the glass teapot

30 November 2013

About 5 years ago, I remember my mum being obsessed with finding the perfect glass teapot. At the time, I had absolutely zero interest in the matter because a) I wasn't a huge tea drinker and b) because it was a teapot. I had no idea why she was so fixated on this, but when she eventually found one I was glad, because we no longer had to look in every place remotely likely to sell one when out shopping.

Anyway. 5 years later and apparently the most predictable thing has happened: I have become my mother. Since getting into the colder months I have become quite addicted to tea. And as soon as that happened, I started coveting that illusive glass teapot.

I was chatting to my friend C about this a while ago, and she suggested that she would hunt one down for me for my birthday. Of course I was polite and said no! don't worry! I don't want anything! But she knows me too well (and I didn't protest that much).

She looked high and low - seriously, it really is hard to find - but she found the most perfect teapot in the world.

Is it not the most beautiful thing? I just love that you can see the leaves through the colour of the tea, the little drops of water and the way it steams up when you pour the boiling water in. This one is from John Lewis.

Maybe it's ridiculous to be so excited about this, but at the end of the day, it's the little things in life. This teapot, pomegranate tea and I had such a cosy Sunday afternoon watching the drizzly rain and the passers-by.

Thank you so much, C! (p.s. she also got me a Le Creuset pie dish. I am both spoilt and under pressure to find the perfect recipe to use that dish for.)

e cooks: quiche lorraine

28 November 2013

The last time we had quiche on the blog, it was a lot more casual. Throw in whatever you have in the fridge, use pre-made dough for a rustic crust and voila.

This time, armed with his favourite cookbook, E decided to take the level up a notch and make a proper, classic, quiche lorraine.

You really need to want to make this quiche, because contrary to how the photos might look, it's quite hard work. (Says me, who was playing with the camera/dancing to Christmas songs/drinking red wine while he was at it.)

Is it worth it? Absolutely. The only critiques we had about this first attempt was that it was slightly over seasoned, and could have been a little less cooked (as you heat up each portion in the oven before serving anyway). Other than that though, it made for a lovely lunch alongside a side salad with french vinaigrette.

I'm wondering what's next on his agenda, since his head is buried in a cookbook as we speak...


26 November 2013

Two Sundays ago, E and I had a wander around Westfields shopping centre. Well, not so much of a wander as a mission for two things: one, to visit the Yankee candle store as part of his birthday gift to me (I chose Vanilla Lime & Pink Sands, both are dreamy. There's an amazing deal of 2 large jars for 27 pounds there at the moment!), and two, to eat noodles.

Enter Pho.

One of the many options of eateries at Westfields, this one is located on the first floor of the shopping centre amidst the popular shops and other casual dining places.

You order your food, get given a buzzer and grab a seat while you wait.

The prep time wasn't as quick as you might hope, this being a kind of fast food and all, but it was a Sunday and very busy so I think that's forgivable!

I chose fried baby squid, and pho with steak & garlic.

Comfort food, hangover food, whatever you want to call it. It's really good stuff.

I love Vietnamese food so much and don't eat it often enough - this place is great for a quick fix, but I want to try somewhere one step up!

Does anyone have any Vietnamese restaurant recommendations in London? Failing that, any good recipes for pho that I could try my hand at?

getting personal

24 November 2013

This is a good enough excuse as any to get a little more personal on the blog, with some fun questions from Marla & Jane, who kindly passed on the Liebster Award to me! (Check them out, they're two of my absolute favourites.) I'm pretty sure I mentioned everyone I could in this post, but you are tagged if you want to do these Qs yourself!

1. What is your favourite part of your heritage?
I am Japanese. There are so many things I love about the culture, but aside from the obvious (like food, traditions, perseverance etc.), I do love and appreciate their take on manners and etiquette. Sometimes I think it's a little much, and a little superficial, but I believe that it comes with good intentions and it's something I find fascinating and also quite telling about human nature.

2. What is your favourite part about where you live right now?
London is wonderful in so many ways. What I love most right now, is that I just think it's the perfect place for my husband and myself at this moment in our lives; young professionals who want to explore and play and be in the buzz of it all. There's always something going on and I love that.

3. How did you meet your best friend?
I have three girls who I consider my best friends. Two of them I met at school when I was 14, and the other I met in college when I was 18-19. They all (plus my sister, another best friend!) were my bridesmaids in the summer - they looked beautiful and were the best 'maids ever.

4. What is your favourite form of social media and why?
I do love Instagram. I don't actually post daily or anything, but I just really enjoy peeking into people's lives through photos.

5. What is your spirit animal and why?
I'm not really sure that exactly a spirit animal is, but if I assume that it's one akin to me and my character, E would probably say a cat. Fiercely independent when I feel like it, needing my "me time", and then the next minute being the most attention seeking creature possible.

6. Who is your number one celebrity crush?
I'll have a George Clooney with a side of Ryan Gosling & Patrick Dempsey.

7. What is something that you are proud of?
I'm proud (and thankful) that I've chosen such quality people to stick around and stay close to me throughout the years.

8. What is your favourite quote?


9. If you can tell your 11 year old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Don't be a sheep. Don't try to be everyone else, because you'll suck at it. You don't need to be tanned and blonde and long legged to be pretty. Oh also, don't wear black eyeliner as eyeshadow. Please take one for the team and don't do that (or any of your other make up disasters if you can help it, but you can do a few because they make for good stories).

10. Name one thing on your Christmas list this year. 
Good health for my family and friends. We had to say goodbye to someone this year, and it was a true reminder that life is fleeting, and that our health is a freedom we can never take for granted. I hope that everyone I love will stay healthy and and safe in the upcoming year (and beyond).

On a more selfish (and cheesy) note, this is the first time ever that I am spending Christmas and New Year with E. This has been on my Christmas list for a long time. I can't wait to spend Christmas with him, and toast to the new year at the stroke of midnight!

11. What is your go-to comfort food?
Tonkotsu ramen noodles. So damn good.

12. Who is your role model?
This is a toughie, because it's really a combination of people - pretty much all the closest people in my life. I look up to all of them for different reasons. Is this a cop-out answer? Or shall I just say Steve Jobs because my family, friends and I are all Apple fans?

13. What was one event in 2013 that was the most memorable to you?
Well, it goes without saying - our wedding. But then there was also our legal wedding, and the day I walked away with my Masters degree. 2013 was a memorable year for all kinds of reasons.

14. Who was your favourite teacher and why?
I moved to England when I was just about to turn 9 years old, and I knew close to zero English. I went straight into a standard British school and I was in a tiny class with the loveliest, kindest, most patient teacher ever. My friends were so nice to me too, but the teacher was just incredible and I honestly wish I could find her and get in touch with her again! Thanks to her and the very sweet classmates, I became fluent in English in about 2 years.

15. What are three words that best describe you. 
Passionate, curious & loyal.

16. Vampires or Zombies?
Vampires. I don't cope with blood well, but brains and stuff is even worse.


22 November 2013

The evening of my birthday, E took me out for a rather special dinner. I was craving Korean food, so after some research, I requested that we go to Koba.

Even though I finished work late so our dinner was at 9, fairly late for a weekday, we decided to not take the gamble and booked a table anyway. I'm glad we did - the place isn't huge and it was pretty much full.

This is a restaurant with table top barbecue for the quintessential Korean cuisine experience. There are ventilators above every table, and the whole theatrical side of it is always exciting!

First though, we ordered a couple of my favourite dishes.

Kimchi is a given.

We also ordered Pajeon, a pancake with spring onions and seafood, as well as Korean fried chicken "Yangnyeom chicken".

I honestly can't explain how good both these dishes were. We devoured them at an alarmingly speed.

And then for the main event - the meat! We chose Kalbi (beef spare rib), Bulgogi (marinated beef slices) and Sweet & Spicy Pork Belly.

As you can see, you wrap the meat up in lettuce leaves, add marinated spring onions & miso paste, and try to eat it in a somewhat dignified manner.

I'm not entirely sure I succeeded.

This was an indulgent and incredibly delicious meal, and we give this place four thumbs up. It's definitely a place for a special occasion though (for us, at least!) - the bill doesn't break the bank, but it's not somewhere we would go every month.

Just as well, our bodies probably wouldn't cope.

guinness & chocolate cake

20 November 2013

On the weekend, we had some friends over for dinner and I made a Mexican feast of Guacamole, Enchiladas & Mexican street salad. As I was the chef, I snapped absolutely no photos of the dinner as I had my hands full! But we had an absolutely fantastic evening full of food, conversation & hilarious fun with Absolute Balderdash & Taboo.

I did, however, take a few photos of the dessert that I made in the morning.

Quite aptly, I was introduced to this recipe by my lovely Irish friend. Neither of us like beer, but she reassured me that the taste of the Guinness isn't detectable; it just makes the cake moist, black and very moreish. (Along with another friend, we once went on the Guinness factory tour, and turned down the pints we get for free at the end!)

Trust me on this one. It's easy to make, a little different to the traditional chocolate cake, and actually looks like a pint of Guinness with the black cake and frothy white top. Recipe here.

Oh, and there is cream cheese frosting. Enough said.

birthday resolutions

18 November 2013

Today I turn 26.

Side note: I share a birthday with the one and only Mickey Mouse. Did you know he has a birthday? Check out his passport.

25 was a big year for me. I graduated with my Masters degree after 3 years of studying abroad, subsequently making me no longer a student after being one of some kind for 19 years. I moved back to London, where I have spent the majority of my life. I got married and had a wonderful wedding in the South of France. I started living with a boy for the first time ever (E and I started living together 2 weeks before we were legally married in London). I became an adult in the "real world" - working and earning.

It was also the hardest year for me; it has been a tough ride. And I am so grateful for the gem of a husband I have, and for my unbelievably wonderful friends and sister, who have been with me through thick and thin and now I breathe a little easier.

As for the upcoming year? I'm excited. I just know it's going to be a good one. Scratch that, I'm determined to make it a great one.

I love resolutions of any kind, but particularly birthday ones. Your own personal milestone to set your own personal goals. Here are mine.

Find the fine line between gratitude and complacency. 
I used to be a horribly negative person. Not in that I thought negatively of other people, but I had terribly low self-esteem and always assumed the worst. A few years ago, I made a real, conscious effort to override this default attitude and although it took a while (and a lot of fake it 'til you make it), I got there. I am so much more relaxed about myself and about life in general, and when I get anxious or stressed about my work or future I think,"but I am so lucky. I am so grateful for my lot." This is truly great, but I fear that it sometimes has presidence over the ambitious side of me that always wants to achieve more. I want to find that ideal balance of being happy and driven.

Keep up with the blog. 
I currently have a strict schedule of posting on this blog every other day (although I skipped a day this weekend so this post would be on my actual birthday!), and it's working out well so far. I started this blog as a means to document the little things in life, as well as appreciating and recommending what London has to offer, but I also wanted to be serious about it and commit myself fully. I am absolutely loving it, and so thrilled with the interactions I have with other bloggers who may stop by or are becoming fast internet friends of mine. I want to continue on the same path and make many more blogger friends along the way.

Face my fears. 
One thing I haven't quite grown out of is the inability to be fearless. I know, you're thinking, "but no one is really truly fearless." You're probably right. But some people believe in themselves enough to not fear failure as much as I do. It's not a question of confidence, per se; I just so desperately don't want to fail at anything. I know, though, that this is the only obstacle in my way. And I'm the only one who can beat it. So my aim is be able to say, come this time next year, that I knocked down those barriers and did my best to kick those fears in the butt.

I hope you will stick around to hold me accountable - one of the many perks of blogging, yes?