Saturday, April 27, 2013

Posies





I've recently discovered that I love playing around with flowers. It's very much something that I look forward to, once or twice a week.

This week I opted for some simple roses and carnations to bring some cheer to my humble abode. It sorta reminds me of the fleurs I see in Tokyo or even in Europe.

I love that they are bright and naturally really happy looking! Funny how colors can really make our day!!

Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tokyo - A Day in Jiyugaoka

When we were in Tokyo last year, my dear friend Z highly recommended that we had to visit this little township of Jiyugaoka during our stay there. She, of all things awesome and crafty, said I would love it!

It didn't take much for us to find our way there one morning. We got onto the subway at Shinjuku, changed for another one at Shibuya and we were well on our way there. (if I remember correctly. =p)

Jiyugaoka, a town rated most livable by women in their thirties to forties, feature a wide array of Zakka stores. It is truly a very lovely place to spend a day in and one that I was very excited to explore. We absolutely had a ball being 'lost' there.


If you are in the market for home decorative items or just fun lifestyle stuff, this is the hood to be in. The zakka stores are beyond amazing. We wandered in and out of the stores, mostly with a paper bag full or stuff. It was a really bad day for the bank account, I'd tell you that much!

We loved hanging out there. It was a very chilled out place to be in. We literally didn't wanna leave when the day ended. =)



I loved the little discoveries we made, like this coffee stand in a VW camper van. How charming was this set up? (although it came with a grouchy coffee lady).  Couldn't resist getting a cuppa from there and stole a couple of shots.





The kids were a little famished at the end so we stumbled upon the J.S pancake cafe. (There are several around in Tokyo) It sits on the third storey of a clothes store called Journal. As the name suggests, there were pancakes of all varieties, shapes and form here. And everything was DELICIOUS. We had the house special pancakes and until today, I'm still thinking about how soft and fluffy it was.

I really liked the restaurant fit out they had too! It was like dining in someone's home.


Humungous Pancakes - Only picture I managed cos every one had their hand or mouth in the others!
Mei Mei took charge of story time.
Who wants seconds??!

Another store I loved was the Popeye's camera store.

Popeyes is such a whimsical fun store to be in. There's plenty of little corners stuffed full with photography and art stuff to browse. We were there during the new year so they were selling the Fukubukuro bags, which were such great value. They had a lomo camera in them, picture albums, washi tapes, etc. It was all for 10 000 yen. I'd grab one but the husband had better ideas and we ended up walking out with the new Instax 8 for the kids. =)




Here's taking you, Mama!
Wasn't kidding when I said we shopped up a storm.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Crafty Mondays - Cardbox Derby Cars


I was over at Oh Happy Day's website the other day when I saw a  post on a soapbox party! The cupboard cars look mighty rad so I thought we should do a project just like that at home since my kids are CRAZY about anything car related and arts & crafts! What a win win situation it was.

I really like that most of the materials we used were recycled like the cardbox boxes. (I asked the kind folks at a bookshop really nicely, and they gave me two. I took one from the recycling bin at my apartment.) I did end up buying some rope and paint but most of the things were lying around my place and ready for use.

We got down to painting the boxes on Friday evening and left the boxes to dry overnight... before decorating them on Saturday. It took a fair bit of adults involvement with all the box cutting and paper cutting. Once that was done, the kids had their go in decorating the cars to their liking. It was very gratifying seeing the final products. They were well worth our efforts I really really liked how each car reflects their own individual personality. It was very cool!

The kids all had fun with the project and we have been having a few "car" chases at home. =)

Step one down.
Kate putting her touch on the headlights.
The cars brigade!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

<3


This man...

is probably the best thing I got out of college. (Sorry Dad and Mom!)

His generosity has really struck me at times when I don't expect or deserve it.

I have some travel itch to scratch and he wasn't able to take time off work. So he gamely suggested that I do a trip with the gals. Somehow, the stars were all aligned and everyone was able to make the trip so here I am... off on a short trip with them in a few weeks!

Being the typical mom, I worry if the kids would be ok without me. I mean, who's going to cook, drive them around and prep them for school? But he's assured me that it will be O-K! (Or don't go, he teased.) I love that he has always been the active parent and he is always ready to take over when I am not around.

So yes... I am going to take some time off to explore with my gals. Here's hoping my mommy heart can take the goodbyes when I leave. =) Can't wait!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Blood Orange Sorbet


I never like weekends when the husband is away. (which has been rather often lately.) It makes everything a little bluer, somehow.

So in order to make everything shine a little brighter (and as a treat for my older son), we got into the kitchen and made a big tub of blood orange sorbet. It is absolutely one of my favourite flavours out there and I can never resist ordering it when I see it on the menu.

I was ecstatic to find blood oranges on sale in my local supermarket. And, immediately, I knew that I had to make some sorbet with them. It was a no brainer! I roped in my sous chef to help me with the preps and he did an excellent job juicing the oranges for me whilst I prep the syrup.


In no time, we quickly had our base prepped and into the refrigerator. It was such an easy recipe to follow. I played around with the sugar level because we don't really fancy it too saccharin sweet and managed to find a good balance in between.


After letting it chill in the fridge for a couple of hours, I left it to churn in my ice cream maker and voila! a tub of citrus goodness appeared! I highly recommend that you give it a try. =)

Blood Orange Sorbet

Ingredients
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Zest of 1-2 blood oranges
Juice of 6-7 blood oranges

Steps
1. Combine the zest, sugar and water in a small pot and boil until the sugar melts.
2. Add the juice to the mixture
3. Chill the juice in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours. (till it's cold)
4. Churn in the ice cream maker. (and freeze after)

There, wasn't kidding when I said it was easy. =)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dinner Party Tip from the Boy

The other night, the kids volunteered to set the table when I was cooking dinner.

"Everything is set,  Mum", said the son.

Then to my amusement,  he asked " Hey! Do we have the cloths?"

"What sort?" I asked

"You know, the ones where we use to wipe our mouths?"

"Ooohhh... you mean napkins? Err we don't have those."

"What? You know, I think we should definitely get some." 

"Err.. OK?!"

Looks like Mama here has a Martha Stewart in training. =) 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fleurs

One of my weekly highlights, is visiting the florist.

It could be the stall that I patronize at my local market or it could be the wholesale market down at Thomson.

I love looking through the bunches of flowers on display and picking up just a few to put in our home. I  love mixing and matching the blooms and seeing how the landscape changes with all the different colours. =)

Do flowers make you happy too?


Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Bills at Omotesando


The gals and I were talking about cooking the other day, when suddenly the word "Bills" came up.

Bill's in this case is, of course, Bill Granger who is known for his famous ricotta pancakes. *slurp*

It reminded me of our trip to Tokyo where we were crunching our minds for brunch when my dear friend, Zhing, suggested that we hop into his restaurant at Omotesando. (oh the shopping!) We've been to the ones in Sydney and so it is very much comfort food for us. 

However, this outlet in Tokyo is miles miles better than the ones back in Australia. 

The minute I walked in, I fell in love with the fit out. The open bookshelves with stacks of glorious books. The light was amazing that day. It was like dining in a friend's gorgeous loft. I took so many pictures that day, it's not funny.

We ordered the usual suspects of pasta, steak sandwiches and, of course, ricotta pancakes. The trademark smoothies were delish, as well. All of which were done to simple perfection. It wasn't fancy but it was what we needed after days of glorious Japanese food. 

We left the place such happy campers that we went back again a few days later. =)


Monday, April 08, 2013

Tea for Three


Monday mornings are especially sweet today.

Little K laid out all of her picnic ware and we had a little tea party in the middle of our living room with her stuffed bunnies. We sipped tea, had toast. She regaled us with her funny little tales. She chided her Daddy for not having some table etiquette by eating his toast without a proper plate. 

Look who's the grown up in this relationship!

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Icing


There is something comforting about a pound cake. 

I grew up snacking on Sara Lee, the frozen pound cake and it was all I've ever known about this buttery goodness. That is, until I started baking my own cakes and realised that the freshness of pound cakes that come out of the oven that cannot be beat.


It was a friday evening when I attempted this lemon pound cake.  I'd just bought the new Donna Hay magazine and was rather keen to try some of the recipes in there. It was the end of a long week and I think the kids (and I) need a sweetener to start the weekend. 

Pound cake recipes are pretty known to be a quarter of butter, sugar and flour. However, this one used half the volume of butter, making it taste a lot lighter when it's freshly baked. The best part is, all the work is done on my Kitchenaid. Lazy baker is me, I'd supposed! 

Voila!
As an extra icing (pun intended) on the cake, I mixed up a quick lemon icing frosting to drizzle over the cake. It really make the lemony taste pop! Really glad I added that. =)

The kids got to the cake before I managed to take a pic of the full cake. It's definitely something I will revisit.

Scroll down for the recipe.

All ready to be popped into the oven.

Here's what you need

Lemon Pound Cake (adapted from Donna Hay)
Ingredients
1.5 cups (225g) of plain all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
120g unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup (125ml) milk

Lemon icing
juice of 1-2 lemons
150g icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius
Sift the gour and baking powder into a bowl and set aside
Place the softened butter and lemon rind into an electric mixer and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes or until smooth
Gradually add the sugar (scrapping the sides of the bowl with a spatula), continue beating for 5-6 minutes or until pale and creamy.
Add the eggs, one at a time.
Reduce the speed to low.
Gradually add the flour mixture and the milk, alternating, and occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl, until smooth.
Spoon into a lightly greased loaf tin (approximately 2 ltr capacity) double lined with baking paper.
Bake for approximately 60 minutes or until cooked (tested with the skewer)
Allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes.

Once the cake is cooled, mix the lemon icing.
Add the icing sugar in a small bowl and gradually add the juice in. 
Stir it till it becomes a thick paste before drizzling over the cake.
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