Dear readers, I apologise for my absence. I’ve been busy. Mostly catching up with old friends, helping out here and there and working on articles, job applications, short-stories and poetry! Gosh, I get myself so busy. And you? What’s new? Won’t you write to me? I’m getting sick of my own writing!
Look who it is!!! Come to visit their one and only beautiful daughter (Anita not me hehe).
Mediterranean Food Company. If you haven’t been you’re missing out. The pizza is GOOD here and also the Mediterranean groceries! Including a large variety of sweets and gherkins from Turkey and of course, everything your stomach desires from Italy: fresh and dry pasta, olives, cheese, tomato sauces, and much more.
Mmm salted chocolate and pistachio torte.
Walking in Victoria Park with my bestie.
Why she is my bestie.
Taking photos of Christchurch’s new Adventure Park.
More to come once I sort my shizz.
So Yuko and her family are here. Here in NZ for the very first time and I think they’re loving it. Here are day one’s pictures so you can also be with us:
First up, omiyage or in English, souvenirs. These are a HUGE part of Japanese culture. We all received gift(S). That’s right, not one but many presents (including my sister’s dogs, Lucky and Ella).
After resting, we took the family to Christchurch’s Botanical Gardens where they exhausted their cameras.
Two beautiful roses.
Last remnants of Christmas…
Last but not least, our guests’ first meal in NZ: pneumatic curly fries and sliders at the world-renowned C1espresso. Come on, how cool is that?!
And…someone else happened to like them too! #embarassing.
Laura, I seem to have caught your blogging bug! Mine is falling behind.
This is Zurich. Well, this was Zurich last week.
Big-ups to Lavanya and Stieven for hosting me and showing me unconditional love.
Everybody’s dream, to be surrounded by chocolate.
Posted this on my blog’s social media and someone asked, “small hands or big chocolate”? Definitely, big chocolate. Big delicious dark chocolate with a dark caramel filling. Though very very expensive! Almost 6 American dollars for ONE.
Hey University of Zurich do you need an English lit lecturer in say, 5 years time? (I can dream can’t I?)
The highlight of my Spain experience was meeting Maria. She is one of those people that you instantly fall in love with. The ones you know nothing about but want to spend all day walking with. For the last two days, I have been staying in her home with her, her husband, two children and second cousin. Having recently started following my blog and reading that it was my birthday of late, but I did not have a cake for it because I was up high in the air somewhere, she and her lovely cousin organised this. A surprise cake – which happened to be the most delicious cake I have ever tasted. In the words of Linda Grayson, “there is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” Thank you Maria for showing such selfless love to a complete stranger and for sweetening my year.
Nestle rules Spain. Kind of sad because I hear they exploit child workers.
Wholegrain Special K with wild fruit picked by little hands.
A traditional convenience store.
And I thought Japan had strange vending machines…This thing makes fresh orange juice!
Okay, things just got weirder! This one’s for fresh milk :O
What did I say? The good life.
Went for a bicycle ride with Jose and the kids and stumbled upon fresh grapes (white and black).
On the way home, we visited their elderly neighbour, a sweet woman in a floral dress, to ask for parsley for a dish we were to prepare later. When I casually told Jose her house smelt delicious, he asked her what she was having for lunch that day to which she did this:
I still can’t believe how much fresh, organic and FREE fruit there is in Europe. So, our favorite activity (and by that, I mean MY favorite activity) is sourcing and eating it.
Tonight we were invited to a typical summertime Spanish BBQ AKA pork fest. I made this vegan platter (hehe). #changingtheworldonevegetabledishatatime.
Do you remember THIS? When I introduced my favorite illustrator whose work I randomly (and luckily) came across at a small bookstore in Osaka station last year? Well, I added him on Facebook, declared my love to him and begged him to meet me in Tokyo the other day. Mitsuie-san is an incredibly humble (as well as talented) artist. He couldn’t believe how much I loved him. We spent the evening discussing his work, life and inspirations. As well as taking an hour train to meet Minako and I, he gifted me a big bunch of postcards featuring all of my favourite pieces of his which I have shared on my blog and social media since I have known him. God willing, we will be collaborating in the near future so watch this space! To check out more of his work, click HERE.
When this precious little girl and I met two months ago, we both felt an instant connection. Aoi is so sweet it hurts. And though we couldn’t communicate more than a few words, we spent the entire day making origami (paper art) and playing on the hammock together.
Last week, she and her mother visited me in Osaka. I was so blessed to see her radiant face again. It’s true, children are the light of the world!
I made a big batch of fresh granola for Minako and I’s Tokyo trip because I didn’t want to be eating out for breakfast, lunch AND dinner. After our one night stay at a hotel which came free with our shinkansen (bullet train) ticket (thanks to Mina’s amazing organisation skills) we took the remainder to her parents’ place – our accommodation for the next two nights and days. Mina’s mom tried (my) muesli for the very first time in her life and happened to love it. So on my last day, this happened: a big bowl of delicious. After, she (Mina’s sweet mother) wouldn’t stop thanking me for it. She said she thinks she is going to lose a lot of weight (hehe).
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” ― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Do you remember Yasu? My unexpected friend? Well, her family thew me a goodbye party last night. We ate clam chowder, sushi rolls (featuring pink, green and whie rice), tofu salad and much more. Her mother is such a sweet soul and a very good cook. Last night she reminded me very much of my own mother. She’d made this pork and egg dish which she kept apologizing for. She’d say, “please try this, I made it but I’m sorry, it became too spicy.” Each time someone reached for a helping or she offered it to them, she’d say sorry. I told her my mama was the same. That whatever she cooked she’d end up apologizing for. And even though if it was the yummiest dish in the world, she’d still be saying sorry. Then my father would tease her for having apologized, again. Silly sweet humble loving mamas.
Yasu’s younger sister, Shoko, whose name for the life of me I can’t remember so I have to call her what her two year old nephew calls her: “aka”, surprised me with the beautiful cake pictured. We had a blast. I can’t believe how much they did for me. I wish I’d met Yasu sooner. I keep questioning why our paths didn’t cross earlier. Especially since she had been living right there, in the upstairs apartment! We could have shared so many dinners together – a thought which brings me much joy but also sadness.
After dinner, we did hanabi (fireworks) – an activity strongly resonant with Japanese summer.
A lot of goodbye dinners and lunches are happening. Not long now! 1 or so weeks.
Top to bottom: the old couple returning my muffin tray with fresh lavender and rosemary, Yasu and I’s friendship going strong, dinner with Oz, Lifa and Aki, vegetarian lunch with Ashleigh sensei, and dinner with Fukuda sensei, Imai sensei and Imai Sensei’s daughter, Non at my favorite Indian place (had to go back even after saying goodbye). Anyways, Non! Non is eating chocolate naan (strange I know) with a smiley-faced chicken curry (even stranger). Too cute. I wanted to eat her. What a name!
Remember my friend Yasu? Last night, her and I went to our pottery sensei’s house to shape our creations. This is the final part before our pottery gets cooked in an oven. For dinner, Naho sensei served us the most delicious Japanese curry with chicken, carrot, eggplant, potato, onion and radish in the most loveliest handmade bowls (after dinner we had Japanese matcha). I especially LOVED her boat-shaped bowl. I thought it incredibly charming. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. A simple compliment on it in my broken broken horrible Japanese and it was mine. An unexpected friend, numero dos. This morning I served home-made muesli in it for myself. This afternoon, I will visit Naho sensei with a bag of oats. I am going to teach her how to make the same muesli for own.