Free Baby Session Night at MotherCare

Posted September 30th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Yesterday night, sister-in-law and I went down to MotherCare in Melville to attend a free demonstration and information session for mothers and mothers-to-be. Sister-in-law is due on November 🙂

It’s a 2-hour session and we had to register our names in advance. There’re information talk for breastfeeding by a midwife, and also demonstrations and information guide for car seats and strollers by a representative from Britax and MotherCare staff.

The session started at 6pm, so I asked D to feed Hiro as we normally bathe and feed him at 6pm. There’re about 20 people attending the session. First, a midwife talked about breastfeeding, how to use breast pumps, and what to bring to the hospital. It was luckily that sister-in-law attended this because she didn’t know she’ll need maternity pads after having a baby!

Next, a guy from Britax talked about different type of car seats and their pros/cons. I thought the information was very useful. He pointed at the good thing on having a capsule (which I wrote about mine here), as well as its bad side which is that babies may get too hot in the capsule if stayed inside for too long. When he said that there’ll be no second chance if an accident happen and the car seat is not properly fitted, I started to worry if mine is properly fitted as we didn’t ask any specialist to install it. When it comes to a baby’s life, I think it’s worth going down to a store I bought the car seat from and ask them if it’s been installed properly. Good to know that Australian standard for car seats is the best in the world.

Then a midwife talked about safety including SIDS and using a baby monitor. She also did a quick demonstration of CPR. It was good to know that there’s actually a change in CPR guideline for babies.

After the talk, staff at MotherCare picked a couple of strollers and showed us how to use them. We could get 15% off any items purchased on the day (yesterday), and the strollers they showed us were pretty good, I thought. There was also some prizes gave away (which was kind of our main purpose of going there) but we didn’t win. 🙁   Two lucky ladies won Medela pumps and a $600 worth stroller!  We all got a free bounty bag which includes baby wipe, disposable changing mats and maternity pads, so it was nice.

It was a great session overall, and I really liked that MotherCare doing this kind of free information session for expectant mothers. I love their products anyway, reasonable prices and wide range of clothes and toys.  Plus they do sales and promotions quite often, and give away discount vouchers through few websites (e.g.

When I got home, D told me that it had been a disaster after I left… Hiro started crying during the feed, and didn’t even finish drinking 40ml of milk. He continued crying, didn’t take a dummy, and fell asleep after D tried settling him down for 45 minutes. It was a first time that I left him at night, so it might be the reason? But how did he know that I left? I gave him lots of cuddle and kisses when he woke up for feed at 11pm. :))


Japanese Mayonnaise

Posted September 28th, 2011 in Food | 2 Comments »

Japanese mayonnaise has different taste from Western style mayonnaise.  It’s thicker in texture, and has rich flavour.  Some people love this Japanese mayonnaise, and some don’t.

When I came to Perth I tried Western style mayonnaise the first time, and I hated it.  I thought it taste like cooking oil (well, all mayonnaise contain oil, but it tasted more oily to me somehow), and didn’t have the creaminess that Japanese mayonnaise has. I’m used to it now and enjoy it occasionally though.

I wasn’t actually a mayonnaise-lover in Japan either. My mum and brother love (Japanese) mayonnaise and add it to any food such as braised vegetables, pickles, grilled fish and meatballs. Some super-mayonnaise-lovers in Japn eat mayonnaise with just steamed rice!!!! (yuck…)

I, however, need mayonnaise when I eat some certain foods.  They include okonomiyaki, takoyaki, and salad with tinned tuna. They are meant to be eaten with mayonnaise!!

It wasn’t my intension but I made tuna sushi and okonomiyaki 2 days in a row. I need Japanese mayonnaise for both of them. Mayonnaise tastes so good on okonomiyaki…. yum! I ate lots of mayonnaise in these two days, but I guess it’s fine. 🙂

Oh, one more food that need mayonnaise.  Teriyaki chicken burger!  Mayonnaise and teriyaki sauce match so well. 🙂

What to Feed a Baby

Posted September 27th, 2011 in Ume and Baby | 4 Comments »

There is one thing I regret of doing while Hiro was still a newborn.  It is that I should have tried harder on breastfeeding him.   I had difficulty feeding him from breast (because of my nipple shape and also the size of Hiro’s mouth etc) but I think the problem should have been solved if I had tried harder and continued doing it longer.  I didn’t want to give up on giving him breast milk, so I expressed using an electric pump and gave him with a bottle. It had became a regular routine, and he got so used to the bottles that eventually forgot how to suck on nipples.

At my friends’ house I see them breastfeeding their babies and it looks so natural.  On the other hand, I have to carry a bottle of expressed breast milk (EBM) or formula to feed my baby everywhere I go.  It’s not a big deal, I know.  The important thing is to feed him and not letting him feel hungry.  But, somehow I feel that I failed.

When I visited a Japanese playgroup with Hiro, I had to warm up a bottle of formula.  Then I noticed other mums watching me and telling me “oh, you are feeding him formula….” with an “interesting-look”.  I felt they’re thinking why I’m not breastfeeding my baby.  Also, while chatting with other mums, they were saying that breast milk is the best and you can tell if the baby is breastmilk-fed or formula-fed by their sizes.  I know breast milk is the best, and I’m not giving Hiro formula because it’s easy to prepare.  I wanted to yell at them, but I was shocked when my friend agreed with them and said that she wouldn’t want to give her baby more than 120ml of formula a day.  She knew I give Hiro quite lots of formula.

In Japan, I feel, they are more serious about breastfeeding, and they judge other people by what they feed their babies; breast milk or formula.  They are proud of breastfeeding their babies until the babies reach 2 years old, or giving ONLY breast milk at least for the first 6 months.  I’ve been asked this question  “do you breastfeed your baby?” by doctor, nurse, or Japanese mothers.  I don’t know why they are so obsessed about this.  Of course not everyone is like that, and maybe it’s all in my head, but I felt that mums at the playgroup were looking down on me for feeding formula to my baby.  The experience kind of made me feel shame of being not able to breastfeed my baby and giving formula.

Well, what can I do?  Since then I don’t want to feed Hiro in front of other Japanese mums, especially while they breastfeed their babies.  I shouldn’t care about what other think, like D tells me, but somehow I still feel shame.

When Hiro was around 6 months old I started giving him rice cereal as his first solids. I thought it’s one of the best food to start since everyone (child health nurse, people on internet, etc) recommended it to give babies for the first food.  I didn’t have any doubt about it, and Hiro took it pretty well.  After rice cereal I moved on to hand-made pureed vegetables (carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, zucchini, etc).  Then, again, I heard some Japanese mums complaining about feeding rice cereal to the babies.  In Japan, very soft rice porridge (o-kayu) is a typical first solids to babies, and they think that store-bought pack of rice cereal is a not good food to start with.  Hmmmmm…… why they care about such small thing? I mean, someone gives rice cereal, someone gives home-made porridge, it doesn’t matter.  It’s everyone’s choice and they don’t need to complain about it in public.  Yes I did give my baby rice cereal, but was it wrong thing to do?  I don’t think so.  After “rice cereal” subject, they now started talking about commercial baby foods.  Yes, complaining again.  I can’t stand people who complain all the time.  🙁   What to feed babies is everyone’s choice!


Posted September 26th, 2011 in Eat out in Perth | No Comments »

My quick lunch at McDonald’s last week.

McDonald’s is doing this Play I Spy campaign, which could win you some prizes.  When you buy selected items from McDonald’s, the items come with Play I Spy stickers and 1 in 5 wins instantly!

I got McNuggets value meal and D got BigMac value meal, so we had 4 stickers in total to peel off….

Did I win something??   YES!!!!!!!  …. just a cup of coffee 😀  But it’s better than nothing!  D didn’t win anything..

There’s also 2nd chance where you can enter to win unclaimed prizes.

Hmmmm, anyway, I did enjoy McNuggets. 🙂  I used to eat McNugget a lot back in Japan, and this is one of the foods I craved for while I was pregnant!  I normally get mustard and ketchup to accompany, but this time I only got mustard.  Yummm…


Sweet Fix

Posted September 25th, 2011 in Food, Perth WA | No Comments »

Our window shopping at Carousel shopping centre ended up as a hunting trip for sweets this week. We found a stall in the centre of hallway selling unique candies and soda drinks.

They all looked colorful, and reminded me of a candy shop I used to spend my whole afternoon while I was little. The products they sell at this stall are different from what I used to eat in Japan though. They are more like  American-style sweets which are in different colors and flavors.

D wanted to buy something, but I thought they’re bit expensive compared to other chains such as Darrell Lea. But, they all looked cute and we bought few packs of sugary candies. One of them, “fruit sticks” tasted like the one I used to get from a game centre machine in Japan, and recalled my memory of feeding the sugary candy to my brother when he was sick. He was around 5 years old and that candy was the only food he could manage to eat. I remember I thought he was dying (he was actually having measles) and worried about him a lot. So I got lots of the same candy and kept feeding it to him until he said “enough…”.

While remembering these childhood memories, we walked pass Darrell Lea and went inside the store to have a look around. Then we bought 2 packs of peanut brittle and 1 pack of caramel snows (which is finger-sized candy with layers of chocolate, caramel and white icing). Caramel is usually not my favorite thing, but I felt like eating it then. I even wanted to buy caramel McFlurry (which I ended up not buying). Our bodies needed some sweets!

That night we went nuts over these sugary treats…..   I had stomachache afterwards, but no regret! :p


Onigiri Breakfast

Posted September 23rd, 2011 in Food | 4 Comments »

Since my friend told me that her kids eat either toast or onigiri (rice balls) for breakfast, I’ve been having a craving for onigiri!  Why not eat onigiri in the morning?  I ask myself.  Sometimes I wake up with empty stomach and onigiri may be a good food to eat for breakfast to fill me up.

There are many many fillings and flavors for onigiri you can find in Japan.  The typical ones include umeboshi (pickled plum), katsuo (seasoned bonito flakes), konbu (seasoned seaweed), and sha-ke (cooked and seasoned salmon), and unique ones include pork katsu, raw fish roe, sweet azuki bean paste, cheese, yakisoba, kimuchi, and natto.  I like these onigiri with fillings in the centre, but also love origiri which the ingredients mixed with rice (mazekomi-onigiri).  My favorite mazekomi-onigiri is shake-wakame (cooked & seasoned salmon and wakame seaweed).  Yummmmm!  Onigiri is usually triangle shape so that you can get to the filling in the centre on each bite from any angle.

People make onigiri in different ways : some use hands, and other use plastic wrap.  I use my hands because that’s how my mum used to make onigiri for me 🙂  It may get messy, but is the original way to make onigiri.  You will need a bowl of water to dip your palms each time you make each onigiri otherwise the rice sticks to your palms.  Here is a short video of how to make triangle onigiri by hands:

This time I made onigiri with katsuo filling in the centre, and wakame & goma (roasted sesame seeds) mazekomi-onigiri.  I’ve also posted few onigiri recipes here and here.

<Onigiri  > makes 6

  • 1.5 cup short or medium grain rice
  • salt

katsuo onigiri :

  • 5g bonito flakes
  • 1tsp soy sauce
  • seasoned nori sheet (you can use non-seasened one, if you like)

mazekomi onigiri:  (for about 1 cups cooked rice)

  • 1 tsp dry wakame
  • 1 tsp roasted white sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  1. Cook rice according to pack instructions. (with just water) Stand it for about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, mix bonito flakes with soy sauce, and set aside. In another bowl, soak wakame in little amount of water (about 1.5 tbs). When the wakame absorbs the water and becomes soft, drain and chop up. Mix with sesame seeds and salt, and set aside.
  3. Prepare a bowl of clean water, a bottle of salt (e.g. table salt), shamoji (a flat rice paddle), seasoned bonito flakes, wakame, and seasoned nori sheets next to steamed rice. (hot)
  4. Wet your hands and sprinkle salt over the palms. Scoop about 1cup of rice and place on a palm. Quickly make a hole in the centre, and place the filling (seasoned bonito flake) inside. Shape the rice into triangle, and decorate with nori sheets. Make two more.
  5. Mix the leftover rice with wakame mixture. Wet your hands, and scoop 1/3 f the rice into a palm. Shap the rice into triangle. Repeat to make two more.


* You can use plastic wrap to shape onigiri instead of using your hands. The rice is pretty hot, so it may burn your hands if you do the shaping too slow.

If you are using plastic wrap:

Place about 20cm x20cm plastic wrap on the kitchen bench.

Spray water on the surface of wrap, and sprinkle salt. Place about 1 cup of rice and make a hole in the centre.

Place the filling inside the hole, and close the 4 edges of the wrap together and shape the rice into triangle over plastic wrap.

* Onigiri doesn’t have to be in triangle shape. Make them in ball or square too.


A Rainy Day

Posted September 21st, 2011 in Food | No Comments »

It’s been cloudy for the last couple of days, but today it’s been raining since early morning.  The sky is white, and the air is cold.

I actually like the rainy day. Some people may get depressed feeling because it’s dark and cold, but it kinda make me feel relaxed.  I had pumpkin soup and toasted ham & cheese sandwich for brunch, and enjoyed it while listening to the sound of rain. 🙂


I started tidying up my room yesterday, and found that I have so many things I actually don’t use. Clothes, zakka stuff, toys, kitchen tools…  I know I should through some of them away, or at least give them away to someone.  I’m still working on sorting these things out.  I can only do this while Hiro is sleeping (which is only 30 minutes every 4 hours), so I think it will take a while…  I’m Year of the Pig, so I can’t stop doing things once I started.  No wonder I dreamed about tidying up room last night. :p

I thought I should also remove all my kitchenware (plates, cups, etc) from kitchen and put them in a cardboard box, because I’m not using them and won’t need them until I move out this house. (I don’t know when though…)  Now the kitchen storage looks great.  I think in-laws will be happy when they come back here from Jakarta sometime next month.

It’s so funny that I have so many things for house even though I don’t need them.  Like, a frying pan, a panini press, cutlery, plates, etc.  I’m so ready to move out, I guess.

Wow, now it’s stormy outside.  I was going to go to a swimming pool to have a look at baby swimming class, but I’m not sure now.  It looks cold…  Probably afternoon.

Review of Chicco Cortina Travel System

Posted September 20th, 2011 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

I’m using Chicco Cortina travel system stroller, and I want to write about how I like and don’t like this product.

First of all, there are few types of baby strollers available in the market. They include “umbrella strollers”, “jogging strollers”, “pram/carriage strollers”, “stroller travel system” ect. The reason I chose travel system is because my friend was using it and looked so handy and practical.

The biggest difference between travel system strollers and other strollers is that you can take off the capsule from the stroller and use it as a car seat by attaching to the base (dock). This way, you don’t disturb sleeping baby when taking him/her out from the car. That’s the top reason why I bought it.

There are few travel system strollers available, but I chose Chicco brand because ToysRus was doing a sale when I was looking for a stroller. I liked the features and the looking. Chicco has two travel system strollers (in WA): Cortina and Trevi. I didn’t like the handles and the position of luggege net on Trevi. I liked the drink/food holders for baby and mum on Cortina, so I chose this.

I actually didn’t search about other strollers before buying Chicco, but I’m pretty happy with it. Here are my review (Pros/Cons) of Chicco Cortina.


– The stroller stands up by itself when folded.

– It has a drink holder and small storage compartment near the handle, so I can put my phone, car key, a bottle of drink, etc there and it’s useful.

– When the capsule is attached, you can cover the capsule entirely by closing the canopy. So, it shuts out the noise and light from baby inside the capsule.

– The capsule is very easy to install. Easy to attach and detach between the stroller and the base (dock).

– The stroller is easy to collapse (3 steps), and easy to open (1 step).

– Capsule can be used as a rocker as well


– The stroller is pretty big and heavy. It just fits in my car’s trunk, so I think it doesn’t fit in some small cars.

– When the capsule is attached, the seat of the stroller has to be flat and there is only very small gap between the seat and the storage net, so I couldn’t use the net at all while using the capsule. I guess I could put my bags etc while the seat is up, but I wouldn’t be able to take anything out from the net while the capsule (and baby) is on.

– Like some of other strollers, there is no “peeking window” on the canopy. It’d be great if it had one.

– After the baby is too big for the capsule, baby sits on the seat. I felt that the seat is too low in position. I couldn’t see even his head from the handle side, so I had to walk to the front and check if he is still there.

– No bag hook on the handle area.

Overall, I am very happy with this stroller. I really loved using a capsule. It was just two motions (detach from the stroller and attach to the base) when putting my baby into a car, and it was great when you have lots of shopping bags or it’s raining. My baby loved the capsule too, and he slept very well in it. If I could I wanted to use the capsule longer, but I had to use another baby car seat when my baby is too big for it. Now I hate the normal car seat because he wakes up and cries every time I take him out from the car. If he was in the capsule, he’d keep sleeping comfortably.

Kids Cupcakes

Posted September 19th, 2011 in Food | No Comments »

Cupcakes with icing are not common sweet you can find in Japan. They are more like “foreign sweet” to us. Colorful green and purple icing used to freak me out. They looked so artificial, very sugary, and appetiting to me. But now, after living in Australia for over 8 years, I see this type of cupcakes everywhere and have started to think these are normal food we eat reguraly. I even get a craving for this sometimes.

Cupcake is easy to munch on, and looks cute with varieties of decorations. It’s a great item for parties and afternoon teas as well. I think cupcake is one of the most popular sweet for kids, as it’s colouful, sweet, and just right size for little ones to hold and eat.

I used to make this “face cupcake” when I was working at a bakery in Claremont. This sure looks cute, and loved watching kids picking the one with smarties and jelly beans in their favorite colors. Like, “can I please have the one with pink eyes and a green mouth?”.

Mini mrshmallows and 100’s & 1000’s are other typical toppings for cupcakes, especially for those who love sugary treats. Personally I wouldn’t want my kid to eat these sugary food often, but I’m sure most kids love them and eat them with smiles! 🙂


Posted September 17th, 2011 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

Kaba-kore (cover-colle), a short word for “cover collection”, is an order service from SoftBank in Japan to make customized cases for smart phones.  You can chose the design from three categories: from Oto-san Dog gallery, from design templates, or by uploading the images.

I like the idea of being able to use your own photo or image to create a case. No one else would have the same case!  The image will be printed to the sides of the case, and it looks great.

Oh, I just love the SoftBank’s character,  Oto-san Dog!!  So cute…. (one of my favorite character.  Post is here)  You can create novelty goods using this service as well.  Hmmm maybe I should make one for my iPhone!

There are also many collaboration designs available, including Pokemon, CanCam (a Japanese fashion magazine), and Hawks.  I also loves the Rock design of SoftBank tv CM family.   Oto-san Dog is so cute!

Japanese Automatic Toilet

Posted September 16th, 2011 in Japan, Ume's Interests | 3 Comments »

I wrote about automatic bidet toilet seats earlier, but here again I just want to re-write about it.

Apparently there are several automatic bidet toilet seats available in Australia.  Most of them fit standard-sized Australian toilet and just need to be simply replaced with the existing one.  You will need power point in the toilet to use electronic toilet seat though.

Automatic bidet toilet in the bathroom is a very common thing you can find in Japan.  72% of Japanese households have one of these (REF), and almost all of them are TOTO brand.  TOTO has many advanced features rarely seen outside of Asia, and it designs the world’s most sophisticated bathroom products, elevating the bathroom from the merely functional to a total relaxing experience. I find it little funny that the oldest type of toilet (squat toilet) is still somewhat common in public places and some households in Japan, as well as these advanced electronic toilets.  Some public toilet (female) have three kinds of toilet : squat (hole on the ground), non-bidet, and bidet. It’s just because some elderlies still prefer squat style.  Most of the squat toilets are automatic though.  It flashes automatically when you leave the toilet.

Had been living in such environment, it is natural for Japanese people to long for one of these automatic toilet seat to have in the house outside Japan too. I know several Japanese families in Perth installed TOTO toilet seats in their houses, and they look so great….  I always wished I had one at home too.  TOTO brand is very expensive (I think it’s around few thousands dollars) compared to other brands, but is the best according to all the reviews and product information.  But, not everyone can afford few thousands on a toilet seat.  I think the cheaper ones are ok and still do the job –

With these demands from Japanese custoemers, Zakka Box in Mount Lawley started selling electronic bidet toilet seats at shop.  They are Korean brand, and are much cheaper than TOTO’s.  When I visited the shop, the owner told me that she actually installed TOTO toilet seat few years ago and it’s been amazing all the guests who visited her house. Having an electronic bidet toilet seat is one of Japanese people’s dream who live here (of course other people dream about it too), but TOTO brand is too expensive to buy.  Now she sells these Korean bidet toilet seats, and they have became popular item, she said.

Here are the brief functions of the two bidet seats she sells at shop:


  • instantaneous heating for 24 hours
  • one pocket two nozzles
  • self-cleaning nozzle
  • bubble cleaning – air pump motor
  • turbo – for reglar motions
  • automatic drier (adjustable temperature)
  • occupied seat sensor
  • warm air drying
  • adjustable warmness on seat
  • kids lock


all above functions, plus

  • stainless nozzle
  • deodorisation with aromatic
  • ultraviolet sterilising illumination
  • etiquette tunes
  • luxurious remote control

    You know, actually you can look it up on eBay to find it cheaper, to tell the truth.  But, buying from an actual shop and the shop you know may be better  – in case it breaks or got problems, you can always ask for help.

    By the way, I found this very funny…


    Fix My Appearance

    Posted September 15th, 2011 in Ume's Interests | 1 Comment »

    I’ve always thought I’m not really a girly person.  I prefer playing with dogs and cats rather than polishing my nails, and prefer going for a drive rather than going for shopping.  I like being alone sometimes, and do things at my own pace.  I don’t really like being in a group and do things together.

    Some of my friends are really women-like.  Shopping for clothes and handbags, getting manicure and pedicure, going to a hair salon every 3 months…  One of them bought some expensive facial and skincare equipments from Japan to keep herself beautiful : minus-iron face steamer, face roller, face lift machine, even an IPL machine to do at home.  Seeing them sometimes makes me think that I should be more “girly” at least a little bit more.  Yes, I admire them keeping themselves look tidy and beautiful.  I’d love to have good-looking hairstyle and fingernails all the time too.  I do want to, but I’m not sure if I can do it.  I mean, I can’t continue doing things sometimes.  Few days later I may forget about my manicure set and few weeks later it will be missing from my view.  I don’t know if I can change this personality now :p

    When I realize I need to fix my appearance, however, I can’t wait any longer to get started.  When I’m in mood for it, I want to do it right now. (Yes I am blood type AB, my star sign is Pisces, and I’m Year of the Pig. These 3 things compose my character.)  Now is the time.  I really really really want to do something about my HAIR.  I also feel I need to do something about my face too.  My face looks so tired and unhealthy in the mirror.  Yes I’m 10 years older than 10 years ago, but I still want to look like me when I was 10 years younger.  (Haha :p ) But, this time, I’m keeping myself stay calm.  Because I want to get my hair done in Japan.

    I’ve been to several hair salons in Perth, but I must admit that I still prefer salons in Japan.  Price-wise and technique-wise.  Over the last 8 years, I’ve had only one good experience here – it was from Hair Plus in Perth, and I actually liked the hairstyle I got.  Even a stranger told me “wow, how do you maintain your hairstyle so good without being in Japan?”.  My hair was just below my ears (so it was pretty short), and the colour was very light brown.  (I had it when I was writing my old blog)  At other salons, people are great and friendly, but I just wasn’t very happy with the outcome.

    My current hairstyle is the worst, I think (*_*).  Before, my hair was always longer than my shoulders so I could at least tie my hair up.  But now, my hair is pretty short and I feel like I’m having a bad hair day everyday.  I don’t like how my hair is cut – the angle, length… everything.  It looks like I cut my hair myself.  I don’t want to say where I got my hair done (it might be just because of my poor explanation of how I want my hairstyle to be to the hairstylist) but I wasn’t happy with the hairstyle and hair colour I got…

    It seems that my hair grows very slowly now.  Is it because of breastfeeding?  My hair should be longer than this… It’s been few months since I got haircut already!

    I hopt it grows long enough to have new haircut in Japan.  Or I can get hair extensions, I guess…  I want to take photos of before/after and hopefully post them on Umeboss to show. :-p

    A Beautiful Spring Day

    Posted September 14th, 2011 in Food, Perth WA | 2 Comments »

    It was bit cloudy yesterday morning.  I thought it was going to rain. I checked the weather on my iPhone and it had a illustration of half rain/half sunny.   The whole week seemed to be like that.

    I felt like eating Japanese food in the morning, so I quickly prepared my breakfast.  Steamed rice, umeboshi (sour plum pickles), natto, seasoned nori, and osuimono (clear soup).  That’s it??? You ask.  Hmmm, it doesn’t seem to be a meal, does it?  But yes, it is to me.  I love soshoku (plain/simple diet). 🙂  Placed on a box of toy….  This is my dining table now.

    During the day I took Hiro to a neighboring Duck Park for a walk.  The sun was blight then and it was a perfect weather for strolling in the park.  It was just after 1PM and there was no one around, except one mum and one baby girl sitting near the pond enjoying their quality afternoon.

    This is what I love about Perth.  There are so many parks… almost everywhere.  The beautiful ones.  Lots of greens, lots of birds, lots of nature….  Walking through a quiet park in such a beautiful weather, I just wanted to scream! “I LOVE THIS”

    For lunch, we headed to Northbridge because D wanted to buy some Indonesian noodles.  We went to the usual Vietnamese place on William street, again.

    D ordered Pork Chop Rice and I ordered Mai Fun with Braised Chicken.  D loves this place because there’s always not many people inside.  Yesterday when we arrived, there’s no other customers- only us.  It was lucky because Hiro was screaming while we were eating our lunch.

    We had a look inside Kong’s and VHT, but D couldn’t find what he was looking for.  D wanted this particular Indonesian instant noodles which we haven’t seen anywhere for a while.  Maybe it’s not permitted to import to Australia anymore.  We could go to other grocery shops to have a look, but we didn’t want to bother.  There are many Chinese grocery shops, but I wonder if there is any shop selling many Indonesian items.  Maybe the one in Market City in Canning Vale?  We’ll give it a try another day.

    I actually wanted to go to Emma’s Seafood to buy some Japanese stuff too.  But it was bit too far to walk….  I felt like making kappamaki (roll sushi with cucumber).  I have lots of wasabi left at home.  Well, I will come back another time. 🙂



    Posted September 13th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

    Okuizome, literally meaning ‘first eating’, is a traditional Japanese ceremony in hopes that children would never worry about food in future.  It’s held either on the 100th, 110th, or 120th day after the birth.  Of course the baby can’t eat anything yet, so baby  just “pretend” to eat.

    For this ceremony, traditionally we prepare fish, beans, boiled vegetables, soup and rice (white and red mochi (sticky rice ball) or red sticky rice (sekihan)).  Stone  is also prepared to wish a baby to have strong teeth.

    I didn’t do it for Hiro just because I thought it’d be hard to prepare such a feast without being in Japan.  But, after receiving this photo from my friend and hearing the story, I kind of regret that I didn’t do it for Hiro.  I’m not really a traditional person but would like to keep some Japanese tradition.

    I remember my friend (who lives in Japan now) did this okuizome ceremony in Perth few years ago, and I now admire her for doing it.  I think it’s important to keep such traditions, old manners and customs alive.

    Since we are in Australia and can’t follow all Japanese traditional ceremonies for Hiro, I’d like to take him to shrine for omiyamairi when we go to Japan in November.  People usually visit a shrine for Omiyamairi 31 days after a baby boy is born (32 days for girls), but I think it’ll be still ok to pray for his or her health and happiness. 🙂

    Talking about omiyamairi, he is also going to get baptized in church sometime soon, I think. I’m not catholic and don’t know much about catholic ceremonies, but I hear babies are usually baptized soon after birth. Hiro is already 6 months now :p
    Well, he is lucky experiencing two kinds of ceremonies. We don’t know if he choses to be catholic, Buddhist or something else when he grows up, but it is all up to him and we respect his decision 🙂 It’s good to have many options open.

    Steam Cleaner

    Posted September 12th, 2011 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

    It’s been warm and sunny… Yap, spring is here!  It should be. September is already half past!

    It was a “cleaning” Sunday for us. We washed our car, finally…  And, we bought this steamer from Kmart for $29 and steam-cleaned lots of things in the house. Actually, at first I wasn’t sure if it’s really going to work.  It’s $29 and is from Kmart.  But, it’s working pretty good!

    It releases hot steam and the pressure is strong. It’s not strong enough to wash car wheels, but works ok on sofas, car seats, cushions, etc.  You only put 175ml water on each use so it’s very right to carry and is handy. We steamed Hiro’s toys, play mat, car seat, etc.  It was a good buy!

    Morning Walk and Bacci Cake

    Posted September 11th, 2011 in Food, Ume and Baby | No Comments »

    I love the smell of cold morning….  Cold air with bright sunlight and birds singing are somehow different from what I remember of Japan’s winter morning, but they still reminds me of how I liked waking up early in winter while I was in Japan.

    I took Hiro for a walk this morning, because I felt like going outside and also wanted him to wear a hat I found in the closet.  Looks like Mongolian baby 🙂 … or a girl.

    Ohhh my right wrist is so sore… It was ok until I visited Play Group on Friday though. I was holding Hiro for 2 hours there and after I got home it started to be really sore.  Now I need to wear tape around it so that I can do things like holding him, cutting vegetables, and even opening a lid of a jar.  Did I strain it?

    This photo reminded me… In-laws came over to eat a cake together – a Bacci Cake from Cookie Barrel.  It was very rich chocolate and nut cake…

    I mean, very rich.  I couldn’t finish one piece…  but I know this is how people in Australia like chocolate cake to be!  A very rich and sweet.  Hmmmmm, if there was less cream in the ganache and less liquor in the Bacci filling, I might be able to finish it.  Having it once in a while may be a good treat for myself?


    Winter to Spring

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

    D and I get a craving for juicy chicken karaage (recipe is here) once in a while…. I made quite a lot, but we finished them all in one night.  I can’t believe the size of my stomach :p

    The best accompaniments to karaage, for us, are Japanese mayonnaise and Srirachang chili sauce.  And, of course, steamed rice.  I need lots of salad too.  Oily food needs to be eaten with some vegetables.

    Karaage is one of the easy dishes to make.  You just need to toss all ingredients in a plastic bag and let chicken get marinated in the bag.  I added 1 tablespoon of roasted sesame seeds this time.

    I made white  soup (recipe is here) with hakusai (Chinese cabbage) to serve with karaage.  This time I didn’t use chicken thigh but used bacon.  Other ingredients are similar : onion, carrot, broccoli, mushroom, etc.

    I love soup, especially in winter.  Soup with lots of vegetables fuels me up and warms my body.

    The winter is almost over though.  My garden is very colourful now.  Lots of green, lots of yellow, and lots of sunlight.  Bees and butterflies are everywhere.  Yet, early morning is still bit chilly….

    I realized I had frozen scone dough in the freezer, so I baked them off just now.  Smells good.  Oh, I don’t have cream…..  That’s ok, I will eat them with whipped butter and sweet strawberry jam ;_)


    Fairy Birthday Cake

    Posted September 7th, 2011 in Food | No Comments »

    A birthday cake I made last week – a white chocolate cake with a image of fairy.

    When I was asked to make this birthday cake for a 4-year-old girl, I wasn’t 100% sure if I could do this. Things a mother required me to do are:

    • white chocolate-based

    • image or doll of fairy on top of the cake

    • 100&1000 on the side

    • square. not round

    • 5~6 strawberries on top

    • a message plate on top “happy 4th birthday”

    • pink or light purple themed

    • decorated with whipped cream

    …… I’d never made a decoration cake with white chocolate. I could just make white chocolate mud cake, but I knew she wanted it to be somehow Japanese-style. Probably sponge cake with white chocolate ganache? Will it do?

    When she said “a cake with fairy image on top” “100&1000” “pink or purple themed”, I had an image of the cake in my head already. I used to be a little girl and I knew what the birthday girl is after.

    I decided to layer vanilla sponge cake, cocoa sponge cake, white chocolate ganache and whipped cream, then decorate the top and side with white chocolate and whipped cream.

    The most important thing I had to do first, however, was to look for an image of fairy. I found fairy-shaped cake toppers at some online shops, but I didn’t like them. I didn’t think they’re cute. So I ordered a sheet of Tinker Bell edible image.

    It was actually my first time to handle edible image!  I’d never even seen or touched one before. (You can tell from the non-smooth surface of the image on the photo ^^;)  So I was quite nurvous until I opened it from its packaging sheet in the morning of her birthday party.

    Edible image is made of icing, and it can’t be placed on wet surface. Butter cream or fondant will be the best cake to top with edible image, but my cake was made of whipped cream and chocolate ganache. Whipped cream is too wet and it’ll ruin the image. So, I only used white chocolate ganache on the bottom and around the edible image. Whipped cream is used around the cake only.

    The morning was kind of disaster… Not only that I had to make this special cake for a little girl, but I also had a little baby to look after at home. Hiro doesn’t take long nap during the day, so I knew i’d need D’s help while finishing up the cake.

    1 hour before the delivery, I opened the Tinker Bell edible image from it’s packaging and tried to place on top of the cake I prepared.
    It doesn’t peel off!!!!! ((((;゚Д゚))))))). I tried putting it in the freezer for few seconds, but it didn’t work. The time passed, and I was in panic. Hiro was crying next to me. I repeated putting it in the freezer and tried to peel off many times, and after several tries I could finally get a sheet of Tinker Bell removed from the backing sheet.   Thank you, thank you!!!

    I quickly placed it on top of the cake and finished decorating the cake. It took longer than I expected and I had to leave home already in order to deliver it before little girl’s birthday party. Hiro was still crying, and continued crying in the car. Very hard. It was more like screaming. His face was red and he didn’t even listen to my voice. I was holding a big box of cake, navigating D to the little girl’s house, and trying to sooth Hiro at the same.

    We were few minutes late, but I was reliefed I could deliver the cake safe.  They seemed to like the cake, and I was happy.  Now I’m 100% back to Hiro.

    When I returned to the car, he was sleeping….  Crying must have tired him out.  Maybe he felt the pressure and stress I was feeling and that’s why he was crying?  Anyway we all went home in a quiet car. 🙂

    Shopping Baby Stuff Online

    Posted September 6th, 2011 in Japan | 2 Comments »

    I’ve started buying things from Japanese online shops that we may need while we are in Japan.  Most of them are baby stuff; baby carrier, baby record goods, etc.  Some of them are cheaper buying in Japan, and I can find more variety of goods there.  For example, I bought this baby carrier called “Clmin”.

    Baby can “wear” it as if s/he wear a pair of pants, and it’s easy for mum to wear too.  The supportive & durable material is used for comfort for both mum and baby.  I found it on sale at ¥1980 (about $20 AUD) and bought it straight away.  All the reviews are good.

    And, I was going to rent a small baby stroller so that we could put Hiro down when we go outside for a walk or shopping. The cheapest rental price I could find was ¥800 per month plus a shipping fee of ¥2000.  Then, I found this stroller for ¥2990 from an online store.  It’s light, easy to maneuver, and is exactly what we were looking for.  We’ll be in Japan for 3 months and it will be cheaper than renting one, so I bought this too.

    When my in-law told me I should buy Grobags from Bambinipront (coz they were doing sale) I instead found this First Year Sonogram Frame. You can display photos of 3 milestones in baby’s first year, and I thought it’s so cute.  I have my favorite ultrasound photo of Hiro and I thought it would be nice to display it on this frame. It’s around $27 at Bambinipront.  I searched this item online in case somewhere else sells it cheaper.  Then I found one Japanese online shop selling this for ¥1050.  I’m very happy I bought this!

    Oh, by the way I was surprised to know that you can get a “talking” potty in Japan!  It talks “good job!” “well done!” in this an-pan-man (Japan’s popular kids’ character) voice.  Very cute!  Then, D said “well, I’m not surprised.  Japanese toilets are high-tech!”. Even for babies !?:p

    Taka’s Kitchen and San Churro

    Posted September 5th, 2011 in Eat out in Perth, Perth WA | No Comments »

    Sigh… I regret that we went to crowded Fremantle market area on busy Sunday. We didn’t do much – just had quick snack at Taka’s Kitchen then had churro and iced chocolate at San Churro. We walked around the busy cappuccino street and it just tired us out. We really shouldn’t go out to a busy place on weekend. We should go to a quiet park or beach instead and relax. It was Father’s Day but I don’t think D enjoyed the day. We were both tired from pushing a big stroller around and watching for cars, people, and trying not to get blight sun light on Hiro’s face. It’s not like we really wanted to eat Taka’s food and churro and chocolate. We simply just wanted to do something together. No more going out to busy places on weekends!

    Miso-katsu-don and kaki-age-don.

    I don’t know why D chose to go to Taka’s kitchen… It’s the worst place to go with a big stroller and a grizzly baby.

    San Churro was also crowded as usual. It was much nicer when I came here with friends in early morning the other day. It was quiet, much less people, food and drink were perfect (because they weren’t busy and had time to prepare with care), and we could totally enjoy the moment. Yesterday was opposite. …Well, at least D enjoyed the churro and white chocolate..

    Father’s Day and 6 Months and 2 Year

    Posted September 4th, 2011 in Food, Ume and Baby | 2 Comments »

    Today is not only D’s first Father’s Day, but also Hiro’s 6 months birthday…!  Plus, tomorrow is our 2nd wedding anniversary as well.  Hmmmm, 3 things came at once.

    We didn’t really plan what to do though….  Both of us have been pretty busy and everyday passes very quickly.  I can’t believe it’s September already!

    I baked cupcakes for D.  He loves sweets, and I haven’t made this for him for a long time, so I thought it’s about time to treat him with this sweet cake 🙂

    He loves green colour, so I made icing green (with pink on top).  He likes eating cupcake slightly warm (warm up in microwave) then spread icing by himself, so I put icing on only 2 cakes.  They are almost gone…!  I should have made more?

    Hiro has been eating carrot (2nd solid after rice cereal), and he loves it!  He opens his mouth very wide when I move a spoon to his mouth.  Very messy though….  rice cereal is white so it’s ok, but carrot….  lots and lots of washing!

    Hmmm he is growing very fast.  He wears size zero now.  I bought some winter cloths for Japan and hope it will fit him when we are there!

    Oroshi Steak

    Posted September 1st, 2011 in Food | 1 Comment »

    When I go grocery shopping in winter and find a good daikon radish, this is one of the dishes it comes to my head – steak with daikon oroshi (grated daikon radish).  I love daikon – normally I cook it in soup or stew, but also love when it’s grated and accompanied with something such as karaage, tempura or steak.  The freshness, coldness and a bit of hotness milds the oily dishes.

    When I cook steak with daikon oroshi I normally eat it with steamed rice, so I cut the steak into cubes because it’s easy to pick with chopsticks.

    This is best when eaten freshly made – fresh grilled steak with cold daikon oroshi and crispy garlic chips – you can go lots of rice with it.

    <Recipe>  serves 2

    • 2 fillets beef (steak cut)
    • 10cm daikon radish
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1 tbs sake (cooking wine)
    • 2 tbs soy sauce
    • 1/2 lemon
    • olive oil to cook a
    1. Cut steak into cubes.  Slice garlic.  Grate daikon radish, and chill in the fridge.
    2. Place 1 tbs of olive oil in a frying pan.  Turn on the heat, and cook garlic chips until golden and crispy.  Take them out from the pan and set aside.
    3. Sear the steaks in the pan.  Pour soy sauce and sake over the steak and sizzle.  Squeeze lemon juice into the sauce, and turn off the heat.
    4. Arrange steak cubes on a serving plate.  Take out daikon oroshi from the fridge, and drain the liquid.  Scatter over the steak.  Top with garlic chips then drizzle sauce over the dish.

    Serve immediately!