Daily Deals

Posted April 13th, 2011 in Perth WA, Ume's Interests | No Comments »

Scoopon, DealMe, OurDeal, AllTheDeal, etc etc.  There are so many websites that sell daily deal coupons online now.  The first one to do this was American company Groupon (www.groupon.com), and was founded in November 2008.

Groupon is operated worldwide, except Australia – some people should know the battle between Groupon and Scoopon.  Scoopon bought the domain “groupon.com.au” and forced Groupon to buy it at an insane price.  Groupon accepted it, but then Scoopon changed their maid – they’d only sell the domain and trademark if Groupon buys the entire Scoopon business.  The deal is off.   Groupon sued Scoopon, and Groupon is now doing the business in Australia under Stardeals (www.stardeals.com.au).

Anyway, I’m sure many people have already purchased at least one deal from one of these websites before.  Some of the deals are great!  They offer big discount (sometimes over 80% off) on food, entertainment, accommodation, beauty and more.  I’ve purchased once before, and now I’m waiting for a good deal on massages.  There’re so many similar deals and I don’t know which one to pick.

I was browsing Groupon Japan today.  They have deals on each prefecture across Japan (Tokyo has the most), from Hokkaido to Okinawa.  Tokyo has the deals on almost each cities.  Nice…

Hitori Cafe Time

Posted April 12th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

3 am – outside is, of course, dark and quiet, and the air is nice and cool.  It’s been almost 6 weeks since I started being awake this early, and I’m used to it already.

After feeding and putting Hiro back to sleep, I sometimes sit on the cozy sofa in the living room and take a nap, or stay awake until his next feed.  After awhile I start to feel hungry and make myself breakfast.

This morning I felt like toasted ham, cheese and salad sandwich.  With black coffee (decaf), of course.  And, smelling the toasted bread reminded me of “morning” (= breakfast).  In Japan, cafes offer cheap breakfast and it’s called “morning”.

Going to a neighbouring cafe with my dad to have “morning” on weekend morning has been a ritual for a long time.  That’s what we do every weekend morning while I’m back in Japan.  The “morning” starts from 8am and finishes around 10am.  I’m normally awake before 8am, and when dad wakes up we head to a cafe together.

The “morning” is not a special food, really.  It’s just a set of salad, a hard boiled egg, toast (thick slice!) and drink. (depends on the cafe)  It costs just few hundreds yen and is nothing special to talk about, but I just love having this “morning” in a cafe with my dad (and sometimes with mum and bro).  It reminds me “oh, I’m in Japan with my family now.”

Now I’m here in Perth enjoying the “morning” time alone, and I miss the family “morning”.

Prawn and Edamame Triangles

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

Golden triangles filled with juicy prawn and edamame!  The texture of crispy skin and soft edamame are so great…

I just wanted to use up the leftover spring roll sheets, and it turned out to be a great midday snack.  It’ll also go well with beer, I believe.  You can also use gyoza skin or wonton skin, instead of spring roll sheet.

The shelled edamame (called “muki-edamame”) can be found at some Asian grocery shops.

<Prawn and Edamame triangles>

  • 4 spring roll sheets
  • 180g prawn
  • 1/4 cup edamame, shelled
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp minced ginger
  • plain flour + water
  • oil to fry
  1. Thaw the prawn and edamame, if they are frozen.
  2. Chop up the prawn finely.
  3. Mix the prawn, edamame, ginger and soy sauce in a mixing bowl.  Season with salt and white pepper.
  4. Cut the spring roll sheets into four squares each.  You should have 16 small square sheets.
  5. Spoon the prawn mixture on the sheets.  Wet the 2 side edges with flour water, and firmly press to close the edges.
  6. Heat the oil to 180 ℃.  Deep-fry the triangles until golden.

Serve with a dipping sauce (soy sauce + chilli oil) or as it is.

Autumn is Here!

Posted April 10th, 2011 in Perth WA | No Comments »

It’s so good to have Internet back…  For the last few days the Internet connection was on and off at my house, and couldn’t check emails/websites at all since last night. It was so frustrating as I had to do something online and also was expecting an email from someone.

As internet connection is very important for D’s job too, we needed to fix it asap. Lucky it’s weekend and he didn’t need to work.  He called up ISP and it’s ok now, but I think we’d better to change ISP…

Since the rain 3 days ago, the weather’s really cooled down!  Now we are wearing sweater and ugg boots, and D took out a heater from the shed.  Such a sudden change..

I feel like I did a bit of things this week.  We finally received Hiro’s birth announcement cards which I ordered online few days ago, and sent off to my families and friends in Japan.  I printed out Hiro’s photos for making an album, bought some cosmetics online from Japan (because AUS$ is strong now) and had them send to my house (I will bring them back here when I go back home in few months), organised and filed some paperworks, etc etc.  Other time, I do some cooking in the kitchen.  I know I should be resting, but when I stay at home I just have to look for something to do…  it’s my personality, and it’s tiring (*_*).

The biggest worry I had few days ago was Hiro’s constipation.  I don’t know if it’s constipation, but he didn’t poop for 3 whole days…  before then he used to poop once or twice in 2 days.  The poop is not hard, so maybe I just worry too much, but every time I see his face goes red and trying to push something out, I just think that he may be in pain!

Another thing that’s been staying in my head is a HOLIDAY.  Not the holiday to my home in Japan, but somewhere else!  For some reason I started to think about Bali – and now I can’t wait to go there with three of us plus my dad and bro.  I don’t know when it’ll be, but I’m sure it won’t happen anytime soon.  Probably when Hiro is around 2 years old.  I also have a dream going to Disneyland (either in America or Japan) and stay at the Disney resort!  Staying in the Disney resort hotel has been a dream since I was young.  I’ve been to Tokyo Disneyland few times but it’s very long time ago, and I’ve never stayed in the Disney resort before.  I really want to go there with Hiro sometime, and stay at the hotel surrounded by Disney characters.  I know it’s not cheap, but it’s ok to do it at least once in a life, I guess.  Now I’ve gotta save up some money for the dream holiday!

Croque Monsieur Ume’s Style

Posted April 7th, 2011 in Food | 2 Comments »

It was raining this morning!!  Finally I can actually see and feel that the weather is moving towards autumn and winter.  Outside is bit windy, and cloudy now.  I love it!

In the weather like today, I feel like something warm for breakfast.  This dish is what I made in the home economic class when I was in elementary school in Japan.  The name of the dish was “Croque Monsieur”, so I still call it so.  The original Croque Monsieur is actually a simple hot ham and Gruyere cheese sandwich, fried in butter.  This one, on the other hand, uses spam instead of ham, and the sandwich is dipped in egg mixture before being grilled.

It’s kind of French toast of spam and cheese sandwich.  Melted cheese and crispy bread – this can be a great snack for afternoon too. 🙂

<Croque Monsieur>  makes 1

  • 2 slices of stale bread (toast slices)
  • spam (as much as you want to put)
  • 1 slice of cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs milk
  • 1 tbs butter
  1. Place spam and cheese on a slice of bread, and sandwich with another slice.
  2. Beat the egg, and mix with milk.  Transfer the egg mixture into a shallow plate which is wide enough to put the bread in.
  3. Place the sandwich into the egg mixture to soak for about 30 seconds, then flip it around.
  4. Melt the butter in a frying pan, and grill the sandwich, both side, until golden.


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

Just received a package from my friend in Hokkaido – UNIQLO clothes and a book for Hiro.

What a wonderful gift!  Things must be still not as same as they used to be over there, but she did find the time to go shopping for my little boy…  Thanks!

She said that she heard on the news saying UNIQLO is getting popular in Australia, and that’s why she went to UNIQLO to buy some baby clothes.  Then I thought “Ok, there is no UNIQLO in Perth, but there must be few in Eastern states.  Actually, according to UNIQLO website, there is no UNIQLO shop in Australia.  (@_@)

The Japanese retailer UNIQLO is expanding worldwide now.  Personally I love UNIQLO too.  That’s one of the shop I go to every time I go back to Japan.  I love the simple design, and most of all, the price.  Reasonable pricing, basic and simple design, and wide variety.

When UNIQLO first opened in Japan, the image of the brand was just “cheap”  around me and friends.  So, sometimes we felt little embarrassed when someone said “hey, isn’t it UNIQLO you’re wearing?”  But now, UNIQLO is one of the biggest brand in Japan and very popular in other countries too.

I think, what changed the image of UNIQLO in us was when they did collaboration with famous artists and anime characters.  When I first saw the  tv ads of UNIQLO T-shirts designed by famous artists, my image for UNIQLO brand was 180° changed and it suddenly seemed to be very stylish.  Since then, they do many collaborations with famous brands and anime characters such as Disney, Dragon Ball, etc.

They sell many products, from panties to jackets, but my favourites are jeans and pants.  They hem the pants when you buy them for free, and give you a little card showing the name of the person (staff) who did it, so you can bring them back to the shop anytime if the size wasn’t right or there’s any problem.   Located in almost each city in Japan is the another reason why I go there too.

Cold Chicken Salad

Posted April 4th, 2011 in Food | 1 Comment »

I love eating salad all year round.  They are healthy, nutritious, and refreshing!  When I’m busy, a simple cut-and-mix salad is a real time saver.  As the weather is still not cooled down yet, I made this cold chicken salad with lots of cucumbers and carrots.  It refreshed my body – as I’ve been eating lots of carb and sweets lately (toast, hot cross buns, scones… the food that are easy to snack on), I really needed something healthy.

Noodle (e.g. somen noodle, rice vermicelli) can be added and make it a cold noodle salad.  The leftover of the salad can be also used to make fresh spring rolls – simply roll the mixed salad in rice paper, and serve with Hoisin sauce.

<Cold Chicken Salad>  serves 2~4

  • 150g chicken breast
  • 1 continental cucumber
  • 1/2 carrot
  • 2~3 leaves lettuce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbs unsalted peanuts
  • 5~6 mint leaves
  • 2 tbs sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tbs lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • few drops fish sauce
  1. Steam or poach the chicken.  Shred the meat.
  2. Heat a frying pan over medium heat.  Slightly bash the garlic cloves with side of knife and crush a little (no need to peel the skin).  Place the garlic and the peanuts on the frying pan, and toast until the peanuts are coloured.  Set aside.
  3. Halve the cucumber, and remove the seeds.  Slice thinly in angle, then cut lengthwise to make thin matchsticks shape.  Slice the carrot into the same size as cucumber.
  4. Finely chop up mint leaves.
  5. Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and toss gently.  Serve immediately.


Tatami or Bed

Posted April 3rd, 2011 in Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

Hiro will be 1 month old tomorrow!  … Still 1 month?  I feel like it’s been months.  He is now very chubby and much heavier than few weeks ago.  The face is getting really round!

One of my friend in Japan is having a baby boy soon, and I was chatting with her on the phone the other night.  She said that she’s decided to give birth in a tatami room in the hospital.  I didn’t know there is an option of tatami delivery room in Japan.  It sounds really … Japanese, isn’t it?

The tatami room in the hospital is really like a room in ryokan (Japanese style hotel).  There’ll be a set of white futon on tatami, and that’s where my friend is pushing her baby out!  Tatami is cushiony, and you can move around freely, so I guess it’s pretty comfortable for mothers.

My another friend told me that her sister gave birth in a tatami room too.  She said it was just like giving birth at your own home.  Besides, there’s no lock on the door in tatami room, so her aunt and father just opened (slid) the door and walked in while sister was pushing the baby – saying “hey, how are you doing?” :p  No privacy!