Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Homeschool Update...

To be honest, I haven't got much to update about!

So last time I talked about filling the forms in at city hall. That is about it really. We haven't heard anything else, which does have me a tad worried, you know how much the Japanese love red tape and bureaucracy!

Ebi-kun told his class teacher that he was going to homeschool fro junior high. At first, sensei was OK, if that's what you want to do. But then a few days later he said to Ebi-kun that he didn't think it was "allowed" that he had to go to school. Hubby has explained all the rules to Ebi-kun in Japanese so that he can answer all these types of questions which no doubt will come up in the future.

Last week the 6th graders were going for a tour of the junior high, any kids that are not going to that school were allowed to go home instead. There are a handful of students that will go to private JH schools and of course, Ebi-kun. I had to go and pick him up, so whilst the rest of the kids are touring the school, we went for ice-cream #homeschoollife!

ebi-kun easting ice-cream jojoebi-designs

We then popped to the supermarket so he could pick up the ingredients to cook dinner, I'm telling you, I'm loving this already!

The other thing that has come up, Ebi-kun currently goes to football school once a week and wanted to continue but there is no JH age class. On Saturday he had a make-up class so afterwards I suggested we did a very un-Japanese thing and ask if they can let him join a class next year (the year starts April).

We had a long chat with the coaches and explained what was happening and why he couldn't join the JH team, had to explain a bit about homeschooling and they were absolutely lovely about it.

They suggested he joined a class for the next couple of weeks which is a higher level than the one he is in now to see if he liked that kind of training and they would talk to the head coach to see about him being allowed to join a class or if there is enough interest to start a JH class.

They said that they really wanted to support us and would try and work something out.

Ebi-kun was chuffed to bits so it's fingers crossed now that they are good to their word and do work something out.

Ebi-kun will keep doing his aikido and he has been trying the bouldering club out too so I think if we can keep the football in the mix he should have enough to keep him busy out of the house. (and me!)

I will keep you posted on what happens next, it's very much a see-how-it-goes type of adventure!

If you are homeschooling too, let me know!


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Sunday, 4 March 2018

The trouble with blogging these days...

The trouble with blogging these days...

I was talking to my biz coach the other day and she made a point of saying how much she loved my writing style and wanted to know why I don't write more.

I started with the same ole same ole excuses and lack of time yadda yadda yadda but then I though some more about it.

It isn't down to lack of time at all, if anything since Ebi-kun has been at school, I have more time! When to think back when I was most prolific with my blogging, that was when I was the most busy. So what really changed?

The business of blogging I think is a big factor.

You see when I started, I knew nothing about SEO (Seacrh Engline Optimization) or keywords, the important of alt text on images and the layout that coverts the best or any of that stuff. And to be brutely honest, I had zero interest in it either.

I was blogging initially for me and my family (this was pre-Facebook days, do you remember them?)

I wrote because I enjoyed it, it was a creative outlet. I didn't worry about the terrible grammar (confessin alert, I would type and hit publish, without even reading it through...!)

I didn't worry about how professional I sounded or if I was using the latest terminolgy and jargon. I just wrote whatever came to mind and that was that.

Totally random unicorn chocolate photos because... why not?

Being a multipotenialite meant that there was never a clear niche for this blog, it was always a general, this is my life and what I'm up to right now kind of thing. It was called A Bit Of This And A Bit Of That when I first started. No planning, not deciding on what will go out in Q1, Q2 or anything like that.

It was very much me, just writing.

Then when I started My Organized Chaos (now jojoebi) I discovered I hadn't been doing things properly and the following I had gained totally organically was a bit of a happy accident!

I started following the advice of the "gurus" on when and how to post, keyword research, optimised blog titles, SEO and all of that and you know what, it sucked the fun out of writing.

Combine that with how easy it is to write a quick update on what's going on over on Facebook and well, this blog took quite a beating.

I have had coaches in the past who told me to to move this blog over to the new site, my gut has always been against the idea, and my brain was screaming WHAT? 3000 POSTS, ARE YOU INSANE? Needless to say, we are still here and I'm happy with that.

So thanks to my current coach I was able to nail what it was that was holiding me back. This blog has never been about the money, it was always a creative outlet and connecting with like minded folk.

I want to get back to that just sitting down and rambling, spur of the moments kind of posts, those ones where you have a flash of inspiration in the bath and you just have to get out and share, even if you're dripping all over the keyboard.

I miss the days of the conversations and connections through the comments section, I feel like facebook spolied much of that. I feel like I'm on Facebook waaaay to much and the connections are not truely there, especially with the constant algorithm changes. I still love my groups but I do feel in the last 6 months or so I have drifted away.

So for the future...

Expect more of this, free form waffle, hopefully it will be a bit more amusing and exciting to read! I will be documenting our homeschool journey too, although now there will be less hands on stuff from me.

And of course the random comings and goings of life in Japan and our adventures.

I did contemplate remving everything and going for a total minamilist look but my inner entrepreneur called me bat-shit crazy for even thinking that, because at the end of the day, I still need to be making money!

The moms that I help over on jojoebi and The Kaizen Revolution, came from here initially so there still needs to be some kind of connection.

I'm looking forward to not doing keyword research, not going SEO crazy and not worrying about if I'm doing it it right or wrong. Just going with the flow!

I hope you enjoy it to!

I'll be seeing you again soon,


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Thursday, 15 February 2018

Create Every Week #4 - Blow Fish Party

I admit it, I have been slacking off on the creativity side but I did have a play around the other day with this.

I am hoping to up my "kawaii illustrations" game so I decided to combine different expressions with blowfish (fugu as it is known in Japan).

I'll probably paint it with water colours but upload and clean it up a bit so I can play around with digital painting too.

I have been using this book: Kawaii: How to draw really cute stuff and a reference book. Which I'm really enjoying, Ebi-kun too. It has step by step for drawing all kinds of things from people to transport to buildings and how to kawaiify them.

Obviously in Japan everything is kawaii, they have a knack of making everything cute - which other nation would come up with a cute poop emoji? I rest my case.
All the prefectures have their own cute mascots, we have a pigeon, I know right, of all the creatures they pick a bloody pigeon!

But it doesn't stop there, supermarkets, hospitals, schools, even prisions have mascots too - it's a HUGE business. One thing that surprised me when I first came over to Japan was seeing full grown men with cute mascot pens, key-chains and the such like. After being here so long it all seems perfectly normal.

So... what have you been creating this week?

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Thursday, 8 February 2018

Instant Pot: Italian Bean Stew and Dumplings

Instant Pot Convert Here!

I bought an instant pot last November, mainly because we eat a lot of stews, soups and casseroles over the winter and standing over the stove is not my idea of a barrel of laughs.

Initially, I was going to go for a Crock Pot but when I started reading reviews I kept seeing Instant Pot pop up, so I did some more digging.

It seemed to be the bee's knees so I ordered one.

I have never owned or used any kind of pressure cooker so I was a bit worried about blowing up the kitchen, so far so good!

Quick disclaimer: I often use affiliate links in my post and on my site, this means that I get a small percentage of the same if you choose to buy through my link, at no cost to you.

I feel like my biggest gripe with the Instant Pot - which I love incidentally, is more to do with the wild claims of food bloggers. When I was trawling Pinterest for recipes and reviews I saw all these amazing claims "Rice cooked in 5 minutes", "Whole roast chicken in 30 minutes" and the such like.

Now these claims are not wrong but what they don't mention is that you have to add in the time it takes for the pot to come to pressure, 5-10 minutes and then the time it takes to release afterwards. As a pressure cooker newbie, I was clueless about this and was sucked in by the super fast cooking times.

Due to my ignorance, for the first few weeks, my cooking times were well off and I was having trouble getting a meal to come together, now I pretty much prepare the Instant Pot portion of the meal in advance so I don't have to think about it!

I got the Instant Pot DUO80 8 Qt 7-in-1 Multi- Use Programmable Pressure Cooker I haven't yet tried the yoghurt function, need to get onto that!

For those in Japan, I ordered this one here - please note that it has an earth on the plug, luckily we have an earthed socket next to the oven so it all plugged in fine but I know other people have had to buy an adapter to make it work for them. Voltage wise it works fine.

Now we have that out of the way... onto the recipe!

Stufato Di Fagioli Con Polpettine Di Pane
Or in other words, Italian bean Stew With Bread Dumplings

This is meat free but still very filling, it's like a hug in a bowl! Perfect for wintery evenings and was pretty quick to throw together. It got a great 9/10 from the family, so this is going on the winners list and into my evernote file of fall back recipes.

I adapted the recipe from Gino's D'Campo's Italian Escape book, mom got it me for Christmas, purely because she fancies Gino!

Serves 4

For the bean stew

2 TBSP Olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 pinches dried red chilli flakes
1 TSP fresh chopped rosemary
2 x 400g chopped tomatoes + 1/2 can of water
1 x 400g tinned borlotti beans, drained and rinsed*
1 x 400g tinned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper

*For those in Japan I get my beans from Yamaya International Liquor store - if you haven't discovered this store yet, go and hunt it out, it's a gem!

For the dumplings

200g ciabatta bread*
200ml milk
1 egg beaten
2 TSP fresh chopped rosemary (recipe called for parsley)
1 TBSP flour
Olive oil

*I didn't have any ciabatta so I dug some random bread leftovers, a couple of homemade buns and the end of a french stick, out of the freezer. Let them defrost and added the milk, I needed a bit more than the recipe stated but that might have been down to the type of bread.

  • Put the olive oil in the instant pot and set to saute.
  • Add the onion and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the chilli pepper and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Throw in the rest of the ingredients, give a good stir.
  • Change the setting from saute to soup.

Takes 11 minutes cooking time but remember to add the coming up and releasing the pressure!


  • Chop the bread into small cubes.
  • Warm the milk then pour over the bread, I needed to add a bit more milk, maybe due to the fact it wasn't ciabatta. 
  • Leave to soak for 10 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Stir in the rosemary, egg and flour. The recipe called for lemon zest too but I didn't have any so skipped that bit completely.
  • It should make a sticky type dough.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan, scoop the dough into walnut sized balls and cook until golden all over.

Serve on top of the bean stew.


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Tuesday, 6 February 2018

The Start Of Our Homeschool Journey In Japan

The Start Of Our Homeschool Journey In Japan

I have a BIG announcement... 

Yes, we are going to start homeschooling full time. Ebi-kun will finish Elementary school in March and so we will start our homeschool journey.

For some of you, this won't be a surprise, it is something we have been considering all along but now it's crunch time and we have to jump one way or the other.

We did look at one of the local school which although it is government run, the system they use is slightly different and we thought it would be a compromise. He took the entrance test and didn't get in (only 2 kids from his elementary school did pass the test and then there is an interview). So that made our mind up for us.

To answer the most glaring question first... WHY?

As you know, I am passionate about Montessori and deeply believe that the "follow the child" or child-led learning as it is also known is the best way for a child to learn.

When a child follows their passions and intrinsic motivation - the planes of development as Montessori called them, the child learns at a much deeper level, gets a much better understanding of the subject matter and doesn't get bored by the education process.

Also when a child follows an area of interest it brings in subject areas from many different places. For example, Ebi-kun is interested in food, which is what started the whole Ebi-kun Eats thing but it is so much more than just trying new foods.

He is interested in flavour combinations, he will often try different flavours together to see if they work. He loves to find out the history of a type of food, how it is made and he is an avid ingredients reader.

He will follow a recipe to the tee for the first try but then will experiment by adding things in and taking things out, cooking it in a different way. It's a big science experiment.

So although cooking is the main subject it also brings in maths, chemistry, food safety, history, culture... and he is also learning to take notes in a scientific way, to explore and push boundaries, to ask questions and see where the answers lead him.

This is a very different approach to learning how to make cupcakes in a classroom.

This goes for any other subject he decides to deep dive into. Japanese history is something he is very much interested in now. He is a voracious reader and when he finds an interesting fact in a book he will take that and explore it further.

This is the way I believe education should be, following our passions and exploring them to a deeper level.

I am 100% sure that there are things that both you and I learned at school that have never ever used. Osmosis - has that ever been used in my life, nope. Trigonometry is the one that is usually banded about because unless you follow the path or maths and engineering, there is very little chance you will have need of it.

That said, I do believe a foundation in the basics is important, Maths, English, Japanese so these will be none negotiables. The rest he can choose to study as he likes.

The other reason is that Japanese Junior High works extremely well on the Victorian schooling system, the schools were set up initially to prepare kids to work in the factories. Kids learned that everything had to be done a specific way, to do as your told, when you are told and by the time you had finished, you were ready to join the workforce.

That is all very good and well if you want to go 'into the system' but I don't believe it is a healthy system, the stupidly long hours, lack of time to spend with family and the whole "hammer the nail down that sticks up ethic" If you don't fit the mold, they will make you fit the mold.

As a square peg myself this really, really doesn't sit well with me.

We all have a place in this world, no matter who we are, what we do and what our quirks are, we should be accepted for who we are.

This thing of making everyone equal and the same is totally against everything I believe and stand for, I couldn't put my child through that system. Some people might be OK with it. I am not.

So that is the WHY and now onto the HOW...

Obviously, Ebi-kun has been part of the conversation. His main concern is friends or lack of but we think we can work this out. He will still go to aikido, he's interested in joining the bouldering club, we are looking into volunteering places to join and there are plenty of classes he can join both on and offline.

His biggest complaint about school is that he is bored because the pace is too slow. He does his homework in class (this year the sensei is OK with that) and doesn't get to study the things he is interested in. He is excited to be homeschooling and not to wear a uniform!

We already use Khan Academy and I have looked into other online courses. He is also signed up for this Japanese site Study Sapuri which covers the everything up to university entrance exams. So we will probably use this for maths and Japanese and social studies.

We will also consider juku (cram school) or tutor if he needs it for help on the Japanese side of things.

The Legalities...

Full disclaimer here! I am not a lawyer in any shape or form and we are finding our way through this by ourselves, just taking it as it comes. My husband is 'The Research Type' so he and Google have become very good friends! But I wanted to share our journey to help anyone else who decided to take the same path.

In Japan, the law states that a child has a legal right to education until they are of age to graduate Junior High School (roughly 16 depending on their birthday). The law does not specify how or where the education needs to take place.

It is possible to be registered with the local Junior High, this seems to depend on the headmaster/BOE from what I can gather. The child is registered and will get a graduation certificate but doesn't need to attend the school.
I have read that some schools allow the child to join the club activities or specific classes but Ebi-kun was adamant he wasn't up for that.

Today we went down to the town hall and filled in a form in the Education Committee Section ( 区域外就学・指定校変更届け  ) stating what our plans were and why. It took about 10 minutes, seemed fairly straightforward. At this point we don't know what happens next, I will update with another post when we know!

We are expecting an interview somewhere along the line and maybe a yearly update but at this point, who knows!

Now, if you are reading this, there are a lot of stories where parents have run into resistance and struggled to get the BOE on side if your child has dual nationality, you can play the foreigner card and basically, from what I understand the BOE will leave you to your own devices as the law is only directed at Japanese kids.

I'm hoping that we won't need to go down that route but it's a backup plan just in case.

What About My Business?

I have always built my business with the idea that it fits with the family so that won't change. Iw ill work alongside Ebi-kuns study. I will have to cut the hours back a bit, be more productive in some areas. Generally speaking, nothing will change.

I have decided to retired a couple of my services and concentrate more on the passive income. I am keeping The Kaizen Revolution going so that will be my main focus.

Homeschooling will give us a lot more freedom, we don't have to stick to school holidays for starters, so we can explore more, hopefully, travel more and not necessarily in school holiday time, although we are still tied to my husbands work schedule!

That is where we are at right now.

Graduation is towards the end of March so the adventure will officially start then but I will update here when we have any new information!

Friday, 26 January 2018

Create Every Week - Week #3

We had SNOW!

I know for many people that isn't very exciting but I LOVE the snow and we don't get it very often here.

I wasn't the only one who was stupidly excited about it, admitedly the rest of the lcoals were under the age of 13 hahaaha

Although I had planned to do some drawing this week I couldn't resist grabbing my camera and heading out in the snow and not only the snow, we had a misty morning out too - it was stunning.

I love the snow for so many reasons, being a winter babe probably has something to do with it but I also love...

I love the chance to be the first to walk across an untouched path of snow, it is the one of the times when you can truely be The First.

I love the way that it changes the scenery, making the usual boring and mundane look mysterious and intresting.

I love how it changes the sounds, everything seems quieter and sounds are more intense.

I love the smell, that fresh, clean air that your lungs just can't get enough of.

I love the patterns that nature brings us with the snow, the way that the wind blows it or the way that it covers cabbages in the field making them look like mini mountains.

I love how it changes the energy, kids squeal with excitement, adulats remembering the days they went sledging or the best snowman they ever made.

I love that it is a free creative tool that, when just right you can build amazing sculptures or igloos or snow trolls!

I love the chaos that it brings becuae it makes you appreciaite everything when it's running normally.

I also love that I work from home and don't have to commute in the chaos :D

So here are a few, unedited shots from my 2 and half hour walk! I mamnaged to get my 10K steps in before 10am!

Thursday, 25 January 2018

18 for 2018 - family bucket list

We decided as a family to put together a bucket list for 2018.

It had to contain a stretch goal, something the cost nothing, something fun, something to challenge us and something taht we could do every month. They were the general rules anyway!

It too a while to come up with 18 but we finally did it, this is sperate from my create every week misssion!

If you prefer to read about the whole list, I wrote about it over HERE or you can sit back and watch the short video...

Let me know if you are doing something similar!

So far we have tried 2 new cafes, one is just a 10 minute walk up the road and we had no idea it was there. It's a great find as they also have a foot spa! I can see me spending a lot more time over there...

They also have a small shop where they sell oils, herbs and handmade goods, absolute gem of a find! The menu is limited but tasty.

The second new cafe is about 3km away, also very nice, everything sourced locally when they can. Bit of an odd menu but we all enjoyed it! No doubt we will be going back soon! I could probabaly bike over alough it means going along the scary main road, so to be honest, I probably won't!

That brings us onto pancakes, I tried THIS recipe, well I based it on that recipe, I made some tweaks. You have to cook them on a very low temperature otherwise they are still soggy in the middle!

I want to try them again, when I am sure I have it right I'll share my tweaked, Japan friendly version!

And the fun family photo - mision complete, New Years skiing in Niigata. The first day I wasn't feeling too good, the scond day was lovely, great snow, great weather!

Then day three was a right off, the weather was terrible, most of the lifts were closed so we gave up and came home early but at least we got a decent photo!

Monday, 15 January 2018

Create Every Week - Week #2

Create Every Week

This year I wanted to challenge myself to be more creative just for me, I do a lot of creative things for work but sometimes it feels like everything is work focused and less on having fun and just enjoying the process.

I know a lot of people do the drawing or painting challenges but I really don't restrict myself to any specific medium, more just to go with the flow and see what captures my attention in the moment.

Week #2 - Photography

I love taking pictures but it is a long time since I did any kind of formal training and I'd love to get out of the habit of putting my DSLR on auto!

I have a Pentax K-50 and it's bright PINK! I went with Pentax because that is what my old camera was and we used them in college, so it's a bit like an updated, snazzier version of an old friend!

Ebi-kun is still off school so we went for a walk, both taking our cameras and just enjoyed the time outside. Not having a focus or theme, just pictures of whatever.

These are my three favourite shots of the day...

I'm not sure what this plant is but they grow in abundance in the neglected rice paddies, they looked so delegate against the winter sky...

Next up were chestnuts, there were found surrounding a little shrine which was guarded by foxes - statues, not the real thing, I don't actually live in a Miyazaki movie.

The colour of the chestnuts grabbed my attention, I love that rich brown colour, always reminds me of autumn and delicious food.


The final one today is taken through the wooden grill at the little fox shrine, the grill actually framing what was inside.

The fox shrine is actually an Inari Shinto shrine to worship the god Inari. There are almost 3000 of these shrines dotted around Japan, I am better this is one of the smallest! Most of these shrines have a pair of foxes gardening the gate.

So that wraps up week #1 if you are joining in let me know what you are up to! I'm hoping this challenge will keep me a bit more consistent with my posting too!

Monday, 8 January 2018

Create Every Week - week #1

Create Every Week

This year I wanted to challenge myself to be more creative just for me, I do a lot of creative things for work but sometimes it feels like everything is work focused and less on having fun and just enjoying the process.

I know a lot of people do the drawing or painting challenges but I really don't restrict myself to any specific medium, more just to go with the flow and see what captures my attention in the moment.

Disclaimer - I sometimes include affiliate links in my posts, that means that if you click the link and make a perchase I get a small percentage of the sale, at no cost to you.

Week #1 - ipad apps

I am forever downloading apps to play with, some make the cut and some get deleted almost immediately. What I wanted to do is find a way to sketch then digitally colour my sketches - I have product ideas in mind but I need to figure out a process that suits me first!

My favourite app is Sketches which is free and extremely powerful, nothing groundbreaking for far as art goes yet but I do really like it and so it is going into the 'to keep' folder. It's really easy to use, has lots of pen types and works with my wacom pen.

This sketch started in Sketches as a line drawing but then I wanted to use the paintbucket to colour it so I opened it up in Pigment, which a colouring book style of app.

It has several free colouring pages and you can upgrade to get more, you can also import your own images to colour in.

I like how it turned out, still a bit rough around the eges but now I have a process down so I can concentrate more on getting my images more polished.

I've ordered a couple of books on how to draw kawaii things, so expect more kawaii goodness coming this way!


That wraps up this weeks Create Every Week post, if you want to join the journey, let me know! I would love some company!

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Taste tests: Ebi-kun Eats and taste tests - Cough candy KitKat

Cough Candy Kit-Kat - Strange Kit-Kat Flavours

I have to admit, when I saw this I did wonder what on earth is going on down at Kit-Kat HQ? What have they been taking because who in their right mind would think that cough candy chocolate would be a good idea?

I hope that there were repercussions for this foolish endeavour, I am certainly not taking out shares in Kit-Kat if this kind of foolishness continues. Mint kit-kat I can cope with but this is just plain silly. Anyway, enough of my ranting about the crazy antics of kit-kat flavour makers (I wonder if that is their real job description?)

Watch Ebi-Kun's video to see if this delicacy is really worth the ¥200 I forked out for it...

Remember to pop over to his channel and subscribe and leave him a comment,
he does reply to all of them!
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