Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Beautiful Colours Of Japanese Autumn

The weather was glorious on Sunday, so I had a walk around the park, stunning colours, I think you'll agree (taken on my phone)...

Not far from where we live is this beautiful gingko tree, I got hubby to stop the car so I could jump out and take some pictures...

This reminds me of a poem in an on Enid Blyton annual I have..

I'm rich today, but the gold I have
Can't be put in a money box,
It can't be slipped into my little purse
Or kept behind bolts and locks.

It's the buttercup gingko trees in the fields down the lane
That makes me rich as can be,
And if you would like to be wealthy too,
Why, come to the meadows with me!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Christmas Cake in Japan

I went to my usual store to buy my Christmas pudding but they said they are not stocking them this year NOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooo!

This calls for plan B - make my own. Luckily I have been stockpiling butter (maybe I am the reason for the butter crisis?) Got out the recipe book and made a start. Put 700g of dried fruit in a bowl and soak in brandy. Done. 

Just a minute, my pudding basin will be full just from dried fruit! gah. 

Plan C kicks in. OK, make pudding with half the recipe and use the other half of the fruit to make Christmas Cake (we don't usually both with Christmas cake as well) So that is what I did, made a pudding and a cake. I had to compromise somewhat because I didn't have treacle or equivalent which gives the cake that dark rich colour but hopefully, the over generous amount of brandy will make up for that!

Now, where to store this so I'm not tempted to eat it before the big day...

Sunday, 23 November 2014

On being a soccer mom...

Most Saturdays Ebi-kun and Daddy go to school training at the Footpal place in Urawa, they have a lads and dads class and you pay for the day so it suits our schedule much better than some of the local places. Plus the training there is really good.

I don't always go, sometimes I have stuff to do or I will indulge in some me time, last week for example I went for a massage instead. One of the great things about this place is the little cafe, they sell lovely selection of hot drinks, toasties and mini doughnuts, which makes the whole soccer mom thing, so much more bearable!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

I'm not too sure about the facial hair...

We bought daddy a novelty cookie too, do you think facial hair would suit him?

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Saitama Day - yet another day off school

I know my posts haven't been as regular as normal, it's all these public holidays! Since Ebi-kun started back at school in September he hasn't had a full day at school. What with school holidays, typhoon days, national holidays and the odd sick day! Needless to say it has been cutting into my blogging time. Grumble. Grumble.

All that said, I do like having him at home so we can spend time together! So Friday was Saitama Day which meant all the schools in Saitama were off. I decided to steer clear of any museums or attractions that are popular with kids as I knew they would be mobbed - past experience! many of them are open for free on Saitama day too. Personally I'd rather pay and miss the crowds. We did consider going to an art museum in Tokyo but Ebi-kun was feeling 100% so we decided to stay closer to home.

As I had a spot of work to do, he went outside with a friend to set fire to some paper with a magnifying glass and do some loombanding...

I found a place on the internet which I thought was cafe but turned out to be just a shop but we went on an adventure to find it anyway... they sold lots of cute cookies and they are packaged really cutely too (one thing they do so well here!)

The shop is called Okashisan and the main cookies are ¥300-¥400, they also have boxes of cookies and roll cakes too. It is at Yonohonmachi Station, in the Beams section of shops, right at the station.

Since they didn't have a cafe, we sat outside and out ours!

After we had scoffed our delicious novelty cookies we walked over to Saitama Shintoshin. Ebi-kun took his camera and was snapping shots for a new project he is working on (all hush, hush for now)

Then we went to the Hawaiian Burger place for lunch. We very rarely have burgers, I'm not that fussed on them and I hate McDonalds, Ebi-kun is very proud of the fact that he has never been to McDonalds and after watching some of those Jamie Oliver videos, I doubt he ever will!

He wanted popcorn shrimp urgh! so we went halves on a burger set because they are so big and he had his scrimp.

Then we checked out the book store, Ebi-kun bought himself a new book and some Lego. We have been using a new system for his money, I will share in a podcast soon. Once he was spent up we headed home. A pleasant date with the boy.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Japans Butter Crisis and being off sick...

As you may or may not know, Japan has a butter crisis. This usually happens at the run up to Christmas, the supermarkets run out of butter, the prices sky rocket and often you are only allowed to buy one pack at a time! I'm not really sure what it is all about, some say there is a milk shortage but that doesn't explain why there is an abundant supply of milk, cheese, yoghurt or ice-cream. 

Anyway, we decided to try our hand at making our own. Ebi-kun had the day off since he wasn't feeling well. After he had had some extra sleep he was feeling up to a bit of experimenting! He put 150ml of 47% cream in a jar and shook it like crazy. Nothing happened, so we added a small cookie cutter and that seemed to do the trick, the fat and the whey separated.

We know that it doesn't always need something inside the jar for this to work, because at the local organic cafe, we make our own butter by just using the jar. I have bought 35% cream this week so we will try with that and see if the results are different.

Next, he drained off the whey (which I used in the soup) and dumped the butter onto the plate.

Cleaning the butter off the cookie cutter was a bit of a pain, a marble would have been much easier! Then he added some salt and mixed it together. Taa-daa butter!

Went really well with the cauliflower cheese soup and freshly baked bread! This is one of my favourite soups, like a hug in a bowl.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Pet Bottle Helicopter...

I spotted these on my way home from the supermarket the other day - There was this rather neat chopper, which is what caught my eye initially....

But then I noticed there were some planes in the garden too....

Friday, 14 November 2014

Happy Diwali

Oops! Totally forgot to post about this! I think the madness that is Halloween took over, sorry.

First we sat and read Story of Divaali by Verma Jatinder which is beautifully illustrated, what I have come to expect from Barefoot books. The title is a little misleading though, I expected it to be more about the festival but instead it is the story of Ramayana. It is still a beautiful book but if you are looking for something to specifically introduce Diwali to your kids, this would be a nice addition but doesn't really talk about the festival and what goes on as such. If you know of a good book, please let me know.

Then we decided to make some Indian sweets, now I have to admit I wasn't very organized and slightly butcher the real recipe! We made Atte ke Ladoo the Ebi way! The recipe is HERE. We used melted butter instead of ghee and cinnamon instead of cardamon, have to work with what you've got! They were delicious in the end though, if not in the slightest bit authentic.

The recipe was easy and apart from melting the butter, which you might want to do, it was child friendly. I happened to have all the ingredients for mango lassi so we made that too then decorated the table with lots of candles.

Happy Diwali to you!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Why the Japanese Shinkansen rocks!

Those who pop by often know this post is coming! Many people love the Shinkansen for its efficiency, cleanliness and amazing service and of course I can't knock them, how can you knock it when you have a window mid-train with a man inside, who checks that the train is lined up to the EXACT spot so the door opens in just the right place on the platform?

And some rave about the eki-ben, the special bento boxes that you buy at train stations - personally I'd rather have a sandwich! No, the best thing is the magazine, I don't see these on the Tokyo-Osaka trains very often but they always seem to be on the ones going to and from Tohoku. They have the best things advertised...

Need to rest you legs, how about a handy panda leg stool?

Or perhaps you need a cute doggy to light the path up for you when you get home from work...

I have to admit, the little Miss Organized in me loves this idea, the raised Japanese style tatami but with a load of storage space underneath, pretty clever!

Cold feet or hands, no worries...

I personally think that this idea is an accident waiting to happen HOT WATER BOTTLE SLIPPERS!!!!

Buy yourself a handy toilet and tent, might be useful at a festival so you don't need to use the stinky portaloo...

Right, you know those party blowers, you thought they were for making annoying noises at parties didn't you? Wrong, they are for strengthening your abs, no, really.....

Many Japanese don't have the crease in the eyelid like many Westerners do, this cream somehow gives you the sought after crease *mind boggles* there is a thriving trade in Korea when Japanese go for the eyelid cosmetic surgery...

And finally, this is one of the Japanese inventions I love. The kotatsu. Under the table top is a heater, so you pop your legs under the blanket and it's tasty and warm. In my first apartment here, which was build like a wooden shed and FREEZING, I had a kotatsu and a very stinky kerosene heater - that I couldn't use without opening the window! The kotatsu was a life saver, more than one night was spent sleeping under it because it was too cold to sleep in the futon.
Fab idea but you know what, central heating is better!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Playing Games With The Grandparents

One of the things Ebi-kun really likes when we go down to the in-laws is playing games with them and it's lovely to see them kick back a bit and relax!

We have to watch Jii-chan, he is a bit cheeky and it's not passed him to "accidentally" look at your cards or move ahead a couple of spaces too many - yes, this is the retired police chief!

We bought this game when we were there, it was all monsters and ghouls, appropriate considering the time of year.... 

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