Thursday, March 31, 2016


MUJI is a popular clothing, interior, knick-knack store all over Japan (and in some countries abroad).

I use the MUJI app, called MUJI passport, to keep track of shopping points.

You can also check-in to MUJI stores (once a day) and get 10 points (equivalent to 10 yen) per check-in as long as you are no farther than 600 meters (0.3 miles) away.

For the year, as your shopping points and check-ins accumulate they give you shopping coupon when you reach a certain amount, the higher the amount of points, the higher the amount of the shopping coupon.

When we take long train rides, I check-in at various MUJI shops when we stop at a station that has a MUJI shop nearby, if I remember to...

Recently they changed the type of check-in stamps we receive.

The stamps before were kind of boring, if I remember correctly, just a round circle that said "MUJI check-in".

Now, the stamps are fun...representing the areas that the shops are located.

For example, Osaka's stamp is of Tsutenkaku (the tower that is a landmark of Osaka and kinda looks like the Eiffel Tower).

Since MUJI also has shops abroad, I hope to be able to collect some check-in stamps, (if and) when we travel international.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

sakura walk

Yesterday on the way to the market, I got a photo of this weeping cherry.

The blossoms should be in full bloom by the end of the week (so says the weather dude).

Since most of my favorite spots around our neighborhood haven't started blooming yet, I will try to check them out again next week.

Did you ever wonder how the weather people determine when the trees will start blooming?

Apparently each area has a designated tree, when that tree has 5 or 6 flowers that have bloomed, the weather people then announce that the cherry blossom season has started for that area.

Then about a week later, temperatures and weather permitting, the flowers should be in full bloom.

Interesting, yeah?!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

expiry dates

I recently learned something new about the expiry dates on eggs...

The date that is on the carton or directly on the egg is the date that you need to eat the egg if you are going to be eating them raw.

Many people eat raw eggs here as T.K.G. (tamago kake gohan) --putting a raw egg onto hot rice. And also when eating sukiyaki, they dip their meat/veggies into a raw scrambled egg.

If you will be cooking the eggs they apparently can be used after the expiry date.

Cool, yeah?!

Monday, March 28, 2016

sakura walks

It's that time of year to take my walks around our area to check out the sakura (cherry blossoms).

Yesterday, it was quite overcast as I was walking to the market.

Most trees have their blossoms up high, but these just happened to be at "my eye level".

As I walked back from the market, I went to check out a weeping cherry...I think it was about 50% in bloom.

Today, I stopped at Suigetsu Park, but there weren't many trees in bloom yet. So I went "next door" to Sonpachiyakujin, and they had a weeping cherry almost in full bloom.

After lunch, I got to face time with family (love technology!) it's Easter for them and my brother is also celebrating his birthday.

The temps are supposed to pick up this week and the cherry blossoms should be in full bloom by the weekend.

Hope you have a nice week.

Friday, March 25, 2016

gebacken & tofukuji

FIL's meinichi (date of death) is coming up and Satoshi happened to have the day off in exchange for having had to work this past we went to visit the family grave.

The thing about us visiting Kyoto is that we like to go early...real early because there are just too many tourists running around.

Roads get congested with buses and taxis...not too fun.

We left our house really early and headed to a little bakery that I spotted on our last visit to the area...Gebacken.

This shop apparently makes all sorts of German inspired baked items..and they've been in business since 1961...

We shared this shio-pan (salt bread, left in the photo) there is butter in the center and it is topped with some salt and poppy seeds, the outside gets really crisp...delicious.

The niku miso pan was so oily...around the bread was a spring roll wrapper (which made it super oily) after it was fried...meh! the inside reminded me of a baked manapua (char siu bao).

The curry pan with soft boiled egg was super good (but oily).

I think as long as you stay away from their fried breads you're safe...

On the 2nd floor, their cafe area was a smokers paradise, unfortunately for us, we gasped when we opened the door to go inside.

To eat upstairs, you need to buy a drink bar pass...270 yen per person. It allows you to sit in the smoky room to eat and you can use their coffee machine which you can choose different types of coffees, not the best coffees but it was all you can drink...

Dunno that we would go back to eat here, but definitely would for take-out.

As we headed back to the train station we spotted these o-bo-san (buddhist priests) disembarking from the city bus.

Gotta love that!

We also went to spend some time with MIL and had lunch together.

The cold snap is definitely back and I think cherry blossom season has started, hope to get out and about to enjoy it in the next week.

Have a nice weekend.

23-9 Sennyuji-monzen-cho
Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.541.3433
Hours: 7:00-19:00

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


I made a small batch of coffee azuki gelatin yesterday, it's been a couple of years since the last time I made this.

I had a small amount of anko (sweet bean paste) that needed using up.

Some cherry trees have started blooming.

We've been having nice temps but are heading for a cold snap tomorrow.

How is the weather where you are?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Yesterday, was the holiday observance of the Vernal Equinox (first day of Spring).

Satoshi and I ran some errands and then had lunch at a rather large shopping mall.

Dessert was ice cream from Baskin Robbins or 31 (sa-tee-one) as they are called here in Japan.

Satoshi and I shared these two and oreo matcha.

The wind was icy yesterday but it was nice to be out and about.

Monday, March 21, 2016

lion curry

A new curry place opened up in our shopping arcade, Lion Curry.

From the outside it looks like a small shop, but inside there are several booth type seating as well as seats at their counter.

Their menu is rather extensive with grilled items and fried items.

I chose their grilled harami (skirt steak)...890 yen (tax included).

The steak is marinated in a shoyu, garlic sauce, which is a little sweet. Then grilled after you order.

Talk about melt in your mouth!

I got half portion rice and half portion roux so they minused off 100 yen.

The curry had just enough spices, but didn't overpower the harami.

Satoshi went with their ro-su katsu (pork loin)...850 yen (tax included).

This is also fried after ordering.

He got the regular portion of rice and roux.

There are other items on their menu that we want to try...we'll be back.

Lion Curry
Hankyu Ishibashi Shopping Arcade
no phone number or hours available

Friday, March 18, 2016

crispy spice oil

I've been wanting to try this recipe for some time, I just had to get all the ingredients together...

Crispy Spice Oil : makes about 300 cc (about 1.5 cups) : about 4 servings from "Spice Cafe" : Kazushiro Ito

A) 100 cc (1/2 cup) mustard oil
50 grams fried onions (minced)
40 grams fried cashews (chopped)

B) 100 cc (1/2 cup) mustard oil
1.5 heaping tablespoons mustard seed

C) 2 heaping tablespoons cumin seed
1 heaping teaspoon fennel seed

D) 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (ground)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt

E) 100 cc (1/2 cup) mustard oil
20 grams minced garlic

Place A) into a bowl.
In a pot, put the ingredients for B) and cook on high heat.
After about 2 minutes or when the seeds start to pop, add C) and stir.
Add D) and stir again.
Add this mixture to the bowl.
In another pot, heat E) and cook on high until garlic turns light brown (about 1 minute)
Add to bowl, mix and cool.
After cooled, transfer to airtight bottle.
This will keep in the refrigerator for 3 weeks.

NOTES: I cheated here and there. I used pre-made fried onions and didn't fry the cashews. Also, the recipe says that if you cannot get hold of mustard oil, to use sesame oil, which I did. Instead of using fresh garlic, I used dried since I had some that needed using up. Everything is supposed to be quite minced but I kept everything quite chunky.

The recipe says you can use this on meats, on salads or as a dip for fresh veggies.

I put a couple teaspoons on top of some salmon. I liked the crunchiness from the onions and want to try it on chicken. I also want to try to mix it with some yogurt as a dip.

I'm glad I tried this and am making this again.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

lever du soleil

After that meh pasta lunch, it got me to thinking...

"why was it so expensive?"

In Osaka, usually when you order something à la carte, the price is usually under 1000 yen.

I looked online this morning and realized they had overcharged me!

The price they had charged me had included their salad bar and a beverage (coffee, tea, or juice)...

I told Satoshi about it and he said that even if we complained, it would be a waste of a round-trip bus fare to go and get them to return my money.

I am usually good about recognizing when I'm over charged but I guess I wasn't paying attention...grr!

Oh well, lesson learned...but I am still kicking myself for not noticing until this morning.

Will end this post on a good note...

My main reason for going to Onohara yesterday was to try Lever du Soleil which opened recently.

The bakers from Boulangerie Antibes have teamed up with this bakery now.

This morning we tried their curry pan (similar to the curry pan at Antibes with walnuts in the bread), tomato spinach quiche and yuzu shio (citron salt) pan.

Everything was delicious, especially the yuzu shio pan, crisp outside and a flaky soft inside with lots of yuzu salt flavor.

If I can get back out this way, I hope to stop in at this bakery again.

Lever du Soleil
3-9-43 Onohara-higashi
Phone: 072.726.6066
Closed Tuesdays
Hours: 8:00-18:30

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

meh and yum

Today's lunch at Ichirin Coffee was meh...1350 yen (tax included) for this sad looking, overly salty pasta.

They don't even give you some bread with your dish...Am not going back...ever.

Ending this post with a yum...

Yesterday's savory french toast stuffed with smoked chicken and 3 kinds of cheese (cheddar, emmental & parmesan) at Afternoon Tea.

Besides the french toast, it came with a small salad and a cup of minestrone...1300 yen (tax included)

There was also some blueberry sauce (not sweet) to drizzle.

This was so good! especially the burnt cheese bits.

The weather is still flip flopping, though they are forecasting the cherry blossoms to start blooming in Osaka around March 25.

How's your week going?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

paris in your mailbox

Are you a Francophile?

Do you know someone that is?

You might consider getting them (or yourself) a subscription from Paris Breakfast on Etsy.

Carol Gillott, the watercolor artist behind all the beautiful artwork has several categories on her Etsy such as "Paris Mail", which you can subscribe to receive a Parisien-themed print every month.

"Paris Maps" is another category.

With your subscription to the maps, you will also receive "A tip sheet of shop/bistro business cards (carte de magazine). Plus BEST BUYS suggestions, where and what to eat. Paris cards will be included if available."

All items are color photocopies of her original works.

In the past, I've received her "Paris Mail" and recently she sent me her "Paris Maps".

I love them!

I've hung most of them on my wall to daydream of Paris.

Thank you Carol!

Disclaimer: I received the maps from Carol in return for an honest product review. I was not compensated for this and the thoughts and opinions written here are my own.

Monday, March 14, 2016

teriyaki spam

Have you tried Teriyaki Spam? It was our first time.

I think we received this can from Aunty M, though I don't quite remember. (thank you!)

I was a bit leery about flavored spam because it is Hormel's version of "teriyaki", which means it could be really good or really bad.

Well, it was really bad...

The texture of the spam was spongy, kinda mushy.

There was a weird smell probably from the "teriyaki" sauce.

Of course, I still didn't want to throw this out...

Yesterday, I found green papaya at the market and bought some to make champuru.

Even though the teriyaki spam was gross, with the green papaya in champuru, it was edible.

We had some teriyaki spam for breakfast this morning.

I made teriyaki spam sandwiches with egg, lettuce and a little mayo.

We still have half a can, will probably make spam musubi...

If you tried this version, how did you use it?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

things I'm liking (disliking)

Yesterday, it rained and now the cold is back (until Saturday, so says the weather dude...)

It's been awhile since I've done a liking (disliking) post...

Disliking the Pablo monaka (wafer) ice cream bar...the ice cream was a cream cheese flavor surrounded by a sickly sweet apricot sauce enveloped by a crisp wafer shell.

Pablo is a popular cheese tarte (cheesecake) maker, and they have had some delicious convenience store creations in the past, this just wasn't one of them.

Kind of in the middle on Minoh Beer's Godfather 4.

While I normally enjoy stouts, this one seemed a bit watery.

On the other hand, the yuzu flavor was nice.

Meiji Almond...this was a rich matcha (green tea).

Usually whenever something is green tea flavored they usually mix the green tea with white chocolate making things a bit too sweet.

This version was nice because it wasn't sweet.

Kinoko no yama's matcha and chocolate "mushrooms".

The balance of matcha and sweet chocolate are perfect.

Nature Valley's Coconut Crunch granola bars.

I first came across these at the cash register area of Yamaya. After buying one, I had wished I had bought more.

There is lots of coconut in this.

I'm glad I was able to find more at Yamaya recently.

City Bakery's rugelach. Packed with dried fruits and nuts.

This is huge but so good with the flaky croissant type outer shell.

Here is a better photo from the first time I tried it.

What have you been enjoying lately?

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

gyoza ou

A gyoza shop opened up near our station on Monday.

Don't think anyone was too excited about it because there wasn't a line to try the place.

Yesterday, I bought 2 servings for us to try...560 yen (tax included).

I liked the crisp bottoms and the flavor of the gyoza was nice and garlicky.

Didn't appreciate the "tude" of the guy working there though.

No "irrashaimase" (welcome) or "arigato" thank you, just a rude "laser beam" look...

Though I will give points to the girl working at the take-out window for friendliness.

We may be back...will see what Satoshi has to say about these gyoza (he's super picky).

*will update info on this shop when I find out more

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

this and that

This weekend was so warm.

I think the weather dude said we were having May temps?!

I went to check out the ume (apricot) blossoms at Nakayamadera on Saturday.

It was beautiful.

The cyclamen on our lanai has started to bloom.

Which indicates that Spring is indeed on its way.

Unfortunately, we're supposed to hit a cold snap tomorrow.

How's the weather in your area?

Monday, March 07, 2016

foodie friday in osaka

Friday, started out with me picking up some bagels from Happy Camper.

After picking up the bagels, I walked to Awahini Coffee.

It was so warm out, that I ordered a cold brew...530 yen (tax included)

Boy! did it hit the spot. I like that they also have free wifi for customers.

Since it was nearly 11 and I was nearby, I decided to check out Grill Stereo for lunch.

It had been some time since my first visit and I was lucky to be the first in line.

I decided to try their hayashi rice (hashed beef)...800 yen (tax included).

This came with a large salad.

I loved how the guy flambéed the beef before topping it with the demi-glace sauce. The flambé gave the meat a nice flavor. I also loved that there was lots of meat and onions and not too much gristle as sometimes hashed beef can have.

Since I was really stuffed after eating, I decided to walk around a bit and went to check out the ume (apricot) blossoms at Osaka castle.

There were tons of people and the blossoms did not disappoint.

Since Satoshi didn't need dinner that night, I stopped into Boulangerie Goût to pick up something for dinner.

I picked up a bacon broccoli tartine (super thick bacon cubes, broccoli, béchamel sauce and cheese), chicken mushroom potato tartine (thinly sliced potato, topped with some mushrooms and roast chicken, creamy mushroom sauce and cheese), pastrami gorgonzola walnut berry baguette (I've had this before and this time it was so good with wine)

I also picked up a cinnamon roll which I had for breakfast the next day.

My walking route was krazy long (I clocked about 23,000 footsteps) but it was nice to be out and about.

Awahini Coffee
1-2-9 Funakoshi-cho
Chuo-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6809.3805
Open 10:00-22:00
Closed Sundays

Friday, March 04, 2016

kaisen chirashizushi

Last night for dinner I made a kaisen chirashizushi. This is a type of sushi that is topped with seafood.

In recent years I've seen this version especially for hinamatsuri (Girl's Day).

I adlibbed.

After cooking some rice, I mixed in some denpu (a type of "meat floss" made from fish that is sweetened), if I am not mistaken, Japan uses tara (cod). I also mixed in some sesame seeds and snow peas.

On the bottom of my plate I sprinkled some shiso (perilla) that I cut up thinly.

I added the rice mixture.

Topped it with more shiso and snow peas.

I sprinkled on a little thinly slice omelette.

And then I put on some sashimi (katsuo (bonito), salmon & amaebi (sweet shrimp).

Drizzled some denpu here and there.

And also drizzled some ikura that was soaked in shoyu.

I drizzled a little shoyu over everything before eating.

Super easy dinner, well, once I got everything together.

I had this with Hoegaarden's rosée.

Oh and can I talk a little about this plate that I served it on?

I think my mom gave me this from her stash when we moved from Hawaii (pre-blog)...

It has ume (apricot) flowers on it, but it isn't microwave friendly (there is a metal rim as well as some metal on the plate), so I don't use to very often.

Anyway, I hope you had a nice Girl's Day, if you celebrated.

Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

customer service

The other day, I went to 7-eleven to get something for snack.

I ordered a caramel doughnut at the register paid and then went home.

When I opened the package there was a kinako doughnut in there instead.

Man, was I bummed.

After eating the doughnut (which was good), I called 7-eleven because I noticed that the price on my receipt was no where near what a kinako doughnut costs (the kinako costs less).

The lady I spoke to said that they would need to check up on it.

She then asked me for my address and telephone number.

At the time, I thought it was kinda weird that they needed my address...

So a couple minutes later, the manager called to apologize.

She offered to DELIVER a caramel doughnut to me (probable reason for needing my address), as well as to refund my money.

I told her that it was not necessary to bring the doughnut over (especially since I already ate one) and that I would go to pick up my refund the next day.

So the next morning, I went to 7-eleven and told them who I was.

They apologized and refunded my money.

I offered to pay for the kinako doughnut because even though it was their mistake for giving me the wrong item, I still ate the kinako one.

But they wouldn't hear of it and refused my money.

Customer service at its finest.

p.s. keeping with the doughnut theme...

today is Girl's Day...we're celebrating with some doughnuts from Donuts Dept, so cute! (and delicious)

Wednesday, March 02, 2016


A couple of weeks ago, my Instagram friend, Andi, asked if I would be interested in participating in her Traveler Tuesday series.

I said I would and she emailed me her questions.

After answering them the best that I could, I realized that I have not traveled internationally as much as many others in her series.

So, if you are interested in reading my answers to her questions as well as seeing what I look like (as I've never posted a photo of myself on this blog!)

Go check out her blog...

Thanks Andi for the opportunity to participate, it was fun.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

lilac spoon

This past Sunday, while we were hanging out at the Itami airport, I noticed this unusual flower.

While searching on the internet for what it was called, I punched in "blue middle and curled petals" and voilà (love technology!)

It's called "Lilac Spoon" and is part of the daisy family.

Cool, yeah?!

It's the start of March today...whoo!

Can I back up a bit and tell you about February 29 though?!

In the morning, it started to rain, then there was thunder...a little hail and a major downpour (all within a couple of minutes).


Luckily, by the time Satoshi had to leave for work, it was just drizzling.

Hope your week is going well.