Saturday, 19 April 2014

Muffin Tin Dinners Still Rock…

We started doing theses muffin tin dinners when Ebi-kun was 2 and he still loves them! Now he is big enough to make his own though! Sadly, we don't tend to have them now except for the holidays since he has school dinners.

From the top, clockwise…
Boiled egg, cucumber slices, strawberries, parma ham, tomatoes, pineapple, cheese in the middle and macapone on homemade bread.

Friday, 18 April 2014

On A New Kick…

Ebi-kun has got a new 'thing' with his writing. He started off with Mozart a couple of weeks ago and since then he has done Da Vinci, Sea Animals, Hybrid Cars and the latest being Andy Warhol. 

He starts off by doing a brain storm about the subject matter, using books or the Internet to find out the information he needs and makes notes as he goes along…

Then he uses the information to write a 'story' about the subject. This is working really well at the moment, as he gets to choose what to write about, he is using his research and reading skills and then writing skills. After he has finished I get to check he work, I don't correct anything, instead I will tell him I can find 3 spelling mistakes and 1 grammar error or whatever, and challenge hint o find them. Sometimes he does other times he doesn't. This helps me understand what is just a silly mistake and what he is really struggling with. Capital letters at the start of a sentence is one that he trips up on all the time, so I get hint o check and correct those before I even look at it.

He has a lined notebook with 22 lines per page and he generally fills a page with each subject, I hope as he continues he will start to write more but for now, I am happy for him to write as much as he needs to.

As long as he is enjoying doing it, that is the most important thing for me and I'm sure it will be fun looking back at his stories in a few years time!

Top Tip: If your child gets through paper like there's no tomorrow - buy them notebooks and sketch pads. Seriously, the boy draws and writes all the time and we would end up with realms and realms of bits of paper. Moving him onto notepads and sketch books has made a huge difference plus now I don't worry about throwing out that all important scrap of paper!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Being Location Independent…

One of my big goals is to have a completely location independent business, so that if we ever need to up and leave, we can and still have money coming in plus I want to be able to take long trips abroad and still be able to keep my biz ticking over.

It all started by changing my sewing patterns from paper to digital, I was bit nervous that people wouldn't want to buy digital patterns but how wrong I was, they soon started outselling the paper ones, it wasn't as hard as I though it would be! Although I don't do much advertising with the patterns these days, I sell them through Etsy and Craftsy and still making money every week from them which is rather nice!

My Organized Chaos is my main biz now and both the MOC course and Clear The Clutter are set up in a way that I can work on them from anywhere and that people from anywhere can join. I love that the courses are so international and I'm sure it makes it more interesting for the members because they are constantly learning new things about other countries way of doing things.

Another great thing is that we have a number of cool artisan cafes dotted about, all within biking distance, so I can go and work out of the house too. Working from home is great - no commuter trains for starters but it can feel a bit stagnant being stuck in the same place, so I like to go and work out and about at least once a week.

This cafe is my current favourite haunt, they have a simple menu of 4 different lunch dishes which they change each month, and a couple of sandwiches and they make their own pasta and bread. The food is top notch. They also roast their own beans, so the coffee is lovely too! 

The chef had come up with a new type of dessert the other day, asked me to sample it and name it! I am useless at names but it was a nice gesture!

Going out somewhere to work also means getting some fresh air, it is so easy to just stay in all day, doesn't feed the mind of the soul. Luckily my hay fever hasn't been too bad this year and the weather has been gorgeous, the change from winter to spring always happens so fast here. I must admit, it is very pretty come spring time…

So, I have the second Montessori Inspired book in the works and a small book on the go too, plus My Organized Chaos course is getting a make-over! Watch this space for more exciting things to come…

Monday, 14 April 2014

Our annual event…

in the garden!

We don't have much of a garden, which is just as well considering my gardening skills - or lack of! We haven't touched it all winter so after lunch yesterday we decided, on a whim to go and buy some new plants. Of course, that meant we had to clean up the mess and pull up all the weeds before we could get potting plants…

Hopefully we have made a better choice this time! We did try the square foot garden way but it wasn't all it was cracked up to be and so we have ditched that system. Succulents seem to fair quite well under my gardening regime so I was all for just filling the garden with them but hubby wasn't having any of it! We did get a fair few and I put my foot down regarding marigolds - we always buy them and within a week they have been eaten!

Ebi-kun refuses to get rid of his first bike so we are attempting to turn it into a garden feature! Hmm yeah, we will see how that goes! I want to have a basket on the back with some flowing kinda flowers in it (you can see my garden skills shin through, I am clueless about plant names!)

The other hardcore plant we have got is the rosemary, which all went a bit mental last year, hubby cut it back to about 1/4 of it's size, we need to keep it under control, we still have lemon balm popping up everywhere after that crazy experiment. So the centre box is now all herbs and the big box is a bit of a hodge podge. We found a blackberry plant and rhubarb… yeah I know, what were we thinking! At least it is looking a bit tidier, this time of year it is nice to sit out during the day and now most of the kids are in school, it is pretty peaceful too!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Andy Warhol - 15 Minutes Eternal

Monday was the last day of school break and since we had everything ready I thought we should do something fun. I checked the listings for things on in Tokyo then remembered that most museums are closed on a Monday - bugger! BUT, then I spotted the Andy Warhol Exhibition on at the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi - perfect!

The only drawback is the trip there, it takes about an hour and a half and we have to get on a commuter train (which means getting badly squashed). I don't know how people can do that day in and day out - truly awful experience! Ebi-kun wasn't impressed either.

We spotted the Ebisu god as we changed trains, obviously we had to take a photo! Such tourists! 

We made it to the museum just before it opened. I was a bit confused with the tickets, they had set up a special Andy Warhol Cafe, which I thought would be fun to go to but it is in the observation deck and you need an extra ticket to go to the observation deck. Anyway, it turned out that the section where the cafe is, you don't need to pay extra for - just in case you decide to go and are confused too! You also get to see the views without the extra charge!

The Mori building is 54 floors and the gallery is on the 52nd, that is quite a long way up!

You are not allowed to take photos inside the exhibition so you'll have to use your imagination a bit. It was really well done, thoughtfully laid out and the English explanations were great - obviously not done by google translate! I can't say I am a big Warhol fan but I do appreciate the influence he had in modern art culture and it was really interesting to learn more about him and his thinking.

The exhibition is mixed media, so not only his art and sculptures they have a room with video footage that he took and another where they re-created the silver studio where he worked. There were interviews on video and they had The Velvet Underground playing (he was their producer) Ebi-kun was not a fan of their music, he said that it sounds like someone being murdered!

I made Ebi-kun a quiz sheet to take round with him, I will do a separate post on that but it definitely helps to make the exhibitions more meaning full when he has to figure out the answers.

Once we were done, it was lunch time so we eventually figured out where the cafe was and that we didn't need to pay extra to go in! The floor was artificial grass which was fun and there was copies of his artwork on all the tables. They also have an installation of his rain machine set up.

The menu is very limited, we decide to get the lunch set and share it. It was a burger, (cold) fries, signature Campbells soup and a drink…

And we decided to sit at the floor-to-ceiling glass windows, an amazing vista, the skyscrapers in the distance are Shinjuku, we could see Mount Fuji too but only just. It is such a big city, it goes on for miles and miles!
I must admit, the thought of what we would do if there was an earthquake crossed my mind more than once!

For dessert we tried the Warhol Parfait. I have no idea why but Ebi-kun is going through a phase of 'The Fonz' thumbs at the moment!

I think a close up of the parfait in all it's glory is needed! It was very sweet, and a good job we decided to share or I think we would have both been sick! It did get us to wondering what kind of special food would we have in out imaginary artists cafe - I feel a project coming on there!

After lunch we decided to explore the area a bit, we found a map which had all the different outdoor art sculptures on it, so we went on a hunt to find them all. We missed 2, I think and decided we had had enough and headed home - before the trains got too busy.

Great day out, highly recommend the art show, perfect way to finish the holidays!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Football and Sushi

Hope you had a fun weekend, after the big launch for Clear The Clutter I was feeling like I needed a break so I hung out with the boys instead of staying home and sneaking a couple of hours work in!

They had football in the morning, it is a lads and dads class, except hubby was the only dad this time! It is a great class, they focus a lot on skills and footwork for the first part of the lesson then they play mini games. The boys love it and Ebi-kun gets to hang out with his English speaking friends, often we go back to their place after the practice.

This week we went for sushi instead…Ebi-kun loves his sushi and sashimi! I never thought I would be feeding my child raw fish, squid and octopus!

Of course, I don't touch the fishy stuff, they do a rather mean aubergine sushi and I like both the egg and corn mayo, I have tried various meat based ones but they don't do it for me!

This just turns my stomach! But when I discard what it actually is, the colouring on the tentacles are quite pretty! That doesn't mean I want to put it in my mouth though!

Once we had done with the fishiness we had to go and get the last few supplies for the start of school, took us 5 hours the other day to go through everything, making sure it all had labels and what needed replacing etc. Glad that job is done for the year.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Whoo-hooo we are booked!

The tax went up by 3% here from April 1st which gave me the kick in the pants to decide when we were going to book to go to the UK this year. Summer it is! I booked the tickets for Ebi-kun and I for just over a month, the end of July til the end of August. Hurrah!

This got me to thinking…what about me holding some kind of event when I am back, so you UK folk, would you be interested in some kind of event - a workshop or talk or something? If so, please fill in the form below so I have some idea of what to put together - this is still very much in the 'thinking about' stage :)


Thursday, 3 April 2014

Bilingual Playgroup Picnic

April 1st was a full on day for me, with the registration for Clear The Clutter closing and all the stuff that needs to be done on the back end for that and the we had a picnic planned with the bilingual playgroup so I needed to make a bento too and leave the house in time to catch the 10am train.

I did manage a quick April fools joke on Ebi-kun…I screamed like crazy and shouted there was a mouse in the washing machine…totally had him :) Need to be more prepared next year!

Turned out to be a beautiful day for the picnic, the cherry blossoms were perfect! We managed to find a lovely spot under the trees, the kids played well and us moms had a good chat and catch up.

Obligatory hanami shot…

Ebi-kun found his own spot to enjoy the view…

It's much harder now to meet up now the kids are in school, which is a real shame, I miss the regular weekly meetings, as much for my sanity as for the education side of things.

Monday, 31 March 2014

What Freezes Quicker Milk or Water?

These are the kind of questions I constantly have fired at me! This time, I decided we would figure it out ourselves, well with a little help from our friend google too.

What you need:
  • Ice-tray
  • Pen and paper
  • Different liquids to put in the ice-tray
  • Toothpick
  • Freezer
  • Timer

1. Start off by drawing a replica of your ice-tray, we don't actually have a proper ice tray so we used this tray that is for making chocolate skulls! 

2. Fill up each hole in your ice-tray with different types of liquid and make a note of which liquid is in which hole. 

3. Pop in the freezer and set the timer for 30 minutes. Go and play.

4. When the timer goes off, take out the ice-tray and use the toothpick to see how hard each liquid has frozen (if at all). Make a note of what is happening.

5. Set the time again for another 30 minutes and repeat.

6. After 2 hours, set the timer for 1 hour and after 4 hours set it for 6 then leave over night. Each time, make observations of what is going on.

Once we had a list of what had frozen at what rate, google came in handy to find out why.

7. Write a report on the findings.

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