Please Help QLD Flood Victims

Posted January 14th, 2011 in Perth WA | No Comments »

Perth residents!!  Please help QLD flood victims by donating some goods.

GKR Transport office in Welshpool WA 6160 will be accepting the donations and trucking them over to Queensland.  As there will be currently no way of crossing into these areas as yet, there is plenty of time to gather & drop off donations to the GKR depot.

ALL SMALL ITEMS CAN BE DONATED:  non perishables, anything like toothpaste,shampoo, bottles of water, medical supplies, toys, prams, nappies towels, linen, clothing for young and old, small electrics appliances , kettles toaster etc.

Please speak to Teagan at the GKR Office for more information.

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GKR Transport
80 Dowd Street

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Buying Japanese Foods in Perth

Posted January 13th, 2011 in Perth WA | No Comments »

Since  I started living in Perth I noticed that Japanese foods sold at grocery shops are very pricy here.  Chocolate, snacks, drinks, seasonings, etc…   Korean grocery shops sell similar items much cheaper.  I wonder why the price is so different between those items imported form Japan and South Korea.  I understand that everything in South Korea is much cheaper than in Japan, but the items are so similar (sometimes same name and same brand).

Some items such as daifuku (a Japanese sweet), naruto (fish cakes), natto (fermented soy beans) and other specific food items are made in Japan, and in that case the cost will be expensive. I understand that the grocery shops have to mark up the price in order to cover the cost of import and inspections by Aus government, it’s surprising that a pack of rice crackers I used to eat in Japan costs almost $10.00 here while the price in Japan is around few hundreds yen.  But even though the price is more expensive than other similar products that are imported from China etc, products of Japan still have demand.

Some products of Japan specify where the items are from on their packaging.  For example, this katsuo-no-tataki (bonito tataki) is a product of Yakitsu, Shizuoka Prefecture.  Japanese people know that Yakitsu is famous for bonito fishing, and Yakitsu-branded bonito is known for its delicious fat.  (I bought this frozen tataki at Super Fuji in Victoria Park.)

The other day I bought a pack of kinako (soy powder) from Maruyu and ate with dango I made (recipe).  This kinako is also a product of Japan, from Hokkaido.

I don’t mean that products imported from Japan are all better than other foods though.  Korean/Chinese grocery shops may sell the same products (the packagings are in Chinese or Korean, and the manufactured country is the same) at half the price.  Products from South Korea such as soy sauce, nori seaweed sheets and rice are very similar to Japanese ones and the prices are usually cheaper.  If you are not looking for something particular (e.g. Tokyo takuwan pickles, Hokkaido potato chips, Okinawa black sugar candies) you can browse around Korean grocery shops such as Hi Mart and Seoul Mart, and other Chinese grocery shops such as Kong’s Oriental.  Some well-known Japanese food such as Kikkoman soy sauce and Pokka drinks are from Singapore anyway (not products of Japan)!

It’s very hot in Perth. How is your place?

Posted January 12th, 2011 in Perth WA | No Comments »

It’s another hot day….  I can’t sleep without air-con now.  Apparently Perth was the hottest city in Australia yesterday (Darwin and Cairns were around 27~33°).  Today is going to be around 37° again here!

The flood in Brisbane looks terrible…  I’ve never experienced flood in my life, but watching the flood swallowing many cars on the street tells me how awful it is for people living there and I feel sorry for their loss.

This is one of the most amazing photo…..  9 News shows a green frog hitching a ride on the back of a brown snake.

I remember the terrible hail storm Perth got last summer. Although I wasn’t in Perth during the hail storm by the way, but my husband was right there and showed me what was happening.  Sometimes we can’t avoid natural disaster and it tells us how powerless we are against the big nature.

On the other side of the world it seems to be all white and cold.  Well, that’s the normal January I know, but I can’t imagine the cold snow and eating mandarins in kotatsu from here.

Subway at Home

Posted January 11th, 2011 in Food | No Comments »

Since I can’t (don’t want to) get rolls from Subway while pregnant, I’m making my own Sub salad rolls at home.  It’s actually started few months ago, and D and I eat them very often (like 5 times a week) now.  Especially it’s very hot these days and what I feel like eating is refreshing cold salad anyway.

So, our fridge is stacked with vegetables.  Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, avocado, red onions, olives, Jalapeno, cheeses, pickles, and sauces….  Each vegetables are chopped/cut and prepared in separate containers so that we can make a roll anytime.  He loves lots of honey mustard on his roll…

I love American mustard and grain mustard.  Sweet chilli also gives a nice flavor!

It’s kind a good idea, as we can eat many kinds of vegetables everyday.  And D seems that he lost some weights!  He didn’t eat any vegetables when I met him 7 years ago.  What a change!


Pregnancy Massage

Posted January 9th, 2011 in Ume's Pregnancy | No Comments »

On the weekend I had a relaxing 1 hour massage by a Japanese lady, Mayumi san, in Wembley.  One of my friend has been Mayumi’s regular client for almost 1 year, and few months ago the friend gave me a gift voucher for 1 hour massage at Mayumi’s.  I was wanting to use this voucher but I didn’t make a booking as I was still in the first and second trimester of my pregnancy and didn’t know if I should be getting massage at that time.  And, around late last year I was told that Mayumi was pregnant too.

I wasn’t so sure if she was still doing massage.  I know massaging someone’s body for 1 hour is a pretty hard work.  But, I really wanted to use this voucher as I’m in the third trimester and my feet, back and shoulders needed some help.  I contacted her, and found out that she is still working!  So I made a booking and I headed to the place on the weekend.

Mayumi works as a massage therapist healing injured people.  Deep tissue massage is what she normally does, but since I’m pregnant she did a relaxation massage to help lymph circulation on my body.

It was a heavenly 1 hour!  She started from my calfs and thighs.  I had to lie on my side while she was doing my feet, back and arms (I can’t lie on the stomach).   She said my feet are cold (I have poor blood circulation), and my right foot is little swelled.  For the back, she did deep tissue massage little bit and it was really good.

After the arms are done I sat on a chair for shoulder massage.  Then, I lied on my back and she did my decollete, neck, head and feet.  She used Macadmia oil to do massage, and her pressure was just perfect.

Half way through the massage my body started to feel really warm.  When I called her to make a booking and she told me it’s going to be a relaxation massage, I thought it was going to be something like what I get at a normal massage salon. (like Swedish massage)  But, what she aims is “healing” and “fixing” of the body, not just making you feel good.  Through the massage she gave me some advice.  In my case, lymph circulation was poor, so she advice me to exercise more and move muscles around my ankles regularly.  Unlike blood, lymph doesn’t travel through the body by heart.  Muscles are the one which helps lymph move through the body.

Unfortunately she is soon stopping working as her due date is on April, but I’d like to get her massage after she returns to work.


Mitarashi Dango

Posted January 7th, 2011 in Food | 6 Comments »

Dango is one of my favorite Japanese sweets!  I love the chewy texture.  Sanshoku-dango (three-color-dango) and mitarashi-dango are must item for me for 3PM tea time, and always get one or two while I’m in Japan.

Dango is made from rice flour, but there are actually few kinds of rice flour in Japan, called dangoko, joshinko and shiratamako.  It’s bit confusing and many people don’t know if there are any differences between them.  They are all made from rice.  Differences are the process of making each flour and also a kind of rice.  Dangoko is made from a combination of mochi rice and uruchi rice. Joshinko is made from uruchi rice.  Shiratamako is made from white mochi rice.  Dango made from dangoko are chewer than those made from joshinko or shiratamako.  Shiratamako gives soft texture and chewiness to dango and it doesn’t go hard when it’s cold.  Joshinko is mainly used to make most kinds of Japanese sweets (eg: mitarashi-dango, kashiwa-mochi etc)

I happened to have joshinko at home, and made mitarashi-dango using a recipe from my grandma!

<Mitarashi Dango> makes about 15

  • 70g joshin-ko or rice flour
  • 35g corn flour
  • 10g sugar
  • 170cc water
  • 40g brawn sugar
  • 150ml water
  • 10ml soy sauce
  • 10g corn flour + water

  1. To make dango, blend all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add water and mix until smooth.
  2. Place the mixture in a sauce pan, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thicken and the color is almost transparent.  Remove from the heat, and cool.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare a steamer.  Start boiling water, and line baking sheet on the bottom of the steamer tray.
  4. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, shape into small balls by hands.  You can use corn flour if the mixture keeps sticking to your hands.
  5. Arrange the dango on the baking sheet, and steam for 20 minutes.
  6. To make sauce: place water, sugar and soy sauce in a small sauce pan, and simmer until the sugar dissolves.
  7. Mix corn flour with 1 tbs water.  Gradually add the cornflour mixture into the sugar water, stirling constantly, to thicken the sauce.
  8. Pour the sauce over dango and serve.  If you like better flavour, grill dango slightly and caramelize the sauce over the heat.

Chapels on Whatley

Posted January 6th, 2011 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

On the way from my sister-in-low’s house, I found this little antique shop called Chapels on Whatley.  From the music from the shop and the chairs/tables displayed outside, I thought it was just another Chinese furniture/antique shop.  But, once I stepped inside there are more than Chinese ornaments and drawings.

First, lots of scented candles caught my eyes.  There are many antique kitchen wares and furnitures that reminded me of my grandma. The shop was quite big –  there is another building at the back displaying Chinese ornaments and birdcages.

The owner of this shop is very friendly, and offered us some Chinese tea.  Then I realised there’re so many kinds of tea leaves sold at the door.

From familier ones such as oolong tea and rose tea, to Pu-Erh tea and lemon grass, there are more than 30 kinds of leaves sold and being available for tasting.  D tried lemon grass tea and another smoky tea (some kind of root: I don’t remember the name).  Lemon grass was very refreshing, he said.

Brewing flower tea is one of the most beautiful thing to watch.  Very pretty.

The owner told us that there is going to be a cafe inside the shop around February where customers can enjoy different kinds of teas and coffees.  I am so looking forward to it.

Address: 196 Whatley Crs Maylands Perth WA

Phone: 08 9272 7738


Productive Weekend – Making Paper and Owl

Posted January 5th, 2011 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

It was very productive weekend for me.  I stayed home most of the time because of the heat and tiredness.  I spent time in front of tv a lot, but also enjoyed making some things.  One of them are recycled paper.  Yes, D and I made lots of paper at home using a paper making kit we bought online before Christmas.

First, we teared up paper and soaked in water overnight.

The process is very simple, but it just took some time – we stayed in the laundry room for about 1 hour transforming the soaked paper into pulps using a blender, shaping the pulps into A4 size, and hanging the paper to dry.

Scoop the pulps using a frame,

Pressing the pulps into tea towels,

And drying the paper.

Here are the completed recycled paper!  Looks perfect…

We did this process 3 times over the weekends, and made about 60 pieces of paper.  I’m using the paper for Bagelier and my another website (not completed yet) in future!

Another thing I did over the weekend was….  sewing!!  I actually can’t believe I was type of person who likes doing this stuff, but I did enjoy it.  Buying a sewing machine was D’s idea; we bought Brother sewing machine at just over $70.00 from Spotlight on the Boxing Day.  It had been more than 10 years since last time I used a sewing machine.  I never did sewing outside school;  I didn’t really have interest in sewing.  But now I completed my first work “owl” and am working on my second one “Baby on Board” stuffing toy to put in my car.

Making this owl took quite a long time (as I totally had forgotten how sewing a stuffed toy works), but my “Baby on Board” is nearly finished; I will upload the photo once I’m done!

Hello 2011

Posted January 1st, 2011 in Japan, Perth WA | No Comments »


Happy New Year!!

It seems that Japan is getting lots of snow since yesterday.  My mum said it started to snow yesterday morning in her city in Shiga, and in the evening she couldn’t move her car because of the snow which had been built up.  My friends also said that it’s snow storming outside.  Regardless of whether they are enjoying the snow or not, I do miss snow and wish I was there!

Perth is, on the other hand, in middle of summer.  I had Nachos and watermelon for dinner yesterday.  Oh yes, I didn’t forget to eat toshikoshi-soba 年越しそば this year too.  It’s just one of Japanese tradition I don’t want to miss.  I remember eating soba on the New Year’s eve two years ago at my house with my family, while watching a countdown to 2009 on tv.

In the morning of New Year’s Day, we eat special food called osechi, and zenzai or ozoni in Japan.  Zenzai is a sweet red bean soup with mochi (rice cake), and ozoni is sweet miso soup with mochi.  I had delicious osechi food and ozoni in Perth last year at my friend’s house (I wrote about it here), but this family has gone back to Japan for good and I can’t experience it anymore.

I was actually going to make zenzai at home, but just couldn’t find time.  It’s too hot to make hot azuki soup here anyway…  So, instead, I made mitarashi-dango.  (rice flour dumpling with caramelised sauce)

The process of making dango was fun.  But, after eating just a couple of these I became so full!

Well, at least I started this new year with some Japanese traditional food.

My family is going to visit a shrine for hatsu-moude 初詣 to pray for a new year tomorrow.  My mum said she will pray for me, D and my baby, and buy an amulets and send it to me.  I really wish I was there too.

Today is a start of new year.  My New Year’s resolution is to be honest.  I want to be honest to my feelings and try to share it with other people.  I hope this year will be one of the wonderful year of my life.