Adventures in Japan

IMG_5783 Okay to start, I know it’s been forever and a day since I’ve posted anything.  I had a crazy few months of work and then needed some detox time after weeks of working 80+ hours.  Now that things have slowed down, I’m hoping to start posting again more regularly.  I have a bunch of ideas in my head so I’m going to try to be diligent about getting it up here.

Now to the whole purpose of this post.  My boyfriend and I just got back from a 10 day trip to Tokyo (a first time trip for both of us).  I know what everyone is thinking, 10 days is a  long time to spend in only Tokyo.  While I agree, it was a long time to be in Tokyo, and we were definitely ready to come home by the end of the trip, we definitely kept ourselves busy and didn’t even cover everything that we had wanted to.  It’s okay, though, now we still have some things on our bucket list to do on our next trip to Japan.

I know this may sound crazy, but since this was our first trip to Japan and our first trip alone outside of the country, I spent hours preparing and researching for the trip.  I wanted to make sure that I had a good idea of everything Japan had to offer so that we didn’t come home realizing that we had missed something amazing.  My research included places to go, things to eat, tours to consider, stores to shop at etc.  That being said, based on my experiences I’m thinking about starting a new travel series to share everything that I found during my research and from our experience in Japan.   Honestly, there’s just so much from this trip that I’d like to share that I don’t think I could fit it all into one post.  While I pull my thoughts together, though, I’ll start off with a few of my favorites from the trip.

Gundam

{Giant Gundam – Diver City Odaiba}

Odaiba

{Exploring Odaiba – There was surprisingly a lot to do in Odaiba, including 4 different malls}

Sensoji Temple

{Sensoji Temple}

Sanja Matsuri Festival

{Sanja Matsuri Festival}

Sanja Matsuri Food

{Sanja Matsuri Festival Food – Fried potato twist with cheese and onion powder, rice stick wrapped with beef, and okonomiyaki}

Asakusa

{Street vendors in Asakusa}

Mister Donut Cronut

{Chocolate Cronut filled with Custard from Mister Donut}

Ramen Museum

{Ramen Museum – Miso Ramen, Shoyu Ramen and Tonkotsu Ramen. Can you guess which one was my favorite?}

Harajuku

{Ladies in Harajuku}

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{Famous Shibuya Crossing – crossing this street was madness}

Shibuya

{The streets of Shibuya}

Mt. Fuji

{View of the top of Mt. Fuji from the 5th Station}

Mt. Fuji 5th Station

{Exploring the Mt. Fuji 5th Station}

Lake Ashi Cruise

{Lake Ashi Cruise – Can you spot Mt. Fuji in the distance?}

Komaga-take Ropeway

{Going up the Hakone Komaga-take Ropeway

Top of the ropeway

{Made it to the top}

Chirashi Bowl

{Breakfast in Tsukiji Market – fatty tuna, uni, shrimp, crab, fish roe, scallops, regular tuna and tamago}

Tsukiji Market

{Exploring Tsukiji Market, but let’s take a minute to focus on that amazing marbeling}

Shellfish Bar

{Found this gem of a stand. If this market is still around the next time we go to Japan, I guarantee we’ll be revisiting this guy}

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{5 year old scallop cooked in sake and shoyu = happy belly}



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Winter Bucket List

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Winter is always the roughest season for me.  Not because of the weather, but because of the workload.  I think the hardest thing is not letting myself get caught up in the busy-ness of everything, and really taking some time to myself.  Here are some of the things that I’d like to focus on this winter.

1. Master a new hot chocolate recipe.

2. Put more emphasis on work-life balance.

3. Try a new restaurant.

4. Attempt to make ramen from scratch.

5. Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.

6. Keep the apartment clean now that we’re done with our annual year end cleaning.

7. DIY a new piece of jewelry.

8. Make an active effort to stretch everyday.

What’s on your list?

Sashimi Rice

I don’t know about your family, but one of our family favorites at any get together is sashimi (raw fish sliced into thin pieces).  However, the thing about raw fish is that you really only want to eat it fresh.  It’s not something that taste just as good as next day leftovers.  So what do we do with the leftovers?  We cook it with rice, literally.  This is one of my leftover faves because it’s so easy to make and taste so good.  All you need is leftover sashimi, rice, shoyu, green onions, nori and oil (I use sesame oil).  Realistically, you could simple it down with just sashimi, rice and shoyu, but I enjoy the extra flavor that the onions, nori and oil add.  In all honestly, I do this purely by taste and what I have on hand at the time, but I think that this is one of those recipes that works best when adjusted to personal preferences.

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To make this dish just cook your rice in a rice cooker.  How much you cook really depends on how much leftover fish you have, and how much rice you like to eat with your fish.  I probably had enough fish for two cups of rice, but was cooking for one so I only made one cup of rice and took half my leftover sashimi.  Once the rice is done, dig a hole in the middle and lay out your fish.  Then sprinkle with oil and shoyu.  I also had some hot mustard and ginger, so I mixed it with the shoyu before I poured it over the fish.

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Once the fish is in there with all the seasonings, mix it with the rice and let the rice cook the fish.  Let it sit for a couple of minutes to give the fish some time to cook and the flavors to mix.  Since the sashimi is sliced thinly, the heat from the fresh rice and rice pot is all it needs to cook.  Once it’s done, top it with some korean nori and green onions and enjoy.

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Still have leftovers?  It’s okay, you can make them into musubis to snack on later.

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Happy New Year!

IMG_0426Happy New Year to everyone!  2013 was a good year and quite eventful.  I got to travel to new places, take on new responsibilities, experiment with new recipes, and most importantly, be a part of wonderful moments in my friends’ and family’s lives.  So here’s to the new year and hopefully another 365 of new and great adventures.  In the meantime, here’s a reflection on some of my favorite moments of 2013.

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Chicago

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Yakiniku Hiroshi

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays The holidays are always an exciting time for me because I get to take a break from work and catch up with family and old friends.  I also just enjoy the festivities and spirit of the holiday season.  My family does an annual grab bag (for the adults) and visit from Santa (for the kids) on Christmas Eve, which is definitely my favorite family event of the year.  It’s always great to see the excitement on the children’s faces the moment Santa walks in the door.

Anyway, I just wanted to take a few minutes to wish everyone a happy holiday.  Hopefully, you are all enjoying the break and opportunity to spend time with loved ones.

Christmas Minion Nails

Christmas Minion Nails

With Christmas only a couple days away, I thought I’d come up with some last minute nail inspiration.  Over the past couple of months, I’ve been seeing minions everywhere.  They’ve got to be one of the most popular characters this year.  So I thought to myself, Christmas minions would be perfect!  While these nails do take a little time and effort, I absolutely love how cute they are.  Hopefully, you enjoy them too!

What you’ll need:

  • red nail polish
  • white nail polish
  • yellow nail polish
  • grey nail polish
  • black nail polish
  • black striper
  • dotting tool(s) (if you don’t have any, a bobby pin will work)

Step 1: Paint the nails that you would like to be your Christmas minions yellow.

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Step 2: Paint the top of your nails 1/4 – 1/3 down with your red nail polish.  Don’t worry about it being nice across the bottom as we’ll be covering this with white nail polish.

minionsStep 3: Using your dotting tool and white nail polish, create the fuzzy part of your santa hat by dotting your white polish where your yellow and red polish meet.  I didn’t have a dotting tool, so I just used a bobby pin.

santa hatStep 4: Using your black striper, create a horizontal stripe below your santa hat, and curved line at the tip of your nail.  For the stripe, I find that it’s easiest to make a nice line by rolling your finger.

minionStep 5: Using your grey nail polish and largest dotting tool, we’re going to start making the goggles.  If you’re making the singled eyed minion, add a dot in the middle of your black line.  If you’re making the double eyed minion, create two dots in the middle of your nail.  If you’re using a bobby pin, you’ll have to make several dots in a circular motion so that you can get one big dot.  Don’t worry about it being perfect.  Notice mine is nowhere near perfect.

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Step 6: Using your white nail polish and second largest dotting tool put a white dot in the middle of your grey dot.  If you’re using a bobby pin push down to create the largest dot possible.

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Step 7: Using your black nail polish and smallest dotting tool, place a black dot in the middle of your white dot.  If you’re using a bobby pin, apply the dot with light pressure to create a smaller dot than the white dot.  Then you’re done!

Christmas Minions

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Christmas Nails

December is here and Christmas has been fast approaching.  I feel like every year it somehow sneaks up on me, and then I suddenly realize it’s less than a week away and I haven’t done anything I was intending on doing.  That being said, I’ve made it my goal this year to get started a little earlier.  So as my first step, I’ve started doing some browsing for nail inspiration to help get my nails in a festive mood.  So far, here are some of my favorites and the related links that I’ve come across.