Beyond Japan… Cooking Edition

Since my trip to Japan (See part one, two, three, four, five)I have really upped my game when it comes to Japanese cooking at home. I used to think it was not possible to cook a lot of Japanese food because I either could not get the ingredients or did not have access to the right cooking equipment. But that is not true and now I really enjoy cooking several things and want to learn how to cook even more!

One thing that helped enormously was finding the Japan Centre (www.japancentre.com). I’ve now both been to the shop and ordered online and it’s fantastic. I try hard to get the Japanese versions of things, rather than English or America versions as I want to be authentic.  Plus the do fun fresh food such as this Hello Kitty bun!

There are two main dishes I feel really good about making and also switching things up with them easily (without a recipe) and they are ramen and okonomiyaki! From the Japan Centre I’ve bought a stock of all the basic ingredients, such as the ramen noodles with stock, the okonomiyaki flour and sauce, mayo, tempura flakes, seaweed, pickled ginger and a few other things that have made it so easy to cook great food.

This is an example of the miso chicken ramen I’ve made. I’ve also made a version with salt stock and soya stock. All are slightly different and worth experimenting with. I’ve also mixed things up using chicken, fish, pork and chorizo. I feel good about whipping a ramen up that I could use up things I have in the fridge and create something yummy.

This is an example of the okonomiyaki I’ve been cooking and it is amazing! I’ve used bacon lardons, porks fillet strips, chorizo and smoked salmon. All of which have been amazing even if not fully authentic, but making it yum was my priority as well as not wasting food.

I have also tried to make noodle soup and yaki soba, but these haven’t turned out quite as I would like so I need a bit more practice.

I am on the search for a Japanese cookbook as I would like to learn how to make other things. I’m not sure which one to get yet though and will continue to look, but if anyone has any recommendations let me know!

Let’s talk about money… part 2

Following on my post earlier in the year I have continued my thinking about how I spend and save my money to be able to do the things I want to do. I want to emphasise the ‘do things’ aspect of my thoughts as that is really a big shift in my mindset over the last few years. Doing things and having amazing experiences goes beyond money, but I find money or the absence of money can get in the way of experiences. The stress money can cause can be horrible, but I truly believe you can have great experiences no matter what your budget it. As I said this is a shift for my own mindset as I have very much lived in the moment with money over the last 7-8 years. I mean I have saved when required, but it’s always been for something specific – my house, a holiday, etc. – rather than having a fun fund or emergency fund to keep life easy. I want to stop living payday to payday as it is so not fun!

So I’ve continued with my goals from January (paying of my credit card and setting up my emergency fund), but I also want to get rid of some hindering spending habits. Lent is the perfect time to do this as a lot of people are giving things up and having a set amount of time to work with is something I have found useful in the past. Although I am not religious I appreciate aspects that have transferred into mainstream society. So for lent I have set up a no spend list!

There are several habits I have formed over the last few years that I feel have gotten a bit out of control, or that I definitely spend money on without fully thinking it through. So I have created a short list of things I will not spend money on for lent:

  • Buying takeaways, including lunch at work and food at the cinema
  • Buying non-necessities – books, candles, accessories, makeup, stationary and other stuff that falls into this category

Basically I want to question myself every time I need to spend money. I want to be become more mindful of my spending and where I choose to give my money. I already have a lot of stuff and I know I do not need more stuff. Along side this I am thinking about decluttering my entire house (I’m actually itching to do it, but would like a block of time to start with) and also think about giving and receiving gifts differently. I want to be generous, but mindful. I suppose I really want to get to a place where I do not worry about money as I know the choices I will  make will support the life I am leading.

Bridesmaid Body Positivity

I’ve been thinking a lot about body positivity lately and have Ben enjoying following amazing women on various social media platforms. But I still get really self conscious about my own body and appearance. I’ve also been putting my own mind to test recently as I was a bridesmaid at my best friends wedding. I always really wanted to do it for her and had fun arranging the hen do, but the bit that always. Oncerned me was finding the dress and then being comfortable in it all day.

I’m not one for wearing dresses at all. I just never feel comfortable in them. I tried on quite a few dresses when searching for my bridesmaid dress. I chose the one below as I liked the shape I saw reflected back in the mirror. I was also comfortable as it did not restrict my movement at all and I could easily sit down.  However I still felt very self conscious the whole time I was in it. It took a few drinks for me to enjoy dancing with my friends.

It wasn’t until after that I realised I didn’t get many photos of myself during the day. The one above and the one below were just as we finished getting ready. I prefer the photo above as I feel very forced posing in the one below. I would like to work on being able to look at photos of myself and not automatically look for the flaws I see. I want to look at them and see the happiness and other emotions and remember the moment. A work in progress for sure.

I did buy myself some shapewear to wear under the dress and actually I found it really good. I didn’t go for a tight, suck it all in thing, but rather something that slight smoothed the lines and had shorts as I hate tights! I didn’t buy the shapewear for anyone but myself. I wanted it to let me forget my flaws for the day and feel better about being in photos. I definitely noticed a difference as I didn’t feel I was holding everything in all day. I found I relaxed more than I would normally in a dress. It allowed me to enjoy myself freely.


I loved being my friends bridesmaid. It was an honour and I am so happy for her and her husband.


But I am the last single girl in the group. Another friend from school just got engaged and it’s stirred up feelings. This has made me feel a bit odd recently and I’ve been talking about it to my therapist. It’s not that I’m lonely or looking for a relationship. At some times I really think I don’t want one. I love being independent and selfish and wonder how I would fit in being in a relationship. I’m not sure how I’m feeling at the moment and just know it’s something I need to explore. I truly believe you don’t need to be in a relationship to be whole…

Wandering around Iceland

It’s been three weeks since I went to Iceland and for some reason I have struggled to sit down and write a blog post since – it’s very weird as I absolutely loved the trip and want to recommend it to everyone I know!

Iceland has been on my list of places to visit for ages, but the reputation of being quite expensive has always put me off while I wait ‘until I can afford it’. I have since changed my mind and believe you can travel anywhere you want on whatever budget you have and still have an amazing time! So, anyway back in early December a few friends got on to chatting about places we wanted to go and Iceland came up. Two of my friends have been before, but not seen the northern lights and myself and another friend hadn’t visited. So we were all up for heading out for a few days in January.

We got a really good deal on flight and accommodation (under £400 for return flights and 3 nights B&B hotel). We went with EasyJet and stayed at Storm Hotel, just off the main shopping street and close to the water front.

It was cold, but not as cold as the same time back in the UK. It also rained a lot! We made the most of it though and had a fantastic time exploring Reykjavik and further afield. The trips we went on probably doubled the price we paid for the flights and hotel, plus food and drink means be prepared to pay more once you’re out there.

The food was amazing! It was pricey for sure, but you can find places that are better value than others. The drinks are what astounded us as in many places they cost at least the same, if not more than the food. There are lots of happy hours at the bars and hotels, but if you’re doing trips you can’t always be back in time for 4-7pm slot. So we ended up not drinking at all – totally weird for a holiday, but totally worth it!

We took two main trips and had a third one cancelled because of the weather, all with Greyline. We went out to the Blue Lagoon. It was so weird as we got there at 8am and stayed until 12pm. It was pitch black, middle of the night dark! My brain was playing tricks on me as I kept thinking it was 8 or 9pm, not am. It was so quiet when we arrived and we got to explore while it was empty and dark. It had expanded since my friends went before so it was funny to find new places. It was also horizontal rain and so windy the lagoon was choppy with waves. It was so hilarious! You could not call it relaxing in the slightest, but it was fun and the water made my skin feel amazing!

The second trip we did was out to the Golden Circle. We went to see the UNESCO world heritage site called Þingvellir National Park which is home to Iceland‘s largest natural lake and the place where the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia split and drift apart.  It was raining so much I didn’t take my camera out at all.

We then went to Gullfoss waterfall, which was amazing. It was colder here and there was still some snow on the ground and parts of the waterfall was frozen over. It was loud and tranquil all at the same time. If you ignore the amount of people stood around you, you can see nothing for miles.

We then went to see the Geysir hot spring area. It was amazing to see the geysers bubble and explode at times. There was so much colour on the ground that I would love to go back as it was getting dark when we were there.

On last full day we further explored Reykjavik by taking the hop on hop off bus. You can easily walk around the city, but as it was raining so much we didn’t want to get cold and miserable walking around. It was good as we got see everything we wanted and also took a trip to the local public swimming pool which is geothermally heated.  I loved the wall art dotted all around the city and there is really good coffee!

We tried every night to go out and see the northern lights, but due to the weather we did not have the right conditions for them to appear. On the plus side we didn’t have to go out and try as they cancelled the trips during the day, which meant we could get a full refund.

It was great fun to go away with my friends and we are already planning a trip to Norway for next year to see if we can track down those pesky northern lights.

Red Lips

I’ve been looking at different ways to making myself feel good and that has meant experimenting with make up a bit more in the last 6 months. It’s been fun and confidence building. It makes me feel good to put on make up purely for myself. I enjoy putting it on and seeing a bit of a transformation in the morning, especially when I’m feeling a little low or tired. It’s like a 10 minute morning pep talk to help me start the day feeling fresh and confident.

I started off buying a few products I’ve tried in sample versions and loved them so decided it was time to buy the full size ones. All from Urban Decay I love the Makeup Setting Spray, the Eyeshadow Primer Potion and the Naked Skin Concealer. These all make so much difference and with a good primer help my makeup stay put all day. I didn’t think it was possible, but I have been proved wrong on eyeshadow and face coverage. All I need now is way to get lipstick to stay!

My next purchases were wild cards for me! All lip based from MAC I decided to take a chance on two of their iconic shades and a lip primer to help me keep them on. The lip primer is fantastic and make my lips feel smooth. I’ve since teamed it with a sugar scrub form Lush to get rid of any dry flakes. The only thing I wish I could do would be to add this on top of the lipstick, but I’ve not tried it and don’t know if it would work!

I first went for Velvet Teddy in a matte lipstick. This is very similar to a colour I already wear, but is definitely longer lasting than the moisturising based one I have been using. This was different because it’s matte, but I love it!

It’s definitely my new everyday and office colour. I love how it looks as it is a bit darker than I would normally go and it catches my eye in the mirror. The only thing I am still getting used to is how matte it is. After a while I can feel my lips starting to dry out and I have yet to figure out how to keep the moisture in my lips. I end up licking my lips more than I would like. It’s something I need to look into.

The next one I went for was a red! A true wild card for me! This is Ruby Woo in matte and it amazing!

I first wore it at Christmas as I was dressed up as a Christmas tree. I have then wore it a couple of times, but am still feeling a little self-conscious about how bright it is. I do feel goo when I put it on though and round the house I exude confidence, but for whatever reason I am self-conscious as soon as leave the house. I have been following a few more body positive people on Twitter and Instagram and that is definitely helping as they are amazing!

The other thing I am trying to do more of, but again it is taking a bit of time to get used to it, is to take fun selfies. I love it when people I follow do fun and free selfies and I want to do that myself. it is definitely fake it until I make it at the moment, but I am doing them, which is progress!

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