Monday, June 30, 2014

Hand-stitched Felt Wings

Here's what happened one boring Saturday morning:

I cut some white felt, drew cartoon wings with Sharpie (pencil makes it messy) and then stitched the drawing with black thread. I cut the same shape for the backside (so that the stitches won't be seen) and then attached them to bobby pins.

It was difficult to make the pair look identical (maybe I should have used some tracing technique instead of drawing individually) and the stitches don't look flawless but I'm fine with it since the flaws aren't very noticeable from afar and I guess that one of the charms of handmade things lol.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Okonomiyaki, Yakisoba and Monja in Tokyo

During my short stay in Tokyo last year for the summer program at The University of Tokyo (Todai), I was able to try an okonomiyaki restaurant near the campus.

Actually, I don't know what the name of the restaurant is. It's located in the second floor of the building right next to Todai Komaba campus and across Komabatodaimae West exit.

There were six of us from different countries (and interestingly, different ethnic backgrounds). Thankfully, we had a Japanese classmate with us who taught us how to cook these things.

Raw okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes)

Topped with okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayo and nori flakes

Yummm yakisoba. I'm really hungry now.

This is how monja starts off. It's mainly vegetable.

Liquid is poured in the middle

Once it cooks, the sauce will thicken. You mix it all up and then eat straight from the griddle with a tiny spatula

Friday, June 20, 2014

Homestay Experience in Tono

It was only for a night but the homestay program in Tono City during the TISP 2013 was one of the things I was really looking forward to!

With my co-participants Mika and Mikako, we stayed in a lovely home owned by an elderly Japanese couple who we call "obaasan" and "ojiisan" (Japanese for grandmother and grandfather respectively).

The house looked very traditional with tatami mats and paper doors but the kitchen, toilet and bath had modern touches! Obaasan also owned a lot of beautiful chinaware. I was in awe just looking at her beautiful kitchen.

Our host grandparents didn't speak and English so staying there was quite a challenge! However, with Mika and Mikako's help (and maybe my little knowledge of Japanese), I was still able to communicate with our host family. 


We had Jingisukan (Genghis Khan?), a Tono specialty, for dinner. It's basically grilled lamb with vegetables. Obaasan kept telling us "Ippai tabete, ippai tabete!" which means "Eat a lot!" and so I did and I got so full!



After cleaning up, we took a bath and then obaasan dressed us up in beautiful kimonos. She also fixed our hair. (Apparently, she's a licensed hair stylist!)




In the morning, we found obaasan making breakfast. Vegetables in Japan are expensive but because obaasan has her own vegetable garden, she feeds us a lot of vegetables! Again, she made a lot of food and I made sure to finish everything up. I felt like I gained a couple of pounds in just one day lol.



Staying in a lovely Japanese house, the experience of having grandparents again, dressing up in a kimono and eating good, homemade Japanese food. Even if it was only for a day, I really loved that homestay experience.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Eureka Moment with Homemade Kimchi

A few weeks ago, I decided to make my own kimchi at home. I really like the stuff-- it's vegetable and it's spicy! I followed this recipe loosely and eyeballed some of the ingredients. I used normal chili powder because I couldn't find any Korean chili powder in Landmark.


My kimchi didn't turn out to taste the same as those that I've tried in Korean restaurants. The smell and taste was a bit different and it was a bit too strong. It was good when eaten with meat and rice but I could not eat it on its own. Short version: it's a failure, lol.


I pondered if it was worth the effort of making kimchi-- what if I just bought the ones in jars found at the supermarket?

And then I had a little eureka moment when I saw leftover rice beside the kimchi in the fridge-- KIMCHI FRIED RICE! I searched for some recipes on the internet and found this. I didn't have some of the ingredients on hand and I wasn't in the mood for meat so I decided to go the most basic way:

Kimchi Fried Rice (serves 1)
  • 1-2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 3/4 cup cooked rice
  • 1/2 cup napa (Chinese cabbage) kimchi, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 egg
  1. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the egg.
  2. Leave around 1 tbsp of oil in the pan. Pour the rice into the pan and toss, making sure that the grains don't stick to one another.
  3. Add the kimchi and toss until cooked.
  4. At this point, you may add sesame oil, soy sauce, and/or juice from the kimchi.
  5. Serve on a bowl, top with fried egg.

I liked my end product! And I think it makes for a good breakfast because there's carbs, veggies, fat and protein. It's also simple and quick to make as long as you already have kimchi on hand.


I still haven't decided whether I'm making my own kimchi again or if I will just buy it next time. Maybe I'll do a couple more trials. Maybe I'll try again if and when I find Korean chili powder. However, for the meantime, I'm definitely making more kimchi fried rice!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Jodogahama Beach in Tohoku District

To be honest, I think I have quite a high standard for beaches. Why not? I live in the Philippines, a country that is filled with many beautiful beaches. However, if given the chance to visit a beach in a another country, I wouldn't pass on that!



During the driving tour along the Sanriku coast in Iwate Prefecture, Tohoku District, we stopped at Jodogahama beach in Miyako City for lunch. The place was actually heavily-damaged during the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami last March 2011 but has been rebuilt.

Soft-serve ice cream is quite expensive in Japan (well, practically everything is expensive there) at around 200 to 250 yen but it was too hot in the summer so I cannot resist buying

The coast was rocky and not too lengthy. The water was clean and the beach was protected by rock formations hence the waves are small and the place is very good for swimming. It was crowded because it was summer and it was a Sunday but I have to admit, it was a fun experience for me because the Japanese have a different way of enjoying the beach.


There was a rest house with shops and bathrooms but I didn't see any resorts. The guests pitched their tents near the shore.


Most of my co-participants ate their lunch under the sunlight but I cannot manage that! I had to take cover in the shade, lol.


We only spent a couple of hours there and I wasn't able to take a dip but I really enjoyed the time we were there.


I wouldn't say that it can rival Coron, Cebu or Boracay but Jodogahama beach in Miyako Prefecture certainly has its own charm!