dish was fresh fruit of nashi pear and persimmon....
crunchy and sweet.....
followed by the last dish....I couldn't fit it all in...but I did try...it is made from sweet potato and inside has sweet red bean paste and a chestnut in the middle. It is very sweet and beautiful served with bitter green tea. The dusting of cinnamon not only smelled beautiful but tasted amazing
.....incredible!! This is truly a Tokyo secret! If you are going to Tokyo and you want the details let me know. This kind of food and the service around it is totally Japanese and totally unforgettable!!

16 October 2010

delayed - tokyo report 1

Tokyo is a shoppers paradise, not only for its never ending supply of stuff to buy but the beautiful and clever way things are advertised, marketed and displayed...the icebergs created above are simply styrene foam......clever and breathtaking....a beautiful window display
the always familiar subway symbols, don't let the simplicity trick you, even after a couple of years using the Tokyo system, we still managed to get lost at Shinjuku station.....Its easy to forget the confusion you often feel when faced with non stop torrents of people that swell in and outside of the station....peak hour at Flinders Street feels like a little country town by comparison...
I love the illustration style of many, many signs, it is always so refreshing to see loose texts, little drawings and cute characters...Tokyoites are very accepting of colourful and pretty signs that send the message and that are well outside of the standard text list that we come to expect from signage and advertising here in Australia...I also notice how very seasonal signage is, even the biggest of chain stores have different illustrations and signs to advertise their latest gear.....
my favourite colours, this is for a very, very upmarket department store.....of course the standard LOFT, Tokyu hands and MUJI are always beautifully displayed but hopelessley overblogged....I did shop there of course, I LOVE those shops!! I love how in every store even the tape that is used on your purchase bag has a small illustration or thankyou message. It was a treat to return to Tokyo. It did rain, a lot, and the one pair of shoes I took with me took a hiding. Again I love the style of Tokyo peoples, rain hail or shine, they look so cleverly styled, beautiful objects, bags, umbrellas, rain boots......sorry for my delay, the next and final impression is of the food. Because I have spent a number of years in Japan, the funny things that I first noticed don't seems so funny or unusual any more, I found I didn't take photos of any of those things this time around....also, for the first time, we left Mooey with my parents. It was wonderful to have some time to be late, have a few extra beers if we wanted to and wander aimlessly... but this joy only lasted a couple of days, when a huge hole started to open up in my heart....it got bigger each day until I was left alone in Tokyo, my husband had moved onto the next country, my son was at home with my parents, my family and friends in Oz and I was by myself in a hotel room. I have not felt such depths of loneliness in a long time.......This was followed by a very long flight home...such joy to come home and see Mooey. What a wonderful trip!!

9 October 2010

tokyo report

I have been back from Tokyo for a week and it was just so much fun! This is my last snapshot of the rice fields leaving Narita. It was wonderful to go back to a very familiar place, visit old haunts, see lovely people who don't change (who just get better) and eat and shop myself silly and experience real rain again!! Of course, returning home to Oz was ever so sweet to see my darling little moo who coped beautifully while we were away (mostly because of my awesome family effort, thankyou xxx).....more photos and sweet memories to share after I process my photos!!

12 September 2010

Dear Tokyo!

Guess what? In the next few weeks I will be back to visit you! I'm so looking forward to catching up! I'm sure there are plenty of new things you can show me. Yippee!!

smashed pinata!

Last weekend we celebrated Fathers Day with the smashing if a pinata. The blindfold wasnt allowing us to progress so we just took the bat to the ball. It was fun! But a little difficult to smash open...
Between the Dad and the boy, they managed to crack it open and all the coloured foil rained down onto us, and a few smarties....good times...
....laying sadly on the ground....a good party game indeed!

5 September 2010

design by kids

We are pretty happy to see the end of winter although the rain seems never ending. I ran around Albert Park lake this week for the first time. Its so nice with palm trees and many baby swans playing with their parents. Running in different places around Melbourne is such a fun way to explore new places and learn new routes.

I copied a little drawing by moo onto a tote bag then stitched the lines. It is a good solution for a man bag needing some prettiness without being too girly.....

Happy Fathers Day to all the Dads out there. To celebrate with the Dad in our family, moo and I made a pinata, which we are about to smash open.

29 August 2010

time for the flowers

It is time for the magnolias and blossoms to open and show their pretty faces. Unlike Japan, people dont go crazy for them here in Melbourne. The shops are not crammed with seasonally branded foods and drinks and there isn't anyone sitting beneath the trees having picnics and drink ups. In fact, there is no nightly weather map stating what will be blooming when and where! The trees say to me "here I am am", and they are on every corner and in every ones garden, but its only when I stop and look and smell and see that I can truly appreciate the moment. In Japan its more the people shouting "look at the blossoms"....... Either way, you can only enjoy them for about a week, a most magnificent and beautiful week, where they don't wait for you to make up your mind. I'm not sure which style of appreciation I prefer, maybe I like both in its correct context.....

....as for Spring rain and the raising of a boyish boy, what can I say? What does he say "LOOK AT ME!!!"....just like the blossoms......luckily for me, I can look at him my whole lifetime!

14 August 2010

sky and ground

Feeling happy in the middle....this week slowing down. I finished reading The Pact by Jody Picoult...a bit depressing I thought, now onto The Book Thief, much brighter. This past month I have bumped into a lot of old faces I have known, an old uni friend at the station from maybe 15 years ago, my step brother walking along a city street, an old boyfriend of my sisters at a restaurant, a person I helped recently, in his own workplace this time, him helping me. I really love that feeling of an unexpected surprise in seeing an old face, something very happy, unless its someone you would rather not see again as long as they lived....which is just as possible.

7 August 2010

what a week!

This week saw my parents in law stay with us for 7 days. It feels like our duty has been done for another year. During that time, Mooey got sick, we took him to the doctors to find out he had ear infections in both ears and croup, sick and grumpy. On this day, while my husband went swimming, some lowlife took his shoes, leaving him without anything to wear. Why would someone do that? Pressure was rising.....Thankfully, we have survived the week intact, and today, a sunny day, after a miserable week of weather, adds to getting back to a normal week, and the thawing out we are all feeling, while Mooch is gets better everyday :)
This guy was the winner with the parents in laws affections, extra snacks, cuddles and walks!!...I'm sure he is feeling quite sad now there is no extra bacon 'accidentally' dropped on the floor!!.....
....and to warm our slightly dampened hats, this lovely, careful and kind table set up in a nearby street. There are bags provided in case you want more than 1 or 2. Not that this counters the bad-ness of the shoe stealing episode but is enlightening to know there are also good deeds done, wanting nothing in return, just or the sake of it.

1 August 2010

busy days and weeks

Already August?!...Isn't it amazing, this year has really, really flown. I am not sure of the formula of how to slow down time, to make every moment count. I guess it is impossible to count every single moment, just appreciate the special ones...like the sharing of the one marshmallow between three, the scooter bike riding in the smooth carpark, the very nice simple dinner, the trip to the Japanese grocery store and fresh sushi for lunch, the very sweet customer who bought me chocolate for helping him, the super colleagues who support each other through very busy days, the sister who cooks scones and jam and cream just for a Sunday visit, the brother in law who shares his job highs, the Mum who drives 100km to see all the family, the hug from the husband through thick and thin times, the impromptu 'I love you Mummy', the nuzzle and excited tail wag from the whippet, the call from an old friend, the new found therapy in running alone, the Nana who rings to tell me about the train delays...in fact, there really are a lot of moments I have savoured, now I look at it, each day is in fact well lived.

27 July 2010


I saw a few blossoms this weekend, how exciting! Then, I came home from work and it wasn't pitch black, so, it means, winter is almost over, hip, hip hooray!! I don't mind the cold but the short days mean much less excitement...

24 July 2010

i ran it - and new apps

yep, I got the hipstamatic app and its sooo fun!!......and I also ran the fun run with my sister last weekend, also a lot of fun......I managed 10km in under 55 mins!!

17 July 2010

the run

As a fun activity to do with my sister, I signed up for a fun run. Its 10km. This is far for me but, I have been training during my lunch breaks. Finding myself in the botanical gardens in the middle of the day with the birds and other laughing families has been a beautiful interruption to my madly busy days. My sister is very fit so if she gets bored she can go on, we talked about it, but now I'm not sure if she will sacrifice a good time to leave me....I know I can do it and now its happening it feels very exciting, not that I have ever felt excited about a running race before. I got a number and everything, and a small timing device you put on your shoes. If I can do it in an hour that will be good for me....I got some golden pom poms so Mooey can cheer us on, along with our devoted husbands!!......it shall be fun and even after the race, I will continue the lunchtime meanderings in and around this lovely city.

11 July 2010


This weekend with family at a lovely beach spot...a treasure...fish and chips followed by beach exploration.....

......pose with candy stripes...aren't the kids enjoying themselves?!....

4 July 2010

a usual dinner - fish

Here's the steps to a pretty normal dinner in our fish crazy house. For some reason, recently, we have been eating a lot. Life in Japan certainly educates about including a lot of fish and fish products in your diet, and has an amazing availability of options, and cooking and presentation.......endless....maybe we are starting to miss those incredible rows of fish and seafood.....here in Melb, the Vic market has some pretty good choices and good prices too. Above is a mackerel and snapper, 2 mackerel and one snapper was about $12, fresh and beautiful and shiny, no smelly smell and not frozen! Lovely!
Some help to wash and be familiar with fish and what they look like and what they do and where they come from....lots of funny talking.....the fish monger can clean the scales and/or guts if you ask them to.

The snapper is prepared with salt and olive oil rubbed all over and to be steam cooked in a bamboo steamer. These simple toppings of spring onions, ginger, salted soy beans and plum sauce can be put inside and on top of the fish which then goes in the bamboo basket.
While the fish is being steamed, this little bowl of spring onion, soy sauce and sugar rests until just before being served. Added is very hot olive oil to mix and dissolve the sugar and whole lot is poured over the cooked fish.
This is how we steam, with a little bit of water in a wok with the bamboo steamer on top. It takes about 10 to 15 mins to steam that size snapper - about 1kg a - little more.
Finish! Served with snow peas stir fried with lots of garlic and salt. It takes about half an hour to prepare and cook this dish and for 3 people costs about $4 or $5 per person and that includes a bowl of rice. We try to eat fish two or three times a week. Tonight I will cook the mackerel, just coat in oil and roll in salt and grill until crispy. It is eaten directly off the bones, Japanese style! Takes 10 to 15 mins and cost is less then the snapper dinner!