31 Dec 2013

Thank You 2013

How was your 2013? I feel this year flew by as never before, but my life is getting better and better. It has become more fruitful and enjoyable.

Thank you for supporting and visiting my blog(s), and the limited photo gallery page as well. The gallery is now closed. I am delighted to share my thoughts, ideas and what I like/dislike through the blogs.

Wish everyone good luck for the coming year, and I look forward to continuing progress in 2014.



30 Dec 2013

Reddish Brown

We spent Sunday in Chelmsford. I often go to Chelmsford, but visited the Chelmsford Cathedral after so long.

 
And I thought that... 'did someone paint this tree??' It looked unnatural reddish brown. I took a closer, had a look carefully and found that it was natural colour!

29 Dec 2013

South Bank Walk

We walked South Bank area on Saturday. It's one of my favourite area in London, because of beautiful view, nice atmosphere and interesting artistic space:)
 
The Christmas Market was held here before the Christmas, but now stalls have disappeared. Unfortunately I missed the market this year, either. Never mind.
 





 

27 Dec 2013

Easy Chinese-Style Corn Soup

This is our favourite Chinese-style corn soup recipe. This soup is perfect for a lunch or dinner. You can change the flavor with using another soupstock without egg, or changing the volume of the soupstock and milk, and also you can add chicken meat as well.
 
Ingredients (Serves 4);

  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 cups (600ml) Chinese soup (I use Japanese Chicken stock here. Ajinomoto's )
  • 1 tin of creamy corn
  • 10g butter
  • sugar, salt and blackpeper
  • 2tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) + 1 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp double cream (or milk)
  • 1 beaten egg


  1. Heat the oil with the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Once the butter has melted add the soup stock until boiling.
  2. Add the creamy corn and continue to cook for a few minutes.
  3. Season to taste, with sugar, salt and black pepper, and then add the double cream.
  4. Add thickness with the mixed cornflour with water.
  5. Stir in the beaten egg slowly.
  6. To serve, pour into a warm bowl.

26 Dec 2013

On the Boxing Day

It has been so quiet outside. I've been just lying around the house all day. Because I got a bad crick in my neck and back from sleeping in an uncomfortable position... Aak...
 

24 Dec 2013

Wish all of you...

A Merry Christmas!

23 Dec 2013

Josh Groban

There are many singers who have a beautiful voice, but one of my favourite singers is Josh Groban. I feel comforted by his voice:)


22 Dec 2013

Quiet Sunday

It's a quiet Sunday. I only went to a battle field (supermarket). It was a massive queue more than ever, but a staff handed out chocolates to customers in a queue. It was nice:) 
 


21 Dec 2013

Saxmundhum Again

We went to Saxmundhum. It was the second time. Last time we went to there was about one years ago, 2nd December 2012. I remember it because we saw Christmas decorations.
 
Today, it was dark and miserable weather, and the town was quiet.
 
 
My new discovery in this town was this water pump:) I wanted to visit a museum, but unfortunately it was closed... 
 

There is a nice hotel "the Bell Hotel". We had a lunch there.




There is a local stationary/second hand book shop. There is also a small gallery and displays local artists' artworks. I saw Emma Johnson's map arts and was so impressed. I think it's interesting and unique idea but work must be crazy!


20 Dec 2013

Battle Field

I love Christmas atmosphere, and basically I love shopping. But I don't like shopping at a supermarket during this season in the UK. Because it's a sort of battle field! I can avoid crowded bargain hunting battle field, but as for daily products, no, I can't. It's a fundamental thing we have to do in order to survive (we don't have a freezer.)!!

When I enter a supermarket, I always feel as if I am dressed in armour and warrior helmet, and hold a small weapon (a shopping basket). But my petite Japanese armoury seems weak among people with strong physique with a strong weapon (a big trolley).

My Barometer of Frustration (Level 1-5);
  • Level 1; I can't understand why there was a nibbled bread on a shelf...
  • Level 2; People are too busy checking prices and searching products. They push and arch a big trolley in narrow aisle unconsciously. They can't see any other customers.
  • Level 3; People bring a big trolley alongside a shelf and block other customers' way.
  • Level 4; An aisle is completely blocked by trolleys. Someone left a trolley between two trolleys for picking up products he wanted.
  • Level 5; My spirits sink when I face a long queue at the cash register. Each customer puts a pile of food on a counter...
'Calm down, calm down, it's not always, it's only for special occasions...' I usually endure these level. But today 'alert' was issued.

Hazard Area;
  • Cashier had a machine trouble. We had extra minutes' wait for it.
My enemies were not only other customers, but also a cashier today! I felt as if I was given a strong kick from behind and my armour and helmet slashed into two with his sharp sword.
  • An old cashier man asked me 'Could you show me your ID for an alcohol?'
Huh? I am not under 18. I look my age in Japan. I admit I am petite and look younger here but I've  never been asked to show ID! He probably realised I open-mouthed and was left speechless. Rather I hesitated to refute, because I don't know how old I look like for them. He said 'Sorry for asking'.

The wounded soldier became grumpy and left the battle field...

Generally looking younger than I am is not too bad, but I have a mixed feeling about to be looked under 18 year-old as someone in her 40s. I prefer to look my age.

Joy of Creating

I think I am crazy. Is this only because of Christmas season or just I am a crazy person!? I made a Christmas gift bag yesterday. I know! I can get a similar bag at a shop, which costs only £1-2, but I had an urge to create something! So I glued a rapping paper on a stout paper bag, changed handles' ribbon and added a tag with stamp! This bag is for the big mouse's Christmas present. I am going to use this for a while every year, like Santa Clause's gift bag.

 
Recently, lots of ideas, thoughts and crafting inspirations have been buzzing round my head. The big mouse said I don't need to make a Christmas decoration anymore. Oh, really? but I can't help. It's a sort of cerebral excitation. Oh, you can't understand what I mean? If I liken this my brain condition to pictures, something like these; colourful, vibrant and chromogenic reaction.



Next year, I am going to move my crafts page to another as an independent crafts' blog. I'll let you know if I am ready.

19 Dec 2013

Redelivering

Now I'm waiting a delivery driver, because we got a delivery notice yesterday while we were away. I don't know other countries' deliver system. But thanks to growing up in a fantastic country Japan with excellence of service, British deliver service causes me (every Japanese) inconvenience. Because I don't know when he will come. I only know vaguly that he would come between 9:00 and 18:00. Sometimes you have to go to a post office to pick a parcel up.

In Japan, we have perfect deliver system and we can choose the date and the time of delivery.  For example; in the morning (about 9:00-12:00), 12:00-14:00, 14:00-16:00, 16:00-18:00, 18:00-21:00.

Please come quick, I can't go out for shopping!

A Posh Girl

There are millionaire or billionaire in this world, but I am completely unconnected with them. We are one of families who have lived straight. When I was a young, there were two children who born into a rich family in the same year as me in my school. They were not like Paris Hilton, but one was a large landowner's son, and another was a executive position's daughter of a toy company.

When I was 6 or 7 years old, I visited his house with my mother and we were surprised. Because their entrance was bigger than my room and a housemaid came out.

Also the girl was one of my friends. Her house was an average-sized house and they were not flamboyant personalities, rather, they were modern and there was something noble about them. Her mother was well known for not able to cook well among our parents... They had a housemaid. She had a lot of toys every girl wanted. She was the only girl who travelled to America with her parents when nobody travelled to other countries.

When I was invited to her birthday party as a guest, every girl gave her a present such as a lovely note, pencil, rubber or something. We played card games and had lunch and cake together. At the end of the party, we received a gift bag in return. Funny thing was, there were a lot of things in it, more than we gave her, and more valuable things such as Disney's soft toy and Snoopy(Peanuts)'s playing card etc etc.....

She had a nice personality, was lovely and smart as well. I lost contact with her as we get older. But I think she was the posh girl I ever met. I hope she is happy now.

17 Dec 2013

Saving Mr. Banks

We watched the film 'Saving Mr. Banks' last weekend. It's a historical comedy-drama produced by Walt Disney Pictures and BBC Films. The film described the life of P. L. Travers, the creator of Mary Poppins, and the negotiations filming rights of her novel with Walt Disney. She thinks back to her difficult childhood in Australia with her family, which inspired for the characters and the story.

I watched this film without having prior knowledge. It was the big mouse's recommendation, so I thought it's a difficult story film in politics or something at first. Because Tom Hanks is less similar to Walt Disney except neatly trimmed moustache, isn't he? There was a feud between Ms. Travers and Mr. Disney, but think about it. It's a Walt Disney Pictures film. It's unlikely to describe ugly troubles and to harm both sides. So you can guess it's a dream-inspiring film, no disappointment and just what you'd expect.

I don't know the truth, but it was nice film. It's a comical and a heartwarming tale and a good for Christmas. It just made me think that I don't want to be a stubborn person like Ms. Travers’ character in the film, but am I a stubborn-old-woman-to-be???


16 Dec 2013

Greediness

If you begin a business or sell something, you seek profits. That's natural, but most people become greedy to get more profits. I am no exception. Since I started to sell my handmade products, I've thought what a seller is, and if something is sold well, I get carried away with my desire to make the same thing a lot with colour variation. But if I make a lot, they are not sold well...

I've been a little in doubt about my profits. I mean I am happy if someone bought my products, but behind the back of profits, I nearly lose what is really important, what I want to make and sight of the preciousness of 'handmade'. Obviously I can't compete mass-production. So I try to create elaborate and unique products. That means I can't make a lot, it takes time and profit is small. But my experience has shown that such products are sold well at that shop in my case. 

I like William Morris' thought. He led 'Arts and Crafts' which was an international design movement that flourished between 1860-1910. The 'Arts and Crafts' movement was ultimately a reaction to industrial mass production and the low quality of factory-produced wares. Changed times. Now quality became better.

There is a traditional Japanese fold tale 'Shitakiri Suzume (The Cut-Tongue Sparrow Story), which is about a sparrow, a kind old man and his mean wife;


File:Hokusai Pair of sissors and sparrow.jpg
Source; Wikipedia. Katsushika Hokusai's ukiyoe

Once upon a time, there lived an old man and woman. The old man was very kind and gentle, he kept a sparrow as a pet. One day, the sparrow ate up all the laundry starch that the old lady made. The old lady got angry, caught the sparrow and cut off its' tongue in one go. The sparrow escaped into the wood while crying. After the old man returned from his work, he was upset that the sparrow has gone.
'Where is my sparrow?'
'Humph! That mischievous sparrow ate all my laundry starch, so I cut off his tongue with my scissors.'
'What? My poor sparrow...'
The gentle old man concerned about the sparrow and then he went searching for sparrow into the wood where it had flown away.
'Hello, my sparrow, where are you?'
Just then, the sound of sparrows came from out of the bush. And the old man found the sparrow he loved so much.
'I am so sorry. How's your tongue? I am so relieved to see you are alive.'
'Thank you for worrying. Please come and take a rest in our house.'
They brought the old man to their house and served a lot of delicious treats for him. The old man was happy. When he gose back home, sparrows appeared with a big and a small baskets as a gift.
'Which of these baskets would you like to take home with you?' said the sparrow.
'Thank you. Well, I couldn't possibly carry a big basket as it's tough for an old man like me, so I think I will take the small one.'
When he got home he opened the gift, amazingly there are big coins and small coins, mixed with jewels and corals of all sorts. The old woman became incredibly jealous.
'What wonderful things you received! I would also like some too.' said the old woman.
She walked off to where the sparrow's house was and forced her way in.
She said 'Neither entertainment nor dance is necessary. Just bring me the gifts.'
'Yes of course. Which would you like, the big or the small?'
'The BIG one!'
As soon as the old woman had received the big basket, she hurried off home. It was heavy gift and she couldn't constrain herself from peeping into the basket. She took it down from her back and opened it on her way back home. She thought it will be filled with a lot of coins but her horror, the box was filled with centipedes, bees, snakes, terrifying ghosts face inside.
'Aaaaaaaaaaghh!'
Since she cut out the tongue of the sparrow and in her greediness, took the big gift she has received such punishment from above. It has moralistic overtones that being kind to all living things and trying hard not to be greedy.

15 Dec 2013

Crafty Christmas

I took part in a craft fair yesteray. Another fair at a church was cancelled before, but I could join in this lovely fair. I sold some handmade crochet items. I was happy sharing creative ideas and inspirations, and also I enjoyed the Christmassy atomosphere. Customers' smiles make me happy and give me motivation. Thank you everyone.
 

during preparation
I bought a yummy cupcake and a lovely lavender sachet:)
 


13 Dec 2013

Scissors

This is my special scissors for sewing, especially for cross-stitch. I bought this in Japan, but it's DMC's. It cut well. The other day, a lady who taught me sewing was using eye scissors for sewing. The scales fell from my eyes. I had no idea to use eye scissors for sewing, so I thought anything goes!
 

12 Dec 2013

Misty Morning

It was fantastic scenery this morning:)

10 Dec 2013

Roses

I don't know what kind of rose it is, autumn or winter blooming roses? but yellow roses are now blooming in our garden. Lovely:)

9 Dec 2013

2014 Calendar

My mother sent me a 2014 calendar with beautiful pictures which are painted by Takaaki Enoki. He is one of my favourite Japanese actors/watercolour artists.

I first knew him when he stared in the Japanese period film 'Heaven and Earth'. I attended its Sendai premiere, and listened director and actors' talk about the film. 'Heaven and Earth' is originally written by a Japanese author Chogoro Kaionji (1901-1977). I read this book from my grandfather's belongings, which was one of his favourites. That's why I am interested in this film. It's a story about daimyo (a feudal lord) Kagetora (aka Uesugi Kensin) who must protect his lands and his people from the ambitions of the warlord Takeda Shingen. It's a one of the famous battles include the Battle of Kawanakajima.

Takaaki Enoki stared this film in for a world famous Japanese actor Ken Watanabe, because he was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, while filming Heaven and Earth in 1989 (he returned to acting and has received Academy Awards and some other nominations for his role in 'the Last Samurai' as the best supporting actor.)

I thought 'wow' because Enoki was selected as a starring role and did a quite well in the film. Also I thought 'wow' because he is good at painting as well! In my opinion, he is a good actor in period drama, but not so good in modern nor love drama (sorry!). Anyway, these double 'wow' factors made me interested in him.

Well.., the point is my mother knows my favourites and I got this beautiful calendar!

8 Dec 2013

Guests

The big mouse's parents visited us after so long. It was nice to see them. It's before the Christmas, so they brought us a Christmas hamper and flowers:) I served them Sushi, shimmered dish and miso soup. I am happy they enjoyed Japanese food:)


After the lunch, we walked River Walk. It was a nice weather for walking.

7 Dec 2013

Gravity

We saw 'Gravity (2D)' today. It's a science fiction thriller and story about astronauts who survive the mid-orbit destruction of a Space Shuttle and attempt to return to Earth. The film stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. I thought George Clooney is always George Clooney, even in outer space!! He was cool and gentle:-) It was a really nice film and I re-realise we are human beings who stand our ground. It reminded me of Japanese animation film 'Laputa; castle in the sky'. In the film, a girl repeats an old legend that has been handed down in her country something like this; 'take root in the ground. Survive winter with seeds and rejoice in spring with birds... Whatever you have horrific weapons, control many robots, acquire advanced technology, you can't live separately from the mother earth.' I think it's a fundamental way of life for terrestrial human beings.

6 Dec 2013

A Christmas Wreath

The other day, I made a wreath from our garden waste. Also I bought a small Christmas decoration set and a bit sagging wreath at 99p shop.
 

I took the weak wreath apart into pieces by pliers and attached them on the handmade wreath using wire and PVA.
 
 
Ta-da! I made a Christmas wreath which cost only £1.98 in materials:)
 

4 Dec 2013

A Cushion Cover

One of my projects; a cushion cover has finally been completed. I joined sewing workshop and learnt how to make this cushion cover using vintage cloths (front). Looks complex patchwork, but there was a trick to make easier:) I am very satisfied with this.
 

2 Dec 2013

Christmas Logo

When I was flicking through TESCO's free magazine, a lovely Christmas logo decoration caught my attention. There was how to make, so I made it.
 

Christmas wreath is what I made last year. I decorated logo around it. I love it:)


1 Dec 2013

Paperweight

I was already learning Japanese calligraphy at the age of seven. It was one of the first things I made my own decision to learn it. I think I did in the course of nature, because my sister had learnt and also my grandfather had often practised at his home. When you do Japanese calligraphy, you need a paperweight to hold the paper in place.

One day, my grandfather found this lovely paperweight somewhere, and gave it to me and my sister. It is not a calligraphy tool, but he liked it. Since then, it has became my treasure. Every time I see, touch and hold, I remember my grandfather.