14 December 2011

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

Yatta! In exactly one week I’ll be touching down on South African soil in the hopes of defrosting this Christmas. But before then, I have a few exciting things lined up. For one, Marty and I will be squeaking some takkie in Seoul, South Korea for a few nights of freezing city fun. In the meantime I’m enjoying crazy parties with the co-workers and fun end of year lessons with the students. My English club girls and I devoured this batch of cupcakes yesterday for our little Christmas party. I’ve never heard the word “amai” (which means “sweet”) used that many times in one sitting before. Every time they took a bite they’d say “amai” which I’m hoping meant sweet and delicious and not “Is my teacher trying to kill me with this rich chocolatey cupcake?” I used this recipe from Kim’s gorgeous foodie blog, but I added a slab of grated dark chocolate to make it taste just like the cake that Bogtrotter eats in the movie “Matilda” … “Bruce! Bruce! Bruce!” The recipe makes about 20 good size scrumptious cupcakes. The buttercream icing is from allrecipes.com but it is reaaallly sweet so beware!

Japan has taken Christmas to all sorts of commercial levels: they made it cute! I unfortunately couldn’t resist the cuteness and picked up these felt Christmas gift bags at Daiso (Japan’s number one 100yen store) probably while tapping my foot to some cheesy rendition of “Last Christmas”. I love that Christmas Eve is Kentucky Fried Chicken’s best night for business and that the supermarkets are selling fresh strawberries displayed with their own personal tubes of condensed milk (I’m yet to try that lethal combo). From what I’ve heard from my teenage students, Christmas here is not a big family affair, but a time to spend with your special someone. New Years on the other hand, is when Japan shuts down and everyone returns to their home towns for a few days of family time, traditional food and shrine visits. 

I’m looking forward to some friends and family time of my own, and although I loved the winter wonderland that Japan’s Nagano Prefecture presented last year, I’m definitely ready for some South African summer sunshine. Hope you enjoy the pictures! From me and my photoshopped nail polish, take care this festive season xoxo.

10 December 2011

Markets, tea and obligatory cake

Some late November sunshine drew me up those Onomichi hills to Hodoji temple, where the annual handicraft market was being held. My first thought was: “I have never seen this many well dressed kids in one place before.” The items for sale were all true to the quirky, artsy, cute vibe that seems to emit from every nook and cranny of this little town. All I ended up leaving with was a tasty miso and sesame muffin and a big smile. I later ended up at a gorgeous wooden table with a lovely group of ladies at Pontefract, a cute little tea shop near the water.  Herbal tea, cinnamon cappuccinos and great conversation were the orders of the day.  A day out in Onomichi is never complete without a glance into the donut shop and a cake at the always cosy Yamaneko cafĂ©.

5 December 2011

48 hours in Osaka

6 hours – travelling (bus it)
23 hours – partying (risky risky - where dancing is illegal)
1 hour – karaoke ing (one song each)
5 hours – eating (oh dear)
3 hours – sightseeing (Umeda Sky building observatory – magic!)
2 hours – shopping (Topshop you warm my heart)
8 hours – sleeping (the bare minimum)

Ooooosaka… we love you